Dragons, and Puppies, and Innocent Bystanders, Oh My!

The nominees for the Dragon Awards were released August 3, and some authors who campaigned energetically for it succeeded in their quest to get on the ballot.

Color-coded below are the nominations from three of the strongest marketing and promotion efforts.

  • VOX DAY’S SLATE is RED
  • SUPERVERSIVE SF CONTRIBUTORS are BLUE
  • AUTHORS WHOSE BOOKS WERE PART OF JON DEL ARROZ’ ODYSSEY CON BUNDLE are GREEN (if they are not already coded in either of the first two groups.)

Surprisingly, three of Vox Day’s recommendations did not make the ballot. Whether this reflects the level of competition or carelessness about eligibility (a problem with his Hugo slate) is unknown.

Lou Antonelli’s nomination also should be noted, although he isn’t part of any of the three color-coded groups.

The Dragon Awards administrators never released any voting statistics from the first year, so just how much support it takes to get nominated is a matter of conjecture. But if voters are rewarding effort and a profound desire to be nominated, my personal opinion is that Declan Finn’s two nominations are probably the most deserved.

  1. Best Science Fiction Novel
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
  • Space Tripping by Patrick Edwards
  • Rise by Brian Guthrie
  • Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
  • Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu
  • The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier
  1. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
  • A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day
  • Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
  • Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo
  • The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta
  • Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi
  • Beast Master by Shayne Silvers
  • Wings of Justice by Michael-Scott Earle
  1. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
  • Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • Firebrand by A.J. Hartley
  • It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett
  • Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  • Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
  • The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
  1. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
  • The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico
  • Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David Vandyke
  • Caine’s Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon
  • Invasion: Resistance by J.F. Holmes
  • Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey
  • Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz
  • Aliies and Enemies: Exiles by Amy J. Murphy
  • Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox
  1. Best Alternate History Novel
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
  • Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler
  • Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli
  • No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah
  • A Change in Crime by D.R. Perry
  • 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint
  • The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville
  • Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove
  1. Best Apocalyptic Novel
  • The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz
  • A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys
  • ZK: Falling by J.F. Holmes
  • Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
  • American War by Omar El Akkad
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  • Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz
  1. Best Horror Novel
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle
  • Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells
  • Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn
  • The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood
  • A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau
  • The Bleak December by Kevin G. Summers
  • Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga
  • Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten
  1. Best Comic Book
  • Motor Girl by Terry Moore
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eleven by Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs
  • Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa
  • The Dresden Files: Dog Men by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo
  • Wynonna Earp Legends by Beau Smith, Tim Rozon, Melanie Scrofano, Chris Evenhuis
  1. Best Graphic Novel
  • Stuck in My Head by J.R. Mounts
  • Girl Genius: the Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne, Book 2: The City of Lightning by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio
  • Clive Barker Nightbreed #3 by Marc Andreyko, Clive Barker, Emmanuel Javier
  • March Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
  • Love is Love by Marc Andreyko, Sarah Gaydos, James S. Rich
  • Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
  • Lucifer, Fox
  • Westworld, HBO
  • Stranger Things, Netflix
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC
  • Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Sky1
  • Doctor Who, BBC
  • The Expanse, Syfy
  • Wynonna Earp, Syfy
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
  • Doctor Strange directed by Scott Derrickson
  • Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Passengers directed by Morten Tyldum
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards
  • Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins
  • Logan directed by James Mangold
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 directed by James Gunn
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
  • Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda by Bioware
  • NieR: Automata by PlatinumGames
  • Final Fantasy XV by Square Enix
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Nintendo
  • Dishonored 2 by Arkane Studios
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
  • Sky Dancer by Pine Entertainment
  • Fire Emblem Heroes by Nintendo
  • Monument Valley 2 by Ustwogames
  • Con Man: The Game by Monkey Strength Productions
  • Pokemon GO by Niantic
  • Super Mario Run by Nintendo
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk by Avalon Hill
  • Hero Realms by White Wizard Games
  • Gloomhaven by Cephalofair Games
  • Scythe by Stonemaier Games
  • Mansions of Madness (Second Edition) by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games
  1. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
  • Pulp Cthulhu by Chaosium
  • Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast
  • A Shadow Across the Galaxy X-Wing Wave X by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Star Wars: Destiny by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Bloodborne: The Card Game by CMON Limited
  • Dark Souls: The Board Game by Steamforged Games

99 thoughts on “Dragons, and Puppies, and Innocent Bystanders, Oh My!

  1. @NickPheas Thanks so much for your work on this.

    To pick up on one of your asides: As those figures suggest, Sarah J. Maas is a big deal in YA, with two (I think) current fantasy series hitting that ever-beloved teen action+romance combo. The nominated book with 65,000+ GR ratings also has a 4.55 score, which indicates how much love her books inspire – and after a quick look at her other statistics she doesn’t seem to have anything below a 4, with hundreds of thousands of ratings on each, so she’s clearly reaching a sizeable audience with an excellent success rate (and, I suspect, a bigger than average percentage of GR-active readers).

    In fact, based on all this, I’d say she’s pretty Maas-sive *ducks tomatoes*

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  3. @Arifel

    Yup, Sarah J Maas has won the YA Goodreads award two years in a row, does well in YA-specific awards, and generally sells a whole ton of books. I can confirm she’s a massive hit with the teen contingent in my house as well. I’m not surprised to see her on here.

  4. One of the organizers of the SF lit track at Dragon Con is a Puppy supporter who runs a a blog called “the Right Geek.” But, Kathodus, do you know who actually runs these awards?

  5. @Rebecca H – I do not (that’s why I recommend taking my impressions with a large box of salt). I’m going by their public statements and my eternal sense of optimism.

  6. @Rick Heinz

    Interestingly on LT (which is my book cataloguing site of choice) there are more copies of your book than those by Humphreys and Holmes as well as the Finn/Yoskowitz. Not a huge number of copies of course – but it is a data-point.

    On the popular vote thing – this is the thing that many feel a bit uncomfortable here. There is little transparency – we do not know if there is any ballot stuffing, or even what kind of numbers you need to be on the ballot, or to win. What we can tell is that the award seems prone to being unduly influenced by small(ish) self-selecting groups – which could be special interest groups like the Superversives, or Vox Day, or followers of a popular website.

    Also there is the genre classification. Reading the Amazon blurb for your book I would have said Urban Fantasy rather than post-apocalyptic.

    But you have to play the rules that are there – so well done.

  7. @Andyl

    Oooh… what’s LT? (I am totally unfamiliar with that! Is it Library Thing by chance? That’s what my quick Googlefu is telling me)

    As for the category… well… I’m totally in the Post-Apoc (as well as Urban Fantasy) category in Amazon… and it’s not much of a spoiler that the world starts ending super early in the book 😀 and we rapidly go downhill from there.

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  9. Hampus Eckerman on August 4, 2017 at 3:24 pm said:

    Brian Niemeier is in full conspiracy mode.

    The switch for that setting got stuck on “on” a longggg time ago.

  10. Hampus Eckerman: Brian Niemeier is in full conspiracy mode.

    That’s just standard Puppy outrage marketing, because their customer base is focused on things that upset them, rather than just on the quality of books: “The SJWs are trying to take over SFF and the world! You all have to get out and vote since I don’t have enough family members to win the category!”

    The problem with relying on outrage marketing for success and sales is that there’s always someone new pulling your audience away to the latest outrage, and even if you manage to keep up a reasonable level of inflammatory posts to keep them activated, eventually they will suffer outrage fatigue and dissipate.

  11. @JJ – Yup. Basically Brian’s vote winning gambit is “vote against John Scalzi” which is not exactly the best self-endorsement of his own book he could have made.

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  16. @JJ: We’re really in a boom period for Horror (I’m not sure that we’re ever not in a boom period for Horror). I have seen editors/publishers (senior enough that they should have some idea what’s going on) argue that horror goes up and down with the economy; i.e., in bad times people don’t need (artificial) scaring.

    @various: how are people seeing green text? I don’t mess with my settings (except for size on some web sites) and pass color-perception tests, and what I see here is black on white in the original text, very-light gray for our comments, and medium gray for @OGH’s responses. Or am I missing a joke?

  17. Chip Hitchcock: how are people seeing green text?

    Mike has put the two books which were in JdA’s anti-Monica Valentinelli book bundle (which are not also VD or Superversive) in green font.

  18. @Chip Hitchcock:

    @various: how are people seeing green text? I don’t mess with my settings (except for size on some web sites) and pass color-perception tests, and what I see here is black on white in the original text, very-light gray for our comments, and medium gray for @OGH’s responses. Or am I missing a joke?

    Some of the works in the lists of nominees are in green due to the authors having had books in JDA’s OdysseyCon bundle.

    Edit: ninja’d by JJ.

  19. If I just scroll, I’ll miss the green items. If I look really, really carefully, then I’ll see them.

  20. So, assuming I want to further the Cause of SJWs everywhere and vote to converge the awards… how do I do so? Despite being registered to vote I haven’t received any emails since May, and the website link just goes to a “make sure you’re registered page. I assume I was supposed to get a link to my email but I’ve been lost off the mailing list? Fairly certain this is some kind of conspiracy.

  21. @Rick Heinz

    Yep LT is LibraryThing. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is worth looking at.

  22. Hampus – you’re supposed to avoid the green ones, they’re not ripe yet.

    I’m intrigued by some of the very low Good Reads numbers for some of the finalists.

    It suggests, to me, that A: overall nominations were pretty low in total and B: that this is an award that it is relatively easy to game a work onto, rendering the results almost completely pointless – except for those folks who are impressed by “participation awards”.

  23. steve davidson It suggests, to me, that A: overall nominations were pretty low in total and B: that this is an award that it is relatively easy to game a work onto, rendering the results almost completely pointless – except for those folks who are impressed by “participation awards”.

    The results are pretty much a mirror of last year’s numbers, and are not surprising, given that it doesn’t appear that anyone apart from last year’s participants, not even the DragonCon members, received an e-mail promoting the nominations process, and DragonCon did not promote the awards publicly, either.

  24. Con-goers themselves don’t appear to care about the awards. I interviewed several people at the con last year and no one I talked to was aware of them.The currently very active Dragon Con official fb page doesn’t include any discussions of them at all. When I brought up the results last year and said I was disappointed about Puppy wins, and wondered if anyone else had voted for anything, only four people seemed to have any idea what I was talking about – and were mostly opposed to the puppies. Within a few hours, several puppies had joined the page for the first time in order to pile on and attack me and other so-called SJWs. Eventually the moderators deleted the whole conversation, which is their response to all controversial conversations. I think they are mostly afraid of discussing anything political openly, like a nervous family avoiding difficult conversations at the holiday dinner table. The result is that Dragon Con has become an easy space for an organized minority to hijack, so that they can use the name of the con and the community it represents for something most of us are opposed to. At the end of the con, there is a space for congoers to bring comments and complaints – i was gaming during that slot last year, but I may go this year simply to ask questions about where these awards came from, who is running them, and to ask for the numbers on the nominations and voting. It is really an embarrassment to me that Dragon Con would be represented as in anyway meaningfully connected to these awards, and I think it will have to be actual con-goers organizing to do anything about the methods by which the awards are nominated and chosen.

  25. Rebecca, did you participate in the awards last year? I haven’t seen any members of DragonCon mention getting an e-mail about them this year, unless it was someone who had signed up and voted last year.

  26. @Rebecca H

    That sounds like a good idea – as a DC regular hopefully your opinion will hold some weight with them. Mostly we’re just non-attendees kvetching at the whole thing because the silly behaviour from the puppy-adjacent set is snark-worthy, but I would actually like to see DC make a proper go of the award if they can. It’s quite sad to see a prestigious name attached to something and then allowed to get a bit tarnished like this.

  27. Rebecca H et al: interesting.

    I am familiar with this tactic from paintball. It essentially goes like this:

    when you rule a small pond, it’s best to keep its existence quiet, that way none of the bigger frogs become interested.

    It would play into the hands of those bloc-voting these awards to keep the numbers – and knowledge – as minimal as possible.

    That DragonCon itself does not appear to be doing anything suggests (as I tended to believe from the beginning) that this award was shoehorned in without too many people knowing about it and, at this point, its low key reception serves the needs of others who probably do not want any fan politics affecting their event; I’d suppose their thinking is, leave it alone and it will eventually go away (doesn’t bode well for its intended future of replacing the Hugos), while the manipulators – pups (and who knows) are content to NOT get any publicity for the aforementioned reason.

    Enthusiasm will blow over in a year or two without any additional juice being injected. So if my scenario is anywhere close to reality, we’ll now, perhaps startng as early as next year.

  28. I’m making some inquiries among my RPG publishing industry colleagues because, well, the absence of a game tie-in fiction category at the Dragon Awards, itself probably the second-largest gathering to tabletop gamers after GenCon, is certainly one of those things that makes you go hmmmm. Trying to discover if anyone in the industry is keeping track of tie-in fiction publications on a yearly basis — I’m not exactly sure that there is. Origins used to have a couple tie-in fiction categories — one of my works was nominated, and another offered for consideration but not selected — but it wasn’t every year.

    I know for a fact that Paizo/Pathfinder publishes fiction at novel length, though they might not have had anything published within the eligibility window. So does Onyx Path Publishing, though OPP’s current novel length stuff is mostly still in the production pipeline at the moment. Blizzard Entertainment publishes novel length fiction, though I think only Illidan was released within the eligibility window for this award. Wizards of the Coast publishes tie-in fiction. And, well, I just personally answered a Green Ronin “authors interested in tabletop RPG fiction tie-in writing who also have marginalized indentities” call that covers multiple game properties. It might be a niche part of the industry but no more niche than miniatures wargaming at this juncture.

  29. @Rebecca: Someone needs to ask what the hell is going on. So I hope you’ll take the time this year to ask What Gives? The attendees don’t know about them, the upper management doesn’t know/care (and probably would object to their good name being hijacked by neo-Nazis and other alt-righters), and the lack of transparency is just ugh.

    Pleeeeeeeeeeease go to that session and ask a few simple questions and demand numbers. The lack of publicity, voting, and transparency are enough to make the con look bad — you don’t even have to mention Puppies by name.

    Then come back and tell us how surprised and confused the concom looked.

    @Nate: OTOH, as crappy as the awards are right now, do you want the hard work of you and your pals tarnished by association?

  30. Interesting discussion. This is my first time hearing about the Dragon Awards. It sounds like the puppies crowd moved from the Hugos to this award.

  31. The File is getting a lot of pingbacks. If Filers link to the sites linking here and those sites get pingbacks are they really pingpongbacks?

  32. Nigel: The File is getting a lot of pingbacks. If Filers link to the sites linking here and those sites get pingbacks are they really pingpongbacks?

    The multiple pingbacks are the result of the Verge’s article being copied by content theft sites.

    So I guess they’re piratepingpongbacks. 😉

  33. So next year I want you all to vote for my MG novel The Pingpong Pirates for the Dragon Awards.

  34. I am going to keep working on figuring out what is going on. I think it’s true that only people who voted last year got the emails. I did participate in the awards last year, but only after the nominations had come out. Nothing I voted for won anything! I do know some other people who voted and nominated this year. Also, a number of things I nominated did make it onto the list – American War; Mieville’s Last Days; and Victor LaValle’s The Changeling – which I would imagine has lower GR numbers because it was released recently. It makes me wonder though, if the number of nominations in some categories were so few that it was possible to get something nominated with a very small handful of votes. If they had decided to give a certain number in every category, and the only other people who were voting were going for published slates, maybe anything with 2 or 3 votes was getting voted on. As another point in this direction, in categories where there were likely a lot of highly motivated voters, my choices didn’t make it onto the list (comics, SF, fantasy, and military SF). But speaking of comics, I’m very happy about Monstress being there – these votes seem representative to me of the comics world I know, though I was surprised that Paper Girls was not nominated since it has been in the top 3 comics of the week multiple times over this year. The category that seems weirdest to me is fantasy – how was Beren & Luthien not there, or Gaiman’s Norse Mythology?

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  36. Also in the not-there category. I did read a fair amount of alt-history before deciding what to vote for. Besides Mieville, I had read parts of Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, most of Winters, Underground Airlines, and Gailey, River of Teeth. I thought Mieville’s was the best, but I was surprised to see UA not on the noms list given its popularity. While they had under 1000 reviews on GR each, both Shawl and Gailey’s had more GR ratings that many of the books that were nominated. The book I nominated in SF, Jeff Vandermeer’s _Borne_ was also objectively more “popular” than the various puppy noms, going by the number of GR reviews, but did not make it into the nominations list.

  37. @Chip Hitchcock: I’ve always heard just the opposite, from Stephen King to Brian Keene, that horror is classically a hard-times genre, doing its best both creatively and commercially when the economy’s bad. The ’70s saw the start of a bunch of careers, including King’s; the years around the ’90s bubbles (when things were harsh for a lot of folks not getting the media spotlights) saw more; the last decade or so has seen the launch or revitalization of a bunch more. Conversely, the times horror sales go into the tank are ones where overall life seems to be better for more folks.

  38. My recollections are old enough that I might have reversed the polarity. However, it seems we have both heard that horror is cyclical, rather than always doing well.

  39. I’ve also heard that which horror monsters are ascendent cycles – vampires are popular if left wingers are in charge, etc. Not sure if true. 🙂

    @rochrist

    I think I would be happier if they had no subgenre awards or lots of them. As it is, it ends up looking like whoever set it up just picked their own favourite subgenres, whereas a true award-per-subgenre award might be quite an interesting addition to the awards landscape.

    @Rebecca H

    I hope you manage to get some answers – report back, if you get the chance? I’d love to know what you find out.

  40. However, it seems we have both heard that horror is cyclical, rather than always doing well.

    It seemed to me one of the factors that tanked Tanith Lee’s sales in North America was very bad luck in releasing what could be seen as horror novels about the time horror was experiencing one of its periodic implosions.

  41. The Dragon Award nominees – how much do they reward efforts to be nominated?

    One Email = One Vote, some people desiring the award just hadn’t grasped that concept.

    I had a friend in college who wanted to be Michigan State University “Turkey of the Year”.

    The principle was who raised the most cash. One penny=One vote. At the end, the organizers declared a draw as the top two people vying for the honor were at the vote counting with checkbooks in hand saying they would fill it in with the amount necessary to win. Way to show commitment, Tom.

    Some Rabid Puppies show that level of commitment so I’m surprised the Rabid Puppies slate are not all on the ballot. Maybe they are saving it for this final vote for the winner.

  42. Nightly Nerdly News on August 11, 2017 at 7:02 am said:

    Some Rabid Puppies show that level of commitment so I’m surprised the Rabid Puppies slate are not all on the ballot

    Not all were eligible, like the video game on the slate was released prior to the eligibility period.

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