Just for fun, some Dragon Award predictions

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.

43 responses to “Just for fun, some Dragon Award predictions”

  1. 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.

    I would pay a great deal to live in that universe.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. You pay attention to the 20BooksTo50K crowd — where are they in all this?

    Since my opinion about the Dragon Award varies in inverse proportion to how many Puppies win them, I must say if your predictions bear out then this year’s result will damage the award almost as must as the first year’s. (Although, like Agincourt, various Scrappy Doos will call themselves accursed they were not there.)

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well pat yourselves on the back because Red Panda Faction did that. Way to pressure the con admins!

        So Brad has hitched his star to Chris Kennedy, eh? Interesting. Better bet than Beale.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hmm, so 20booksto50 got scorched on the Nebula thing and most of their people weren’t really trying to do voting blocks so they avoided the Dragons. Related group/book packager/promotion company LMBPN invaded the Dragons with voting groups of fans and the award admins picked quite a lot of them, which may have caused some concerns among the Puppies. One question was whether we would then see LMBPN titles make regular showings as Dragon nominees in subsequent years (i.e. they’d be able to keep getting voters to vote in significant enough numbers that the award admins would keep picking them for nominations.) The answer to that now seems to be no — they either couldn’t keep their voters voting and/or the award admins shut that down.

        But Chris Kennedy, whom if I remember right is involved with LMBPN, may have then gathered some of the LMBPN voters to his publishing/packaging company and his own titles in a move very reminiscent of Beale with Castiglia. And Kennedy is friendly with the Puppies who are now putting his stuff on their rec list for winners, along with the usual Baen suspects and Puppy-approved conservative-ish authors. So there may have been some mutual supporting of getting voters to vote which would then affect the award admins’ picks.

        But once again we see basically an invasion of one group’s authors on the Dragon nomination list for the year, even as the nominations are also being distributed more broadly among major name authors. That invasion, while not necessarily rigged, is nonetheless disproportional for what you’d expect to see for a popular vote award where the biggest bestsellers will usually reign. (The Hugos and the Nebulas, as we know, are not popular vote awards, though they also usually have bestsellers for the novel award.) So again it will be quite interesting to see who the award admins pick as winners and in each category. It’s based on the votes but it’s also based on optics, political sympathies and demands from DragonCon’s runners. (It’s a hard balance those award admins have.)

        And then the next question will be, in 2020 will there be a heavy plastering of noms from one group again? Are these awards going to be left as a voting block contest refereed by the award admins who make a victor decision? Will the decision of prominent Puppies to buddy up with Chris Kennedy bear fruit for them to regain the influence they had in year one of the awards? Are the award admins going to continue dragging their heels each year in promoting the awards to avoid a larger popular vote or is the increased effort by the convention itself to drum up interest in the award and award presentation as programming going to continue and increase?

        Also something interesting to know if anyone is going to the Dragon Awards event — see how many of the major name authors are there and picking up winning awards if they win compared to past years. Because the Dragons didn’t start out just being a popular vote convention award that was new. It was the award the Puppies claimed they owned and shunned by many of the big name authors for the attacks they’d done on the field and for the fact that it clearly wasn’t a legitimate award. But if the big name authors start to find the Dragons useful and go along with it more, then that again pushes the awards towards more legitimate operation. It will also again make it harder and harder for groups like the Puppies and the self-publishing groups to mass move nominations, (which is not the same as just having some self-pub authors on the ballot as noms.)

        Liked by 2 people

    • They didn’t appear. Specifically 20booksto50 as a group didn’t promote the award. LMBPN did and I’m surprised none of their books appeared. Chris Kennedy’s similar outfit has closer ties to Baen authors so maybe that helped.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps someone already did a similar analysis when the noms were first announced, but last week I updated my charts for the number of Goodreads ratings of books nominated for all SF&F awards, which includes this round of the Dragons. Thoughts based on those figures:

    * Alt. History: The Calculating Stars must be a cert; Machines Like Me isn’t far behind in terms of Goodreads readers, but would seem to be for a completely different audience.

    * Fantasy: the Correia and Deep Roots are seemingly least read of the finalists, by quite a long way. However, I feel that none of the more highly read finalists closely match what I perceive as the tastes of the voters for this award – trad fantasy basically – so who knows?

    * Horror: We Sold Our Souls and Little Darlings are by far the most read two books, and are very close to each other – but the readership seems small compared to most of the other categories.

    * Media Tie-In: Agreed on Thrawn as the easy winner; the only other one which comes even vaguely close is the other Star Wars title (which is currently showing an incorrect readership value on my chart for reasons).

    * Mil-SF&F: Even with poor reviews, I’d be super-surprised if Weber didn’t win this – the only year he hasn’t won was when he didn’t have a book out, and this is the first time his book is the most widely read finalist.

    * SF: Torgersens’s book is by far the least read of the finalists amongst Goodreads users, and it was only in the first, heavily Puppified, year of the Dragons that this category didn’t go to the most widely read book. The Wayfarers and Expanse books are both pretty close in readership figures, so it could go either way though – the Chambers might have an advantage in having been out longer and available in paperback?

    * YA/MG: pass

    Assuming URLs and self-promotion pass the comment filter, the Dragon charts can be found here: https://sf.ersatzculture.com/award-charts/index-dragon.html

    Liked by 4 people

    • Links are fine. I think the spam filter objects to three links but one if 100% OK and linking to your blog is absolutely OK – particulalry if it is useful data!


  4. No real predictions but agreed that The Light Brigade in MilSF would prove the universe has a sense of humour. (Also, it had my vote fwiw)

    It’s undoubtedly MilSF, and yet very much the wrong sort of MilSF compared to the usual entries.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Okay — my predictions, based on current Amazon sales rankings (paid in Kindle store):

    **Science Fiction**

    Tiamat’s Wrath — #2,355
Record of a Spaceborn Few — #13,505

    The sales order in this category is mostly the same as when I looked at them last week. The top two are Tiamat’s Wrath and Record of a Spaceborn Few. I’ll go with Tiamat for the win.


    Spinning Silver — #6,838

    The Raven Tower — #10,160
House of Assassins — #22,346

    Surprisingly, House of Assassins has sunk all the way to #5 in the category this week. I’ll pick Spinning Silver, but House of Assassins may get it instead.


    Archenemies — #23,995

    Armageddon Girls — #29,299

    Lots of changes in the sales rankings for this category. I’ll pick Archenemies just because it’s stayed at #1.


    Marine — #7,231 (KU)

    Uncompromising Honor — #14,767

    Some middle of the pack changes from last week, but the top 2 stay the same. I’ll predict Uncompromising Honor for the win, as the more mainstream choice. But with all the KU entries in this category, it’s hard to say.

    **Alt Hist**
The Calculating Stars — #853
    Machines Like Me — #11,063

    No changes in order for this category. The Calculating Stars for the win.

Thrawn: Alliances — #7,723
Master & Apprentice — #12,485

    Only one change in order, in the middle. I’ll pick Thrawn just because it has stayed on top.


    Zombie Airman — #30,841 (KU)
Cardinal Black — #76,190

    Lots of order changes in this category too, but Zombie Airman remains #1. I’m tempted to pick Cardinal Black, since it’s a McCammon book, but I’ll go with Zombie Airman because it sounds funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I will take a look at the Boardgame categories here – noone in the boardgame community is interested or even aware of them as far as I can tell 🙂

    Lets start with:
    Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
    Architects of the West Kingdom by Garphill Games
    Betrayal Legacy by Avalon Hill Games
    Cryptid by Osprey Games
    Everdell by Starling Games (II)
    Nemesis by Awaken Realms
    Root by Leder Games

    Architects is one of those games that are quite good, but are neither fantasy nor SF – there is one of those every year. Cryptid is a surprise – Its a very good deduction game (maybe my favorite bg I played this year), but the theme is basiccly nonexistent. The frontrunner is Root, which has a huge fanbase across the board (haha). Every other win would surprise me, although Architects is a dark horse. Betrayal Legacy is the most genre in this lot and has the best theme and story, but the gameplay has been widely criticsed.

    Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
    Call of Cthulhu: Masks of Nyarlathotep Slipcase Set by Chaosium Inc.
    Fallout: Wasteland Warfare by Modiphius Entertainment
    Keyforge: Call of the Archons by Fantasy Flight Games
    Magic: The Gathering Ravnica Allegiance by Wizards of the Coast
    Magic: The Gathering War of The Spark by Wizards of the Coast
    Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team by Games Workshop

    THis is such an odd mix of a category. The Correira-crowd probably backs Warhammer and/or Mag:tG, which do have huge fanbases and name recognition. But the frontrunner should be Keyforge. Again, the theme is thinn, but it has name recognition and is actually something new, as opposed to the Warhamers and Magic-add-ons. Fallout may be a dark horse – the game is not really a critics favorite, but has the recognition of the fans of the videogame.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope the Weber book doesn’t win. It was such a piece of rubbish that even some readers on Baen’s own web site were giving it 2s and 3s on their ratings system. Seemed like it disappointed a fair number of his previous fans.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “I have no idea what it means if Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan wins.”

    It means that the Booker Prize crowd has invaded the Dragons and annointed them with their stamp of importance. Expect The Testaments by Margaret Atwood to win next year.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Much interesting speculation here.

    The National Fantasy Fan Federation (n3f.org) has a new fanzine, The N3F Review of Books, Incorporating Prose Bono. We also have several hardworking reviewers, One of them decided that he would read all the Dragon nominees in four categories (he’d already read a couple of the books) and review them. In the end, he fell 2.5 books short out of two dozen. One volume was well over $10 for the ebook, which seemed to be the cheapest alternative. Another volume was, in his opinion, in the wrong category. It was horror, which he refuses to touch. And half a volume turned out to be ‘the deadline is in a few hours, but I have read the front quarter and the closing chapters, and it was quite good.” Moving the cutoff date back a month so folks have two months to read the books would help.

    Our somewhat optimistic hope is that the N3F Review of Books, Incorporating Prose Bono will someday include a review of every published SF&F novel, of there are at a guess several hundred a month. (Smashwords, by itself gets you to 100 a month or so.) The first issue of the review had more than two dozen reviews, including many but not all of the Dragon nominees; a supplement covered more of them. (we also review literary criticism volumes, separately; Prose Bono has articles on writing, illustrating, and marketing books.)

    The N3F’s nine zines are free electronically to members.


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