Dragon Con Launches Its Own SF Awards

Dragon Con, the pop culture convention held annually over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, has opened nominations for the newly-created Dragon Awards. The official press release sets the vision for the award:

Dragon Award winners will be selected by all fans – not just Dragon Con members or attendees – in an open nomination and final voting system.  To accommodate as many creative genres as possible, awards will be given in each of 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming and tabletop gaming.  Winners will be announced at the 30th Anniversary Dragon Con convention, which will be held September 2 to September 5, 2016 in Atlanta.

“We wanted to offer fans an opportunity to vote for their favorite book, comic, movie, television show or game, which just about covers all the different ways that we enjoy science fiction and fantasy today,” said Pat Henry, president of Dragon Con, Inc.  “In the last 30 years, the way we enjoy science fiction and fantasy has changed so much, but the demand for quality has never diminished.  These awards are our way of recognizing the best writers, artists, directors and game designers who breathe life into the things we love.”

Because of the unprecedentedly large pool of fans who are expected to participate in the nominating process, the Dragon Awards will be a true reflection of the works that are genuinely most beloved by the core audience.

There are seven novel categories, four game categories, a comic book, a graphic novel, a TV and a movie category.

There are no short fiction, editing, magazine or fan award categories.

Winners will be selected in a two-step process.

  • Nominations: Fans can nominate one (and only one) item in an award category.  Nominations are open until July 25.
  • Finalists: “The best and most popular of the nominated properties in each category will then be offered for a second and final vote beginning August 2. Fans will be allowed to vote just once for each category’s best in this final round of voting.”

The categories are:

  • Best science fiction novel
  • Best fantasy novel (including paranormal)
  • Best young adult/middle grade novel
  • Best military science fiction or fantasy novel
  • Best alternate history novel
  • Best apocalyptic novel
  • Best horror novel
  • Best comic book
  • Best graphic novel
  • Best episode in a continuing science fiction or fantasy series, TV or internet
  • Best science fiction or fantasy movie
  • Best science fiction or fantasy PC / console game
  • Best science fiction or fantasy mobile game
  • Best science fiction or fantasy board game
  • Best science fiction or fantasy miniatures / collectible card / role-playing game

All voting will be done electronically on the Dragon Awards site here.

Voters will be required to register. The FAQ explains:

I’m honest, why do I need to register?

We ask you to register for ballot security and to prevent fraud by others. If there is any concern, we may ask you later for identifying information such as a mailing address. We will NEVER ask for confidential, personal information such as your SSN. Once you register, you can access the Dragon Awards site and vote. Once you complete this, you will receive an email to the registered address. Respond to that email and you can begin to nominate and vote. The Dragon Awards reserves the right to invalidate suspect or questionable ballots without notice.

The FAQ also defines the eligible works:

When does my book, game, comic or show have to have been released to qualify for this year?

To be eligible for the 2016 Dragon Awards the book, comic, game, movie, or, at least, one episode of any series has to have been released Between April 1, 2015, and the close of nominations, July 25, 2016.

Voting on the finalists will begin in early August and end on the Saturday at Noon of Dragoncon weekend, September 3, 2016.

The 15 category definitions will be of interest to conrunners — the full text follows the jump.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for the story.]

Best Science Fiction Novel

What is the best and most outstanding science fiction novel you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 3/1/2016 containing and based upon scientific or science and engineering premises or technology. The release date is shown on the verso, legal information page, at the front of the book. A book may have more than one release date if it comes out in different formats.

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

What is the best and most outstanding novel featuring magic or mythic creatures that you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 3/1/2016 containing and based upon scientific or science and engineering premises or technology. Release date is shown on the verso, legal information page, at the front of the book. A book may have more than one release date if it comes out in different formats.

Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel

What is the best and most outstanding novel for young adults, ages 12 to 18, that you have read in the last year, one that you would recommend for all teenagers to read?

Qualifying is any book written for readers ages 12 to 18 that is at least 45,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016 containing significant science fiction or fantasy elements.

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

What is the best and most outstanding novel featuring main characters who are in the military and combat that you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016 which contains and is based upon some aspect of military combat in any form and in any time period which contains significant science fiction or fantasy elements.

Best Alternate History Novel

What is the best and most outstanding novel whose story takes place in a world that did not happen, but could have been, so is an alternative to the world as we know it that you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016 whose story is set in a variant future or past universe including those with steam powered technology.

Best Apocalyptic Novel

What is the best and most outstanding novel whose story is based upon a the end of the world, the collapse of civilization, or the destruction of the human race as we know it that you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016 themed or set after a major and world changing disaster which occurs in the future. This can include ecological, social, zombie, or other world changing events.

Best Horror Novel

What is the best and most outstanding novel whose story is based upon horrific events that you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

Qualifying book featuring and primarily based upon one or more horrific elements that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016.

Best Comic Book

What is the best comic or comic book series you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

Qualifying is any publication that contains illustrated story in traditional comic book format (non-animated) that is at least 20 pages long with a consistent set of characters, premises and series title that appears at least four times per year and at least one volume has been first released in print or electronic format between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016.

Best Graphic Novel

What is the best single graphic novel that you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

A publication that contains illustrated story in traditional comic book format (non-animated) that is at least 36 pages long and has been first released in print or electronic format between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016.

Best Episode in a Continuing Science Fiction or Fantasy Series, TV or Internet

What is the best TV or internet series you have watched and enjoyed over the last year?

Nominate a series as a whole, not a single episode.

Qualifying is any series of media (video and sound) presentations of which no less than four related episodes have appeared between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016 which featuring continuing cast or characters, plot elements, and series name presented in any medium.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

What is the best theatrical, TV, or internet movie you have watched and enjoyed over the last year?

Qualifying is any single presentation of a story featuring fantasy or science fiction elements no shorter than 74 minutes run time that is not part of any continuing series (movie sequels can be included here) which was first was shown in television, in theaters, or over the internet between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

What is the best, absolute most fun to play and look at new science fiction or fantasy themed electronic game that you played in the last year? One that you would recommend to your friends.Please put both the name of the game, and game company.

Qualifying is any science fiction or fantasy themed game that is played primarily on a computer or game console which may or may not include an internet connection and which was released between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

What is the best, absolute most fun to play and look at new science fiction or fantasy themed electronic game that you played on your phone or tablet in the last year? One that you would recommend to your friends.

Qualifying is any science fiction or fantasy themed game that is played primarily on tablets or phones which may or may not include an internet connection and which was released between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

What is the best science fiction or fantasy themed game that is played using a game board of form, including those which are assembled during play, that you have played with or would recommend to your friends.

Qualifying is any non-electronic game for any number of players in which a central board plays an important role in the game play and which was first released between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectable Card / Role-Playing Game

What is the best science fiction or fantasy themed non-electronic game that is not played using a game board of form that you have played with or would recommend to your friends. This can be any type of game or game rules set.

Qualifying is any non-electronic game for any number of players whose central game play element is not a board.

299 thoughts on “Dragon Con Launches Its Own SF Awards

  1. Good luck to them! I’d be interested to see how much these awards overlap with other SFF ones.

    Prediction: There won’t be a large overlap with other awards, and where it does happen, those winners will be blockbusters like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, with broad appeal & high profile.

  2. “The best and most popular of the nominated properties in each category”

    Which one – best or most popular?

    Also, the dates in the first part (April 1 – July 25), which are odd, don’t match the description (January 1 – March 1), which are also odd. And why do the SF and Fantasy categories get a different date range?!

    Also also: Cue silly complaints about how Dragon*Con wrote the dates in 3…2…1…. 😉

  3. Ok, I’m confused. First it says:

    To be eligible for the 2016 Dragon Awards the book, comic, game, movie, or, at least, one episode of any series has to have been released Between April 1, 2015, and the close of nominations, July 25, 2016.

    Then under individual categories some of them say “between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016” and others say “between 1/1/2015 and 3/1/2016.” I assume those 2016 dates are Feb and Mar and not both Jan. What the heck?

  4. Best Episode in a Continuing Science Fiction or Fantasy Series, TV or Internet

    Nominate a series as a whole, not a single episode.

    Is it best episode or best series? I’m confused.

  5. @ULTRAGOTHA: Good catch! By the description, and requiring a certain # of episodes within the nomination timeframe, I bet it started as best episode but changed to best series, and the title was never updated. (I guess it could be the other way around – just not my guess.) But this is just my guess; someone would have to ask for clarification.

  6. I think they need some work on their proofreading. The second paragraph of the fantasy novel definition doesn’t look right, and I suspect they really mean the eligibility period to be 2015-Jan-1 to 2016-Feb-1 for all categories.

    With only one nomination per category, and an unspecified final ballot length, it looks like they don’t have to worry about slates.

  7. Well, yeah, a list that told followers to nominate specific items in each category would be a slate.

  8. Hunh.

    I remember, back in the days that Justin Landon was talking about awards and the problem with the Hugos (in the pre-Puppy years), there was chatter that a convention such as Dragon Con, or a Comic con, should be the venue for such an alternate award.

    Just how, if at all, this award’s nominees are going to overlap with the existing awards is going to be interesting.

  9. And of course, any similarity between DragonCon award categories and Sad/Rabid Puppy objections to Hugo Awards are purely coincidental. There is NO connection between gamers and Puppies. How could anyone believe otherwise?

  10. 1) This is Goodreads, with a slight variation?

    2) This is so ridiculously vulnerable to freeping, it’s not funny.

    3) A lack of related work, essays, blog posts categories is probably wise, because it gives DragonCon deniability when 2) happens, if they don’t have to explain a pile of “Why Gamergate is Awesome” blog posts being up for an award.

  11. @TheYoungPretender: Re. #1, that was kinda my thought, as was #2 (their FAQ acknowledges the possibility of freeping*, though I don’t see how asking for a mailing address matters – surely they wouldn’t mail thousands of people around the world…).

    Still, I’ll be interested to see how this goes. I wish them well. 🙂

    * Autocorrect keeps insisting I mean “freezing.” 😉

  12. Wow! It’s really nice to see people who are willing to put in the time and effort to do their own awards, instead of trying to trash someone else’s awards!

    Good for Dragon*Con. I hope it goes well for them.

  13. Huh. Sounds interesting but it seems like it would be pretty easy for a group to decide to all vote for one particular work behind the scenes and take it over?

    Also, while I like the use of subgenres, I’m disappointed that neither urban fantasy nor paranormal romance made the cut. DragonCon is very popular with paranormal romance authors and fans.

    The methodology and the categories certainly hints that some of the puppy supporters or puppy-inspired had a hand in organizing these, but for months last year it was all, stop telling people how to run an award that has a history and proven track record of working just fine as it was, and if you wanted something different, go start your own award. So maybe they did. I’ll be interested to see how it all goes.

  14. cmm: I’m disappointed that neither urban fantasy nor paranormal romance made the cut

    Those would fall under Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal), wouldn’t they?

    I mean, isn’t Paranormal Romance by default classified as Fantasy, because of the “Paranormal”?

  15. I hope their implementation is better than their proofreading.

    And freeping is going to be MASSIVE. So many new email accounts generated in bad faith will be voting on this, whereas the idea behind this award is awesome.

    Good luck to the administrators. Beef up your servers NOW!

  16. Well, good luck to them, but the description seems a bit incoherent:

    Because of the unprecedentedly large pool of fans who are expected to participate in the nominating process, the Dragon Awards will be a true reflection of the works that are genuinely most beloved by the core audience.

    Umm… it’s kinda definitional that the “core audience” can only be a subset of any “large pool”.

  17. Look, there are all kinds of contradictions and inaccuracies in the category descriptions and the eligibility rules (including the fact that items released in January and February could apparently be eligible 2 years in a row, and the fact that the people on the awards committee are not acknowledged anywhere on the DragonCon website) — and yes, it would have been nice if they’d resolved all of those issues before publication.

    But this is part of the learning process that’s involved with starting a new awards program, and if they’re busy ironing out the kinks it will be a constructive endeavor (rather than attempting to trash someone else’s awards) which will be occupying their time and energy, so I am happy to leave them to it.

  18. Aha, I see they reserve the right to remove questionable ballots; presumably that means if they see slating and freeping, they can get rid of it. Good idea.

  19. Good luck to them, and I mean that in a non-sarcastic way! However, I’m amused by a couple of the questions and answers in the Candidate FAQ:

    Who can vote or nominate for you?

    Anyone can nominate and vote or just vote for finalists, once only, please.

    Okay, I am going to be sarcastic when I say good luck with that one.

    Also, “Dave”, if you’re reading this, I think you should go check if you missed something.

  20. Well, having dealt with email fraud in the past, it’s often extremely easy to see happening.

    Step 1: set up a filter for spam/temp/fake/disposable email addresses so they either can’t sign up or vote. (These include but are not limited to yopmail, dispostable, fakeinbox, sharklasers [personal favourite]…)

    Step 2: get some poor sod to go through the thousands upon thousands of emails and look for any that are either obvious spam (freuireuire@gmail.com), sequentially numbered (dickhead1, dickhead2, dickhead3, etc…) or using gmail tricks to duplicate signups with the same email (dickhead+1, dickhead+2 – or – dickhead, dickhea.d, dickhe.ad and so on)

    Step 3: ???

    Step 4: Profit!

    (This is not meant as a complete list, just an example of how to spot the most obvious bullshit that plagues email signups)

    ETA: I wish them well with the whole process. Hope it works out for everyone.

  21. @kendall

    Popularity and quality are not mutually exclusive. Nor are quality and obstrusiveness mutually inclusive.

    Regards
    Dann

  22. It’s a new award, so a bedding-in period, some wrinkle-ironing, is to be expected. Credit is due to them for attempting something constructive.

  23. lurkertype said:

    Aha, I see they reserve the right to remove questionable ballots; presumably that means if they see slating and freeping, they can get rid of it.

    Presumably this also means a storm of outrage about them putting a hand on the scales to keep the Wrong Things from winning if some loud people don’t like the results.

  24. JJ: good points.

    (back to the announcement):

    We ask you to register for ballot security and to prevent fraud by others. […] The Dragon Awards reserves the right to invalidate suspect or questionable ballots without notice.

    I really DO wish them well – but it’s kind of amusing that right from the get-go they’re aware that they need to be on guard against the sort of ASSHOLES who would try to GAME something as innocent as the voting for a literary award….
    that, AND reserving unto themselves the power to make sure that only the CORRECT works win….

  25. JJ said:

    I mean, isn’t Paranormal Romance by default classified as Fantasy, because of the “Paranormal”?

    Not as a marketing category these days; “Fantasy” is dragons and swords and sorcery and “Paranormal Romance” is entirely different.

  26. Also, on the topic of categories, I’m amused by the last two, which are essentially Best Affordable Tabletop Game and Best Ludicrously Expensive Tabletop Game. An entirely practical and useful distinction to draw, but still.

  27. lurkertype: Aha, I see they reserve the right to remove questionable ballots; presumably that means if they see slating and freeping, they can get rid of it.

    And if they see the names of people they don’t like on the list, they can remove those ballots, too.

  28. You know what else this means? It means that now it’s going to be really awkward if the new World Fantasy trophy is a dragon.

  29. Cool. Hope this goes well 🙂

    My immediate curiousity is as to who has responsibility and authority over these awards; who makes eligibility decisions or longlist selection, etc..

    Whoever it is is going to have a fuuuuun time! 🙂

  30. Petréa Mitchell: It means that now it’s going to be really awkward if the new World Fantasy trophy is a dragon.

    Maybe it will keep that from happening. (Er, is my bias showing?)

  31. Oneiros: Well, having dealt with email fraud in the past, it’s often extremely easy to see happening.

    I’m having flashbacks to Scifi.com’s poll of the 2003 Hugo nominees where Plokta outpolled Emerald City in the Best Fanzine category, 10,186 to 643. (Never mind that the eventual 2003 winner was Mimosa.)

  32. Well cool.
    I assume the date confusion will get ironed out, either this time as an update, or next time.
    I’m all for more awards.

  33. Good stuff, and I look forward to see how this establishes itself. They’re clearly at the early stages of it – category definitions need work, as currently Best SF and Best Fantasy seem to have the same description (“…containing and based upon scientific or science and engineering premises or technology. “)

    @Petréa – Lol. Dave still hasn’t fixed it yet.

    Regardless, happy to see people actually getting their feet wet.

  34. A system that counts a vote from any email address in the world is a meaningless vote system.

    It simply means that people with the biggest bot-networks choose the winners.

    But if it makes them happy, god bless ’em, and keep them far away from us.

  35. @Mike Glyer: I’m just thinking about the time I got about 500 signups from a guy who was clearly using an RPG name generator or something – they were all stuff like winterfire or undeadlord…

  36. They’ve got a lot of work ahead of them, including the very basic “learn to proofread,” but I’m glad they’re giving it a go.

  37. Hey someone’s stepping up to the plate and creating their own awards. Good for them. May they have much success.

    I notice novel length of 70,000 words will keep out many indie authors as well as a number of trad books broken up to be trilogies.

    The registration process was confusing. You register, get an email, click to confirm, get taken to a page which says “email confirmation” and the rest is blank black. Usually you get “congrats your email is confirmed” or some such.

    The nomination page asks for your name and email, email confirmation. No login if you’ve registered to vote.

    Why register? I’m always curious how a process works and I vote in a couple of awards: Goodreads, Hugos, others when made aware by authors or friends, why not add DragonCon to the mix?

    I wonder if someone accidentally published an earlier draft rather than the final version. That would explain all the conflicting information and other errors. I’ve done this on my own website. It’s always embarrassing.

    @Petréa Mitchell Not as a marketing category these days; “Fantasy” is dragons and swords and sorcery and “Paranormal Romance” is entirely different.

    On Amazon it’s a subcategory of both Fantasy and Romance. On Goodreads when shelving a PNR I put it:
    Fantasy>PNR (might be spelled out)
    Romance>PNR (might be spelled out)
    A bunch of other shelves related to types of supernatural/paranormal creatures, if it’s LGBT friendly, etc.

  38. I’m also fascinated they thought it was a brilliant idea to offer definitions of categories, so that “fantasy” is “Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

    What is the best and most outstanding novel featuring magic or mythic creatures that you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read?

    Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 3/1/2016 containing and based upon scientific or science and engineering premises or technology.”

    Should we interpret this to mean that if your novel doesn’t feature “magic” or “mythic creatures,” it isn’t fantasy?

    And if the novel isn’t “containing [sic] containing and based upon scientific or science and engineering premises or technology,” it isn’t fantasy?

    Um, goshwow. That certainly is, er, novel. Between the two of these, I believe they’ve eliminated approximately 95% of fantasy as I know it.

  39. Gary Farber: I gather no one who attends Dragoncon reads short fiction.

    Doesn’t that seem like a strange choice? Nobody in “the core” reads short fiction? Ignoring magazines and short fiction is skipping a chance to pay court to a few hundred more writers, too.

    As someone pointed out, having so many novel categories already suggests they’re chasing Goodreads, not the Hugos, but their stance on short sf shows the same thing.

  40. I wish them luck, but I have lots of doubts on how it will go for them. The confusion about eligibility dates have already been noted, but I found the following more troubling: DragonCon Awards Official Rules.

    First, it is written far more focused on IP rights and liability than on the awards process, ie it’s less a set of rules than a set of terms and conditions.

    Second, the distinct lack of names for the award organisers, either on that page or in the other Dragon award pages. This is similar to the way I view code of conducts to cons: the entire thing runs on trust, so I need to know who to trust with this stuff.

    Third, the way the entire process is set up as opaque. Reading the rules from a technical standpoint, everyone can nominate and vote, but Dragon Con decides (see Selection of Winners). Shades of some of the nastier rumours I’ve heard of the World Fantasy Awards.

    Fourth, I’m reminded on the discussion about a Swedish award for fantastic literature we’ve had in Swedish fandom. One thing John-Henri Holmberg noted that an award likely has to run ten or more years before it has even a chance to start getting relevance. I wish them (whoever they are) luck, but I have my doubts on how well it will be managed or if it will be sustainable.

  41. Karl-Johan Norén: I found the following more troubling: DragonCon Awards Official Rules. First, it is written far more focused on IP rights and liability than on the awards process, ie it’s less a set of rules than a set of terms and conditions.

    It’s boilerplate text they’ve copied from some other website. So it’s hardly surprising if it’s not well-suited to their purposes. I suppose consulting an attorney would have cost too much.

  42. @Karl-Johan: Wow. That is a whole lot of boilerplate which looks exactly like the boilerplate of every corporate-sponsored contest ever, and nothing like the rules of any publicly-voted (for any size of public) award. They do seem to have put a lot more time and effort into copying that than into writing the qualifying dates and category descriptions.

    The variance of “most outstanding”, “best” and “would tell your friends” wording is kind of odd for people who obviously don’t mind cut and paste (viz. above boilerplate). And “most outstanding/best” and “would tell my friends” are not necessarily close to the same set of works, depending on the taste of my friends.

    I, too, found the absence of short fiction odd, but OTOH with all the hassles we have figuring out what’s a novella and what’s a novelette, I can see why they might want to skip it. Particularly with so damn many votes to count. That still doesn’t preclude them giving out one Best Novel and one Best Shorter Thing in each subgenre, but maybe they’re planning to add those in later years?

    @As You Know Bob: Reminds me of the (probably apocryphal) remark of FDR about Somoza — “he’s OUR son of a bitch”.

    @Gary Farber: Tradition!

  43. Good for them, and, if it turns up more interesting books for us to read, good for us.

    Good for the Puppies, who have long argued for a Dragon Con award, open to all fans everywhere. Now they can concentrate on a more prestigious award!

  44. @lurkertype

    On short fiction – they could have gone a long fiction and short fiction route – and not do fine grain length boundaries for short, novelette and novella. Just novel length and short length. The BSFA Award does that. Of course that would still add another 7 categories.

    @Petréa

    On RPGs being expensive. That isn’t always the case. There are some which are much cheaper than most board games. They just have a core book and that is it. But that category just looks like a dumping ground. There isn’t really much commonality between miniatures / collectible card / role-playing games.

Comments are closed.