April Brings the First Slate of the Year

Buds are budding and spring is springing, at least in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The Dragon Award website may still be in its wintery slumber but we have our first proper slate for it.*

Russell Newquist’s Silver Empire publishing has been filling the gap left in right-wing SFF publishing left by Castalia House retreating and Superversive Press closing. They’ve made an appearance on the Dragon Awards before but given the general quiescence of the awards currently, then maybe they have a chance…or not depending on how the people who run the award feel I guess.

Oddly, I couldn’t find the slate at their website but instead it appears on the Superversive website. http://www.superversivesf.com/?p=1191

  • Best Sci Fi: Overlook by Jon Mollison
  • Best Fantasy (incl. Paranormal): Victory’s Kiss by Bokerah Brumley
  • Best YA: The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering by L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright
  • Best Mi-SF: Justified by Jon Del Arroz
  • Best Alt History: This Deadly Engine by (Philip) Matt Ligon
  • Best Horror: Deus Vult by Declan Finn

Only one name I’m not familiar with.

*[That I’m aware of. There’s probably more on Facebook.]

17 thoughts on “April Brings the First Slate of the Year

  1. 3 I don’t know and 3 I just wish I didn’t.

    Alternative choice for Best Fantasy: NK Jemisin’s The City We Became, legit one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read since.. well, the Broken Earth trilogy.

    I haven’t done a lot of reading in the last year or so really but I’m sure I must’ve read something in most categories that’s vastly, infinitely better than the offerings here.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A list of recommendations or favoured picks can be offered in good faith, so it is not necessarily the same thing as a slate unless they are working to synchronize their votes… oh wait. They are openly calling it a slate.

    What is even the point of calling people to vote for their favorites when folks are so openly trying to game the results? We’ll never find out what people actually liked that way, just who mobilized better, which is often hand in hand with personality traits that make me less likely to enjoy the fiction produced by that personality.

    Like

  3. A list of recommendations or favoured picks can be offered in good faith, so it is not necessarily the same thing as a slate unless they are working to synchronize their votes… oh wait. They are openly calling it a slate.

    What is even the point of calling people to vote for their favorites when folks are so openly trying to game the results? We’ll never find out what people actually liked that way, just who mobilized better, which is often hand in hand with personality traits that make me less likely to enjoy the fiction produced by that personality.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I do remember that they explicitly allowed slates, what I don’t see is how the award can have any value in that context, because it’s no longer a measure of how many people read it, liked it, and voted for it being the best, but a measure of how effectively an author can mobilize supporters. When they used slates to push works deliberately intended to troll the Hugos onto the ballot, they proved that any award that allows slates will not easily be able to reflect the actual opinions of the voters. So what is the point of the Dragons? I was all for a new award- if they felt the Hugos did not reflect their favorites, far better to make a new award than to subvert the old. But if they don’t take themselves seriously enough to make the results meaningful, the Dragons will never gain the prestige that they coveted from the Hugos, and the otherwise worthwhile project of establishing a new award will be pointless.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. ryanmerrilljones: So what is the point of the Dragons? I was all for a new award — if they felt the Hugos did not reflect their favorites, far better to make a new award than to subvert the old. But if they don’t take themselves seriously enough to make the results meaningful, the Dragons will never gain the prestige that they coveted from the Hugos, and the otherwise worthwhile project of establishing a new award will be pointless.

        And that’s exactly the problem, isn’t it? Puppies created the Dragons so that they could give awards to themselves and the works they like. But the problem is, the works that Puppies write and like aren’t award-worthy, and an award which recognizes those works is never going to gain legitimacy or prestige. So they’re stuck trying to walk the line between trying to recognize enough award-worthy works to make the award look legitimate, while still handing awards and nominations out themselves and their sub-par works.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. I can’t find a quote but I think that idea “how effectively an author can mobilize supporters” was intended — like it was an award for having an active fandom. That, of course, was how Larry Correia caused so much trouble among the Hugos in the first place: he has a group of truculent fans in enough numbers to sway the nomination of the Hugos in his favour. Likewise Baen books in general has a broader group of Baen fans who have a degree of loyalty towards the publisher that is unusual. Whatever else the awards might be they are very much intended as an award that Baen books can win.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Plus the slates don’t matter unless the award admins decide that they matter and pick that slate, according to the rules of the awards. Which is why the Dragon results are so interesting. Who gets nominated and especially who wins in the different categories tells you what sort of calculus is going on among the admins who are dealing with votes they use as a guidelines plus whatever goals they have/are pressured by the DragonCon runners to follow. If the winners are favoring Puppies or big name Puppy favorites, then what categories those are in tells you what the Puppies are most concerned with. If the winners are well known, big name authors, then even if they are favored choices of the slate of the Puppies or other factions, then it’s not likely that their votes were really powerful in the admins’ decisions. If, however, lesser known names slated by a faction get nominations and wins, then that block mustered up a lot of votes the admins decided they would take into account.

      If there are a fair number of big name authors in the nominations and the wins who are not the favored choices of those running slates, such as the Puppies, then that’s an indication both that the Dragon Awards are getting more votes cast by a larger range of voters — despite the admins discouraging that range and barely running the awards, and that DragonCon has pressured the admins to make the awards seem more respectably legitimate with names that are a draw. So basically looking at the results while the awards are still in sweepstakes mode gives you a cultural record of the development of the award and whether it’s moving towards or away from turning into a legitimate vote award.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It was bemusing to be lectured by S.M. Stirling last year that The Dragon Awards are free of clique voting — a statement made AFTER Brad Torgersen won for Best SF Novel. It’s either subject to powerful voting cliques, or the award runners simply do pick out a few Puppies each year to smite with the Fairy Godmother wand. Take your pick.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. It’s the first (and sometimes only) rule in the conservative playbook.

        I’d like to see what the Dragons looked like if they were administered by a group of average fans who attend DragonCon, and followed the same “rules”.

        You wouldn’t know it from these “awards”, but the con runs fairly heavily to women and minorities of race and gender/sexuality. Get the queer black women who cosplay working on these, and BAM.

        Of course, they’d try to be fair from the start — so maybe not.

        I suspect this is why DC doesn’t promote it to the attendees as a whole. Non-SWM cooties might get in.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. DragonCon is a large multi-media con with a wide range of attendees and a lot of young and liberal attendees. DragonCon also has the approach of letting a lot of these attendees do work for them setting up things they want to do. As we know, that’s what happened with the Dragon Awards, which weren’t created by the Puppies but were encouraged by the Puppies and had a Puppy-sympathetic administrator who was given rules that gave absolute power to decide who were the nominees (from the basis of the votes,) and who were the winners. Slates — voting blocks — were not forbidden, as the Puppies wanted and because no one was available to counter them. Voting twice or multiple times was sort of forbidden but easy to do. Written fiction is a very small corner of DragonCon and the primarily lit awards got little oversight or PR from DragonCon.

    So the Puppies were able to manipulate and influence the first year of the awards. Some of their members who have very little recognition in the field got nominations and even wins. Others were big name authors they approved of for political views. But even so, authors like Ann Leckie also were put on the ballot, meaning that enough votes came in that the administrator figured that he’d include them.

    The second year, the awards got more interest and the Puppies lost a lot of their advantage over the awards. Scalzi and Jemisin — who had been declared evil by the Puppies thanks to Beale — got nominations from getting presumably a lot of votes from non-Puppies. They and another woman author declined their nominations (Jemisin already having been dragged on the list the first year.) The admin threw a fit and refused at first — which means the admin was pressured to keep nominees on the ballot and keep big names like Jemisin and Scalzi on the ballot to make the awards look more legit. Scalzi made the deal that he’d stay on the ballot if the other two were withdrawn and if any author who wanted to withdraw in the future could do so. And the admin caved to that. So only in year two did the Puppies lose a large part of their advantage, especially as they no longer had Beale’s GamerGater voters to help them. The admin was catering to them less.

    In the third year, the Puppies might have rallied, but the Amazon Kindle Unlimited crowd got wind of the awards and that they could organize slate voting. They scored enough votes that the admin decided to split nominations between their slate, Puppy-friendly big names (though friendly is relative — they like the duo that writes as Corey, the duo does not like them,) and big, liberal names in SFF.

    It seems likely that the Puppies complained to the admin about the Unlimited crew and how the Puppies were not getting enough nominations. And it also seems that a lot of the Unlimited crowd lost interest in the Dragon Awards. But, despite the voting process being delayed and disorganized, DragonCon promoted the awards more than before, meaning more eyes on the awards and more pressure on the admin regarding votes and legitimacy. So the admin threw nominations and wins to the Puppies or big names the Puppies like in that year. But only in a few categories that Puppies actually care about and may have organized votes around. They care about Science Fiction, Military Science Fiction/Fantasy and occasionally trying to get some noms for the Fantasy Novel category. They may have helped Stirling on Alt History Novel, though he’s a big enough name to get there on his own. The other book categories they don’t seem to care about much and their interest in the non-book media awards is slight. Big name, liberal authors have hit the lists. So much of the Dragon Awards have already gone past the Puppies, only four years in.

    At the end of last year, the Dragon Awards admin seemed to be hiding and trying to get as little attention for the awards as possible. That’s an interesting speculation why. Some of the self-pub crowd is starting to gear up more interest in the Dragons — the slate — and those who are, are Puppy friendly, but also not necessarily going to align with them. DragonCon is very likely not going to be held this year from the pandemic, and the Dragon Awards may be cancelled or have less voting interest or have more voting interest since people can’t go to the con and do other things. So this year, data-wise, it’s going to be unpredictable in direction.

    While the awards may not seem very useful or valuable to a lot of people right now because they aren’t legitimately run awards that fully reflect DragonCon itself yet, it is important to note that despite the rigging, a lot of major, much acclaimed authors have gotten Dragon nominations: Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, Cixin Liu, Scalzi, Andy Weir, James S.A. Corey, Jemisin (withdrawn,) Robert Jackson Bennett, Ben Aaronovitch, Naomi Novak, Fran Wilde, Rick Riordin, Sarah J. Maas, Tomi Adeyemi, Marie Lu, Scot Westerfeld, Marko Kloos (who was drafted by the Puppies and escaped,) Django Wexler, Kameron Hurley, China Mieville, Charles Stross, Mary Robinette Kowal, Lavie Tidhar, Cory Doctorow, Delilah S. Dawson, Cherie Priest, Victor LaValle, Alison Littlewood (who withdrew,) Stephen King, Robert McCammon, etc. And that’s likely to continue if the awards continue because the admin does have pressure on him. The votes may not decide who gets on and wins, but they do influence who does. Eventually, that pressure will make the shift.

    If this new slate gains traction in the awards, if they are held, it will be rather interesting. RIght now the awards are an experiment, not a failure, nor yet a viable award. But they can still provide some interesting books/games/names.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kat Goodwin: They may have helped Stirling on Alt History Novel, though he’s a big enough name to get there on his own.

      Stirling bragged on File 770 about being friends with the Dragon Award administrator, so his works probably get a little push if they don’t have enough gas to make it on their own.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well obviously the awards need a new admin and legitimate rules, as we’ve said before. It’s a shame that Stirling doesn’t want a fair contest, but there it is.

        All awards are made up by communities and organizations that decide they want to have an award. And if the awards stick around, that community gets broader and bigger. That’s what the Puppies were objecting to about the Hugos — that the Hugos were broader instead of narrow, including more people they deem “undeserving.” And that’s what is happening to the Dragons, even though it’s a rigged award. You can watch it happening by looking at all the nominees and the winners. The cultural pressures of the broad community and of the organization of the DragonCon force the awards to become more open, force the admin in choices made.

        And that broad community is more representative of the full, actual human population, instead of a rigged bias. All of these reactionary movements, such as they are, and social trolling against greater representation in the arts mediums is resentment that more humans, the humans shoved into the groups labelled inferior, count slightly more, are seen, and celebrated by others, have a voice that’s not afraid to be critical of old, narrow discrimination — and that voice is getting a bigger role in the culture.

        So even when they tried to get their very own awards and made the rules to suit themselves — it still didn’t really work. Some of them won Dragons or got the nominations and if the Dragons become that broader, more legitimate award, that will go up in value for them. The very cultural equality that they detest and sought to evade is what is eventually going to give them a broader status, ironically, and they will claim and have claimed that status — that it’s a broad appeal award — without realizing they’re denouncing their own stated views. But they have to share it with the people they hoped to keep shut out. And they have to smile when they do it, to keep up the status value of the Dragon Awards they wanted. It’s a very weird culture study.

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.