Rules of the Darrell Awards

The Rules of the Darrell Awards are subject to change each year when the Jury starts meeting for consideration of that year’s nominees. For now, here is the most recent edition of our rules:

2020 Darrell Awards Rules


1) Based on the published guidelines for the Nebula Awards, the Hugo Awards & others, we have set the word counts for our categories as follows: Novel – 40,000 words or more ; Novella – 7,500 words to 39,999 words; & Short Story – 1,500 words to 7,500 words. Please note: we have a minimum word count for a story to be considered for the Darrell Awards. We bestow no more than one Winner in each Darrell Award category per year.

2) In order to qualify, the work must be science fiction or fantasy prose, with horror included as a type of fantasy. Alternate history is generally included, depending on story content. Movies, plays, games and comics are included in the Other Media category. Poetry, religious fiction, general fiction, and non-fiction are not currently eligible.

3) In order to qualify, the work must either be written by an author who is living in the greater Memphis area (as defined below) when the work is published OR have at least one significant scene set within that area. Broadly defined, the area is west Tennessee, north Mississippi and northeast Arkansas. Specifically, the counties involved are:

State of Arkansas: Arkansas County, Chicot County, Clay County, Craighead County, Crittenden County, Cross County, Desha County, Greene County, Independence County, Jackson County, Lawrence County, Lee County, Mississippi County, Monroe County, Phillips County, Poinsett County, Prairie County, Saint Francis County, White County, and Woodruff County;

State of Mississippi: Alcorn County, Benton County, Bolivar County, Calhoun County, Coahoma County, DeSoto County, Itawamba County, Lafayette County, Lee County, Marshall County, Panola County, Pontotoc County, Prentiss County, Quitman County, Sunflower County, Tallahatchie County, Tate County, Tippah County, Tishomingo County, Tunica County, Union County, and Yalobusha County;

State of Tennessee: Chester County, Crockett County, Dyer County, Fayette County, Haywood County, Hardeman County, Hardin County, Lake County, Lauderdale County, Madison County, McNairy County, Obion County, Shelby County, Tipton County, and Weakley County.

4) Anyone may nominate a qualified work for consideration. This includes the author, a publisher, or a friend. We do not release lists of works that have been merely nominated, as being nominated is just the first step in the judging process. If the author or publisher nominates a work, we require that they provide either 2 printed copies or 1 non-DRM epub or pdf copy. This does not apply if someone other than the author or publisher nominates the work.

5) For the Darrell Awards in the Novel, Novella, and Short Story categories, the work should have been published during the preceding “year.” We currently define the year as November 1 through October 31, with the deadline for nominations as December 1. So, for the 2020 Darrell Awards, the work should have been published between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019, with the nomination deadline of December 1, 2019. Works published after the cut-off can be considered next time.

6) For the Darrell Awards in the Other Media and Young Adult categories, the award is given in alternating years. This year we will award the Young Adult category. Works must be published (presented to the public) during the last 2 years; that is for 2020 Darrell Award for Best Young Adult work, the work should have been published between November 1, 2017 and October 31, 2019. The nomination deadline is December 1, 2019. We reserve the right to not recognize any works in this (or any other category) if there are insufficient worthy nominees.

7) We only consider a work on first publication. That is, if we have already considered a work that is subsequently republished with a new copyright date or in a new edition or format, we will not consider it again for the Darrell Awards. It can be considered part of a body of work and considered as such for a Coger Hall of Fame Award.

8) The Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award was established to consider authors who have a body of work (at least some of which is otherwise eligible for the Darrell Awards) that was not nominated during its year of eligibility and/or that is too extensive to be properly considered in one category in one year. An author may be nominated more than once for the Hall of Fame Award, but may only win it one time in his or her life.

9) We have adopted a policy on dealing with authors whose works were nominated and who later commit bad acts. In brief, we will not provide any further publicity for such authors, they will be deemed ineligible for any future consideration, and they will not be included in any anthology or other materials which we may produce or license or otherwise authorize. What constitutes a bad act sufficient to fall within this policy will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Jury.

10) Please note that we do not accept Religious Fiction for these Awards. This is out of respect for the sincere religious beliefs of the authors as reflected in their works, which we believe takes them out of the realm of make-believe that is our genre. This is not to say that an SF/F/H work can not have religious elements; rather, it is to say that if the only thing fantastical or supernatural or futuristic or horrific about the work is the religious element, it would not be appropriate for us to judge that in the same fashion as works that are generally understood to be based on sheer imagination, not faith.

11) While we recognize that paranormal romance is a very active sub-genre of SF/F/H and there has long been an element of implied sex within much of the overall genre, we do not accept works of a primarily sexually-explicit nature. If, in the judgment of the Jury, the story is about sex, with the SF/F/H elements there only to connect the sex scenes, we will reject the work as not appropriate for these Awards. On the other hand, if the story is not about sex but merely contains some amount of it, along with good plotting, characters, and story-telling, we will be happy to consider it for these Awards. As with all matters, the decisions of the Jury are final.

12) The purpose of these Awards is to recognize the best in the genre each year. In keeping with that purpose, we will not give an Award to any story that we find to have elements that are disgusting and/or unnecessarily disturbing. If a work submitted is found to have these elements, the author will be notified. We will require that author to certify that any future submissions do not contain disgusting or unnecessarily disturbing elements. As we recognize that horror works tend to be disturbing, the Jury reserves the right to decide when they are unnecessarily so.

13) In order to focus our efforts on selecting the best published SF/F/H that is eligible and has been nominated, we will consider a maximum of five (5) works from any one author in one cycle. If more than five (5) works by the same author are nominated in one Awards cycle, we will use whatever method we choose to reduce the number to five or less. Please exercise due care in nominating the BEST works by your preferred author.

14) Winners of the Darrell Awards and the Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award will each receive a plaque to be presented at the Awards Banquet during MidSouthCon. Finalists will be offered one free Saturday-only pass and one free Banquet ticket so that they may attend the Awards Banquet. If a Winner can not attend the Banquet, they may designate someone to pick up the plaque on their behalf. If there is no one so designated and we have their address, we will ship the plaque to them via FedEx, UPS, or USPS. First Runners-Up and other Finalists will receive certificates in frames, to be presented at the Awards Banquet. If they can not attend the Banquet, they may designate someone to pick up their certificate. If there is no one so designated and we have their address, we will mail the certificate to them unframed. People designated to pick up plaques or certificates are responsible for paying their own way into the convention and buying their own Banquet ticket.

— Rules as adopted by the 2020 Jury at its first meeting