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An explanation of the procedures involved in processing nominations and administering the Sir Julius Vogel Awards

by Simon Litten

Every year since 2003 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (or SFFANZ if you will) runs a set of awards called the Sir Julius Vogel awards (the SJVs). The SJVs are a means for fans to recognise achievement in science fiction, fantasy and horror by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents. Yes, I know the SJVs started in 2002, but that was before SFFANZ was formed.

The awards are divided into two categories: professional, which simply put means the creator expected to make money from the activity; and fan, activity done for the love or enjoyment of the genre. The awards operate on an annual basis, so that the awards given in 2012 recognise activity in the 2011 calendar year. Quite simple really.

So who decides on what gets an award? And how do they choose the recipients anyway?

In sequence: members of SFFANZ and members of the annual national science fiction convention do by casting their votes (if someone is a member of both that person gets only one vote); and from works nominated by the public. This last really needs to be expanded.

The nomination process and who may nominate is very straight forward. Each year (generally from 1 January to 31 March, but not always) SFFANZ calls for nominations for the SJVs. Once the nomination period begins anyone may make a nomination – SFFANZ rules allow for natural persons (human beings or homo sapiens sapiens for the taxonomic minded) and bodies corporate (companies and incorporated societies, e.g. Phoenix Science Fiction Society Incorporated). The following may not nominate: the Crown (except as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth) or Parliament in their many guises as these are not "natural persons", and unincorporated bodies e.g. Stella Nova. There is no requirement for the nominator to be of age, of sound mind, or even be a New Zealander, however, the nominator does need to be living. SFFANZ may be liberal minded as to who may nominate, but it is not so licentious as to allow zombies to have their halfpennith-worth. Nominations are free too, so one’s wallet is safe from intrusion. After the nomination period closes SFFANZ tallies the nominations for each work and within award category the highest polling nominees are listed.

So is there any restriction on what may be nominated?

Yes. The work has to be by a New Zealander or New Zealand resident, and be created in the year the awards are for. The New Zealander may be living offshore (many do you know, mostly in Australia) or more likely, have published offshore – the awards are not so parochial as to require first publication within the Dominion of New Zealand.

For those wondering what [professional] works could be eligible SFFANZ maintains a set of listings on its website of works that SFFANZ is aware of. I must stress the words "aware of" as these lists are generated by fans providing details to SFFANZ and are quite likely to be incomplete; for example, there have been any number of radio plays with a strong science fiction/ fantasy/horror theme but getting details of these is difficult to say the least. As an aside I note from personal experience that I hear most radio plays when I am driving and for some odd reason find it difficult to locate pen and paper at the time the name of the play is announced – careless of me I know.

The category of the awards that is most likely to be unrepresentative of actual activity is the fan section. Fans are either not a creative bunch, taking a very passive interest in their hobby of choice (reading and/or watching the genre), or they love to keep their light under a bushel and not tell others about their creative endeavours. Whatever the reason there is a real paucity of nominated fan activity, which is not good for that category of the awards as it is in danger of withering on the vine.

So I shall end on an exhortation: Nominate! Nominate! Nominate! Especially for those fan awards and show the world that fans do more than wear costumes.

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designed to bring together fans of the fantastic in New Zealand

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