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A weekend spent largely offline, for a couple of reasons: firstly because I was doing things in Oxford for the majority of it, but secondly, and more fundamentally, because domh was installing the latest version of Debian on my laptop. I've always responded to suggestions that I should run linux by pointing out that Windows does everything I need it to, and by and large that's been true - I've had this machine for something like three and a half years, and in all that time I can only recall a handfull of Blue Screens of Death. However, recently it seems to have been responding badly to bittorrent - rebooting whenever I run the program, for instance - so it seemed as good a time as any to make the switch. It all seems to be working just fine at the moment - thanks, Dom!

(That said, I haven't tried to run bittorrent, yet...)

Meanwhile, I'm starting to get guilt feelings about the fact that I'm still involved with ousfg. Every time I go to Oxford, I get involved in discussions about the society, how it's running, what would be cool ideas for things to do in the future. The latest is that there should be an OUSFG award. Not something that would have wide currency, but something that might benefit the society by encouraging the discussion (and reading!) of current sf. We spent quite some time thrashing out a possible timetable and some guidelines and a format for the award, and I'm very excited at the prospect, but...I left university two years ago, and I can't help feeling I shouldn't be so involved, still.

This evening was the gig at the Zodiac. Support was from Manhunt (vocals by Julian Casablancas Wannabe, drums by Animal, tunes by nobody, it seemed), and the main event was The Stills. They were excellent; I've decided they sound more-or-less like what you might get if you gave a bunch of Strokes songs to Doves and let them noodle around a bit. Along the way, I picked up a natty t-shirt, and borrowed a couple of books - notably Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan from Dave, and Maul by Tricia Sullivan from my local library. Both of these are books that I've had mentally flagged as Not Really My Thing, but both have now reached the threshold level and diversity of critical acclaim that means I have to give them a go, at least.

And just to prove to deccasanta that I don't just rave about obscure sf books, I'm going to put a word in here for Michel Faber's novella The Courage Consort, which came to me via the recommendation of greengolux. It's the story of possibly the seventh best-known a cappella vocal ensemble as they go on a rehearsal retreat for two weeks, and it's incredible: one of the most beautifully simple, complete, balanced stories I've ever read. If you ever get the chance to pick up a copy, do so without hesitation.

And I'm sure I promised to email cleanskies something, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. Dammit.
Seriously why?

An 'eternal' membership should be that, and as a member, there should be no bar on volunteering to enrich the society. I dearly love OUSFG too, and if I win the lottery, a sizable fraction will definitely go to OUSFG.

Granted there are University rules about leadership in that society, but those can still be met without denying a member the right to volunteer their time and passions to the society.
I think there's a difference between (for example) Angharad coming to me and saying 'do you want to contribute something to the new Sfinx?' (apparently it's due by the end of this term, but we've heard that before...) and me going to Angharad and saying 'there should be an OUSFG award!'

Of course, it's not that clear-cut - the award suggestion has been bouncing about for the past few years, after all, and I'm hardly the only one in favour of it. And I should hope that everyone involved knows that I'm more than happy to do all the work, if that's how it turns out...But I do feel that if at all possible it should be someone current (or at least someone who's actually in Oxford!) who's in charge of it all.
I wouldn't partion communications that way at all ... members should be able to flow ideas seamlessly to the leadership and the wider membership. A non-student member should be able to do a lot of the legwork too, if so-decided by the leadership. On balance, I would agree that nominal responsibility or oversight should be taken up by a University member.

The greatest value us old gits can provide in a continuum and wizened ideas that may actually be quite good - but they should be availed to the wider society for discussion and the final decision should rest in the hands of the student leaders (and whatever method they deem fit to employ).
And just to prove to korovyov_x that I don't just rave about obscure sf books, I'm going to put a word in here for Michel Faber's novella The Courage Consort

*reads**blinks**rereads**dies of shock*

Meanwhile, I'm starting to get guilt feelings about the fact that I'm still involved with ousfg.
Argh! switch icsf for ousfg and you've just described my life! ;0) Right down to the fact that I was trying to convince the current committee the greatness of the ousfg plan for awards
Argh! switch icsf for ousfg and you've just described my life!

Ha. To be fair, there is a tradition of old members hanging around, so it's not like I'm breaking new ground...

Right down to the fact that I was trying to convince the current committee the greatness of the ousfg plan for awards

I think we decided this weekend that there are actually two things we want this award to do, and that possibly they're not compatible.

The reason it was suggested was as a method to get the society reading and discussing more current sf. It would hopefully, for example, be easy for freshers to come along to a meeting and argue for their current favourites, and having a nine-month schedule with a general vote at the end might encourage them to stick around!

Secondarily to this, it would be really, really cool if there was some kind of general student award. That requires a lot more work, though, and because Picocon is the obvious venue for presenting the award, the schedule would have to be altered quite dramatically. Although as I type this, I'm having further thoughts...hmm.

*goes to make a post to ousfg*
Just to say that I'm really interested in your (and that may be 'your' collectively -- although I don't know who the rest of the collective is) ideas for a student sf award of some sort. Can you tell me more? (If there's an archived post where you did already, by all means just point me at it.)

And is it likely to be fiction-focused? (I ask, if you hadn't guessed, because of the complications I've been experiencing with criteria for a non-fiction award under the aegis of the BSFA.)

I'm still ploughing the furrow of trying to use our awards nomination and shortlisting processes to get people 'reading and discussing more current sf.' So if you have any tips, or want to compare notes, please tell me even more!
Further discussion can be found here and here, although it's all at a very early stage. The idea has been floating around for a while, but popped up again after the Not The Clake Awards panel at Eastercon as something that could support ousfg's discussion meetings (thought process: ousfg could do a discussion meeting like that, but what books would we talk about?...wait, what about that ousfg award idea?).

We're probably going for 'book' rather than 'novel'; we made this decision because we want to be able to consider writers like Ted Chiang, but obviously, yes, in theory it would cover non-fiction as well. I don't think that helps you, though, because it doesn't even try to address the Foundation issue.
... would it be something to do with the idea of circulating recommended short stories, monthly or bi-monthly, APA stylee? I thought that was a good idea.
I don't think that was it, because I remembered that you're in favour, and I fully intend to go ahead with it (probably quartery, though). However, maybe my memory is just being flimsy.
eh, well, so's mine. I'm sure one of us'll remember at some point ...