The BSFA Awards
The BSFA Awards are presented annually by the British Science Fiction Association, based on a vote of BSFA members and – in recent years – members of the British national science fiction convention Eastercon. They are fan awards that not only seek to honour the most worthy examples in each category, but also to promote the genre of science fiction, and get people reading, talking about, and enjoying all that contemporary science fiction has to offer.
The Awards are administered by the BSFA Awards Officer. They began in 1969-1970, and the rules have evolved from time to time over the years. As with all BSFA affairs, governance of the awards ultimately lies with the membership, who can raise questions or propose motions at the annual AGM.
Who can nominate and vote?
You must be a member of the BSFA in order to take part in award nominations and voting. If you are not currently a member, you can join here. The awards are fan awards and we do not currently accept publisher submissions. More generally, you may not nominate or vote for your own work. Personal connections to the work are perfectly okay, but you can’t nominate something you directly helped to create, or have a direct professional interest in promoting, e.g. as author, artist, editor, publisher, agent, or publicist. Nominations / votes like these will be discarded during counting, at the Awards Officer's discretion. Works published by the BSFA (e.g. in Vector or Focus) are not eligible. (Also see ‘Eligibility FAQ’ below).
There are three rounds: longlist, shortlist, final vote.
The Best Novel award is open to any novel-length work of science fiction or fantasy (over 40,000 words) first published in the year of eligibility.
The Best Short Fiction award is open to any shorter work of science fiction or fantasy, up to and including novellas (40,000 words or under), first published in the year of eligibility (in a magazine, in a book, in audio format, or any electronic or web-based format).
The Best Artwork award is open to any science fictional or fantastic artwork that first appeared in the year of eligibility.
The Best Non-Fiction award is open to any written work about science fiction and/or fantasy which appeared in its current form in the year of eligibility. Whole collections comprised entirely of unrevised work that has been published elsewhere previous to the year of eligibility are ineligible.
Not sure if the work you want to nominate fits the above criteria? Don’t worry, the definitions are kept as open as possible to allow for multifarious interpretations … if you’re not sure, just ask!
Longlists and shortlists
The longlists consist of all works nominated by at least one BSFA member.
The shortlists normally comprise the five works in each category that receive the most shortlisting votes by the deadline. In the event of ties, the number of shortlisted works may be reduced to four or increased to six or more, at the discretion of the Awards Officer.
Around the same time as longlisting nominations open, the BSFA also hosts an informal crowdsourced suggestion sheet. Anyone can add to this.
How are the votes counted?
We employ the Alternative Voting System. In brief, voters rank the candidates in order of preferences; the lowest scoring candidate in each round is eliminated and those ballots redistributed until one candidate has more than 50% of the vote.
How can I find out who has won?
If you are a member of Eastercon, you are invited to come along to the award ceremony. If you are not able to attend, follow #bsfaawards on Twitter for the live results, and check the BSFA website shortly after. For past winners, see Wikipedia!
Can I nominate my cover artist? Yes. In the artwork category, we do allow cover art to be nominated by members with direct connections to a publication (e.g. as author, editor, publisher), provided you didn’t directly contribute to the actual artwork.
Can I nominate work by a BSFA Officer? Yes. However, works published by the BSFA, or in association with the BSFA, are ineligible for a BSFA award.
What is science fiction? What is fantasy? The BSFA exists to promote science fiction and allied literature and media. We're certainly not in the business of policing the lines around genres! If a work is nominated that really cannot by any stretch of the imagination be thought of as science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, new weird, or anything in a million parsecs of science fiction, the Awards Officer may use their discretion to remove it from the running. But generally speaking, we will seek to be as inclusive as possible, and just allow the voters to make up their own minds.
What is the year of eligibility? The year of eligibility is the same year that longlist nominations open. For example, if nominations open in 2030, and the final vote occurs in 2031, then the year of eligibility is 2030. Works published in 2030 will be eligible.
Does the year of eligibility mean the year it was published in the UK or RoI? Not usually: a rule change in 2018 means that works no longer need to have been published in the UK or RoI; works are eligible regardless of publication location. The BSFA Awards do prioritise fandom in these isles, so very occasionally, this might be one for the Award Officer's discretion: if it's felt that an earlier publication outside of the UK or RoI was not sufficient to make the work widely available to these audiences, it may be judged eligible upon republication. Of course, double jeopardy applies: the same work cannot be nominated twice!
Are serialised novels eligible? Serialised novels are eligible, provided that the publication date of the concluding part is in the year of eligibility.
I have another question. If you have any questions about the Awards, feel free to get in touch. Direct queries to firstname.lastname@example.org (we are currently between Awards Officers!).
I have an idea about how the BSFA Awards can be improved. Again, feel free to get in touch. Also, if you are a BSFA member, you can bring a motion to the AGM to be voted on.