Has Goodreads Heard of the Dragon Award Nominees?

Nickpheas had an interesting idea – he charted how many Goodreads users have rated each of the novels nominated for the 2017 Dragon Awards.

He posted these as comments and I asked his permission to turn his research into a front page post. The number of ratings is to the right of the title.

At the end, I have added the 2017 Best Novel Hugo nominees and their Goodreads ratings totals.

  1. Best Science Fiction Novel
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers 7,171
  • Space Tripping by Patrick Edwards 32
  • Rise by Brian Guthrie 74
  • Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli 23
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi 8,899
  • Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey 13,040
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu 10,270
  • The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier 11
  1. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
  • A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day 37
  • Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter 2,847
  • Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo 1,602
  • The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta 59
  • Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi 326
  • Beast Master by Shayne Silvers 529
  • Wings of Justice by Michael-Scott Earle 62
  1. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
  • Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter 31
  • Firebrand by A.J. Hartley 73
  • It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett 158
  • Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright 63
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas 65,190
  • Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray 2,434
  • The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan 25,888
  1. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
  • The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico 167
  • Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David Vandyke 484
  • Caine’s Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon 123
  • Invasion: Resistance by J.F. Holmes 2
  • Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey 415
  • Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz 67
  • Aliies and Enemies: Exiles by Amy J. Murphy 30
  • Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox 250
  1. Best Alternate History Novel
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato 386
  • Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler 109
  • Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli 7
  • No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah 33
  • A Change in Crime by D.R. Perry 10
  • 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint 360
  • The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville 2,395
  • Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove 321
  1. Best Apocalyptic Novel
  • The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz 53
  • A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys 84
  • ZK: Falling by J.F. Holmes 49
  • Walkaway by Cory Doctorow 1,298
  • American War by Omar El Akkad 6,067
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin 12,120
  • Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz 6
  1. Best Horror Novel
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle 677
  • Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells 339
  • Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn 9
  • The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood 210
  • A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau 75
  • The Bleak December by Kevin G. Summers 22
  • Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga 21
  • Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten 4

2017 Best Novel Hugo Finalists

  • All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders – 17,709
  • A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers – 7,212
  • Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu – 10,300
  • Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee – 4,217
  • The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin – 12,199
  • Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer – 2,854

 

39 thoughts on “Has Goodreads Heard of the Dragon Award Nominees?

  1. So I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about not having heard of a single fantasy nominee

  2. So much for the open, populist awards. Looks incredibly small clique dominated.

  3. I bet we will never find out the nomination numbers. They must be pretty low though.

  4. rob_matic: I bet we will never find out the nomination numbers. They must be pretty low though.

    It’s just bizarre. If you’re going to give your name and reputation to an award, why wouldn’t you promote the hell out of it and try to make it successful, instead of just having it be a contest for whoever can create the most alternate e-mails to use for voting?

  5. It’s interesting to note that while the most popular books on the list have had their GoodReads numbers increase by up to 16 in the last 24 hours, Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire has increased by 44 during that time.

    I read that book a few days ago, and really enjoyed it. It didn’t wow me quite as much as Old Man’s War, but when I turned the last page, I was thinking, “well, now I want to know what happens next”. So I’d say that it’s successful as a novel, at least for me. It has lots of wry humor and well-fleshed-out characters — enough to make me willing to roll with the central SF premise, which is totally woo-woo.

  6. I bet we will never find out the nomination numbers. They must be pretty low though.

    I suspect that the low participation numbers are the reason they will never release the data. It would be embarrassing.

  7. @JJ

    Interesting to see the Amazon stats as well. It looks like the only book from the group campaigns that even comes close to the organic votes by any of those measures is Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David Vandyke, which probably gets a boost from being DV sharecropping for a popular amazon self-pubber. The rest fall far, far below either the organic votes or the Hugo noms.

    (On a different note, I’ve spotted that they’ve got a finalist who fails their 70,000+ words restriction. I guess that checking their own rules is too much effort?)

  8. I just read the End User License and it makes clear the actual voting is worthless as they reserve the right to pick the winners. There’s also a rather obvious slam on the Hugos in it.

  9. Cat Eldridge: I just read the End User License and it makes clear the actual voting is worthless as they reserve the right to pick the winners. There’s also a rather obvious slam on the Hugos in it.

    A lot of the same issues we’re seeing this year were discussed in depth last year when the award started.
    Dragon Con Launches Its Own SF Awards
    (9) MORE REACTION TO DRAGON AWARDS.
    Dragon Awards Updates
    First Dragon Awards Presented
    Dragon Award Winners Responses
    (5) ONE VIEWER’S RECAP OF RECENT HISTORY.

  10. Best way to slay a dragon is if a certain J. Scalzi wins one. Game over man, game over. (Of course the dragon award person would just ignore such a win, but there you go)

  11. For some reason I’m reminded that in some parts of the world “chasing the dragon” is slang for opium use.

  12. I don’t see a reason to believe the Dragon Awards would ignore a winner just because it was John Scalzi or anybody else.

    Yes, the Dragon Awards should make public the aggregate nominating and voting data. But there are a lot of awards that don’t do that and we don’t assume bad faith in their process.

    A new award takes some time to get its act together. The Hugos were around for 10 years before the WSFS Constitution was created.

    The Dragon Awards legalese does have language allowing complete discretion to reject votes and modify the process. But I think that’s more likely to be an attorney being excessively zealous than the award managers seeking to ignore votes. Taking votes from any email account is a process that’s easily abused. Their rules have to account for that fact.

    When the Puppies controversy was raging for the first time, one thing many of us on File 770 said was that they should start their own thing instead of trying to burn down the Hugos. Because they did that, I think we should be a little more receptive to what they are doing, even if we think the process is flawed and the initial two ballots are a far cry from greatness.

  13. Interesting. I’d like to see the nominating numbers. Whatever the case, it is silly to simply ignore the awards–as doing so gives some a false sense of the state of the genre. Best to vote and see if things can be made to approach legitimate.

  14. rcade: While I don’t think YOU are confused, there are things I disagree with in your comment that are the byproduct of the tangled discussion here of several different approaches to the Dragon Awards.

    Yes, the Dragon Awards should make public the aggregate nominating and voting data. But there are a lot of awards that don’t do that and we don’t assume bad faith in their process.

    The Puppy advocates for the Dragon Awards have been running a huge bluff about the public participation in the awards, claiming that it overshadows the Hugos. Everyone knows how many votes are cast for the Hugos, which has been publishing its voting stats for decades. So the burden on the Dragon Awards came from that. I agree there’s no real reason to think they haven’t accurately accounted for the votes they did receive, whatever that figure is, knowing what we do about Vox Day’s ability to round up people to vote for Castalia House books. But things like John Wright’s win last year argue there were voters only in the hundreds, not in the tends of thousands as the Puppies like to hallucinate.

    A new award takes some time to get its act together. The Hugos were around for 10 years before the WSFS Constitution was created. The Dragon Awards legalese does have language allowing complete discretion to reject votes and modify the process. But I think that’s more likely to be an attorney being excessively zealous than the award managers seeking to ignore votes. Taking votes from any email account is a process that’s easily abused. Their rules have to account for that fact.

    The Hugos had stated rules from their inception. The creation of a uniform set of runs for running Worldcons was something entirely different. The problem with the Dragon Awards rules is that they are a fantastical piece of boilerplate that fails to provide real transparency, and that’s why people respond to them with skepticism.

    When the Puppies controversy was raging for the first time, one thing many of us on File 770 said was that they should start their own thing instead of trying to burn down the Hugos. Because they did that, I think we should be a little more receptive to what they are doing, even if we think the process is flawed and the initial two ballots are a far cry from greatness.

    You’re blurring history here. They tried burning down the Hugos a couple of times. Nobody at Torgersen’s blog, or Mad Genius Club, or their comment communities, or Vox Popoli and its comment community, did anything about starting a new award while this was going on. And then somebody — and we still really don’t know who, except they’re people involved with the con — started the Dragon Awards. Which the Puppies have immediately gone to work on with all the tricks they tried against the Hugo Awards, and which are working at least as well — actually, better, since they registered a couple wins the first year.

  15. JJ on August 5, 2017 at 5:41 am said:

    It’s just bizarre. If you’re going to give your name and reputation to an award, why wouldn’t you promote the hell out of it and try to make it successful,

    This continues to mystify me. For example, the website does now have a list of nominees but when the ballots were released, it didn’t.

    There is very little promotion and what there is is from one corner of fandom (and that’s not a criticism of that corner). Declan Finn was a better publicist for the awards than anybody officially connected with them.

    The other week I was doing searches on “Dragon Award” looking for who was talking about it and using restricted time periods (e.g. just July 2017) and gave up because I was mainly getting my own posts.

  16. I would bet a lot that

    a) The nominations are from a pitifully small number of people, even if you counted all their alternate email personae. Counting actual persons, probably tiny; could be as low as 10% of the Hugo voters.

    b) The nominees with the 5 digit Goodreads ratings (Scalzi, Jemisin, Maas) were added afterwards by the admin(s) so that it looks more legit and less pathetic. Put in a few names people know, books non-Pups/Scrappies/MGC have read. You know, the wide variety of people the award is supposed to representch the

    But since they don’t release any data, no one except the admin(s) will know.

    Pretty much the textbook definition of a secret cabal. Might be one guy.

    Puppies, masters of projection as always.

    Do the majority of DragonCon members know anything about this? (No; there’d be thousands of votes otherwise, and Teddy Boys wouldn’t get a look in if the queer cosplay grrls were voting! Bishie boys everywhere!)

    Does DragonCon realize how much money and cred they’re wasting on this travesty/laughingstock of an award?

    Do they care how incompetent and untrustworthy this makes them look? Are there shenanigans comparable to this in the rest of the con-running?

    Does upper management even KNOW what the hell’s going on with this?

  17. Mike Glyer on August 5, 2017 at 2:44 pm said:

    One quibble on: “Which the Puppies have immediately gone to work on with all the tricks they tried against the Hugo Awards”

    The Sad Puppies seem to be taking a more hands-off approach. Larry C promoting the award but not pushing specific works and Mad Genius and the official rump of what is left of Sad Puppies 4.5.

    The Rabids and the wider cloud of Puppy adjacent though pretty much going all in.

    *[this quibble mentioned purely because at some point some tiresome person will twist that reasonable sentence into a half-baked claim that somehow Mike said that Sad Puppies were officially trying to rig the Dragon Awards]

  18. And then somebody — and we still really don’t know who, except they’re people involved with the con — started the Dragon Awards. Which the Puppies have immediately gone to work on with all the tricks they tried against the Hugo Awards, and which are working at least as well — actually, better, since they registered a couple wins the first year.

    This is probably true, but I don’t think it’s something to lament unless one is invested in the success of the Dragon Awards.

    For Hugo fans, it’s a positive if the puppies are trying to game a new award instead of ours. They will ultimately find that the Dragon Awards are only worth anything if the ballot is credible.

    I pressed the Dragon Awards administrators personally for vote totals during year one. I got no response and my personal estimation of the awards’ credibility dropped considerably. I’m not arguing they deserve to be respected or widely discussed. I just think we should not view this fan effort with antagonism.

    I probably don’t need to express this sentiment. File 770 will likely have more serious discussion of the nominees than any of the pro-puppies outposts.

  19. The nominees with the 5 digit Goodreads ratings (Scalzi, Jemisin, Maas) were added afterwards by the admin(s) so that it looks more legit and less pathetic.

    Do you have any credible information that would lead you to bet “a lot” on this being true, or is this just empty conjecture?

    A Dragon Awards administrator willing to do something so unethical could have their pick of the entire SF/F field for writers to nominate. I don’t see why Scalzi and Jemisin would be their ringers. They could pick from Eric Flint, Elizabeth Moon, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, John Ringo and Robert J. Sawyer, all who are attending the con.

    Also, putting someone like Scalzi or Jemisin on the ballot unfairly risks them winning. How would it serve the interests of a fixed Dragon Awards for that to happen?

  20. What’s interesting for me is mostly the total lack of interest in this years Dragon nominees. There are six comments on a post from MGC and that is about it. Torgersen does not care. Correia does not care. Hoyt does not care.

    Only Beale manages to show some kind of interest, but even there, it is lukewarm at best.

  21. Is it possible that Dragon Con isn’t all that fixated on the written word? That maybe they just don’t care about it as much as games, movies, and other media? So they let the Puppies run with their award, to sink or swim on their own?

  22. What’s interesting for me is mostly the total lack of interest in this years Dragon nominees. There are six comments on a post from MGC and that is about it. Torgersen does not care. Correia does not care. Hoyt does not care.

    Only Beale manages to show some kind of interest, but even there, it is lukewarm at best.

    I suspect they’ve figured out that the Dragons are not not as prestigious as certain people claim and that they’re not going to replace the Hugos anytime soon.
    To be fair, Correia is currently doing a book tour according to his website, so he may not have had time to post.

  23. Is it possible that Dragon Con isn’t all that fixated on the written word? That maybe they just don’t care about it as much as games, movies, and other media?

    The Dragon Awards have categories for computer games, tabletop games, movies and comics. I think one of the stated goals at its inception was to be broader than the Hugos in subject matter in reflection of the con’s crossover appeal.

  24. rcade: A Dragon Awards administrator willing to do something so unethical

    But it isn’t unethical. It’s right there in the rules, that it is perfectly acceptable for the Awards Administrator to do this.

    And last year, Declan Finn posted the list of finalists before they were announced, either in e-mails to participants or on the website. And when the finalists were finally published, there were some who were not on Finn’s list.

    What that says to me is, 1) There’s a Puppy involved in the administration of the awards*, and they foolishly trusted Finn with an inside track, and he published early, or else Finn is the Puppy on the inside, and 2) The DragonCon chairs realized that they were looking at a list of finalists who were a joke, and they added some more credible entries to the list.

    And this is why we will never be given nomination and voting statistics. Because such statistics would reveal that participation numbers are extremely low, there is ballot-stuffing going on by nearly-unknown indie authors, and — quite likely — there has been manual intervention by the DragonCon chairs.

    * and there are numerous other pieces of evidence which indicate that one or more Puppies are involved, and that it’s not actually the DragonCon concom running the awards

  25. But it isn’t unethical. It’s right there in the rules, that it is perfectly acceptable for the Awards Administrator to do this.

    There’s nothing in the rules that calls it “perfectly acceptable” to put nominees on the ballot who didn’t receive enough votes. Instead, there’s language that seeks to protect the “security, fairness or proper conduct of the voting process.”

    I think the rules language giving the administrators the power to do anything for any reason is just common legalese to reduce their potential liability, were someone to file suit over the awards.

    The Dragon Awards rules have a lot of the same language as the legalese for Internet sweepstakes. Compare:

    Experience Catalina sweepstakes rules: “If for any reason the Internet portion of this Drawing is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this Drawing, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Drawing …”

    Dragon Awards rules: “If, for any reason, this Award is not capable of running as planned by any cause which, in the sole opinion of the DRAGON CON, corrupts or affects the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this Award, or, if due to any technical, production or other error, more prizes are claimed or awarded than are described in these Rules, DRAGON CON reserves the right, at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend this Award.”

    To my layman’s eyes, it’s standard stuff. I don’t think anyone should ascribe malice to it.

    P.s. More generally, something can be within the rules and unethical. (See also “Congress, United States.”)

  26. But there are a lot of awards that don’t do that and we don’t assume bad faith in their process.

    Didn’t they say, before the process began last year, that they were going to release that data?

  27. rcade: The Dragon Awards rules have a lot of the same language as the legalese for Internet sweepstakes.

    This is something I pointed out last year: that the Awards have a T&C that is a verbatim boilerplate copy of thousands of sweepstakes posted all over the internet.

    Sweepstakes. Not Awards programs.

    I don’t think there was an attorney involved with setting up these awards, I think that the numpty doing it got the “bright” idea to copy existing legalese without being intelligent enough to recognize that what they used is not appropriate for an awards program.

    What’s more, I think it’s very indicative of the mindset of the person(s) behind the awards. They regard the Dragon Awards as a contest to be won by the voters, not an awards program to recognize the best books. It’s just one more data point in a whole host of data points which indicate that the organizer(s) are not disinterested parties.

    Malice? Maybe not. Cupidity? Definitely.

  28. TOR has a presence at Dragoncon this year; a con administrator, not interested in award reputation might very well be tempted to add a few works from the top SF publisher if none were organically placed there. Just good business.

    Contrawise, an influential and high paying exhibitor might “suggest” to the powers that be that it would be awkward for all concerned if they weren’t represented in the awards. Just good business.

    These two speculations – and that’s all they are – have occurred in other industries on a routine basis, pretty much whenever two business entities find it in their mutual interest and absent any real external oversite or pressure. Just good business.

    This is one reason why fandom conducts much of its business under a non-commercial umbrella.

  29. Id be surprised if the dragon awards would be based on more than 500 voters. I estimate more something like 150-350.
    A small story from the boardgame world:
    The most important award for Boardgames in Germany (and argubly the World) is the Spiel des Jahres. It is a jury-award and as such it does aztract a lot of criticism. So some boardgame fans started the Deutsches Spielepreis, based on the votes of fandom. They did release the numbers and it was something in the low Thousands. Then something strange happens: Someone noticed that the numbers in one year were all multiplies of 7, all multiples of 8 the next year, of nine the year after that…
    After some pretty bad publicity the people behind the award admitted that they multiplied the numbers of the award, simply because the real numbers were so small, it was easy to manipulate a title on the list (the top ten was released, and if only 250 or so votes would be enough for the top spot, its easy to see that very few votes would be sufficent to get number ten).
    The award still exist, thanks to the emerging internet and a partnership with the two biggest boardgame magazines its more robust now. So you can learn from mistakes. Provided you want to.

    (I doubt the Dragon is more known among readers than the Spielepreis was among serious gamers. And knowing of and voting a two very different things. So I just have my doubts it would get much more votes than the Spielepreis did- which was held in quite high regards among gamers here before the scandal)

  30. @Kathodus
    Is it possible that Dragon Con isn’t all that fixated on the written word? That maybe they just don’t care about it as much as games, movies, and other media?

    @Rcade
    The Dragon Awards have categories for computer games, tabletop games, movies and comics. I think one of the stated goals at its inception was to be broader than the Hugos in subject matter in reflection of the con’s crossover appeal.

    Yeah. I recall a gamer Filer, in one of these Dragon Award threads recently, running through the nominated games, and from what I remember, they seemed to think the nominees made sense, mostly, with maybe one or two that didn’t and one or two they thought should’ve made it (or something like that – basically, within the margin you’d expect of someone giving their opinion of a sensible shortlist). That suggests to me that the voters/nominators for the Dragon Awards may lean more toward the gaming (and possibly other media) side of things. I’ve never been to Dragon Con, but I’ve heard it’s multimedia-oriented.

  31. @Kathodus That might’ve been me over at Camestros blog. The horror and video game categories are areas I was interested in because the Stoker Award tends to see the same authors nominated often and while there’s a lot of video game awards (you’ll see video game boxes with ‘Winner of 91 Best of Show Awards at E3!’) there’s no big SFF genre representation award for games. Which is frankly why I’m critical of it, I’d like to see it handled better for these things.

    But yeah all of the game choices are popular, safe choices. Some were and are buggy but are from loved franchises, and it’s a little weird to me that Dishonored 2 made in on there rather than Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, and Prey. And while there’s a strong indie push in books there’s none here when Cosmic Star Heroine would’ve been a great fit. But yeah, still within a reasonable margin of one opinion versus a collective shortlist.

  32. I was a bit surprised by a couple of the video game nominees but overall it wasn’t particularly unexpected. But, you know, there really aren’t very many AAA game releases in a year, nor indie games that are good enough to get (good, as opposed to mocking) press coverage, and even fewer mobile games that attract attention. Short of them nominating whatever the most recent majorly controversial exercise in blatant -isms is (and I don’t recall one recent enough to be eligible) they aren’t easy categories to completely ruin. It also isn’t like books where they can nominate themselves or their friends/comrades-in-martyr-complex, and making a game, even a smallish indie one or a tabletoppish one, usually requires more investment (financial or otherwise) than putting up an ebook for sale on Amazon.

    (I’m not minimising what it takes to write a book – obviously that takes time, effort, and hopefully skill – but writing a game also takes time, effort, and skill, plus all the time, effort, and skills it takes to do all the rest of what goes into it, and in many cases a reasonable financial investment. It isn’t Puppy-style themself-friends-and-family-and-currying-favour slate-friendly. The themself, friends and family are unlikely to have made games, and the people they might want to curry favour with won’t care.)

  33. @Matt Y – Yes, I remember now that was you.

    Any recommendations for good games available on Steam that can be played in Linux? I’ve just about exhausted Stardew Valley. Cosmic Star Heroine looks fun, but is unfortunately not available for Linux.

  34. @kathodus – Undertale is full of charm and laughs. Slime Rancher could put your farming skills to use and is adorable. I mostly play console games. Of games available on Steam+Linux Rocket League is a game I’ve put a disgusting amount of hours in on a different console. It’s soccer but played with cars that have rockets attached to them.

  35. Matt Y – Thanks! I actually downloaded and installed Slime Rancher between asking you that question and reading this, and I played a day of it. Looks to be like a decent replacement for Stardew Valley, when I finish up the last of the things I care to do there (basically, befriend everyone in town enough to see their stories/cut-scenes).

    I’ll check out Rocket League and Undertale, as well. Again, thanks!

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