Time zone wise, voting hasn’t quite closed in the Dragon Awards. I believe the ceremony is 5:30 pm Sunday 1 September, which about 7:30 am on Monday for me because I’m a time traveller. There’s not a lot of time between voting finishing and the awards being announced (17.5 hours) and I want a bit of time to speculate, otherwise I’d save this for when there was no doubt everybody had finished voting.
I have no idea who will or won’t win. The standard Dragon Award disclaimer applies: the actual process is unclear and Dragon Con can legitimately give the award to whoever they like but let’s assume voting matters but we don’t know how many people vote or if there is voting stacking going on, although Survey Monkey should prevent more overt attempts.
There are no official slates this year from any group that I’m aware of. Brad Torgersen has been circulating a list of writers he would like to see win, which for the sake of simplicity and amusement I’m christening Brad Puppies. The inclusion of a name on Brad’s list does not imply the author or work is aligned with Brad etc etc.
- Best Science Fiction Novel: A Star-Wheeled Sky Brad R. Torgersen Baen Books
- Best Fantasy Novel: House of Assassins Larry Correia – Baen Books
- Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: A Pale Dawn Chris Kennedy, Mark Wandrey – Chris Kennedy Publishing
- Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: Order of the Centurion Jason Anspach, Nick Cole – Galaxy’s Edge Press
- Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: Sons of the Lion Jason Cordova – Chris Kennedy Publishing
- Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: Uncompromising Honor David Weber – Baen Books
- Best Alternate History Novel: Black Chamber S.M. Stirling – Ace Books
- Best Alternate History Novel: The World Asunder Kacey Ezell – Chris Kennedy Publishing
- Best Media Tie-In Novel: The Replicant War Chris Kennedy – Chris Kennedy Publishing
- Best Media Tie-In Novel: Thrawn: Alliances Timothy Zahn – Del Rey Books
Both Brad and Larry Correia have been actively promoting voting, so it is reasonable to expect a strong showing for both writers. I think even without Brad’s list, many of Larry’s fans would be voting for several of the authors above anyway.
What is harder to know is what level of organic voting there will be. Prior to the finalists being announced, publicity for the award was very weak. After that, Dragon Con appear to have done a better job and the website and conference program are encouraging voting.
There are also many more high-profile mainstream published authors. I’ve not seen many of them regularly encouraging fans to vote for them but most have acknowledged that they are finalists. That will have drawn in more votes.
Organic votes should play out as better selling works getting more votes, although that is hard to measure. Contrarius has been collating Amazon ranks for many finalists and it will be interesting to see how that relates to winners.
Some things I’ll be watching for in each category:
Best Science Fiction Novel: A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad Torgersen is a plausible winner. If it does then we can assume other works in the Brad Puppies list got lots of votes. I think Tiamat’s Wrath is a likely winner given the popularity of The Expanse TV series and the Dragon Con audience. However, Becky Chambers has a wide and devoted set of fans and I wouldn’t be astonished if Record of a Spaceborn Few won. If any of the others won, that would be interesting but I don’t know what it would mean.
Best Fantasy Novel: Larry Correia has both a strong voting bloc and good name recognition and hence House of Assassins is a very likely winner. I would be surprised if Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys won just on name recognition but I’ve heard lots of good things about the book and she is attending Dragon Con.
Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel: I’ll skip over this one.
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: Is a fascinating category. There are six nominees, four of which are on the Brad Puppies list. Baen is represented by David Weber’s latest Honor Harrington episode — that would normally be an obvious winner but Uncompromising Honor has not been well reviewed among its target audience. The other books on the Brad Puppies list for this category have their own fan bases and voting blocks in the Dragons. The odd book out is Marine by Joshua Dalzelle which is holding the flag for self-published Dragon Award finalists. The most interesting potential winner is Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade, a book which is, in places, very conventionally MilSF and also, in places, very much NOT conventionally MilSF. Does it stand a chance of winning? A reasonably high organic vote may well result in a win for Hurley given the split vote between the other finalists. Ironically, if the Dragons had the same voting system as the Hugo Awards, I would say it didn’t stand a chance but this is a first-past-the-post system. If The Light Brigade wins I won’t be surprised but there will be some wailing and gnashing of teeth from some quarters. There’s a parallel universe where it is the first book to win a Dragon Award one year and a Hugo Award the next.
Best Alternate History Novel: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal is a likely winner based on name recognition but The World Asunder by Kacey Ezell or Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling may do well from being on the Brad Puppies list. I have no idea what it means if Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan wins.
Best Media Tie-In Novel: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn looks like the strongest candidate all round based on name recognition and it’s also on the Brad Puppies list. I think it is unlikely that The Replicant War by Chris Kennedy will win but if it does it would imply a strong voting bock for Kennedy at least in this category — as it stands it isn’t even clear what media it is a tie-in for
Other categories: I don’t know.
Thoughts, speculation welcome as always.