Category: Dragon Awards

Awards and Independents

A talking point that gets repeated is that the Dragon Awards are more open to indy published works than the Hugo Awards. There are a few issues there.

  • A neutral issue is finding a good definition of independently published. I take it to mean self-published and/or small-press published and/or published by anybody that is not owned by a large publishing house. Are books published by Baen independent? I think it is fair to class them as so in the sense of not being controlled by one of the large corporate publishers.
  • A harder to untangle issue is that different editions of books can be published by different publishing houses. Some books are both independently published AND published by major publishing houses.
  • A trickier issue is the two awards do not have commensurable categories. Both the Dragon Awards and Hugo Awards have multiple categories for published works (i.e. ignoring awards for films etc) but the Dragon Awards splits those categories across novels into different sub-genres, whereas the Hugo Awards split those categories across structural dimensions (length, type).
  • Finally, the Dragon Awards are still new. The kind of works nominated in 2016 or 2017 may not reflect where the award eventually ends up.

However, some of those issues are salient to the question of which award is more open to non-big publishing — after all, if both awards were structurally identical then it’s unlikely they would be different. I’ll try to work through some of those issues by comparing the 2017 winners in various categories.

The Dragons

For the Dragons, I’m looking at the novel categories. I considered including the comic/graphic novel categories but the publishing dynamic in that space is different (Marvel v DC as the big two, with various others competing).

  • Best Science Fiction Novel: Babylon’s Ashes, by James S.A. Corey  — Orbit
  • Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal): Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge, by Larry Correia and John Ringo — Baen
  • Best Young Adult / Middle-Grade Novel: The Hammer of Thor, by Rick Riordan — Penguin
  • Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: Iron Dragoons, by Richard Fox — Triplane Press, Createspace Independent Pub
  • Best Alternate History Novel: Fallout: The Hot War, by Harry Turtledove — Del Rey
  • Best Apocalyptic Novel: Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow — Head of Zeus, Tor Books
  • Best Horror Novel: The Changeling, by Victor LaValle — Canongate Books, Random House

Of these seven categories, two categories were won by works published independently or by a publisher not owned by a multinational. Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway is an interesting case as Head of Zeus is an independent publisher but Tor is not. Likewise, Victor LaValle’s The Changeling was published by both an independent (Canongate) and Random House.

Consequently, we can count books NOT published by one of the big multinationals and get the answer 2 out of 7, or we can count non-big publishing represented by the winners and get 4 out of 7.

The Hugo Awards

We can’t do a like-by-like comparison of categories as the two awards do not have the same style of categories. The simplest comparison would be awards for printed works other than graphic (for the reasons given above). I’m not including Best Fanzine as I feel that’s drifting well away from something comparable. Best Semiprozine I’m semi-including: obviously, it is inherently indy and would give the Hugos a structural advantage but then again that’s exactly the question we are looking at! However, I’m leaning to not including it as a category because the award is given generically rather than to a specific issue. There is an indy versus big-publishing comparison to be made in the editor categories as well but those are so wholly unlike the Dragon Award categories as to make the comparison untenable.

  • Best Novel: The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin — Orbit Books
  • Best Novella: Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire — Tor.com
  • Best Novelette: “The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon —  Apex Magazine
  • Best Short Story: “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales) — Saga Press
  • Best Related Work: Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin — Small Beer

Not including Semi-prozine, gives 3 2 out of 5 of the categories to non-Big publishing. Including semi-prozine gives 4 3 out of 6 to non-Big publishing. [ETA corrected count as I’d included Saga as independent when I’m fact it is owned by Simon & Shuster]

Case Closed?

The 2017 numbers looked across multiple categories would point to the Hugo Awards as being more friendly to independents by a small margin. However, this can be countered by pointing to the ‘headline’ categories. The Hugo Award for Best Novel is the most notable award of the categories and is the award with the most prestige¤. The last time one of the big publishing houses didn’t win Best Novel was in 2004 when Lois McMaster Bujold’s Paladin of Souls won — published by Eos, which is now an imprint of Harper Collins but at the time was an imprint of the smaller Avon Publishing (bought by Harper Collins in 2010). [ETA – OK didn’t realise that Avon was already within the News Corp orbit at that point] In 2010 the award was given jointly to Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl published by Night Shade Books and China Miéville’s The City & the City published by Del Rey Books. At the time Night Shade Books was an independent publisher and is now an imprint of another independent publisher, Skyhorse Publishing. So, depending on how you phrase it, Big Publishing has dominated since 2004 or 2010.

The contraction and consolidation of publishing into a few big conglomerates have been reflected in the Hugo Awards for Best Novel, which have become dominated by two publishers Tor (owned by Macmillan) and Orbit (owned by Hachette). The growth of small and self-published ebooks is not currently reflected in the Hugo’s headline award. Yet, it is reflected in the other categories. The interesting semi-exception is Novella, where Tor.com (an imprint of an imprint) primarily competes against independently published novellas*.

For the Dragon Awards, there are two headline categories: Best Science Fiction Novel and Best Fantasy Novel. There are only two years worth of winners, so it is hard to draw any firm conclusions yet. The shift from 2016 to 2017 implies a shift to more mainstream winners (and hence a shift away from Independents) but that is based on very thin data. Baen have a strong association with the award and may continue to do well in it. With little data, it is hard to tell.

Structure

Both Awards have structural advantages for independents. For the Hugo Awards, it is categories that favour magazine-style publications, which in turn favours independently published stories. For the Dragon Awards, it is multiple sub-genre categories – military science fiction, in particular, is a sub-genre with a strong independent presence.

The nature of both awards as being to various degrees (and in different ways) fan-led means that works with more publicity is going to have an advantage, which favours works backed by large publishing houses.

Conclusion

It is too early to tell for sure with the Dragon Awards but currently, they don’t seem to be particularly more favourable to independently published works than the Hugo Awards. The initial advantage self-published works had in the Dragons in 2016 was primarily due to a general lack of awareness and low participation. If those factors decrease then more mainstream works are likely to be nominated.

Complicating the picture for both awards is the changing dynamics of publishing in general but that’s an area in which prognostication remains a fool’s game.

¤[Aside from the Hugo Award for Best Puzzle Section in the Hugo Packet, which I think I’m a very strong contender for.]

*[There is a side hypothesis here about Puppy hatred of Tor. It is a redundant one as there is plenty to explain the dislike of Tor by the Sad Puppies through personal conflicts. However, looked at in terms of publishing spaces, Tor.com is very much an arm of big-publishing that acts far more like an independent press operating in the new landscape of Amazon dominance.]

Advertisements

Who Won What in the Dragons?

 

But first a pointlessly epic opening titles video for the post!

The big two (SF Novel and Fantasy Novel) were the no-surprise of James Corey and the Larry Correia/John Ringo duo. The category to watch was YA and that went to the super-safe choice of Rick Riordan. Best Apocalyptic and Best Horror went to authors not generally liked by the right of SF: Cory Doctorow and Victor LaValle. comic book adaptations of Jim Butcher’s Dresden files took the two comic categories.

Observant people may notice all the winning authors have something in common that Hugo winners didn’t.

Faction wins:

  • Rabids: Zero
  • Happy Frogs: 1 (but not an actual Scappy Doo work)
  • Declan: 2 (but works that would have won anyway)
  • Inkshares: 0
  • Red Pandas: 2 (most notably Best Horror)

Publishers:

  • Orbit: 1
  • Baen: 1
  • Disney Hyperion: 1
  • Triplane Press: 1
  • Del Rey: 1
  • Tor books: 1
  • Spiegel & Grau: 1

If I was the Dragon Award organisers I’d be happy with the results. Mainly safe choices that avoided rewarding poor behaviour.

[ETA] The official press release is here: http://mediarelations.dragoncon.org/ but I can’t seem to get a permalink to it.

More than 8,000 fans cast ballots for Dragon Award winners among 88 properties in 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming and tabletop gaming.

8 thousand is impressive if it is what they say (i.e. 8 thousand distinct voters) but less impressive if it is the sum of votes per category (an average of about 500). I assume it is the first given the wording.

Best Science Fiction Novel
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
WINNER —> Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
Death’s End by Cixin Liu <|| Red Panda
Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli <|| Declan Finn <|| HF nom
Rise by Brian Guthrie <|| Inkshares
Space Tripping by Patrick Edwards <|| Inkshares
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi <|| Red Panda
The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day <|| CH <||Rabid nom <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Beast Master by Shayne Silvers
Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter <|| Red Panda
Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi
WINNER —> Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo <|| Declan Finn
The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta
Wings of Justice by Michael-Scott Earle

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas <|| Red Panda
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Firebrand by A.J. Hartley
It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett <|| Inkshares
Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter <|| Declan Finn <|| HF nom
Swan Knight’s Son by John C Wright <|| CH <||Rabid nom <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs
WINNER —> The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Allies and Enemies: Exiles by Amy J. Murphy <|| Red Panda
Caine’s Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon
Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey <|| Declan Finn
Invasion: Resistance by J.F. Holmes
WINNER —> Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox
Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David VanDyke <|| CH <||Rabid nom
The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico

Best Alternate History Novel
1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint <|| Declan Finn
A Change in Crime by D.R. Perry
Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs
Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
WINNER —> Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove <|| Declan Finn
No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah <|| CH <||Rabid nom
The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville <|| Red Panda
Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler

Best Apocalyptic Novel
A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
American War by Omar El Akkad <|| Red Panda
Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz <|| Declan Finn
The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz <|| Inkshares
WINNER —> Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
ZK: Falling by J.F. Holmes

Best Horror Novel
A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau <|| Inkshares
Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten <|| Declan Finn
Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga
Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells
The Bleak December by Kevin G. Summers
WINNER —> The Changeling by Victor LaValle <|| Red Panda

Best Comic Book
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eleven by Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs
Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda <|| Red Panda
Motor Girl by Terry Moore <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa
Saga by Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples
WINNER —> The Dresden Files: Dog Men by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo
Wynonna Earp Legends by Beau Smith, Tim Rozon, Melanie Scrofano, Chris Evenhuis

Best Graphic Novel
Clive Barker Nightbreed #3 by Marc Andreyko, Clive Barker, Emmanuel Xerx Javier
Girl Genius: the Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne, Book 2: The City of Lightning by Phil and Kaja Foglio
WINNER —> Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez <|| Happy Frogs
Love is Love by Marc Andreyko, Sarah Gaydos, James S. Rich
March Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris <|| Red Panda
Stuck in My Head by J.R. Mounts

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Doctor Who, BBC
Lucifer, Fox
Marvel’s Agents of Shield, ABC
Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Sky1 <|| Rabid nom
WINNER —> Stranger Things, Netflix <|| Red Panda
The Expanse, Syfy
Westworld, HBO
Wynonna Earp, Syfy

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve <|| Red Panda
Doctor Strange directed by Scott Derrickson
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 directed by James Gunn
Logan directed by James Mangold  <|| Rabid nom
Passengers directed by Morten Tyldum <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards
WINNER —> Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
Dishonored 2 by Arkane Studios
Final Fantasy XV by Square Enix <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Mass Effect: Andromeda by Bioware <|| Red Panda
NieR: Automata by PlatinumGames
WINNER —> The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Nintendo
Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
Con Man: The Game by Monkey Strength Productions
Fire Emblem Heroes by Nintendo
Monument Valley 2 by Ustwogames <|| Red Panda
WINNER —> Pokemon GO by Niantic <|| Happy Frogs
Sky Dancer by Pine Entertainment
Super Mario Run by Nintendo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
WINNER —> Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk by Avalon Hill
Gloomhaven by Cephalofair Games  <|| Rabid nom
Hero Realms by White Wizard Games <|| Happy Frogs
Mansions of Madness (Second Edition) by Fantasy Flight Games
Scythe by Stonemaier Games
Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games <|| Red Panda

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
A Shadow Across the Galaxy X-Wing Wave X by Fantasy Flight Games
Bloodborne: The Card Game by CMON Limited
Dark Souls: The Board Game by Steamforged Games  <|| Rabid nom
WINNER —> Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast
Pulp Cthulhu by Chaosium <|| Red Panda
Star Wars: Destiny by Fantasy Flight Games <|| Happy Frogs

Dragon Awards Tomorrow

According to the program, the Second Annual Dragon Awards Presentation is 1 pm Sunday Atlanta time (3 am Monday in Sydney). Presenting will be G. Gerard (I assume that’s Buck Rogers), Eric Flint, Larry Correia and Bill Fawcett.

Below is a guide to which books have been pushed by which factions. NOTE: endorsement by a given faction of a given book isn’t symmetric – it doesn’t make the author aligned with that faction (in some cases the opposite is true). Note also that some factions nominated one work but have endorsed a different one for voting. Lastly, Inkshares isn’t a faction as such.

Best Science Fiction Novel
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
Death’s End by Cixin Liu <|| Red Panda
Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli <|| Declan Finn <|| HF nom
Rise by Brian Guthrie <|| Inkshares
Space Tripping by Patrick Edwards <|| Inkshares
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi <|| Red Panda
The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day <|| CH <||Rabid nom <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Beast Master by Shayne Silvers
Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter <|| Red Panda
Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi
Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo <|| Declan Finn
The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta
Wings of Justice by Michael-Scott Earle

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas <|| Red Panda
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Firebrand by A.J. Hartley
It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett <|| Inkshares
Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter <|| Declan Finn <|| HF nom
Swan Knight’s Son by John C Wright <|| CH <||Rabid nom <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs
The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Allies and Enemies: Exiles by Amy J. Murphy <|| Red Panda
Caine’s Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon
Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey <|| Declan Finn
Invasion: Resistance by J.F. Holmes
Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox
Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David VanDyke <|| CH <||Rabid nom
The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico

Best Alternate History Novel
1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint <|| Declan Finn
A Change in Crime by D.R. Perry
Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs
Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove <|| Declan Finn
No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah <|| CH <||Rabid nom
The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville <|| Red Panda
Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler

Best Apocalyptic Novel
A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
American War by Omar El Akkad <|| Red Panda
Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz <|| Declan Finn
The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz <|| Inkshares
Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
ZK: Falling by J.F. Holmes

Best Horror Novel
A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau <|| Inkshares
Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten <|| Declan Finn
Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga
Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn <|| Declan Finn <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells
The Bleak December by Kevin G. Summers
The Changeling by Victor LaValle <|| Red Panda

Best Comic Book
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eleven by Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs
Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda <|| Red Panda
Motor Girl by Terry Moore <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa
Saga by Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples
The Dresden Files: Dog Men by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo
Wynonna Earp Legends by Beau Smith, Tim Rozon, Melanie Scrofano, Chris Evenhuis

Best Graphic Novel
Clive Barker Nightbreed #3 by Marc Andreyko, Clive Barker, Emmanuel Xerx Javier
Girl Genius: the Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne, Book 2: The City of Lightning by Phil and Kaja Foglio
Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez <|| Happy Frogs
Love is Love by Marc Andreyko, Sarah Gaydos, James S. Rich
March Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris <|| Red Panda
Stuck in My Head by J.R. Mounts

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Doctor Who, BBC
Lucifer, Fox
Marvel’s Agents of Shield, ABC
Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Sky1 <|| Rabid nom
Stranger Things, Netflix <|| Red Panda
The Expanse, Syfy
Westworld, HBO
Wynonna Earp, Syfy

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve <|| Red Panda
Doctor Strange directed by Scott Derrickson
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 directed by James Gunn
Logan directed by James Mangold  <|| Rabid nom
Passengers directed by Morten Tyldum <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards
Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
Dishonored 2 by Arkane Studios
Final Fantasy XV by Square Enix <|| Happy Frogs <|| HF nom
Mass Effect: Andromeda by Bioware <|| Red Panda
NieR: Automata by PlatinumGames
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Nintendo
Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
Con Man: The Game by Monkey Strength Productions
Fire Emblem Heroes by Nintendo
Monument Valley 2 by Ustwogames <|| Red Panda
Pokemon GO by Niantic <|| Happy Frogs
Sky Dancer by Pine Entertainment
Super Mario Run by Nintendo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk by Avalon Hill
Gloomhaven by Cephalofair Games  <|| Rabid nom
Hero Realms by White Wizard Games <|| Happy Frogs
Mansions of Madness (Second Edition) by Fantasy Flight Games
Scythe by Stonemaier Games
Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games <|| Red Panda

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
A Shadow Across the Galaxy X-Wing Wave X by Fantasy Flight Games
Bloodborne: The Card Game by CMON Limited
Dark Souls: The Board Game by Steamforged Games  <|| Rabid nom
Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast
Pulp Cthulhu by Chaosium <|| Red Panda
Star Wars: Destiny by Fantasy Flight Games <|| Happy Frogs

Map of the Dragon Award Lands

Kerfuffles take careful planning and years of preparation. The Dragon Awards simply don’t get to ‘kerfuffle’ level overnight. Even so, with an additional faction and as I have a map thing going on recently, here is the Dragon Award Map. I’ve tried to make it as 1990’s extruded fantasy aesthetic as possible with big colours.

dragonmapcomplete

There have been many shifts of lands since the Puppy Kerfuffle Map. Rabidonia is still there but now has the Pulp Peninsular marked on with a misspelling caused by me trying not make a penis joke (since corrected). John C Wright now has his own separate island as does Larry Correia. Sadland has sailed off the map. Eric Flint’s island remains where it was but with a new name. Likewise, the island marked as ‘Whatever’ on the former map is in a similar position but now renamed. The mysterious lands of Inkshares have appeared out of the mists, as have (since yesterday) the newly discovered Red Panda Land. The Islets of Confused Nominees are famed for being inhabited by authors saying “I’ve been nominated for a what now?”

A Comment from the Red Pandas

The Red Panda Fraction left a detailed comment to yesterday’s post but as it was sleepy-time in Australia I didn’t approve it until this morning. I hope they don’t mind but I thought I’d elevate it to a post.

“Thanks for the post.
We do realize it is really late in the game this year to get involved, and the reason for that is that we just didn’t get it together in time. We almost delayed any action at all until after Dragon Con, but we finally got the logo finalized and who doesn’t love a Red Panda?

However, it occurred to me yesterday as I threw out the Tweetstorm that we may have a small impact as long as we stay in the #DragonCon stream on Twitter today. Dragon Con has been a little bit better about promoting the Awards this year, and one of the main criticisms we initially had about the Awards is that very few people were aware of them last year. For example, when I opened the Dragon Con app yesterday on my phone, there was a reminder to vote for the Awards.

We are aware of the problems of putting out a list, but as you point out, it is neither against the rules nor the current spirit of the Dragon Awards. We find the current spirit of the Awards to be problematic, but since some nominees with very obvious political leanings have campaigned vigorously on their own behalf, we have no compunctions doing so as fans.

As a fan group separate from nominees, we don’t believe we’re co-opting nominees. First, the Red Panda Fraction coalesced after the Dragon Awards last year, and first thing we did was work together on nominees and then on voting because no one person can cover all the categories unless that’s their full-time job. We put together suggestions and got feedback on works in the various categories from people who have seen, played, read, etc., them. We then strove to nominate and then vote responsibly as a collective, dividing the labor of reading, seeing, playing, etc. nominated works as best as we could in the short amount of time available to us. In the future, we hope to put together a public recommendation list with short reviews of each work on the list before the nomination process and then for voting. Second, we believe that geek culture, broadly defined, is an important cultural space to which the left in particular has not paid sufficient attention and as such, we need to intervene in it through various means. A recommendation list is a benign way to do so. Websites do it, creators do it, and if there is criticism, similar lists are not hard to find on other side. We do not seek the endorsement of creators nor believe we require it, but I included creators who had Twitter accounts in my tweets, and so far, none of them have asked for us not to put them on the list. Third, we have every right to advocate for works for any reason for the Dragon Awards since it is basically a popularity contest. The majority of us attend and love Dragon Con, and we want to work towards improving the Awards.

Finally, I have to get to the Dragon Con today! Thanks again for the post.”

Some questions/observations:

  • Are they some sort of ‘false-flag’ operation? That isn’t impossible but I think they sound genuine.
  • They imply that they have been operating as a group since last year.
  • Dragon Con isn’t my space or my community – I don’t want to dictate to people in that space/community how they should act/organise against the far right.

Still no reaction from the Rabids or Scrappy Doos.

[ETA: link to the Red Panda Fraction Instagram Page https://www.instagram.com/rpfraction/ ]

Dragon Awards: Enter The Red Panda Fraction

Voting hasn’t quite closed for the Dragon Awards as deadlines were extended to accommodate withdrawals. Meanwhile, there is a last minute appearance by a new player in town: The Red Panda Fraction.

File 770 has the scoop on the musteloidean agitators:

“The anonymous “Red Panda Fraction” sent out a tweetstorm criticizing how the Dragon Awards are run.”

Their Twitter page describes themselves as:

“Leftist fans of SF/fantasy/horror lit & film, gamers, & comic book nerds who discuss & promote leftist, LGBTQ+, and feminist cultural works in SF/fantasy/horror”

(They also seem to have a Facebook page but it doesn’t have much on it: https://www.facebook.com/redpandafraction – I sent them a friend request)

It is an interesting development.

I should say upfront that I’ve no idea who they are. Their motives seem clear and their critique of the Dragon Awards is sound. However, I’m not sure of their tactic of a recommendation list.

Firstly it is a bit late in the day to have any real impact.

Secondly, while their list is neither against the rules or (current) spirit of the Dragon Awards it still has the problem of effectively co-opting authors into a culture war whether they want to or not. Challenging the alt-right and the crypto-fascists of pop-culture is a worthy quest but it isn’t for everybody and even those who do want to be engaged in such conflicts need to be able to pick and choose their own battles. While the Red Pandas aren’t saying the authors of the works on their list are endorsing the Red Pandas, that is a side effect of adding somebody to a partisan list. I’m reminded of Kary English’s essay about becoming a football in the 2015 Hugo Puppy Kerfuffle. BUT I don’t actually know that they haven’t spoken to the authors they listed – maybe they did and the authors said ‘OK’, in which case please ignore this paragraph!

I’ve not seen any reaction in Scrappy Doo land yet. It may take awhile for the existence of this new group to filter through. Jon Del Arroz is doing his own thing and Brian Niemeier is currently busy failing basic reading comprehension of a comment by Greg Hullender from weeks ago (the original comment being here https://lelaebuis.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/update-on-the-dragon-awards-drama-2017/ )

The good news is that now I may have enough locations for a new map…

Parallels between minor SF kerfuffles & real world politics are both trite & true

In various less-friendly spaces of the internet, I spent time watching right-wing SF fans trying to negotiate their own narrative around the Dragon Awards. There was often a plaintive cry from somebody trying to be the voice of reason as to why things can’t just be about the books. The notable thing was that in the case of the Dragons, they meant that the left had somehow introduced “politics” to it. This despite the case that there had been almost zero campaigning for Dragon Award nominations outside of a narrow area of SF fandom revolving around Superversive, Pulp Revolution and the groups I call the Rabids and the Scrappy Doos. Even the former Sad Puppy leadership had been relatively quiet.

My interest here was not the Brian Niemeiers of the groups but others, less inclined to create an SJW conspiracy out of nothing. In several cases, you could see them correctly reasoning that if they want the Dragon Awards to have any status then they would need authors like John Scalzi and N.K.Jemisin involved. However, they would always return to the idea that it was up to people like John Scalzi to, therefore, fix the problem by participating. Commenting here, author David Van Dyke took a similar tack – the Dragons need broad based participation, therefore can authors that the SF right calls “SJWs” (whether they are or not) please participate. This despite the fact that the reasons WHY authors didn’t want to participate were clear and unambiguous – they didn’t want to get caught up in the culture war that other on the SF right want the Dragons to be.

What is particularly interesting is this. When the right that is adjacent to the more belligerent alt-right NEED somebody to be reasonable, to compromise in WHICH direction do they turn? Note how it is the LEFT? This is more than just the modern conservative dictum of not-shooting-right/no-enemies-on-the-right but a tacit acknowledgement that they themselves have no capacity to control their allies.

The alt-right want the Dragons Awards to be a culture-war shitstorm because culture-war shitstorms help them recruit small numbers of extremists via radicalization and the comradery of a conflict. It’s a tactic anybody on the left will recognise from many micro-Trotskyist groups in the past, whose expectation of a conflict (e.g. a labour dispute) was that making hyper-strong demands (not necessarily EXTREME demands but essentially shitty negotiating positions) would not lead to a successful outcome but would lead to a better struggle and new recruits.

This dynamic among the more moderate right with respect to their terrorist allies is an abrogation of their duty to take on extremism. Instead, they hope that the left and centre will do it for them, while they hope to retain the votes of terrorist sympathisers.

In 2016 the strongest GOP counter-reaction to Trump was the ‘Never Trump’ group but even they expected the Democrats to do their dirty work for them. They expected Hillary Clinton to win and then when she didn’t, they stuck to complaining about the left rather than making any real concerted attempt to take back their party. All the time sort of hoping that the left will sort out their problem with an overtly violent & authoritarian movement in their ranks. Fear and cynicism.

Back when Trump won the GOP nomination, Larry Correia had this to say:

“This is an amoral statist authoritarian liberal, who got to where he was by being a huckster con appealing to anger and fear. He is a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He is an insult to the founders, a disgrace to our people, and in the unlikely event he wins, will probably go down in history as the man who ended any hope of small government or individual liberty in America.” http://monsterhunternation.com/2016/05/06/the-endless-facebook-trump-whaa-post/

Of course, Larry expected Trump’s nomination to mean victory for Clinton and when that didn’t happen and Trump’s presidency really did prove to be amoral, statist, and authoritarian, Larry has focused on the ‘but not actually liberal’ and has either avoided politics or stuck to left-bashing.

This mix of short term opportunism and unwillingness to tackle extremism is resulting in relatively moderate conservatives finding themselves unwilling to confront terrorism. In the UK this was exemplified during the Brexit campaign when a radicalised terrorist murdered Labour MP Jo Cox https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Jo_Cox  At the time pro-Brexit voices like Louise Mensch (who has since rebranded as a never-Trumper pushing unfeasible conspiracy theories) turned her rhetorical attacks on the left – condemning anybody who was naturally outraged by the use of murder as a political act. The demand was absurd and simple – that in the face of political extremism on the far right, to the point of overt terrorism & murder, that the left needed to be less vocal rather than the right needing to be less prone to murder.

So the same performance happens fractally across different levels of debate. Conservatives want the left to:

  • Defeat the terrorist aligned section of the right but…
  • without making a fuss and…
  • the conservatives will call the left names while they do that because…
  • the conservatives still want the support of the alt-nazis.

[ETA: speaking of which, here is Brad Torgersen desperately trying to find somebody to be angry with OTHER THAN the actual terrorist in the wake of a terrorist attack https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2059573864068836&set=a.240746609284913.79474.100000487265268&type=3&theater tl;dr its the media fault apparently.]