Dragon Con Refuses To Let Authors Withdraw from Dragon Awards

Alison Littlewood has been told by the President of Dragon Con, Pat Henry, that she will not be allowed to withdraw as a nominee of the Dragon Awards. She posted the convention’s answer on her blog in “Another statement regarding the Dragon Awards”.

As stated in my previous post, I have contacted the Dragon Awards administrators to request that my nomination for The Hidden People be withdrawn. The book has been selected as part of a voting slate by a member of the ‘Rabid Puppies’ voting bloc, which I feel may have undue influence over the awards outcome. I have no connection with the Rabid Puppies and have no wish to benefit from any kind of interference in the voting process.

I have today received the following response:

Good morning Ms. Littlewood,

 While I appreciate your sense of fair play, I must decline your request to remove The Hidden People from the Dragon Award Nominations. 

We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors.  While we didn’t start the Dragon Awards to foil these two groups, we believe that as we add voters, they will become irrelevant in the our awards.

We believe the “people’s choice” approach is a better way to recognize authors and their works.  The Dragon Awards ballot – which consists of works nominated by fans – is a broad representation of the best science fiction and fantasy literature available today.  With 53 novels listed, there is actually something for everybody on this ballot.     

The original purpose of the Dragon Awards was not so much as awards but as a quality reading list.  The cost of reading current material has been rising steadily for years.  Library budgets are not adequate to have all, or even a decent collection of  the type of materials that Dragon Con fans enjoy.

Thank you for your interest in the Dragon Con Awards.  Please do not let Mr. [redacted] ruin for you, the positive reception of your work. 

Pat Henry – President

. . . So there you have it. I tried. I have never heard of any awards keeping writers on the nominees list against their wishes, particularly when those wishes are surely the same as the organisers’ – to ensure that the process goes forward fairly and without interference. However, it seems in this case there is little more I can do.

Jim C. Hines, in his post about the Dragon Awards controversy observed:

Note the false equivalence of rabid puppies, a self-proclaimed group created by Vox Day, with “justice warriors,” generally used as an insult against people speaking up for greater representation and inclusion. The rabid puppy slate was posted on Vox Day’s blog back in June. I’m curious where the equivalent “justice warrior” slate supposedly appeared…

Meantime, Brian Niemeier tweeted a response to Henry’s announcement: “Scalzi is now trapped in here with me”. Scalzi had also announced his withdrawal from the awards.

And another nominee, Castalia House author Benjamin Cheah Kai Wai, has inserted a proscription list in his new post  “Between SocJus and PulpRev at the Dragon Awards”

In addition, I must point out the nominees known to be affiliated with or are social justice warriors….

76 thoughts on “Dragon Con Refuses To Let Authors Withdraw from Dragon Awards

  1. Any semblance of rationality, common sense and dignity has just gone out the window for DragonCon and their awards. No self respecting author should acknowledge or support this set of awards until this situation is dealt with AND a formal apology is given Alison Littlewood.

  2. Pat Henry and the Dragon Awards have made their Awards less than legitimate by not allowing nominees to withdraw. Then again, there was always something questionable since their inception.

  3. That’s some attitude their president is showing off. I guess I’ll have to scratch DragonCon off my list.

  4. I count at least five false statements in Pat Henry’s letter. It is the kind of revisionist history that is common among the Pups and the Alt-Right.

    Does Dragon*Con really want to become the Alt-Right genre convention?

  5. I assume the narrative about “justice warriors” is the Puppy argument that SJWs are causing trouble by threatening authors into withdrawing. An incredibly weak argument, but that has never stopped Pups from Pupping.

  6. Wow, that post from Benjamin Cheah Kai Wai is something else. Nevermind voting for things you actually read and enjoyed…just vote the prescribed party line. Especially cringeworthy is the advise to vote for John C. Wrong over his wife in YA. Don’t worry, Brian Niemeier has promised her his award as his editor….eeeesh!

  7. We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting

    lol

    Gonna need a citation of the latter.

    we believe that as we add voters, they will become irrelevant in the our awards.

    And as president he’s made sure they’ve done absolutely nothing to help promote or inform people that this ‘people’s choice’ award exists. I mean they should hire Declan Finn to run the PR for it, regardless of his works he certainly seems to care about it and has done more to inform people it exists than Dragoncon has in any official capacity, including notifying the nominees.

    The cost of reading current material has been rising steadily for years.

    Kindle Daily Deal incoming

    Library budgets are not adequate to have all, or even a decent collection of the type of materials that Dragon Con fans enjoy.

    Almost wish there was a place people could check things out for free in multiple formats, digital and physical. What would we call such a place?

  8. Aaron: I count at least five false statements in Pat Henry’s letter. It is the kind of revisionist history that is common among the Pups and the Alt-Right.

    Yeah, the disingenuousness of Pat Henry’s letter is pretty staggering. And the use of “justice warriors” makes it clear that Henry is Puppy-aligned, if not Puppy in name. 😐

  9. Refusing to honour authors wishes is completely unprofessional. The email from Pat Henry also comes with a side-order of being quite patronising – saying “While I appreciate your sense of fair play” … “Please do not let Mr. [redacted] ruin for you” as if she’s not a professional making a rational decision.

    You have to wonder at the thought process from a for-profit organisation, who must see some long-term benefit from running awards even if just for publicity and interest, insisting that they’ll keep authors listed in association with their brand even though they don’t want to be.

    I wonder if this is what they also told Scalzi – he described them as “unfailingly gracious in my communications with them”. You’d have thought he’d have mentioned a “no ballot changes” rule if that’s what they’d told him. (Mind you, I also don’t expect Scalzi to get into a public wrangle with a major con – there’d be no upside for him on that.)

  10. IIRC, the editor from IGMS withdrew from Hugo consideration a couple years back. Part of his withdrawal statement included the fact that he was hearing from authors that were being given “friendly advice” from other authors and other publishing industry people that they shouldn’t submit their works to IGMS.

    It ain’t exactly a stretch to believe that something similar could happen relative to the Dragon Awards.

    If authors want to withdraw from consideration, then the awards staff should honor that request.

    It would also be helpful if the awards staff released the voting data.

    Regards,
    Dann

  11. Dann on August 9, 2017 at 11:15 am said:

    It ain’t exactly a stretch to believe that something similar could happen relative to the Dragon Awards.

    Except there being zero evidence for this happening or any evidence that anybody would want to.

  12. We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors.

    “effect”? And I would like to know exactly what efforts any “justice warriors” have made to affect the voting. I mean, the puppies are an active, self-named group that posted a slate. I have no idea who or what the “justice warriors” are and I’ve seen no evidence of such a group making any effort at all with regards to this “award”.

    I know that people who are idiots use the term “social justice warriors” as an insult, but surely he’s not using that term and therefore outing himself as an idiot, is he?

    I once had a slight desire to go to Dragon Con. I no longer have any desire at all to attend it.

  13. There wasn’t any evidence to support the editor of IGMS either. Whisper campaigns aren’t usually done in full view of the world.

    Regards,
    Dann

  14. Dann on August 9, 2017 at 11:15 am said:

    IIRC, the editor from IGMS withdrew from Hugo consideration a couple years back. Part of his withdrawal statement included the fact that he was hearing from authors that were being given “friendly advice” from other authors and other publishing industry people that they shouldn’t submit their works to IGMS.

    The withdrawl letter as a refresher. The reasons he withdrew wasn’t because people were saying they wouldn’t read it as a result, but this:

    And let me be clear about this: While I strongly disagree with the way Sad Puppies went about it… when the Puppies say they feel shut out because of their politics, it’s hard for me to not empathize because I’ve seen IGMS’s authors chastised for selling their story to us, simply because of people’s perceptions about the publisher’s personal views. I’ve also seen people refuse to read any of the stories published in IGMS for the same reason.

    Which is more related to OSC’s name before the IGMS part and not to the Hugos. As far as avoiding something because of who the publisher is that’s another subject.

    It ain’t exactly a stretch to believe that something similar could happen relative to the Dragon Awards

    Aside from that’s not what happened in your example., and much like IGMS Scalzi also said he withdrew for very similar reason, namely not wanted to be a ping-pong ball to be hit to score points in some dumb political game instead of it being about the quality of the work itself. Absent anything else, I tend to believe their own words.

    If authors want to withdraw from consideration, then the awards staff should honor that request.

    It would also be helpful if the awards staff released the voting data.

    For sure on both things. I mean for the latter it’d go towards Henry’s stated goal, with a long list that’d be even more of a recommended reading list 🙂

  15. @Dann

    That element of the statement you refer to was (allegedly) due to IGMS’s association with Orson Scott Card, not the Hugo nomination. I can’t see what link you’re trying to draw here.

    (Well, I can see you trying the “stuff sometimes happens in secret so maybe it’s happening here, don’t blame me I’m just saying it might” tack, but that’s hardly a credible argument, is it?)

    ETA: mostly ninja’d by Matt!

  16. While Dragon awards organisers stayed silent, we could only speculate based on scant evidence that they were an awards poorly run, that were supportive of the puppy view.

    Now that Dragon awards organisers have spoken (in the voice of Drsgoncon President Pat Henry no less), it’s confirmed to me that Dragon awards are poorly run, and are supportive of the puppy view.

  17. Dann: That’s an interesting revisionist history version of the reasons Schubert withdrew his Hugo nomination. Too bad it bears no real relationship to reality. There was no “whisper campaign” alleged then, and there is no evidence of a “whisper campaign” now. You’ll have to peddle your conspiracy theories somewhere else.

  18. @kathodus

    I wasn’t sure if it was that or suggesting that the presence of Scalzi et al on the ballot was evidence of “justice warrior” slating.

  19. Dann on August 9, 2017 at 11:35 am said:

    There wasn’t any evidence to support the editor of IGMS either. Whisper campaigns aren’t usually done in full view of the world.

    Oh, well if we are speculating about whisper campaigns that nobody has any actual evidence for then that’s OK.

    For example, maybe, just maybe, there is a whispering campaign against voles. Yeah, nobody is going to just come out and publicly say “What about voles, hey? Don’t you just hate them?”. Voles being small and furry might actually gain some public sympathy if there was an overt campaign against them So, this whole anti-vole movement must be very much in the shadows – snide remarks here and there about voles. You know the kind of thing I mean: “Voles are just really small rats.”, “I had voles building tiny burrows in my river bank and now my river bank is full of tiny vole holes.”, “Voles stole my credit card details.”. It is all very deniable, and they pick their targets. Obviously these whispers aren’t directed at people like you or I Dann, who find voles to be just as endearing as their cousins the muskrat or lemming. But just because we don’t hear the many calumnies directed towards our tiny rodent friends, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

    Consider this: if there was a clandestine whispering campaign against the most lovable member of the Arvicolinae would WE see evidence about it? No, that is the very nature of such a campaign. Now, ARE we seeing evidence about it? No! EXACTLY what we would expect to happen if there was such a campaign! QED vole-lovers everywhere! The secret tide of propaganda is clearly there as shown by the fact that it is not clear or there.

    As Wikipedia tells us:
    “A recent study into the behavior of voles, Microtus ochrogaster specifically, found that voles comfort each other when mistreated, spending more time grooming a mistreated vole.”
    Meanwhile so called “archeologists” are using vole teeth to build some kind of monstrous vole clock https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vole#Vole_clock

  20. This is so sad. The bastards can’t even build a clubhouse without burning it down.

  21. Meredith on August 9, 2017 at 12:13 pm said:

    @kathodus

    I wasn’t sure if it was that or suggesting that the presence of Scalzi et al on the ballot was evidence of “justice warrior” slating.

    Yup, I mean it is vague enough not to be libel or actionable defamation but given that the Rabids et al are pointing at other nominated authors and saying they are SJWs, Pat Henry’s comment is essentially directing doubt at the legitimacy of those nominations. Pretty shitty behaviour.

  22. Pingback: What if they had a culture war and nobody turned up? | Camestros Felapton

  23. Just to make it clear–all they had to do is make an award “to represent traditional/conservative views in scifi” and–well, we’d have probably quietly pointed and mocked (because, honestly it would still have been a horror show) but let them go on their way. But instead this pathetic shit-flinging display that is likely to leave them with nothing in the end–a briefly existing award that no one will care about, except to trot out as a cautionary tale. Especially if this thing ends with the Dragon Con itself tarnished beyond repair as is seeming more and more an option.

  24. @Meredith – Oh, right. Yeah, I didn’t venture far enough into the Puppyhole model in my head to consider they might think Scalzi was slated on there.

    They sow doubt and uncertainty in their own venue. Burning it down to save it?

  25. Srsly? I can see why Alison Littlewood would be annoyed, as she was slated on without her knowledge by . I don’t understand Dragoncons’ response.

    I didn’t see any orchestrated attempts to get Scalzi on the ballot, and he withdrew for different reasons (basically, “I’m over this crap”), but I’ve no idea why you would not respect the authors’ wishes and withdraw them if they asked.

    As it stands, anyone with time on their hands (or $100 and some web searching) can flood the award with votes, as there is no mechanism to filter out ballot box stuffing.

    At least we know now that it’s not someone off in the corner badly running the Dragons, it’s being badly run by the main convention organizers. Anyone with experience of the con care to comment on level of ineptness elsewhere? I always heard it was a pretty well-run event.

  26. If they think Scalzi got on the ballot because of slating, I guess that means that “Rogue One” must be on the ballot because of slating, too. After all, they’re both wildly popular with a wide audience. Not at all the carefully crafted niche award that they appear to be looking for with their nominations of Brian Niemeier or J.F. Holmes or Declan Finn (based on the Goodreads statistics posted here a few days back).

  27. @Chris S. Being able to run a convention does not necessarily equate to being able to run an award. This one is far too easily gamed as structured.

  28. Scalzi has not hesitated to take on big cons over the issue of cons having well-written policies regarding harassment.

    Also, the one time I attended Dragon Con I had a marvelous time and was amazed at how huge it was. But that’s just one data point.

  29. Chris S. on August 9, 2017 at 1:07 pm said:

    At least we know now that it’s not someone off in the corner badly running the Dragons, it’s being badly run by the main convention organizers. Anyone with experience of the con care to comment on level of ineptness elsewhere? I always heard it was a pretty well-run event.

    I still think it is someone off in the corner running it. That’s why they aren’t removing names from the ballots. The only way they could do that now would be to start again and re-set up the Survey Monkey. They aren’t going to do that because that would be hard and the reason why it would be hard is because it is (probably) just somebody doing this in their limited spare time – which is why everything Dragon Award related happens in odd shambolic spurts. It would actually be cute and endearing (and even impressive) if the whole thing was overtly one person’s fan project. It is the ongoing (and growing) disconnect between the reality of the award and the grandiose claims and association with a major brand.

    I think Pat Henry’s intervention is a knee jerk reaction from somebody seeing a potential issue and making almost perfectly exactly the wrong call. It is the habit we have seen elsewhere (and not confined to one part of the political spectrum) of seeing any kind of external criticism (or even implied criticism) as a threat/attack to their autonomy. While the language is polite it is all structured in terms of what the Dragons want to do rather than on reaching agreement, compromise or resolution.

  30. The Puppies and Puppy-adjacent like pretending that other people are just as bad as them, because that way they can justify their bad behaviour as just fighting back against the evil SJW oppressors. That buying into the Puppy narrative smears authors, films, and games with sufficient popularity to have no problem getting legitimate nominations doesn’t seem to have crossed the managements minds, unfortunately.

    I also assumed that the refusal to withdraw was essentially because the way the voting system is set up makes it virtually impossible to alter the ballot.

    I’ve heard decent things about Dragon Con in the past. I’m sure they run a decent convention. They don’t run a decent award. Luckily, it is so badly promoted that it won’t do much damage to the overall reputation.

  31. My experience has often been that people with a specific set of skill sets, for instance running a tight fan convention, will think that they also can accomplish something else with another set of specific skill sets, such as an award, without much effort. I’ve often seen academics do this, thinking their teaching and research skills will immediately translate into activist practices, such as organizing a protest or running a mass meeting. The skill sets overlap, but they aren’t the same skill sets. Many of those academics haven’t taken it well, when their efforts aren’t successful and aren’t sufficiently appreciated. This seems to be happening with the Dragon Awards. As someone who has primarily seen the awards as something to distract the puppies with, something analogous to the fake mixing board given to Brian Wilson’s father during the early Beach Boys recording sessions, I’m not terribly concerned, but if I cared about the award/convention, I probably would be.

  32. One of the reasons I find this so sad is that Pat Henry in his role as Prez of the Con has said something so ridiculous to authors and referred to “justice warriors”. That sentiment is not representative of the majority of fans who attend, who are the ones who make the con what it is. Dragon Con is not a Puppy haven. I have been going every year since 2012 and it is an amazing experience where there is a lot of openness. – like nerd mardi-gras , because unlike more corporate run cons,it runs 24 hours a day. Yes, there are 70,000 people there and some of them are conservative, but I would guess, from my encounters, that they are a minority – which is why they are so defensive and angry. Anyway, for a different side of Dragon Con from the awards take a look at comics programming and guests this year, Gail Simone, and regular guests include Kelly Sue DeConnick, Babs Tarr and Afua Richardson, – and Rep. John Lewis comes to talk about the March comic. They have multiple (packed) panels on gender, race and sexuality and comics. http://comics.dragoncon.org/category/announcements/
    also, there are probably more Black folks there than at some other cons, because of its location in ATL. http://www.theroot.com/dragon-con-where-black-nerds-come-out-to-play-1790856682

  33. Um, isn’t Dragon Con pretty tarnished to begin with? It’s certainly had a, um, colourful past, what with Ed Kramer and all that business.

  34. Some pal of Larry C’s was running the thing last year, so it’s nice to see them come right out and admit that it’s an award for Puppies, mostly Rabid.

    That the head of the con is saying such dumbass things in public — particularly about a con that is more black and female than many — is worrying. Not as bad as when the child molester was involved, but still bad.

    Publicize it to the WHOLE con membership with a couple of emails and the Puppies won’t be able to game it any more. Is it too late to mobilize the Blerds* to vote?

    Not allowing authors to withdraw and then issuing this tone-deaf, condescending, and self-contradictory statement from the head of the con … it’s not going to bring glory to either the award or the con.

    Is there still time to sign up to vote? I wasn’t going to, but they want votes from more people, right?

    *(Black nerds TM Larry Wilmore)

  35. If someone could point me to where it is you sign up to vote… it’s not like it’s publicized, after all.

    Also, if The Root and similar did pieces on this, it would get more voters, right?

    Is DC falling for the old “all publicity is good publicity” canard?

    (The publicity canard is parked next to the spicy zeppelins.)

  36. Here is a suggestion.

    Say that if you win the award, you will post a video of yourself doing something really funny and demeaning to the award. Something that Pat Henry will likely hate.

    This should get everybody voting for you to win that award as a fuck you to Pat Henry. Upon winning the award and receiving it, follow up and do what you said. Diminish the award and embarrass the fuck out of them.

    If they don’t like that, they can learn to respect an authors wishes to not be among the nominees next time around.

  37. So, now the puppies will all vote for Littlewood and Scalzi to “embarrass” them. How transparent.

  38. @lurkertype
    Good luck trying to vote. Still waiting for my ballot link since Sunday.

  39. @Soon Lee: Thanks. Have submitted.

    @Laura: I wonder if they’re going to even bother to let in any new voters now that the excrement has hit the ventilation device?

  40. @Rebecca: I suspect a very large percentage of the attendees don’t even know about the controversy, and most of the limited responses I saw from those who do know weren’t terribly impressed with the last award process or winners. I agree its an important distinction to keep.

    @kathodus: thanks!

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