So, last week The Thorn of Dentonhill was named a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and I am absolutely thrilled about it. Right now is the time of year where all sorts of awards for the books that came out in 2015, and having The Thorn of Dentonhill getting this sort of notice and praise, especially right around the release of The Alchemy of Chaos, I couldn’t be happier.
And, if I’m being honest, getting on this short list was one more than I was anticipating. I was not expecting it at all.
Awards are, of course, an entirely subjective thing. “Best Novel” or “Best Newcomer” or whatever else I’m eligible for is not decided by some sort of scientific metric. People read a bunch of books and pick the things they like. Their tastes and my tastes may not line up. In fact, a lot of the time they don’t. There’s been plenty of the “big award” books that I just didn’t like at all, or at least didn’t think there was anything extraordinary about them.
But at the end of the day, that’s just fine. I’m not interested in policing the awards anyone gives or begrudging the people who get them. If I wanted there to be an award that specifically reflected my tastes, then I’d go through the trouble of making that award. Note well: I have not done such a thing.
Partly because awards, to some degree, need a place as well as a reason. Not necessarily, but it’s no coincidence that most of the serious awards are organized by and given out at sff cons.
Unfortunately, cons have gotten some negative attention of late. Mark Oshiro, of Mark Reads Stuff, wrote about his extremely negative experience at ConQuesT, and while his story of his treatment appalls me, I can’t say it especially surprises me. And the fact that I’m not that surprised is even sadder. There was more than one point where I saw a name or a behavior and thought, “Yup, that sounds about right.”
Many elements of his story were quite familiar to me, especially about how things go on panels.
Unfortunately, I haven’t make a point of calling out bad behavior on panels, partly because I’m still something of a new person on the scene. If I’m the moderator, I’ll try to put a lid on it and move past it. I’ve never had to deal with behavior quite to the level that Mark describes, but I’ve been lucky in that regard. I’m also a full bingo-card full of privilege, so things aren’t going to hit me in the face the way they would someone else. This is a crucial thing to keep in mind.
Now, I want cons, especially the fan-run, lit-focused cons, to succeed and thrive. I think they are vital and provide something that the big-box comicons cannot. I want to know what I can do to help make them better, especially on the panels. My friend Patrice wrote up a good piece on what could be done. I think there should be a good way to compile lists of regular local talent, and what their specialties are.
I mean, I’ll gladly talk about just about anything, and if it’s a subject I’m not well versed in, I’ll do some research. And if it’s a subject where I really shouldn’t be the one talking about it while someone who should be is left on the sidelines, I will tag them in and bow out. I’m not perfect in anything, but I will try my best and keep my ears open.
I’m not all that complicated. What it comes down to is, I mostly want to tell stories and share them with the sort of people who will love them. I want the spaces where these things can happen to be better.