Juliet McKenna did an interesting blog post today asking, “Is it time for a Women’s Speculative Fiction Prize?”. My first thought was that we were doing pretty well without out, thank you. I’d be much more interesting in seeing a UK prize for feminist speculative fiction. The fact that the US, Australia and Japan all have such things, but the UK does not, is an indication of how far behind the UK is on feminist issues. But then I read Juliet’s post and I had to admit that she had a point.
You see, Juliet is not talking about juried awards (such as the Clarke), professional awards (such as the Nebulas) or fannish awards (such as the Hugos). She’s talking about the Gemmell Awards (the winners of which are being announced tonight. The thing about the Gemmells is that they are genuinely a popular vote award. Anyone can participate, and tens of thousands of people do. As a result of this, the short lists are generally a bit of a cockforest.
The reason I think this is important is that most people in big publishers, and just about everyone in chain bookstores, don’t give a fuck about things like the Hugos & Nebulas. They pay a bit of attention to the Clarke because Tom Hunter is a superb publicist, but something like the Gemmells can easily be seen as representative of the “real” market as opposed to what community insiders think.
So, as I said, Juliet may well have a point. Anyway, if you find the idea worth discussing, please pop over to Juliet’s blog and comment there.