Thoughts on the Clive Staples Award

The idea to create an award for Christian speculative fiction came about two years ago when the Christy Awards omitted the speculative category. After considerable discussion here and at Speculative Faith, we settled on the Clive Staples Award as the name for this reader-initiated recognition of top Christian speculative fiction.

For the last two years we collected nominations, using the same guidelines as the Christy Awards. However, in both years, the actual awarding of a winner bogged down because we have no sponsor, no agreement with publishers to provide judges with books, and no judges.

The most serious problem was this latter issue. While I say “no judges,” that’s not completely accurate. We had a handful of people who volunteered to help judge, but no one who volunteered to head up the judging—requesting books, sending them out to judges, tabulating judge sheets and/or spearheading discussions to arrive at a consensus regarding finalists.

Beyond that, we agreed the award, if it was to carry any significance, would need finalist judges of some standing. I preferred someone outside the publishing business to avoid the appearance of partiality, but well informed about speculative fiction. Unfortunately, the people I contacted for that role declined to take part.

So where does that leave the award? Is it over before it actually began?

I’m thinking, this may be the kind of thing that needs to build momentum, to gain in popularity, and thus garner more support as a result. So my current thought is, why not start with a reader award? Not only do readers nominate but readers vote for the three books they want to see in the finals. Then maybe those volunteer judges, if they are still willing to participate, can pick a winner. Or readers can vote again between the three finalists.

We’d need to conduct this contest over several months to get the word out and to give readers time to check out the nominations they haven’t yet read.

We’d have to set some ground rules in an effort to curtail popularity voting (I haven’t read his book, but I sure like so-and-so, so I’ll happily vote for his novel). I can’t think of a way to eliminate that sort of thing completely, but if the award becomes linked with “readers” right from the start, it might alleviate campaigning among non-readers.

Some time ago I set up a site for the award as a kind of home base, but with no activity, there’s been no real reason to send people there. If you’d like to take a look at it, go to the Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction.

Since WordPress and PollDaddy make it so easy to include polls, I’m thinking it would be easiest if I started a series of polls to get your feedback. I’ll also need your help passing the word on to anyone else you know who has interest in this genre and particularly in creating this award. Let me know what questions you have, and we can find out what others are thinking about any number of subjects related to making this award work. If there’s still interest in doing so. Which actually is the first question.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 1:33 pm  Comments (15)  
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