What if they had a culture war and nobody turned up?

File770 has a round-up of the Dragon Award antics from the Puppy and Scrappy quarters today: http://file770.com/?p=36848

The short version. Two authors have asked to withdraw:

  • Alison Littlewood – who was an unwilling nominee on the Rabid Puppy slate and doesn’t want her book or her name associated with it.
  • John Scalzi – who took one look at Brian Niemeier’s vote-against-SJWScalzi-by-voting-for-me tactic and gave a big ‘nope’ and walked away.

Alison Littlewood has published the response she received from Pat Henry –  the president of Dragon Con. There are three things of note.

Firstly, they aren’t going to withdraw either author from the ballot – this isn’t a surprise because logistically they really have no easy way of doing so. They have already sent out Survey Monkey ballots (prior to publically stating the nominees) and so to withdraw authors they would have to restart the process. Given the assumption that the whole award is being run by a couple of people with little support (hence the odd behaviour around the website) they probably don’t have the time or resources to do so. Note Dragon Con itself has the money and resources to do so – they just aren’t going to spend it on the Dragon Awards.

The second thing of note is this bizarre statement of false equivalence: “We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors. ”  As others have pointed out not only is there no evidence of “justice warriors” trying to effect the vote with ‘ballot stuffing’ or ‘vote rigging’ there is ZERO evidence of any left-wing campaign to get any votes in the Dragon Awards. The SF-left, such that it is, has been dismissive of the awards. Meanwhile, the Rabid Puppy slate was there for all to see – just some basic commitment to facts would be nice.

The third thing has been less commented on: “The original purpose of the Dragon Awards was not so much as awards but as a quality reading list.” This original purpose has not been well stated before but there are aspects of the awards that point to it. For example, in the “Process” tab of the site, we have this: http://web.archive.org/web/20170809184831/http://awards.dragoncon.org/the-process/

“During the award nomination period, we will regularly send lists and information about your most popular choices.”

Of course, nothing remotely like this has happened. Also, the 2016 nominee list has been disappeared from the Dragon Award website entirely.

Update: The Verge has some good coverage and more Dragon Con response https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/9/16118054/john-scalzi-alison-littlewood-dragon-awards-controversy-sci-fi-horror

19 thoughts on “What if they had a culture war and nobody turned up?

  1. {sarcasm} Well, Beale has CERTAINLY convinced ME that this is the award that will kill the Hugo!{/sarcasm}

    In a way, the Pups’ award is a lot like their president–an ongoing dumpster fire that they insist is not a dumpster fire.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As I’ve noted elsewhere, Ted is one of the few Trump fans who really gets the Donald because he essentially is the Donald. The simultaneously pampered and bullied child of privilege who has responded to his upbringing by having a simultaneously oversized and fragile ego.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. “We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors. While we didn’t start the Dragon Awards to foil these two groups, we believe that as we add voters, they will become irrelevant in the our awards.”

    Leaving aside the ‘both sides!’ nonsense this has a couple of interesting points: they acknowledge that organised ballot stuffing has happened that had to be counter-acted, and they admit that the current size of the voter base is too small to stave off VD et al. Neither of those things have been officially acknowledged before iirc.

    Now, he’s absolutely right that if they grow the voter base then VD will find it difficult to get anywhere, but that just circles back to how badly they’re doing at getting their numbers up…

    The Dragon Award has been an interesting case study in how the post-puppies do their alt-marketing, but I think this is the final nail in the coffin of their chances of making it out of the teething period as a credible award. They’ve gone from being seen as slightly gullible victims of VD etc, to messing with an author whose part in this was inadvertent and blameless, and I really don’t see the SF writing community forgiving that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. I get that they wanted to be neutral but ‘being neutral’ requires swallowing the Sad Puppies 🐶 narrative and that requires pretending that the issue with the Rabids is purely ideological rather than seeing that Vox will exploit anyone he can for fun & profit.

      Bet at the end of this they’ll still blame ‘both sides’

      Liked by 1 person

    1. From the Verge article:
      “Henry also says Dragon Con won’t release the raw voting figures for this year’s convention, in an effort to prevent vote-packing.”

      In an effort to be able to keep pretending they’ve done a single thing to prevent ballot box stuffing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So we’ve all decided from that that they don’t want us to know just how much ballot stuffing there is. And how few people are voting.


    2. Yes, decent article in The Verge. It was by Andrew Liptak, who tends to know what he’s talking about. The bit from Henry about not releasing figures to prevent vote-packing is obvious spin.


  3. I asked George R.R. Martin yesterday if he’d seen the stats on how poorly-read the Dragon Awards finalists are, and he seemed very sad. He said, yes, he’s seen the numbers. He had thought that Eric Flint planned to mount a big promotion effort for them, and when Eric got sick, no one picked up the ball.

    That made me sad too . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there’s a huge “what-if?” that if Flint had been able to be involved and help get the numbers up, and maybe provide a voice of reason on things like this, the effect of the various campaigns might have been neutralised or at least muted, etc etc. Unfortunately DC had plenty of time for a plan B and didn’t do anything. I think they’ve now hit the tipping point – year two has got worse not better, they’re actively antagonising authors when they desperately needed to be getting them on board instead…I don’t see them coming back from this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They would need a LOT of votes to make it not worthwhile for Vox.
        How much would Vox be willing to spend to promote his books at the Dragons? I don’t know, but it is more worth HIS while than anybody else’s.
        A Dragon full of Baen books, MilSF and populist tie-ins would be appealing to the market Vox is after with his books AND politically.
        $500 would buy him a lot of votes and what are they going to do if he cries foul when his books don’t get nominated?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmmm, I was assuming that they’d be able to weed out obvious duplicate ballots, but if like you say someone drops a little bit of cash to have it done more “realistically” then they’d still be swamped.

        And yeah, if they took action that removed CH books from the ballot and he was able to tell, he’d be able to play that one for years – it’d be his new “banned by goodreads”.


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