2021 Dragon Awards Ballot

The 2021 Dragon Awards Ballot was distributed August 11. Registered voters should expect to receive notice by email.

To be eligible for the 2021 Dragon Awards the book, comic, game, movie, must have been released between July 1, 2020, and the close of the eligibility period, June 30, 2021, which accounts for the mix of nominees from last year and this year.

Most categories have six nominees, but Best Science Fiction Novel, Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series, and Best Science Fiction or Fantasy movie have seven.

Recipients of the awards will be announced on Sunday, September 5 at Dragon Con.

1. BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow
  • Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
  • The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Machine by Elizabeth Bear
  • A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

2. BEST FANTASY NOVEL (INCLUDING PARANORMAL)

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Battle Ground by Jim Butcher
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross
  • Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

3. BEST YOUNG ADULT / MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL

  • Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
  • The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
  • The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips
  • A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

4. BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY NOVEL

  • Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown
  • Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio
  • Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams
  • Sentenced to War by J.N. Chaney, Jonathan Brazee
  • Direct Fire by Rick Partlow
  • Orders of Battle by Marko Kloos

5. BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY NOVEL

  • The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Daggers in Darkness by S.M. Stirling
  • Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
  • The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
  • 1637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon

    6. BEST MEDIA TIE-IN NOVEL
  • MacGyver: Meltdown by Eric Kelley, Lee Zlotoff
  • Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon
  • Shadows Rising World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by Madeleine Roux
  • Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
  • Penitent by Dan Abnett
  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn

    7. BEST HORROR NOVEL
  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
  • True Story: A Novel by Kate Reed Petty
  • The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
  • Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings
  • The Taxidermist’s Lover by Polly Hall
  • Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

    8. BEST COMIC BOOK
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
  • Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson, Christian Ward
  • Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto
  • Once & Future by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora
  • X-Men by Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar
  • Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett

    9. BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL
  • The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
  • Pulp by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips
  • The Magicians: New Class by Lev Grossman, Lilah Sturges, Pius Bak
  • 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

    10. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY TV SERIES
  • Loki, Disney+
  • The Nevers, HBO
  • Resident Alien, SYFY
  • WandaVision, Disney+
  • Star Trek: Discovery, Paramount+
  • Shadow & Bone, Netflix
  • The Expanse, Amazon

    11. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MOVIE
  • The Old Guard by Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • Justice League by Zack Snyder
  • Space Sweepers by Sung-hee Jo
  • Tenet by Christopher Nolan
  • Godzilla vs Kong by Adam Wingard
  • Wonder Woman 1984 by Patty Jenkins
  • Bill & Ted Face the Music by Dean Parisot

    12. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY PC / CONSOLE GAME
  • Star Wars: Squadrons, Electronic Arts
  • Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt
  • Hades, Supergiant Games
  • Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Ubisoft
  • Ghost of Tsushima, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Crusader Kings III, Paradox Interactive

    13. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MOBILE GAME
  • Empire of Sin, Paradox Interactive
  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Ustwo & Plug in Digital
  • South of the Circle, State of Play Games
  • Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells, Zynga
  • Orwell’s Animal Farm, The Dairymen Ltd.
  • Genshin Impact, miHoYo

    14. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY BOARD GAME
  • Curious Cargo, Capstone Games
  • Marvel United, CMON Games
  • Sleeping Gods, Red Raven Games
  • Dune: Imperium, Dire Wolf Games
  • Pandemc: Legacy Season 0, Z-Man Games
  • Oceans, North Star Games

    15. BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY MINIATURES / COLLECTIBLE CARD / ROLE-PLAYING GAME
  • Cyberpunk RED, R. Talsorian Games
  • Magic: The Gathering, Strixhaven: School of Mages, Wizards of the Coast
  • Magic: The Gathering, Zendikar Rising, Wizards of the Coast
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Soulbound Role-Playing Game, Cubicle 7
  • Pokemon TCG: Champion’s Path Elite Trainer Box, Pokemon
  • Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, Wizards of the Coast

36 thoughts on “2021 Dragon Awards Ballot

  1. Camestros Felapton: Congratulations to the estimable Red Wombat for conquering the Dragons.

    Who knew that the real danger was never a Tor Cabal, but was instead a sneaky Vernon/Kingfisher Cabal with lots of goat, sheep, and chicken sockpuppet voters??? 😀

  2. As Cam noted on twitter, a rather decent list, whoever picks such things these days

  3. Is there a known logic to the order of listing the finalists?

    (I’m not seeing anything that could be alphabetical, so I’m left guessing: order of publication/release, accidental ranking by number of nominations, random, something completely different?)

  4. Small correction: the title of the Robinson book is The Ministry for the Future, not The Ministry of the Future. I’ve made that same mistake several times including on my Hugo nomination ballot.

    Hmmm. Maybe this was their mistake, not yours?

  5. Doug: That’s the order on the ballot I received. If there’s a rationale to it,
    I don’t know.

    Rich Lynch: That is all copied from the ballot but I will correct it momentarily now that you have reminded me of the right title.

  6. And getting the chickens to enter their votes correctly was a real pain, let me tell you!

  7. How does that work? Reminds me of the time at a county fair I saw somebody with a chicken that could peck out a simple tune on a toy piano.

  8. RedWombat: And getting the chickens to enter their votes correctly was a real pain, let me tell you!

    🐐 🐑 🐔 👍

  9. I’m somewhat surprised to see Cyberpunk 2077 as a nominee for Best SFF PC/Console Game … Didn’t it get pulled down from consoles & customers refunded because it was so buggy?

  10. Cograts to Red Wombat and her chicken.

    Re Cyberpunk: The problem is that under all the bugs there seems to be an interesting game there. I haven’t heared a lot of hype about Ready Player Two btw.
    Mostly okay ballot.

  11. The order on my ballot doesn’t match the order given here. SurveyMonkey has an option to randomize the order of choices to avoid position-related biases, so I guess the Dragon admins enabled that option.

  12. Crusader Kings III seems an odd choice as it is neither SF nor Fantasy but a purely historical sim. Maybe it counts as alternative history.

  13. Congratulations to all the finalists. I note that the Dragons are maintaining their normal “not actually telling creators they’re in the ballot” schtick.

  14. Pingback: The 2021 Dragon Award Finalists Take Another Big Step Towards Mainstream Respectability | Cora Buhlert

  15. Olav Rokne: … Ready Player Two?

    I figure that it’s evidence of some semi-clueless curation of the finalists by the award admins*, in the same vein as that horrible Ian McEwan book in 2019. Whoever the admins are, they’re not conversant enough with the wider SFF genre to make decisions on their own, so they’re relying on things like GoodReads lists and Bestseller lists to get variety in the finalists.

    * as is the inclusion of Black Sun on the SF ballot, as pointed out by Camestros

  16. JJ: The Dragon admins don’t run a transparent process, the way the Hugos do, so who knows, but if they are consulting Goodreads lists I can only bear in mind that we’ve been comparing the finalists to their Goodreads stats for the past several years to point out the ringers. So if they are working from there as a starting point they at least pick books somebody actually likes.

  17. CK III definitely counts as alternative history, at least based on the way I play it…

  18. @JJ

    I figure that it’s evidence of some semi-clueless curation of the finalists by the award admins*, in the same vein as that horrible Ian McEwan book in 2019. Whoever the admins are, they’re not conversant enough with the wider SFF genre to make decisions on their own, so they’re relying on things like GoodReads lists and Bestseller lists to get variety in the finalists.

    That’s one thing that this year’s Dragon Award ballot is missing, the “This book would be more suited to the Booker shortlist, but wound up on the Dragon Award ballot for some reason” finalist like Margaret Atwood or Ian McEwan. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro would have been a fine candidate for this slot.

  19. Mike Glyer on August 13, 2021 at 6:43 pm said:

    They used up their quota when I fixed “Ministry of the Future.” (Which is a mistake I notice Locus still needs to fix.)

    I only fixed that one on my site this morning. I only found the other one when I was looking to see when it was published and the author didn’t seem to exist.

  20. BLACK SUN deserves to win something — I read it in manuscript and it’s excellent in several different ways; lovely and well-thought-out setting, good characterization, good plotting, excellent action.

    OTOH, it’s in the wrong category, sorta-kinda. It’s more or less reminiscent of science-fantasy planetary-romance classics, updated. I would have put it in Fantasy. That makes it difficult to do -comparisons- with the rest of the SF category.

    Not just apples and oranges, more like apples and bananas.

    In the Alternate History section, wow, that’s a toughie. They’re all undoubtedly AH, which is good, but…

    I haven’t read AXIOM’S END. From the description, hard AH, which I define as “no magic or gods and such”, but I’m not in a position to evaluate its merits.

    The rest, which I’ve read, are good, IMHO. Not a stinker in the lot. Which means in literary terms, judgments are pretty subjective.

    I’ve enjoyed Kowal’s astronaut series from the beginning, and it’s hard AH too. Good writing, good worldbuilding. Characters interesting and well done, but not an extreme range of types… on the other hand, the setting itself constrains that.

    The Harris trilogy is good too, though of course what I call “gonzo” AH, meaning it -does- have magic and gods and stuff; which I’ve done too, and no problem, it can be just as good… but it’s rather apples-and-oranges with the hard variety. Not as much so as putting a fantasy in the SF category, but that’s a difference of degree.

    Clark’s book ditto; and while it’s very well written, I have problems with the worldbuilding of the AH… and that’s a matter of taste. And if you’re doing Gonzo AH, it’s harder to fault you on that basis because magic. As a book, it’s a lot of fun.

    (Plus AH worldbuilding in general is the ultimate non-falsifiable hypothesis anyway.)

    Eric’s massive collaborative universe is hard AH, time-travel subdivision (which I’ve also done), but it’s also a world on its own and sort of hard to talk about because it’s so collaborative and just so goddamned vast by this point that any single book rather gets lost. Almost a sub-genre on its own.

    I think in the end I’d have to go with the supreme 20’s dieselpunk awesomeness of hard-AH DAGGERS IN DARKNESS, naturally… 8-).

  21. JJ: huh? Deriding?

    I just -said- I liked Kowal’s astronaut series, and she’s -won- Hugo awards for those — and Nebulas, for that matter. She’s up for a Hugo for THE RELENTLESS MOON, the same book I praised here, as well as for an AH Dragon Award.

    She had one up on the Dragon AH list in 2019, when BLACK CHAMBER won. Something that rather surprised me; I thought Tindhar’s UNHOLY LAND was going to get it — I voted for him, IIRC. This year I’m bringing something besides t-shirts and shorts; who knows, lightning might strike twice.

    A number of other books I like are on both lists too this year, like Roanhorse’s BLACK SUN.

    The closest I’ve come to “deriding” the Hugos, IIRC, is to say that the selection of books that make the shortlist there is somewhat less eclectic than for the Dragon Awards, which is true. For example, I’ve been on the Dragon shortlist twice in its brief history, but not on the Hugos. Major awards covering the whole field should, IMHO, be like a Rijsttafel, with lots of different flavors.

    Recently a review on Amazon accused me of writing “woke, SJW” fiction in order to get a Hugo.

    I was amused enough to publicly promise the guy a check for $1000 the day I got a Hugo.

    He apparently doesn’t get out of his bubble much, if he thought that was what I was writing. I very much doubt that I’ll ever be nominated for a Hugo, much less win one — though I’d be delighted if I was, even if it meant being out of pocket for a thousand bucks. Not as delighted as at a Dragon Award, frankly, but ‘chacun à son goût’ as they say where I was born.

    But as I’ve just shown above, there is a fair degree of overlap in the works nominated for Hugos and for Dragon Awards, and my approval (or disapproval) is not affected by which list they’re on. For me, it’s about the books, not the company they keep. Just as I don’t care about the author, their opinions, or their character when appraising the book. Ars longa, vita brevis; it’s the work that counts.

    So your comment is sort of weird. You don’t seem to be interested in the actual -books- up for these awards.

    We’re all free, I think, to criticize books we don’t like, and praise the ones we do. Aesthetic taste is inherently subjective.

    I don’t recall “bragging” about knowing the people behind the Dragon Awards; I do know some of them and have said so when relevant. Also that I trust them to do what they say they’re doing. For that matter, I know George Martin, who was presenter at the Hugos last year and is a passionate WorldCon booster who’s criticized DragonCon for encroaching on a weekend that “belongs” to WorldCon. This field is a small world, though bigger than it used to be.

    I try to avoid fan cliques and turf-battles and attempted gatekeeping, because they’re all a total and futile waste of time. I have books to write, and read, and talk about.

  22. Stephen M Stirling: The closest I’ve come to “deriding” the Hugos…

    … is this gem:
    Stephen M Stirling: The Hugos have been going for decades and look what a dog’s breakfast they’ve become

     
    Stephen M Stirling: You don’t seem to be interested in the actual -books- up for these awards.

    Oh, I’m interested in the books. I’ve read more than half of the novels in the first 4 categories, and several of them were on my Hugo nominating ballot. And when I voice an opinion on those works – something I have already done here on File 770 for many of those works – it’s the opinion of a reader fan who has nothing to gain by doing so, other than sharing my opinion with other fans and getting their opinions in return.

     
    Stephen M Stirling: We’re all free, I think, to criticize books we don’t like, and praise the ones we do. Aesthetic taste is inherently subjective.

    No. You’re an author whose work is competing against other works for an award, and you showed up in the announcement for that award’s finalists at someone else’s fan community to critique those works, then announced that of course your book was superior. What kind of professional thinks that is an acceptable thing to do?

     
    Stephen M Stirling: George Martin blah blah blah

    The Dragon Awards administrator has openly acknowledged that they decide which works to put on the ballot and which works win, using the nominations and votes for “guidance”. This was made especially obvious this year with Black Sun, which absolutely no one who had actually read it would have nominated as SF. This was an arbitrary decision made by an administrator who doesn’t have a clue.

    GRRM has no relevance to this. GRRM has not bragged about personally knowing the Dragon Awards administrator – whose identity is, strangely, unknown to pretty much everyone else – while having his books repeatedly show up on the ballot for, and even win, an award which is determined by that administrator.

     
    Stephen M Stirling: I have books to write, and read, and talk about.

    Then perhaps you should do that on your blog, instead of coming to an awards announcement in a community of fans to post comments undercutting the works which are competing against yours for an award.

  23. JJ: instead of coming to an awards announcement in a community of fans to post comments undercutting the works which are competing against yours for an award.

    — Mmmm… I offered reasoned -praise- for the books on the AH list. Except for the one I hadn’t read, on which I did not comment beyond its apparent category.

    I think it was fairly clear that I thought they were all well-written, and that deciding which was “best” would be largely subjective, a matter of what rang your chimes.

    JJ: then announced that of course your book was superior.

    — Have you had your “organ of irony” surgically removed at some point? Because that’s the only way I could account for someone taking:

    “I think in the end I’d have to go with the supreme 20’s dieselpunk awesomeness of hard-AH DAGGERS IN DARKNESS, naturally… 8-).”

    Literally, rather than as casually playful, ironic self-mockery.

    As in, one thinks one’s own work is best, but at the same time if you have any self-awareness, you know that you are the least reliable judge, and you know that the reader knows that and by using terms of faux magisterial objectivity combined with superlatives you are signaling you know they know, and so on?

    The key words in that sentence are the deliberately pompous “in the end” and “naturally” with the vaunting “supreme” and clashing pop-culture breathless “awesomeness”.

    Then just to make it -totally- obvious because internet, low bandwidth, there’s the smiley emoticon at the end. Which is a Really Obvious signifier of “knowingness”.

    These are all clues.

    It’s the “reversal of meanings” as in “the principal mechanism driving all irony is an implied reversal of the evaluative meaning of the utterance”. The rhetorical mechanism by which one both says something and says the opposite, simultaneously?

    If you actually read that sentence as a straightforward claim by me to an authoritative judgement on my own work, the only word I can think of to describe that is… sad.

  24. Stephen M Stirling: I think it was fairly clear that I thought…

    I’d say it’s clear that there doesn’t actually seem to have been any thinking involved.

    The lack of professionalism demonstrated in your decision to comment here on these works, and in your subsequent excuses, is just staggering.

    I encourage you to avail yourself of the wisdom of The First Law of Holes. You’re already halfway to Mauritius.

  25. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 8/30/21 Riding Out On A Scroll In A Pixel-Spangled Rodeo | File 770

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.