The Dragon Award Rule Change I Missed

We should see who the finalist are some time tomorrow for the Dragon Awards. In the meantime here is a change I missed.

What’s the minimum length for a novel in the Dragon Awards (not including YA)? Did you say 70 thousand words? Well you have good reasons for saying that. Here’s what the “Process” page says on the website (archived October 2017) https://web.archive.org/web/20171021012628/http://awards.dragoncon.org:80/the-process/

“Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017 containing and based upon scientific or science and engineering premises or technology.” [CF: My emphasis]

But in November 2017 when the nomination period for the 2018 awards began the text had changed: https://web.archive.org/web/20171120005626/http://awards.dragoncon.org:80/the-process

“Qualifying is any book that is around 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 7/1/2017 and 6/30/2018 containing and based upon scientific or science and engineering premises or technology.” [CF: My emphasis]

However, on the nomination form itself (no longer available on the live site because nominations have closed) the older wording was used for the helpful category tip (hover over the question mark). https://web.archive.org/web/20180619084911/http://application.dragoncon.org/dc_fan_awards_nominations.php

“Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 7/1/2017 and 6/30/2018 containing and based upon scientific or science and engineering premises or technology.” [CF: My emphasis]

Now both wordings suggest a size for a novel of 70 thousand words but the difference between “at last” and “around” is a significant one. Under the old rules a 69 thousand word novel doesn’t qualify and on the new rules it might (depending on what “around” means). I think there is also an unintended implication with “around” where a novel substantially longer than 70 thousand does NOT qualify e.g. a 140 thousand word novel is clearly NOT “around 70,000 words”.

For most people nominating works, I doubt this is a major issue as I haven’t seen people paying much attention to word counts in what they nominate. Even so, having two different eligibility criteria on the site is weird, as is an unannounced change.

I’ve sent an email via the contact page to find out.

Hi,
On the process page the novel length criteria for best SF novel changed from ‘at least 70,000’ words to ‘around 70,000 words’. That looks like a sensible & flexible rule change but the wording on the nomination page didn’t change – it said “at least 70,000′ during this years nomination period.

Is the rule ‘at least’ or ‘around’ 70 thousand words? It’s a small change in wording but has some impact on what is eligible. Also what kind of parameters are you using for “around”?

Lastly, “around 70,000” implies much longer novels are NOT eligible. I assume that was not what was intended? Can you clarify that? Are novels significantly long than 70 thousand words eligible?

Yours curiously,
Camestros Felapton

I guess the other interesting question is whether any works have been deemed ineligible but I’m guessing they won’t tell me that.

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “The Dragon Award Rule Change I Missed

  1. So do we know if any past or current finalists who didn’t have at least 70,000 words? I’m curious, but not enough to overcome my laziness and check. 😛

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    1. Good question – like you, apathy (and the weird way word counts aren’t easily available) has prevented me from checking. I assume that is part of the problem for whoever is running the Dragons – a lot of books to check quickly.

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      1. You’re assuming they’re going to bother to check. As slapdash as everything else is, I doubt it. That’d be a bunch of work.

        I’d guess they’d look at the # of pages listed on Amazon and do a quick rule of thumb multiplier. At best.

        Giant-ass tomes are in vogue nowadays so I doubt it’s a problem. Even mass market paperbacks like Butcher and Larry are probably running at least 70K.

        We know they put whatever they damn well please on there, so it doesn’t matter anyway. If they’re still around by the potential time GRRM finally gets the next GoT in print, I doubt they’d turn it down for being 2000 pages long.

        Does talking about the Dragons make anyone else think of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (US) where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter?

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    2. I think “The Last Days of New Paris” was nominated last year and that’s a novella. A lot of self-published SFF is also in the 50000 or 60000 words range, so I’m not sure if all of the self-published nominees cleared that hurdle.

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      1. camestrosfelapton: The more I think about ‘The Last Days of New Paris’ the more suspicious I am of it as a nominee.

        It’s certainly about as far away from Nutty Nuggets as you can get. It’s really not even close to the usual China Miéville. I was very surprised to see it on the list last year, because I had only seen a few people online even mention reading it.

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  2. Pseudonym here. 🙂

    My book was nominated (I turned it down, although I haven’t received a reply to that email yet), and it’s ~132K. So if they meant “around,” they didn’t enforce that.

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  3. The Land: Predators by Aleron Kong is *much* longer than 70 000 words. Let me give you a comparison:

    Stephen Kings “IT” has a word count of 445 134. It uses 19 255 pages on Kindle. “The Land: Predators” uses 31 408 pages on Kindle, near 50% more than IT.

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      1. Well, yes, but that’s because HPL had a rather dodgy work ethic for a pulp writer. I mean, Clark Ashton Smith has a bit over twice that if you only count the works published in his lifetime.

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    1. Hmmm, I looked again and while the font size is the same, there are more spacing between the rows for “The Land: Predators” than there is for “IT”. So I guess the word count might be something similar.

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      1. Hampus, the Kindle “locations” are counts of bytes (16-byte units, if I remember right) and they’re a decent predictor of page count. How many locations are there in IT vs. The Land?

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      1. It is a novel really that long and it was quite a surprise, almost three times as long as the previous book.

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  4. China Miéville’s The Last Days of New Paris, a finalist last year, had ~44,300 words (of which ~5,800 words are footnotes). There’s no way that can be considered “around 70,000 words”, much less “at least 70,000 words”.

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  5. Lurkertype: I keep meaning to read [Brazee’s] nominated story. It must be pretty good to have made it. I haven’t heard anything bad about him either.

    I was really looking forward to it, because it sounded as though it would really be in my wheelhouse. But it’s just the usual “[character] Saves the Day!” Military Fiction, and about the only thing science-fictional about it is that it’s stated to be taking place on a planet other than Earth.

    It gets into some really tedious detailed description of firearms, and I’m guessing that some or all of the weaponry is science-fictional, but as I know nothing about firearms, it doesn’t read as SF to me. It was clearly written for an audience of gun fans.

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    1. I guess I won’t look out for it, then. Sounds pretty generic. I wonder if he got the nomination as an affirmative action candidate? 😉 😉 I like my SF to be SF-y, not regular fiction with a dash of alien planet paint.

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