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Today's post about Australian Speculative Fiction comes from Ben Payne (benpayne), who was the director of last year's Aurealis Awards, but will not be this year, because the organisers have decided that, "The director will not be permitted to review or blog on eligible work."

It's good to see that the Middle Management are looking after the Aurealis Award processes. I mean it: if they weren't there, we might have to deal with someone having an opinion. That'd be terrible. An opinion. Could you imagine it? The director of the awards might actually say, "I didn't really like that story," because he/she actually read it. Other people might say, "No, I liked it," and then people might talk about the story itself. Someone who hasn't read it might actually read it. Could you imagine? People talking about fiction! That would completely and utterly undermine the validity and importance of the award. An award is only good when no one says a thing about it, and it can stand there, on its pedestal, as a beacon of judgmental light that none should show any public opinion about.

It's especially important to silence directors (and maybe judges--can we silence judges soon, cause they piss me off most of all)... anyhow, it's especially important to silence, I say, silence people with opinions because that might ruin the idea of group mentality (or group think, as some might call it). It might suggest that we're all not one happy group of people who agree on the quality of fiction that is produced. There's been a bit of dissent about that lately, with review sites, and annoying authors who think that if they can read it, they can say what they want with a fuck you attitude, and I miss those days when anyone involved in the Australian Arts scene would sit around and say, "Yeah, it was shit, but I'm not saying that publicly. Might upset someone, you know?" I miss that silence that was bought around by reviewers who would only review things they liked, or give little nods to their friends, because that meant we were all a community and that means so much to me--I mean, I just can't say how much it means to me, and I'm glad we're silencing people.

It's especially important to silence people because that's professional. It's professional to have no opinion that might suggest that there was more than one opinion going around. A unified front must be observed. We can't have people realising that a group of people are made up of individuals, and if a director of an award ceremony has a different opinion, that should be silenced at all cost, because that reveals that. Individualism must be stamped out! And since it's a volunteer position, it must be stamped out even more, because there's nothing like driving away the outspoken, publicly minded, intelligent people who dedicate their time to this cause to ensure that it is safe and in good hands. No one needs those people. What you need are the people who scream professionalism to you as a way to silence you whenever you state an opinion. Those people are the people you can trust. Those people are the people you want leading us into the future.

Yes, the Aurealis Awards are safe, yet again, due to the Fantastic Queensland Middle Management. I'm so glad. The Aurealis Awards mean so much to me and it is moments like this that make me realise my faith has been placed in a fine, upstanding organisation, of who I could never find fault in.

Praise be.

Comments

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catsparx
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC)
I gotta say, I can't see how the director of the Aurealis Awards expressing opinions about the stories selected by judges is a problem. The director is not a judge. The director has no influence over what the panels shortlist and award prizes too.
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
it's just the first step in clamping down on any kind of opinion giving from anyone involved in the awards, really. the judges'll be next.

it's all ridiculous.
catsparx
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:44 pm (UTC)
I think its all about changing technology, actually. Everyone has always bitched about awards. All awards. Only previously we've all had to restrict our bitchin to person to person, phone calls and private email lists. With blogs, small comments are, in effect, "published" somewhere the whole world can potentially see them.
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:49 pm (UTC)
yes, that's probably quite true. but they're missing the advantage of all this: people read what gets talked about. they read what is discussed. i had more than a few people contact me after the aurealis awards article to tell me they were going to read some of the fiction i wrote about. same with the blog.

but i do think it's also the first step to silencing the judges, too.
(no subject) - catsparx - Feb. 7th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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i_ate_my_crusts
Feb. 8th, 2007 09:04 am (UTC)
I don't really see anything controversial in not wanting judges to speak about or blog about the books they have read for the award. It seems like pretty standard procedure for juried awards (James Triptree Jr, Arthur C Clarke).

It's harder for the Aurealis awards, certainly, given that the pool of potential judges is small and generally includes people who would normally be part of the reviewing circle in Australia which is committed to reviewing Australian work. I think it needs careful consideration.

I think that asking the director not to review or blog the works submitted, on the other hand, is more ambiguous.

Since the director is essentially only an administrator, their opinions of the work could not be taken to be a statement of the judging processes in any way, and shouldn;t be controversial. Paul Kincaid reviews many books each year, even though he is one of the administrators for the Arthur C Clarke award, for example. On the other hand, given the somewhat small and incestuous nature of the Aus scene, I can understand why they would put it into the director's guidelines. I guess I'm not really convinced by either side, as yet.
(no subject) - chrisbarnes - Feb. 8th, 2007 10:13 am (UTC) - Expand
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cassiphone
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
And banning them from comment kind of implies they do have a level of influence... yeah, that's the big problem I had with it.

Apart from, you know, the stupid.
chrisbarnes
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
I agree. I can't quite see the point of this, and I hope we'll soon find out what it's all about. I don't think Ben made any untoward comments about the eligible stories (or any others), did he? If it's aimed at preventing unprofessional behaviour in the future, I'd think that's best done by choosing a good candidate and then trusting them to do the right thing (which could include expressing opinions about stories, if they so choose).
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
well, what's more odd: so called 'unprofessional' behaviour--which, lets face it, payne couldn't do if he tried--or simply being unprofessional, such as the director from the year before, who did not know enough about the scene to even know what scifi.com was.
(no subject) - girliejones - Feb. 8th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC) - Expand
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angriest
Feb. 8th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
That is one brilliant and hilarious post.
benpeek
Feb. 8th, 2007 12:17 am (UTC)
sometimes i'm just inspired ;)
angriest
Feb. 8th, 2007 12:36 am (UTC)
Unlike the Aurealis administrators, it seems...
strangedave
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:50 am (UTC)
Fantastic Queensland even big enough to have 'Middle' Management? It certainly seems a silly decision.
punkrocker1991
Feb. 8th, 2007 11:35 am (UTC)
Is it actually FQ that Ben is referring to? It's a little ambiguous in his post, and I always thought that the overseeing organisers were Chimaera Publications (i.e. Dirk Strasser et al), and that FQ were just organising the convening and ceremony.

But I'm willing to stand corrected on this.
benpeek
Feb. 8th, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC)
no, it's fantastic queensland. from what i understand, the decision was made by them.
benpeek
Feb. 8th, 2007 12:28 pm (UTC)
probably not, but it just amuses me to call them that.
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