Dragon Award Update

A general round-up of who is saying what and where.

The Red Panda Fraction have started an award suggestion spreadsheet http://bit.ly/DragonAwards2019Eligible using the same model as the Lady Business Hugo one. Very useful even if you aren’t participating in the Dragon Awards.

Previous years I tried to systematically collect Dragon Award requests for nominations. I haven’t done that this year, partly because interest in them seems to be waning substantially. Vox Day’s 2019 post soliciting nominations was non-committal [archive link]. Larry Correia has been promoting the award on Facebook but not much otherwise (e.g. not on his blog).

I haven’t seen any distinct promotion of the awards from 20booksto50K, which is odd given the Dragons are overtly an it’s-OK-to-campaign award. However, Craig Martelle has asked for nominations and based on previous years I would imagine he’d be a strong contender (specifically Scorpion’s Fury by CH Gideon which is a pen-name of his).

Of course, Declan Finn has been on the case of who to vote for http://www.declanfinn.com/2019/05/dragon-awards-may-2019.html but interestingly his publisher Russell Newquist hasn’t posted about the awards this year. Jon Del Arroz has been busy talking about other things. So overall, not much on my radar.

Nominations don’t close to July 19, so there are several weeks to go but based on past years, it has been quieter. Of course, also based on past years, there’s a community of readers-writers somewhere who have just become aware collectively about the Dragon Awards and who will be this years surprising finalists :).

You Haven’t Written About Sad Puppies For A Long Time

True, true. So a summary of various goings on or not going on as the case may be.

Mad Genius covered a few cause célèbres a few days ago including the fuss around Amélie Wen Zhao’s book Blood Heir, and the Mystery Writers of America pulling an award for Linda Fairstein because of her involvement in the prosecution of the Central Park Five. Amid this there was a section on the Nebula Award fuss around 20booksto50K’s reading list:

If you aren’t up-to-date on what this refers to, a so-called slate was put together by a member of a FB group of indie and small press authors. It was, in fact, meant to be a reading list, not a slate for voting. The person responsible has since apologized. But, oh no, the “damage” had been done and it was done by those evil Indies. How dare they try to manipulate the Nebs?
Sound familiar? Remind you of some of the arguments against the SPs?
Note also, how there is no condemnation for the person or persons who took information from a private social media group and made it public. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean folks aren’t out to get you.

https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/04/30/tuesday-morning-roundup/

It’s the standard and factually incorrect “trad v indie” version of events that ignores that the nominees included people with both trad and indie publications, some of whom were very much SFWA ‘insiders’ and that they were nominated in categories against other works that were independently published or that the most vehement criticism came from indie published authors.

Meanwhile at Mad Genius Club, Dave Freer is taking a break from his regular posts: https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/05/06/a-leave-of-absence/

Speaking of Dave Freer, Louis Antonelli has started his own short fiction magazine. Currently it is a generic Blogger page but from small things big things can grow: https://siriussciencefiction.blogspot.com/ I’d say ‘good luck’ to it and leave it at that but it comes with this rant which includes some weird personal attacks http://louantonelli.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-death-of-live-and-let-live.html The greatest ire from the Sad Puppies has always been towards people who attempted to bridge divides.

“The Soviet Union subverted and infiltrated college campuses during the Vietnam War era in an attempt to topple the U.S. without a fight. It didn’t work, but it did result in the unusual societal outcome that the most spoiled and privileged segments of society are also the most leftist. Today’s liberal leaders combine the snobbery of the Met Club with the ideology of the Khmer Rouge.”

Okedokee. Couldn’t get any more paranoidly conspiratorial than that? Why yes! Yes, it can!

“Once the sci-fi establishment stuffed the ballot box by buying thousands of WorldCon memberships to euthanize the Sad Puppies in the 2015 Hugo vote, it assured the irrelevance of the award. The old institutions remain, but they are like dusty trophies on the mantle of a cob-webbed private club. New ones are rising up because that 98 percent of sci fi authors need some place to call home. The Dragon Awards have already clobbered both the Hugos and Nebulas in both quality and prestige.”

Glad to see Lou is sticking to his usual journalistic standards of evidence based claims.

Speaking of grandiose plans to create alternative venues free from SJW influence, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Creators Guild remains unchanged from February 2018 https://sffcguild.com/blog/

And speaking of the SFFC Guild, Richard Paolinelli and Declan Finn have fallen out with Jon Del Arroz. Timothy’s erstwhile client posted an unfunny meme about the Twin Towers and Infinity War (a skyline pic of the towers sort of evaporating Thanos-snap style, with George W Bush’s face superimposed poorly onto Thanos’s head). Insensitive and offensive? Certainly. The most offensive thing JDA has ever posted? Hardly. Even so, this was a line crossed for some. JDA characterises it thusly:

“On the personal front, I’ve been under heavy attack from — not the left — but centrist right wing authors over the last week. They’ve pushed hard against me, both in public and in private. I’ve shared some of the ridiculous things said about me.”

http://delarroz.com/2019/05/03/theres-a-war-on-for-your-mind-fighting-the-real-battles/

The list of people Jon has now permanently alienated in the course of his short career grows ever longer.

Speaking of meme sharing harassers, I hadn’t visited Vox Day’s site for a long time but these days his main concern is Royal Babies. Apparently (according to Vox) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle haven’t really had a baby, which is his follow up conspiracy theory to Meghan Markle not really being pregnant. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/05/fake-baby-finally-arrives.html Now, sure, I get that racism is a powerful drug that sends its victims into a world of self-parody but didn’t Vox at least once try to project a veneer of being a serious commentator on world affairs?

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]

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…]