Category Archives: Dragon Awards

Did fandom cause the collapse of civilisation or vice versa? Let’s Assume Neither :)

It’s been a long time since I linked to a post by the improbable 2016 Campbell Award Finalist and Inaugural Dragon Award Winner for Best Horror Novel That Was Actually A Space Opera, Brian Niemeier but a posy at his blog caught my eye [direct link, archive link].

Brian’s politics mixes standard alt-right nationalism and misogyny with a particularly reactionary form of Catholicism. People may recall Brian’s concern that literal demons are controlling the left (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/demons-and-witches-and-the-left/ ), so not exactly a Pope Francis or Vatican II fan.

Anyway, Brian has a hypothesis about religion and fandom:

“Kicking Christianity out of public life didn’t usher in a bright, sexy chrome utopia. Instead of directing their pious energies into scientific pursuits, America did what everyone does absent Christianity: They turned pagan.”

‘X-thing is a religion’ is a bit of a cliche but I don’t think that analysis is wholly wrong. Rather, I don’t think religion is really a single social phenomenon at all but a whole bunch of things — which is why cultures don’t follow one of Christianity/Islam/Judaism have quite different boundaries as to what is and isn’t religious and how religion plays a role in wider society*. So, sure, I can believe there’s some commonality between fandoms and religion.

Indeed, I’d go further and say that I think how we engage with fiction and products of the imagination has a close connection with spirituality and how religion has become a part of human culture. Brian is making a different argument though:

“Human beings are wired for worship. If social pressure discourages worshiping God, those with less fortitude will worship trees, rocks, or even plastic figurines.


Religious identity was the engine that built the West, and it’s still a major motivating force elsewhere in the world. What has happened in the American Empire is that Christian identity has shattered, and the pieces have been scattered throughout various hobbies.


Which was precisely what the main players in the Enlightenment wanted–to reduce religion to a hobby indulged in the home with no effect on public life.”

Fandom therefore being the eventual warped expression of people’s instinct towards religion suppressed by the machinations of Enlightenment philosophers. I think we can safely assume that this is not the case. However, the next paragraph is what really caught my eye:

“To see how people’s identities have gotten mixed up in their hobbies, take a quick glance at the ‘gate controversies popping up among various fandoms on a more or less daily basis. #GamerGate was the big one, but it failed due to infiltration by controlled opposition and exploitation by online grifters. It’s telling that every subsequent fandom revolt has enjoyed a brief honeymoon period before skipping straight to the “milked by grifters” stage. “If a man loses faith in God, he doesn’t believe nothing, he’ll believe anything,” is illustrative here.”

It can be hard to tell with the alt-right what is a bad-faith nonsense and what is sincere nonsense. Occasional you get paragraphs like this that are so lacking in self-awareness that they can only be a sincere expression of some very confused beliefs.

As a reminder: Brian was not a major figure in the high points of the Sad Puppy campaigns (a relevant example of one of the right wing uprisings in fandom) but leveraged those campaigns to get his books promoted by the Rabid Puppy slates into a Campbell nomination and a Dragon Award. Brian was also the charmer who tried to stir up a second Dragon Award nomination into another culture war battlefront in a bid to get more votes for his book. (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/niemeier-wants-the-dragon-awards-to-be-a-culture-war-but-the-culture-doesnt-want-to-play/ ) There may be better example of the ‘milked by grifters’ stage of the Sad Puppy Campaigns but only because it was never not a grift but Brian is a good example of late stage band wagon jumping.

“Few now can imagine–by design–a time when popular culture wasn’t partitioned into myriad fractured fandoms. Sure, people had different tastes, but there were cultural touchstones everybody shared, and more of them. Everybody tuned in to The Shadow. Everybody read Edgar Rice Burroughs. Everybody saw Gone with the Wind. But a people with a shared culture and a strong identity is hard to conquer, so universal popular culture had to go. Fandom was the murder weapon used to kill Western culture.”

Again a reminder: Brian writes anime-inspired right wing science fiction about people fighting in space-robot suits. He’s not exactly aiming for the mainstream. It’s that lack of awareness of his own micro-niche writing that makes me think he genuinely believes that’s what happened — that rather than technology and population growth making it economically easier for people to find stories that appealed to more finely delineated niches, that this was an actual plot to divide society.

Does he really think he would be happier if the only books or films available where the most mainstream ones? Also, if he believed that then shouldn’t he be doing his utmost to just consume the most modally consumed media? But it is like the person who wants religion to be mandatory who doesn’t get that it wouldn’t necessarily be their religion that would be enforced

He finishes his essay thus:

“Fortunately, there are creators laboring to forge new culture in the tradition of our ancestors. For a refreshing take on the mecha genre that clears away all the stale cliche cobwebs, check out my new martial thriller Combat Frame XSeed.”

Irony is dead, a knock-off Kindle Unlimited far right combat mecha killed it.

*[Not that Christianity, Islam or Judaism follow the same template either, but the similarities are what tend to shape what Western culture regards as the things a religion has: a god, a priest, a temple, a holy book, quasi-laws, exclusivity]

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Dragon Award Rules

I was asked elsewhere whether there was any substantial change to the Dragon Award rules. I don’t believe so but so much of it is boiler plate aimed at protecting Dragon Con from anything that it is hard to tell. An Wayback Machine archive of the rules from 2018 is here: https://web.archive.org/web/20180722193700/http://application.dragoncon.org/dragon_awards_terms_conditions.php

The two bits of most interest haven’t changed other that dates:

“ONLINE VOTING: One (1) vote in each category is allowed per person. The most popular Entries, as determined by number of nomination submissions during the Nomination Period, will be featured on the Website between 9:00 A.M. ET on August 1, 2018 and 11:59 P.M. ET on August 31, 2018 (hereinafter, “Voting Period”). Voting shall occur in a manner as determined by DRAGON CON.
No automatic, programmed, robotic or similar means of voting are permitted. Participants who do not comply with these Rules, or who attempt to interfere with the voting process or the operation of the Website in any way will be disqualified and their votes will not be counted. DRAGON CON reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend voting should any virus, bug, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the voting process. All decisions regarding the voting process or acceptance of votes shall be final and shall not be subject to challenge or appeal.
SELECTION OF WINNERS: All decisions regarding the voting process and selection of winners shall be made by DRAGON CON in its sole discretion, shall be final, and shall not be subject to challenge or appeal”

There is a commitment to count nominations and use that to identify finalists and zero commitment to count votes in the second stage of voting. This has always been the case.

The other thing that hasn’t changed is the reference to ‘sweepstakes’:

PRIVACY POLICY: Personal information collected by DRAGON CON during the administration of this Award may be used by DRAGON CON to contact Entrants regarding DRAGON CON’s products or services, for its marketing purposes, in conjunction with executing the terms of this Sweepstakes.

A sweepstakes has randomly chosen winners. Which sounds at odds with the Dragon Awards but it’s even weirder than that. The term here is applying to the people nominating or voting, not the works in the contest.

So no particular news here other than the WTF aspect hasn’t changed.

Wow, the Dragon Award website has been updated!

There’s now a nomination button that works and the front page invites you to nominate. Also the dates are largely right. True the ‘register to vote page’ still says “Welcome to the third annual Dragon Awards!” but baby steps. http://awards.dragoncon.org/

Anyway, any passing 20booksto50K authors dropping buy, the Dragons are fine with active campaigning, slates and other activities 🙂

Meanwhile Declan Finn is off to a quick start with nominations here http://www.declanfinn.com/2019/02/return-of-dragons-2019.html

There’s been some Dragon Award progress

After my last post about the Dragon Award website, I sent the gist of the post as an email to the email addresses I had for the awards. I’ve not had a reply and it may be a coincidence but some of the issues have been fixed:

Getting to the nomination page is still circuitous. Find the 2017 “Nominations are now live” news post and that has a link to this year’s nomination page. They’ve also fixed the first sentence which now says “Welcome to the annual Dragon Awards” instead of “Welcome to the third annual Dragon Awards”. The register to vote page still has the old sentence though.

So how’s the Dragon Award going?

It has been a couple of months since I last checked on the Dragon Award website. Nothing has changed in the interim. To recap:

  • The awards are supposed to open for nominations in November.
  • As far as I am aware no announcement for 2019 has been made.
  • The register to vote link at the top navigation bar…simply takes you back to the front page.
  • A 2017 post saying “Nominations are now live” (in the ‘Recent Posts’ side bar) does have a link to a nomination page.
  • That page says “Welcome to the third annual Dragon Awards!” which implies it is last year’s page but…
  • …says “Nomination Deadline: July 20, 2019” implying it is this year’s page.
  • To nominate using this page you have to agree to the rules of the competition but the “rules” link leads only to the generic Dragon Con page.
  • The “Process” page says a qualifying novel is “around 70,000 words long” implying it might be a bit less or a bit more.
  • The “?” hover text on the nomination page says a qualifying novel is “at least 70,000 words long” implying it cannot be less but can be any size bigger than that.

This remains the strangest way of promoting an award I have ever seen.

[ETA: There’s an extra outbreak of revisionist Puppy history at Mad Genius Club: https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/02/16/fanhistory/ It’s not substantive enough for a post because it’s a secondhand account of somebody’s else presentation. There’s points were nominations and final votes seem to be being confused but I don’t want to attribute the claim to either the post writer or the original presenter because it’s not clear enough. However, this line stood out: “Dave Doering thinks that the Sad Puppy legacy was good for fandom. They led to the development of a truly descriptive award, the Dragons.” Hmmmm…]

Dragon Award Nominations Are Open Sort Of

Yes, it’s that time of year when I look at the Dragon Awards website and wonder if anybody is paying attention other than me.

Currently the nomination page is open and says…odd things.

http://application.dragoncon.org/dc_fan_awards_nominations.php

Welcome to the third annual Dragon Awards! A way to recognize excellence in all things Science Fiction and Fantasy.

It’s the FOURTH annual Dragon Awards – yes, that does make everybody reading this feel old but its true. Also, no way am I doing 2018 all over again.

Nomination Deadline: July 20, 2019. We encourage you to get your nominations in early.”

OK, seems reasonable.

“Nominations should be first released between 7/1/2017 and 6/30/2018.”

Sorry? That’s the old nomination dates. Are we really doing 2018 again?

“If you do not agree to the rules and confirm your email, your nominations will not be processed and you will not be added to the voting process.”

The “rules” link just takes you to the generic Dragon Con page. So you must agree to the rules but we can’t tell you what they are.

The last entry on the News page is from 2017 http://awards.dragoncon.org/news/

ETA Also the “Register Vote” link just takes you in circles. You get to the nominations page by clicking a news article from 2017. I assume the voting page will be in a dusty chamber behind a locked filing cabinet with “beware of the leopard” written on it.

On the candidate FAQ page:

What is the Nomination Period for this year?
Nominations may be made from now through 11:59PM EDT, July 20, 2018.

Dragon Award Winners

I’m pulling these from Red Panda Fraction’s live tweeing:

They must have nimble little paws to tweet so swiftly.

Overall, largely unsurprising safe choices. Stray observations:

Best Science Fiction Novel: Artemis by Andy Weir
It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Gareth Worthington and Stu Jones
Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
The Mutineer’s Daughter by Chris Kennedy and Thomas A. Mays
Win by Vera Nazarian
Sins of Her Father by Mike Kupari

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal): Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
Shoot the Messenger by Pippa DaCosta
War Hammer by Shayne Silvers
The Land: Predators by Aleron Kong
The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston
A Tempered Warrior by Jon R. Osborne

Best Young Adult / Middle-Grade Novel: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Cold Bath Street by A.J. Hartley
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
When Tinker Met Bell by Alethea Kontis
Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
Warcross by Marie Lu

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope
Communications Failure by Joe Zieja
Points of Impact by Marko Kloos
Ghost Marines: Integration by Jonathan P. Brazee
Price of Freedom by Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle
Legend by Christopher Woods

Best Alternate History Novel: Uncharted by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt
Dark State by Charles Stross
The Sea Peoples by S.M. Stirling
Witchy Winter by D.J. Butler
Dream of the Iron Dragon by Robert Kroese
Minds of Men by Kacey Ezell

Best Media Tie-In Novel: Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
Before the Storm by Christie Golden
Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
Fear Itself by James Swallow
Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck
Desperate Hours by David Mack

Best Horror Novel: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Beneath the Lighthouse by Julieanne Lynch
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
A Time to Run by Mark Wandrey
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry

Best Comic Book: Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and James Harren, Marvel Comics
Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, DC Comics
Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe, Dark Horse Comics
Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, DC Comics
Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Image Comics
Star Wars: Darth Vader by Charles D. Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli, Marvel Comics

Best Graphic Novel: Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand Volume 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, and Julius M. Gopez, Dynamite Entertainment
Chicago Typewriter: The Red Ribbon by Brandon Fiadino, Djibril Morissette-Phan, and James Greatorex, Dark Legion Comics
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
Monstress Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda, Image Comics
Vision (The Vision) by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Marvel Comics
Paper Girls Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang, Image Comics

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series: Game of Thrones, HBO
The Expanse, Syfy
Lucifer, Fox
Supernatural, CW
Star Trek: Discovery, CBS All Access
Altered Carbon, Netflix
Stranger Things, Netflix

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie: Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler
Incredibles 2 directed by Brad Bird
Thor: Ragnorok directed by Taika Waititi
Blade Runner 2049 directed by Denis Villeneuve
Avengers: Infinity War directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Ready Player One directed by Steven Spielberg
Deadpool 2 directed by Dave Leitch

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game: Middle-earth: Shadow of War by Monolith Productions
Fortnite by Epic Games
Cuphead by Studio MDHR
Destiny 2 by Bungie
Battletech by Harebrained Schemes
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus by MachineGames

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery by Jam City
Planescape: Torment, the Enhanced Edition by Beamdog
Nocked! by Andrew Schneider
Lineage 2: Revolution by Netmarble
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition by Square Enix

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game: Red Dragon Inn 6: Villains by Slugfest Games
Rising Sun by CMON Games
When I Dream by Asmodee
Mysterium: Secrets and Lies Expansion by Asmodee
Azul by Plan B Games
Photosynthesis by Blue Orange

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game: Magic: The Gathering Unstable by Wizards of the Coast
Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition by Games Workshop
Force and Destiny Role-playing Game: Knights of Fate by Fantasy Flight Games
Bubblegumshoe – RPG by Evil Hat
Cooking with Dice: The Acid Test by Oddfish Games
D100 Dungeon by Martin Knight