Friday, August 03, 2007


I've just finished "The Rising" by Brian Keene. It's a well written book that pulls the reader along, milking the theme of a plague of zombies for all its worth. And tomorrow, I'll probably head over to the book store and get the sequel (trust me, the way this ends, picking up the sequel is a must...and if I had known the ending ahead of time, I would have had the sequel waiting). I recommend this book. Keene's novel deserves to be read by fans of horror. But did it deserve to win the Bram Stoker First Novel award in 2003?

For those who don't know, The Bram Stoker Award (named for the author of "Dracula") is the annual award for fiction given each year by the Horror Writers of America. It's something to be coveted, or at least I used to think so. That's before I started reading the list of other novels that have won the award over the last several years. Here's a sample of winners in the Novel category and First Novel category over the last few years:

2006---Novel: Lisey's Story by Stephen King (Scribner)/First Novel: Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)

2005--Novel: (tie) Creepers by David Morrell and Dread in the Beast by Charlee Jacob/First Novel: Scarecrow Gods by Weston Ochse

2004--Novel: In the Night Room by Peter Straub/First Novel: (tie) Covenant by John Everson and Stained by Lee Thomas

2003--Novel: lost boy lost girl by Peter Straub/First Novel: The Rising by Brian Keene

(if you want a more complete list, follow this link...)

Now while I've read several of these novels on the full list and consider many well-written and entertaining, some have in no way been deserving of a Bram Stoker Award. I won't mention which, but the I'll raise the question as to whether or not some of these nominations are the result of self-serving politics.

And I'm not just picking on the Stoker Awards. I've been unable to watch an Academy Awards presentation for years without rolling my eyes and shaking my head. Can the same be said for The Edgar Allen Poe Awards, given by Mystery Writers of America; or The Hugo Award for science fiction, given by the World Science Fiction Society, or the Golden Heart Award by the Romance Writers of America.

I'll bet that most of these awards are the result of haggling and politicking between agents, editors, and publishers. That there is an enormous amount of favor promising and favor collecting going on during the process.

So, does that make these awards less important to their winners? Does it mean anything to the person who picks up a copy of a novel and sees that the author is the former recipient of a Golden Heart?

I'll tell you one advantage to the reader. More than likely, a book nominated for one of these awards is probably not going to be a total waste of time. Looking over the list of nominees for Stokers is how I found "The Rising". Do I consider it worthy of the award? No. But I'd still recommend it for purchase and for a good scare or two. So Mr. Keene, wherever you are, please don't take offense. I don't know if I'm making a comment about your novel so much as I'm commenting about my own naiveté and the world of marketing.

And hey..I still haven't gotten an award for blogging, so there's still integrity out there somewhere.


Kate S said...

And hey..I still haven't gotten an award for blogging, so there's still integrity out there somewhere.

Hah! That's what YOU think.

Blog Awards

SQT said...

Kate beat me too it.

I feel like you're not paying attention to me anymore. *sniff*

Should I take it back so you can still claim to have integrity?

Stewart Sternberg said...

Now now...ladies, it's been all about the Warcraft. And hey..sqt...I read your blog each day. I must be improving on the Warcraft's after midnight and I'm done for the night. Usually don't finish until four. Now I'm going to work on a short story.

SQT said...

Really Stu? Writing this late after playing Warcraft? I don't know how you do it.

DesLily said...

like every other award given to the creative people.. what was once and honor is all political now, and has been for a long time.. sad, but it seems all "good things" wind up abused one way or another.

miller580 said...

Don't worry Stu---your time will come. I nominated you for an award a few weeks ago.

I read Lisey's Story. I thought that was one of King's better books in a long time.

But I am not sure I would classify that as horror. I know King crosses Genre...but Stoker...for this book. Not so sure.

Stewart Sternberg said...

See...Jim...that's the problem. Stephen King could sneeze and someone would nominate the tissue for a Bram Stoker award. He's the three hundred pound gorilla.

Deslily, I agree. The politics are amazing and its why its hard to take some of those awards very seriously. Still, if you accept it with a grain of salt, it can still lead you to some good reads.

sqt...I get up around one in the afternoon or later...during summer.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Stewart, don't get me started on the Stokers. I still hold the record for being a finalist and losing 6 times in FIVE DIFERENT CATEGORIES. Its true that there are those who deserved the award--though it sucked when I lost for Best Novella to King--but in the early days of HWA, it seemed that whoever won a Stoker was one of the officers the following year. I'm not a big fan of HWA, but at the very least, reading the nominations might make me aware of books I might not ever know about.

Charles Gramlich said...

I thought "Ghost Road Blues" deserved it this year. I haven't read "The Rising." I can tell you that there is a fair amount of politicing behind the scenes, but most of that is for the "Nominations." I don't think it's as much of an issue for the voting of the actual award from the nominees. Then it's more the best book wins, given the subjective nature of such choices, of course.

Migly said...

Actually, the Hugo Awards are selected by a popular vote of the members of the World Science Fiction Convention.

Kate S said...

Aw, Wayne, you're the Susan Lucci of the horror set.

Kevin Standlee said...

In the field of Science Fiction & Fantasy, some of the things about which you complain have been lain at the feet of the Nebula Awards, presented by the Science Fiction Writers of America. However, the Hugo Awards are presented by popular vote. Every member of the annual World Science Fiction Convention has an equal right to not just vote on the awards, but to make the nominations for the awards in the first place.

Now, that doesn't mean the Hugo Awards are perfect. You'll certainly be able to find plenty of people complaining about how awful the results are. But in my opinion, that amounts to saying, "Any system that doesn't present awards to things I personally like is flawed and worthless." Or, to put it another way, sometimes the electorate doesn't agree with you. I've been voting for the the Hugo Awards for twenty years now, and it's pretty common for the choice of the electorate to not coincide with my own personal tastes, but that doesn't mean the awards are full of backroom deals and log-rolling.

Stewart Sternberg said...

migly and kevin thanks for correcting me. I wanted to include the Nebula but for some reason when writing the blog I couldn't come up with the name. I stand corrected migly, and Kevin, thanks for the further information .