You are all used to my habits now and you all know that one of my favourite topics for posts is non-news about the Dragon Award. In a major step forward for the Dragons, they appear to have forgotten to tell everybody who won. You can find out from Twitter threads or File 770 http://file770.com/2021-dragon-awards/ but the official website is still telling people how to vote in the ballot.
In the past the Media Relations team of Dragon Con have done a press release and if you hop over to their page https://www.dragoncon.org/mediarelations/ you can read their most recent press release on the winners…from 2020 where you can read that John Scalzi wins Best Science Fiction Novel.
Enough non-news. In some actual Dragon Award news, Jason Sanford’s Genre Grapevine is claiming there were issues with the voting this year.
“Despite what that message said, I have verified a number of new registrants in the final weeks of voting did not receive their ballots on those indicated days. Instead, these people waited weeks after registration before their ballot finally arrived on Saturday, September 4, the very last day of voting. Some of the new registrants saw their ballot in time to vote. A number of others did not and missed out.”
The sum total per year of my moaning about the Dragon Award has decreased but it remains a frustrating thing to follow. Consider this, the following day from the announcement, the Dragon Award website doesn’t list the winners yet and the press release from Dragon Con Media Relations is still about the 2020 award https://web.archive.org/web/20210906184551/https://www.dragoncon.org/mediarelations/ Even Larry Correia doesn’t have a post about on his blog! And here are the official Dragon Con social media account Tweets on the award:
However, what really struck me about this year’s winners, including the estimable Red Wombat, was that if I’d gone to sleep at the end of 2015 and had not woken up again until the Dragon Award winners were announced, I’d feel like nothing much had changed. Correia, Butcher, Flint, Gannon but also Andy Weir and Ursula Vernon (as two people pushed off the Hugo ballot by Puppy antics) were all significant names in the events of 2015.
Now, the Hugos have their own tendency towards favouring past winners, Best Novel this year may well go to a past winner, but it would be weird for this to occur across multiple categories. No, I’m not saying any one of these winners is bad because they were around six years ago, just that, as a whole, this points to the Dragons still being stuck in the past.
In the ultimate irony, one of the few works to win, whose title or author wouldn’t be instantly recognised by the time-traveller from 2015 was the Netflix movie The Old Guard.
…And then posting it here because this blog is just where things fall out of my head like one of those sci-fi junkyard planets.
So from 2016, I saw was a puppy supporter saying Larry Correia was outselling N.K.Jemisin by a huge margin. Given the state of information about book sales that is a tough claim to substantiate, particularly across all the books both authors have written. However, it occurred to me that there was a relevant like-for-like (ish) comparison that could be made. Both Correia and Jemisin published book 1 of a fantasy series in 2015: Correia’s Son of the Black Sword (listed as October 15, 2015 on Amazon) and N.K.Jemisin’s The Fifth Season (listed as August 4, 2015 on Amazon). One won a Dragon Award and the other won a Hugo Award.
How are they doing now after all the hurly-burly has been done?
Son of the Black Sword
The Fifth Season
#93,992 in Kindle Store
#61,922 in Kindle Store
#4,937 in Audible Books & Originals
#21,721 in Audible Books & Originals
#229,997 in Books
#422,057 in Books
#4,698 in Books
Correia is no slouch when it comes to sales and it looks like his book is doing better in audio than Jemisin’s. Otherwise, it’s no contest.
Ah yes but MAYBE that’s just because of evil SJW publishing media hype and people bought The Fifth Season because of virtue signalling etc blah blah something??!? So, do people keep reading? Both books had sequels but here the comparison isn’t quite as like-for-like due to different publishing dates.
House of Assassins
The Obelisk Gate
#173,022 in Kindle Store
#55,910 in Kindle Store
#48,055 in Audible Books & Originals
#21,992 in Audible Books & Originals
#363,766 in Books
#310,581 in Books
#11,716 in Books
It’s not really a contest is it?
Destroyer of Worlds
The Stone Sky
144,452 in Kindle Store
#64,908 in Kindle Store
9,041 in Audible Books & Originals
#69,932 in Audible Books & Originals
327,341 in Books
183,721 in Books
#20,940 in Books
A bit of an audiobook advantage for Correia again but no, much to everybody’s surprise a hugely successful, critically acclaimed, groundbreaking (lol) modern classic of the genre is somehow outselling a relatively obscure cookie-cutter epic fantasy from a publisher with a narrow audience and limited reach.
I’m still working through classifying the finalists by publisher but I have done a preliminary classification by pronouns. As always, I’m not doing the TV/Movie or game categories. I am including the comics/graphic novel for some stats.
I believe with the pronoun counts only Grant Morrison is currently using “they/them”. If people are aware of other finalists who are using they/them or something other than she/her|he/him then let me know — I’ve checked but sources are often out of date [*corrections below]. In a couple of years, some works in the graphic categories only listed “various” for authors, hence “group” is a pronoun category.
This is the percentage break down over the years:
Books and graphic works
Looking at only the book categories:
Actually, despite my first impression, 2020 was a better balance than this year.
This is also true of the two “headline” awards (Best SF & Best Fantasy) which are the easiest categories to compare with other awards:
Best Science Fiction and Best Fantasy
2018 was the most he-authory year. I think this matches with my impression of the awards as being 2016-2018 an award focused on the backlash to the 2015 Hugos, 2019 as a transitional year (broader choice of finalists but very juvenile-houndish winners) and 2020 shifting away.
Pronoun update: Hannah Abigail Clarke’s pronoun’s updated to they/them.
Phew! Glad I got that Debarkle chapter done in time.
The ballot has just landed in my inbox. Looks suspiciously readable…Declan won’t be happy but the MilSF is more your classic Dragon Award. I’ve not crunched the numbers but the gender split looks better. Two Red Wombats? Space Sweepers!
1. Best Science Fiction Novel
Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow
Machine by Elizabeth Bear
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross
Battle Ground by Jim Butcher
3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips
A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown
Orders of Battle by Marko Kloos
Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio
Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams
Direct Fire by Rick Partlow
Sentenced to War by J.N. Chaney, Jonathan Brazee
5. Best Alternate History Novel
Daggers in Darkness by S.M. Stirling
The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
1637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon
6. Best Media Tie-In Novel
MacGyver: Meltdown by Eric Kelley, Lee Zlotoff
Penitent by Dan Abnett
Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon
Shadows Rising World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by Madeleine Roux
Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn
7. Best Horror Novel
The Taxidermist’s Lover by Polly Hall
The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings
True Story: A Novel by Kate Reed Petty
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay
8. Best Comic Book
Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett
X-Men by Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar
Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson, Christian Ward
Once & Future by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora
Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto
9. Best Graphic Novel
Pulp by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips
Dracula, Motherf**ker by Alex de Campi, Erica Henderson
The Book Tour by Andi Watson
The Green Lantern Season Two by Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp
The Magicians: New Class by Lev Grossman, Lilah Sturges,
Pius Bak The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
10. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Shadow & Bone, Netflix
The Expanse, Amazon
Star Trek: Discovery, Paramount+
The Nevers, HBO
Resident Alien, SYFY
11. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
Tenet by Christopher Nolan
Justice League by Zack Snyder
Bill & Ted Face the Music by Dean Parisot
Space Sweepers by Sung-hee Jo
Godzilla vs Kong by Adam Wingard
The Old Guard by Gina Prince-Bythewood
Wonder Woman 1984 by Patty Jenkins
12. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Ubisoft
Star Wars: Squadrons, Electronic Arts
Hades, Supergiant Games
Ghost of Tsushima, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Crusader Kings III, Paradox Interactive
Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt
13. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
South of the Circle, State of Play Games
Genshin Impact, miHoYo
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Ustwo & Plug in Digital
Empire of Sin, Paradox Interactive
Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells, Zynga
Orwell’s Animal Farm, The Dairymen Ltd.
14. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
Pandemc: Legacy Season 0, Z-Man Games
Sleeping Gods, Red Raven Games
Dune: Imperium, Dire Wolf Games
Curious Cargo, Capstone Games
Oceans, North Star Games
Marvel United, CMON Games
15. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Soulbound Role-Playing Game, Cubicle 7
Magic: The Gathering, Zendikar Rising, Wizards of the Coast
Pokemon TCG: Champion’s Path Elite Trainer Box, Pokemon Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, Wizards of the Coast
Magic: The Gathering, Strixhaven: School of Mages, Wizards of the Coast
…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.
I’m behind on all sorts of regular topics but I want to keep an eye on the Dragon Awards because I always have. It’s a thing. Last year, the awards did a mainstream pivot and also improved some aspects of the website including more articles. The awards themselves collaborated with the Fulton County Library System to encourage readers. Will that direction continue?
One reason it might not is the January 2021 kerfuffle over the boogaloo-like content at Baen’s Bar and the subsequent disinvintation of Baen chief editor and publisher Toni Weiskopff as Guest of Honour at this years Worldcon. Baen (and specifically Eric Flint) have had an undefined relationship with the Dragons and also many Baen fans saw the Dragons when they started in 2016 as an antidote to the supposedly Baen unfriendly Hugo Awards.
What has happened since? There was an uptick in Dragon Award chatter in January and February. Superversive SF produced a crowd-sourced list of books http://www.superversivesf.com/?p=1755 which notes those books that are Dragon Award eligible. Declan Finn, as always, has been promoting his suggestions for the Dragon Awards but in a few more places (eg on some sites on MeWe). What there isn’t is much of a focused campaign from others I can see since. This may all pick up again in June or early July. (or it might not matter if the organisers mainly pick the finalists, which may or may not be the case)
I’ve not seen anybody try to do this on the right-hand lane of fandom for awhile. L Jagi Lamplighter is compiling a great big list of 2020 SFF works on the Superversive blog. Sensibly she is keeping it low-tech. People put suggestions in the comments and then periodically she’ll update the list on the blog. The intent is to help people find books but also provide some suggestions for the Dragon Award.
Coming this month (and probably for most of the year) is “Debarkle”, a history of the Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015, the events that preceded it, the political context and how it presaged events in US politics that followed it.
What follows is the draft section and chapter order. Naturally, what will actually happen is something different from this but this is the outline I’m working to.
Roughly it is in chronological order but with various chapters flashing forward or flashing backwards to keep themes together. External politics events are also a key part of this story, some of which will get their own chapters but in other cases they will be referenced in more fannish chapters to give context and establish time periods. Sadly, a lot of those external political events are violent ones but they are ones relevant to the times and also the discussions and the political atmosphere.
There are some special recurring chapters:
Dramatis Personae: these chapters look at backstories to some recurring names or groups in the story. I’ve tried to keep these to a minimum but if I find that I’m writing longer paragraphs about the background to given person, I may split that off into an extra one of these. Generally, they’ll cover the ‘story so far’ up to that point. So, John Scalzi and Vox Day (and maybe the Nielsen Hayden’s) get early chapters before the opening act of this http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/archives/006122.html. So these chapters don’t all end up in section 1, many people will appear in the main narrative before they get one of these chapters but with a briefer introduction.
Meanwhile: these chapters cover things away from the main Puppy story but which, again, would otherwise become long intruding paragraphs of context. An obvious example is RaceFail 2009, which involved no puppies but did involve notable people in fandom. Likewise, a discussion of the 2015 Hugo awards can’t avoid discussion of RequiresHate and the Mixon report. You can skip these if you want to stick to the main plot. Part 6, covering 2020, is all Meanwhile.
Some book reviews: With the Hugosauriad I was pleased with how the two chapters looking at If You Were a Dinosaur My Love and the right-wing reaction to it worked out. The Debarkle is about many things but one of those things is stories. Currently these reviews will include Monster Hunter International, Redshirts, Ancillary Justice and the Broken Earth Trilogy, as well as some selected shorter fiction.
Speaking of the Hugosauriad, because that project contains chapters on Rachel Swirsky’s story and on Chuck Tingle, neither will get their own chapter in Debarkle. Obviously, both will get discussed but the longer coverage is in the Hugosauriad.
Currently, the plan is 6 sections.
Beginnings 1880 to 2010. All the background and setting the scene.
2011 to 2014. This covers the SFWA conflicts and the first two Sad Puppy campaigns but also looks at Gamergate.
2015. This section is the most chronological and most chapters cover events in a given month up to the smoky skies of Sasquan. “Phew!” we all say in August, “Looks like we defeated fascism for good this time!” and Donald Trump enters stage right.
2016-2017. Two parallel stories – the political story with the alt-right and Donald Trump and also the story of how the Puppy campaigns fizzled out. SP4, the non-event of SP5, the Dragon Awards and how Larry finally gets his participation prize.
2018-2019. Follows the political story with some delves back into fandom. Specifically this is the politics of Sad and Rabid versions of the right in the age of Trump. The crappiest gate aka ‘Comicsgate’ will get a look in, as will the 2019 Nebulas, as ‘compare and contrast’ with the Puppy campaigns.
Meanwhile 2020: Aside from an initial dive into the RWA’s meltdown, this section looks at the hell year in terms of the perspectives of the Puppy Protagonists. Dominating it are three major elements of the year, Qanon (particularly with Vox Day), Covid (Sarah Hoyt) and ‘Stop the Steal’ (Larry Correia but also Day and Hoyt).
Section 3 (i.e. the actual plot) is likely to blow-out. Three sections of aftermath may look like a lot but as the main thesis of the project is that the themes and cognitive style of the “crazy” behaviour of the US right in 2020 were already overt and apparent in 2015, just at a different scale and context. Note, the thesis isn’t that the Puppies caused later events (they are all minor bit players in bigger story, if that) but rather that the same underlying cultures and attitudes on the right that erupted as the Puppies in fandom, later erupted at a bigger scale (and at greater human cost) in US politics. Sections won’t be of equal length.
As always, suggestions, comments etc are welcome but it will also end up being whatever gets written at the time!
Intro: Jan 6 2021
Part 1: Beginnings 1880 to 2010 A short history of the Hugo Awards 1953 to 2000 Dramatis Personae 1: John Scalzi Dramatis Personae 2: Theodore Beale Tor, Baen and Amazon 1990 -2011 Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America 1965 to 2010 March 1, 2005: Electrolyte Dramatis Personae 3: Larry Correia 2007: Monster Hunter International Meanwhile: Barack Obama Meanwhile: Racefail 2009 2010 Hugos and the SFWA
Part 2: 2011 to 2014 2011: Larry Goes to Worldcon 2012-13: The Day-Scalzi Feud Meanwhile: Mitt Romney 2013 “How to get Correia nominated for a Hugo” 2013: Redshirts Dramatis Personae 4: N.K.Jemisin 2013: Trouble at the SFWA Dramatis Personae 5: Sarah Hoyt and the Mad Geniuses Opera Vita Aeterna 2014: Sad Puppies 2 2014: Ancillary Justice 2014: Vox Gets the Boot Dramatis Personae 6: John C wright and the Evil League of Evil Dramatis Personae 7: George R R Martin 2014: The Hugos go to London Meanwhile: Requires Hate Meanwhile: GamerGate Dramatis Personae 8: Brad Torgersen
Part 3: 2015 January: Announcing SAD PUPPIES 3! February: Rabid Puppies 2015 March: Warnings April Part 1: TSHTF April Part 2: Hugos Hit the News Dramatis Personae 9: Mike Glyer and File 770 May: Planning Ahead E Pluribus Hugo June Part 1: The Tor Boycott Totaled June Part 2: The Human Toll July: Crescendo August: Sasquan September-December: Taking Stock Meanwhile: Donald Trump
Part 4: Fall of the Puppies 2016-2017 The Broken Earth Trilogy Quarter 1 2016 Part 1: Sad Puppies 4 Quarter 1 2016 Part 2: Rabid Puppies Meanwhile: The Rise of the Alt Right Dramatis Personae 10: Jon Del Arroz Enter the Dragon Quarter 2: Reactions Meanwhile: GOP goes Trump August: Midamericon September: Dragon Awards 2016 Meanwhile: Me Too Meanwhile: President Donald Trump The Sad Demise of SP5 Rabid Puppies 2017 Worldcon 75 – Finland
Part 5: The Trump Years 2018-2019 Overview Comicsgate Meanwhile: Qanon Changing fortunes at the Dragon Awards Meanwhile: Black Lives Matter Gender at the Hugo Awards Meanwhile: 20booksto50 and the Nebulas Dramatis Personae: Mixed Fortunes The Hugos and the Campbell Legacy
Part 6: Meanwhile 2020 Trouble in Romance Covid 19 Black Lives Matter US Presidential Election “Stop the Steal”
We also have our first Dragon Award list of the year, from who else but Declan Finn! Unfortunately Declan is somewhat disenchanted with the whole business of asking people to discuss the Dragons:
“But I am no longer going to ask for more suggestions. I’m not even going to try for a discussion this year. Why? Because every time I’ve done this, no one WANTS a discussion. Almost everyone who comes by drops a link in the comments going ME ME ME, and disappears.”