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The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

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Plunkett Award Shutting Down [Sep. 20th, 2007|10:14 am]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

I continue to believe that class is a vital issue in contemporary life,
and that an award or other structure which calls attention to how it is
treated in science fiction and fantasy would be of great value. Sadly,
due to the work and life commitments of various potential Plunkett Award
board members, along with significant differences of opinion on how the
award should be constituted and administered, I will not be pursuing this
attempt to create such an award. This was my decision, and I am speaking
on my own behalf.

If you donated money at the last WisCon, and wish it returned to you,
please get in touch with me, and I will return your donation when I hear
from you.
Any unreturned donation will go to SF3.

I am very appreciative of the financial, moral, and social support of
everyone who has been involved with the Plunkett Award. I especially
want to thank the people who worked with me as board members or jurors:

Elizabeth Bear
Hanne Blank
Jude Feldman
Malcolm Jin
Keridwen Luis
Nick Mamatas
Ekaterina Sedia
Jennifer Stevenson

I deeply regret the circumstances which made it impossible to continue
with this attempt, and I sincerely apologize for my part in them. I very
much hope that someone else will pick up the concept and have more
success with it.

--Steven Schwartz
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Help! Help! I'm being repressed! [Sep. 4th, 2007|02:24 pm]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

Come see the violence inherent in the system discussion of authoritarianism, class, and the tropes of fantasy in my LJ.
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Fiction and Beyond [Jun. 11th, 2007|10:48 pm]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

One thing to consider about the Plunkett Award is what categories it should cover. Some thematic awards cover only one type of material; others are quite diverse. The Rhysling is all about speculative poetry, and considers only that, but has two length categories. The Ursa Major, for anthropomorphic material, covers fiction (novel and short story), movies, comics, and other stuff. I propose that the Plunkett Award cover multiple categories. The more types of F&SF we make eligible, the wider our potential audience and the more people we can get talking about class issues.

The Plunkett theme appears in many different media. Fiction is obvious, and likely to be the main focus. But anime often has class overtones because Japanese culture and language are stratified with regards to status. Sometimes class pops up in really unanticipated places -- I didn't expect much of the movie "I, Robot" but it turned out to be a brilliant piece of irony in which the black protagonist treated the robots like niggers, and most other characters treated them (somewhat fondly) like chattel. Individual episodes of a television show can raise class issues, as when the colorfully snooty Lwaxana Troi appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space 9.

Then there's poetry. Star*Line, the magazine of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, has themed issues. If we included a poetry category in the Plunkett Award, we could then approach folks at Star*Line about doing an issue on the theme of class. By hopping from fiction to poetry, we could catch the attention of people who might not pay any attention to a fiction-only award.

A slightly different approach, which would avoid the guessing game of what categories would most likely spawn award-worthy material, would be to establish just one or two primary categories to be honored every year -- but allow the judges to issue extra awards in other categories if something noteworthy crops up.
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Introductions [May. 30th, 2007|11:47 am]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

I suspect over the next few days we're going to get a lot of new members (we've had 3 new ones since I posted the notice to wiscon), so if people would be willing to give a brief introduction of who they are and what they're interested in with respect to the community?)

I'll even start -- I'm Steven Schwartz, and it was at a WisCon panel that I came up with the "Oh, wow, we need one of these" moment, and talked to enough people that it's turning into a reality. (For which I thank you all, for help already given and help to be given.)
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Welcome again! [May. 30th, 2007|10:33 am]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

As you can see from the rather sparse entry here, the Plunkett didn't quite take the world by storm in late 2006, but we're working on doing so this year.  This community will be a place to watch for Plunkett-related news, and where Plunkett-related topics can be started/discussed/etc.
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Plunkett Publicity [Jun. 12th, 2006|08:21 pm]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

I got the following email (slightly edited) from John Joseph Adams, at SCI FI Wire:

>I'd like to interview you for a piece for SCI FI Wire (the news service of The SCI FI Channel) about the new Plunkett Award. >Would you mind answering a couple questions for me?
>(1) First, please tell me your affiliation with the award.  Are you going to be one of the award administrators?  (The LJ post I >read said to contact you for more details; if you're not the right person to ask these questions, please let me know who is.  I >need my interview to be with someone strongly affiliated with the award.)

I'm the founder, and currently one of two board members. The award is still in the process of organizing its infrastructure, so we are still looking for interested and skilled volunteers.

>(2) Talk a bit about the award--what do you hope it will accomplish, and how will the nominated works be judged? 
Our hope is to encourage people to think about issues of class, both economic and social, in the works of speculative fiction that they read, and in the works of speculative fiction that they write.  I have heard people talking about writing something that could win the Tiptree, or the Kindred, and whether or not they're right, it's making them think about issues of gender, or race, or, in the Plunkett's case, class, more than they otherwise would.

>(3) Please talk about the judging process.  Will it be a juried award, like the Tiptree?  Do you know yet who will be on the first >jury?

We do not know who'll be on the first jury, but the model we are planning on is very much like that of the Tiptree, aiming for a diverse collection of jurors.

>(4) Why focus on SF/fantasy?  Why is it important for this sort of award to be given in the genre (as opposed to the >mainstream)?

Well, first of all, because the framework is already present within the genre -- the Plunkett was directly inspired by the Tiptree and the Carl Brandon Society's Kindred award.

Secondly, because speculative fiction has tremendous flexibility to explore these issues, just as it does with gender.  Works like China Mieville's "The Iron Council" or Samuel R. Delany's Neveryon series depend upon their speculative-fiction environment to function.

>(5) Why call the award the Plunkett, rather than the Dunsany?

For many years, I have been wearing James Tiptree Jr. T-shirts around the San Francisco Bay Area, and I get asked over and over again 'Who's this Tiptree, and why is there an award?"  It gives me an opening to give the 45-second version of the Tiptree legend, working in the words "ineluctable masculine thrust" and ending with the revelation that her name was Alice Sheldon.

I hope to be able to do the same with the Plunkett, though without quite the same rhetorical punch. People will ask who this "Plunkett" person was, and I will inform them it's Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett. Which, for some people, will elicit a knowing smile, and from others, a confused look. In the United States, in particular, people often don't get the distinction between name and title -- that Lord Dunsany's name was Plunkett.  When I explain who he was, people get the idea -- and that moment of cognitive disjunction helps reinforce the idea of the award.

>(6) What are some existing works of fiction that meet the criteria of the Plunkett?  In other words, if you were to retroactively >give out a few Plunketts, give me five or so works that truly exemplify the sort of story the award aims to honor.

(Here's where I really need people's help: I've got a couple above, in the answer to question #4. I would love more suggestions, since these are some of what I have:

Ken McLeod, The Fall Revolution series
Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination
Samuel R. Delany, Nova
Mary Gentle, Grunts
Thomas M. Disch (I need to find the short story in which he discusses quadrennial slavery)
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Ursula K. LeGuin, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"

-- I know there's some Russ that fits, that I am forgetting, and any more that people can help with, or comments on these, I would appreciate.)
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Mailing List Time! [Jun. 7th, 2006|09:51 pm]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

[mood |Organizational]

OK. I know I've been asking a lot of people... ;)

But what I'm going to do now should be the end of organizational nagging for a little bit.

I'm setting up two email lists (if anyone has a preferred free email list, that'd be great -- I was considering yahoo groups) since some of us are *gasp* *choke* not on Livejournal. 

So, if people want to be on those lists, which will be the organizational ones (as opposed to this, which will be for discussion, brainstorming, and a face to the world), let me know -- one for general volunteers, the other for people who'd like to be on the board, when we get one together.

Being on the board means more time commitment, more likelihood of having a lot dumped in your lap -- oh, and prestige! That's it.
So, all of you who want to help in bits and pieces, this is not for you. ;)

You can let me know here, or at imnotandrei@gmail.com, if you want your email address kept quiet.

(Sorry to ask again, but I'm still working out the best way to arrange things.)
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A proto-checklist [Jun. 1st, 2006|11:24 am]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F

Things that need to be done to make the Plunkett a reality (in no particular order):

1) Develop a board; I am not going to do this by myself.
2) Formalize the description of the award; I am 90% happy with the way I've described it so far, but want to make sure of that last 10%, with the help of people in #1. ;)
3) Get out press releases to appropriate organizations
4) Look for a web domain
5) work on fundraising notions
6) decide what *beyond* an award we're actually doing -- short lists, bibliographies, informational clearinghouses, etc.

This is partially just a post to keep me focused, but people can please feel free to chime in on ideas...
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