…I hope the Red Panda Fraction forgives me! I intended to vote but the deadline zipped by and before you know it, it’s the last day of July already!
So how are things looking for the Dragon Awards? Last year, after the normal shambolic start, the Dragons took some steps to better promote themselves including new blog content with interviews with past finalists and a program with libraries to promote the selected books. The winners and nominees skewed the most mainstream they ever have been for the Dragons, except for the MilSF and Alternate History categories which were closer to the kind of works the Dragons usually pick.
This year? Overall, less shambolic in announcing the opening and closing of the nomination phase on time. The annual ‘we forgot to update the rules, so the link does work’ https://application.dragoncon.net/dragon_awards_terms_conditions.php competition has though, managed to surpass all previous years in being delayed. As everybody who nominates has to agree to the rules, I think a pedant can claim that all the nominations are invalid or maybe that all nominations ARE valid? In reality, the official rules never made much sense and shed little light on how the Dragon Awards actually run.
After John Scalzi winning a Dragon Award last year, many former Puppies were very cross. The pandemic and the absence of an in-person DragonCon were blamed for the mainstream turn in the Dragons, as well as right-leaning fans being poorly organized. Since then there has been a more concerted effort to get people in the puppyspehere to participate. This was mainly led by Declan Finn who so very, very much wants a Dragon Award that if I could I’d steal one and give it to him — this is a bad psychological trait I have and it’s why I end up feeding seagulls. The not-quite-moribund Superversive site also tried to do an award recommendation page. There was some nominal promotion of the awards by Larry Correia but he likewise seems to have forgotten to promote them just before the closing date (too busy moaning about Mark Zuckerberg and Mike Glyer — or Mike Zuckerberg and Mark Glyer as I originally typed).
Our musteloidean allies once again maintained a handy-dandy Google sheet of eligible works https://bit.ly/3x6Zchm which was both a worthy effort but also demonstrates the extra effort needed to work out eligibility for the Dragon Awards. Red Panda remains the most coordinated effort to get people involved in the Dragons and it is nice to see that an open, non-partisan effort is what has staying power.
That doesn’t mean the culture war stuff has gone entirely. Declan Finn over on the alt-Facebook platform MeWe did try to spur Monster Hunter fans into action by citing not only “File 770” as a vague enemy but also the added menace of Red Panda:
That generated 12 likes and 5 comments, so I don’t think he managed to inspire an angry horde or Dragon nominators. Quite how Red Panda Fraction’s activity is “ballot stuffing” is anybody’s guess.
Where does that leave things?
I think there’s more attention being paid this year than last year but there are no focused efforts. The Baen’s Bar controversy at the beginning of the year and subsequent disinvitation of Toni Weisskopf as a Guest of Honour for this year’s Worldcon also may have inspired some fans of Baen to renew their attention towards the Dragons. However, without a coordinated and focused effort by major names (e.g. Larry Correia or Vox Day) the impact of that attention at the nomination stage is likely to be nebulous.
Of course, my (unproven) working assumption is that votes at the nomination stage are treated as suggestions by the award admins and that they make the final picks but really, who knows? As I think Greg Hullender pointed out, the least effort approach on the Dragon Award admins part is that they go with what gets the most nominations.
We’ll find out what go nominated soon enough :).