Controversy Overshadows Dragon Awards

Controversy marred the annual Dragon Awards this year, this gets a little bit convoluted so you’ll need to bear with us while we unravel this for you.

The issues started with Alison Littlewood, author of The Hidden People. The novel was announced as nominated in the Horror novel category of the Dragon Awards, an excellent achievement for the author? Well, yes and no.

Littlewood reacted by immediately requesting the books withdrawal from the category stating;

While this would normally be a great pleasure, it has also been brought to my notice that my book has been selected by a voting bloc who are attempting, for reasons of their own, to influence the awards outcome. Essentially, the same group who set out to fix the Hugo Awards are now encouraging their supporters to follow their voting choices in the Dragon Awards.

I’m grateful to anyone who has voted for The Hidden People in good faith, but I am deeply concerned that the voting should be fair going forward and so I have today emailed the organisers and asked for The Hidden People to be withdrawn from consideration.

Full Statement Here

Nominations being withdrawn are not unheard of, but for concern over a voting block? That’s a bit more unusual.

This was added to when, shortly afterwards, John Scalzi removed his work The Collapsing Empire from the Best Science Fiction category for the same reasons. Although his official statement pulled fewer punches:

The reason is simple: Some other finalists are trying to use the book and me as a prop, to advance a manufactured “us vs. them” vote-pumping narrative based on ideology or whatever. And I just… can’t. I don’t have the interest and I’m on a deadline, and this bullshit is even more stale and stupid now than it was the several other times it was attempted recently, with regard to genre awards.

Full Statement Here

So now two authors have pulled their books from nominations, for concern over voting blocks.

But here’s where the twist comes.

The Dragon Awards refused both their requests. That’s right, they refused to withdraw the books from consideration. How amazing is that?

Alison Littlewood was understandably upset by this and published the entire letter she received from Pat Henry, the President of the Dragon Awards, on her website. The crux of their argument was that they believed their awards to be above fixing:

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.

Full statement here

You can’t blame him for having faith in the process!

Are you keeping up with this? Because it doesn’t stop now. Hearing about the withdrawals led to some concern among the other authors nominated, suddenly they began to question the process too. Not enough to withdraw themselves. That is, until Pat Henry refused to withdraw them. What followed was a third withdrawal, from NK Jemisin the author of The Obelisk Gate, in their words:

When it became clear that the opacity of the voting process was intentional — in effect, when I realized there was no way to know if my book’s presence on the list was legitimately earned through individual, freely-chosen votes by a representative sampling of DragonCon members (or SFFdom as a whole) — a gentle ping of flak warning went off in my mind. But when DragonCon initially refused to accept Ms. Littlewood’s request for withdrawal for the reasons stated here,those gentle pings escalated to full-on DANGER WILL ROBINSON alarm bells.

Full Statement Here

Some among our sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that the quote above mentions that DragonCon “initially refused” to accept the withdrawal. And yes, that’s the next twist.

Over the last couple of days, we got an earful from our fans and others. The issue also caused a second author to ask us to remove her book from the ballot as well. We’ve reconsidered and changed our mind.

Full Statement Here

So that’s The Hidden People and The Obelisk Gate off the ballot. But what happened to John Scalzi and The Collapsing Empire? Well, John reconsidered and I don’t think we can summarise that better than he did himself.

So, wait, you were going to withdraw from the Dragon Awards but now you’re not?

Yup, that’s basically right.

Why did you change your mind?

Mostly because the administrators asked if I would reconsider.

How did that conversation go?

Me: I’d like to withdraw.

Them: We’d like you to stay. Please?

Me: No.

Them: What if we say, pretty please?

Me: No.

Them: What if we say, pretty please with sugar on top?

Me: Oh, fine.

Full Statement Here

His full post gives a bit more reasoning, but that is essentially the gist of it.

So, is everybody caught up? Three books withdrawn, two refused, then allowed, one back in. Easy.

Oh and eventually they decided to make some awards, we’ve listed the major ones below but you can find the full list of winners at their website.

Best Science Fiction Novel

Babylon’s Ashes – James S.A. Corey

Best Fantasy Novel

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge – Larry Correia & John Ringo

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

The Hammer of Thor – Rick Riordan

Best Apocalyptic Novel

Walkaway – Cory Doctorow

Best Horror Novel

The Changeling – Victor LaValle


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