One More Commentary on the Dragon Awards


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I’m new to the whole hype over awards for science fiction and fantasy, well, ever since last year when I learned about the controversy involving the Hugos and the so-called Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.

However, I’ve been paying attention to the Dragon Awards. Unlike most other awards of this type, anyone who has internet access can register for no cost and be able to vote for their favorite authors, books, television shows, and so forth (in other words we mere mortals). I even voted myself, but unlike others, the purpose of this blog post isn’t to share who I favored.

I discovered at least three other commentaries on the Dragons: File 770‘s Mike Glyer, Camestros Felapton‘s, an apparently associated blog which I’ve just started following, and Richard Paolinelli’s SciFiScribe.

They all had slightly different takes.

Richard’s was pretty straight forward. He listed the nominees, who won, and who he voted for. Typical of File 770, the information about nominees and winners was the same, but there were screen captures of tons of tweets, since twitter seems to be the major platform many fans and other interested parties use to communicate (for good or for ill). I did notice my online “adversary” Hampus Eckerman made a comment praising the use of “celebrities” at the Dragons but panning the winners. I guess some people need to be the wet blanket at any party.

Camestros Felapton did something a little different. They (with a name like that, I have no idea if the person is male or female) created a simple list of winners but went on to post this:

  • Brad Puppies: 5 wins out of 10 (but multiple finalists in some categories)
  • Baen books: 3 wins out of 3
  • Chris Kennedy books: 0 wins out of 4
  • Tor books: 1 out of 5
  • Gender: Of 10 named winners (including co-authors etc) in books & comics 7 are men and 3 are women.
  • Of the two headline categories of Best SF and Best Fantasy for the Dragon Awards there have now been 10 winning authors (including two co-author pairs), all have been men.

Even Google couldn’t help me define what “Brad Puppies” is supposed to be. I’d make a comment on the post asking, but I noticed that the aforementioned Hampus comments there, and I’d just as soon not expose myself to someone with such breathtakingly major hostility issues.

I have no idea why Chris Kennedy is supposed to be significant or why Baen and Tor books are called out among other publishers. The last two items seem to be judgment issues, as in “I’m judging the Dragons for not including more women.”

In nominating and voting for SF/F works, it would be all but impossible to do a double-blind voting system where the fans didn’t know the identity and thus gender of the artists. To be absolutely honest, I didn’t give gender a single thought when I voted. It never even occurred to me. I was considering the quality of the product, period. It didn’t matter to me if the creator was male or female. If it does matter to anyone else who voted (or who is judging the voting), then I suppose they’re more biased in one direction or the other than I am.

Isn’t the whole point of equality and inclusion to judge by quality rather than by what chromosomes the creator possesses?

I’d ask, but like I mentioned above, there are some venues that are rather toxic emotionally, and I’ve spent years on other blogs struggling to survive those sorts of people and groups. In the end, I avoid them when I can, which is why I choose to comment freely on my own blog rather than invade the comments sections of others.

Having followed File 770 for a few weeks now, I have discovered there are a dizzying number of SF/F awards out there, far too many for me to keep track of. That said, I find the Dragons refreshing because they give the common human being like me a voice in honoring the creators of books, films, and television shows (they really need to add a category for SF/F short stories).

That’s what equality and inclusion is all about, too. Everyone gets a voice.

Getting back to the comments on Camestros Felapton, one fellow (his photo clearly showed it was a guy) said:

The Dragon Awards still aren’t important enough to be worth the effort of figuring out the genders of the different winners. However, the odds of ten men in a row (assuming 50/50 split) is just 1 in 1024. On that score, there’s a clear gender bias. However, given the origin of the Dragon’s, that’s not a surprise. We don’t expect the Dragons to be fair. We do expect the Hugos to be fair. That’s the biggest difference.

Well, maybe. On the other hand, N.K Jemisin won Hugos for best novel three years in a row. I’m not saying she didn’t deserve them, but if we’re crunching numbers, what are the odds of any writer winning three consecutive Hugos? They must be through the roof.

The general tone of the many, many people making statements on that blog post were pretty disparaging to the Dragons as opposed to the almost holy Hugos (which the person I quoted said were fair, but the way people become eligible to vote results in what could possibly be considered a stacked deck).

How about we just vote for what we like and leave politics and social agendas out of it?

33 thoughts on “One More Commentary on the Dragon Awards

  1. Go ask that guy what the odds of the finalists for the Hugos in its categories all being women. Because that actually happened and if memory serves, in more than one category and in more than one year.


    • I already mentioned N.K. Jemisin winning three consecutive Hugos being a statistical anomaly, so there is that. As far as asking him, not a chance. Unlike my brother who is a scuba diver, I don’t like swimming with sharks. That said, the blog owner has commented here and been quite civil, so I don’t mind their continued involvement. I only shun people like Hampus.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It finally dawned on me what the “Brad Puppies” remark was. He’s referring to Brad Torgersen, who was one of the authors who started Sad Puppies back in the before time along with Larry Corriea.

    Apparently, Cam is still feeling a little butthurt and this was his idea of being snarky. Lame, like pretty much everything he does.


    • I guess I’m just not in the know about these things. I’ve seen numerous references to “the Puppies,” including by George R.R. Martin on File 770. It’s been years, but numerous commentators keep the issue alive. Is it still mentioned in “Superversive” circles?

      What interested me more (and I mentioned it) were the comments on gender bias in the Dragons. I meant it when I said that I didn’t give anyone’s gender a second thought when vote, and I’m not sure a statistical analysis can in anyway prove that gender bias was involved. I could make the same argument for the high rate of Hugo winners being female as influenced by bias. Of course, I could definitely be wrong, and there’s no way to prove it. Having your work nominated for an award and then winning it isn’t something that happens at the mean of a Bell Curve.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. To judge the relative merits of the Dragon and Hugo awards, look at how many people were willing to lay down cold hard cash for the product. Pretty telling.


    • Greetings, Tim. Actually, I have no idea how many people pay to be eligible to nominate and vote for the Hugos. Certainly the Hugos have been around a lot longer and far very well-known. I’m discovering that there are tons of SF/F awards out there, but I’ve heard of the Hugos and Nebulas (and Astounding, formerly known as the John W. Campbell awards) for decades. I feel like there’s room in the world for many different approaches to awards. I don’t see that having a common person’s award such as the Dragons is somehow useless. Even if I wanted to, right now, being without a day job, I can’t afford to buy a membership and travel halfway around the world. Also, I don’t have the time to read or view every single product nominated for a Hugo so that could legitimately, fairly vote. I’ve been known to say that there’s plenty of room at the table for all kinds of SF/F writers and fans. Why can’t we say the same for awards?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi,
    Sorry, I should have left a link to my pre-results post on the results post. Is it OK to post a link here?
    Anyway, “Brad Puppies” was just a nickname for those works that Brad Torgersen had promoted along with his own works. One thing I’ve been following through the history of the Dragon Awards is how people promoting their works impacts results. The bigger the general vote (i.e. people just voting for the heck of it) the less impact any one person or group’s promotion will have on the final results.

    Regarding gender: yes, the Hugo Awards have had a lot of women being nominated and winning. In some quarters of the internet this has been cited as evidence of a gender bias against men. I wrote about a specific example in an earlier post and the gender analysis, as well of being of general interest, is a call back to that.

    // I’m not saying she didn’t deserve them, but if we’re crunching numbers, what are the odds of any writer winning three consecutive Hugos? //

    That’s a very different kind of probability question. The odds of a random person winning a Hugo award is astronomical regardless. The assumption is that winning a hugo award is not a chance event. However, an *irrelevant* variable should be a chance event e.g. what day of the week a winner was born on. You’d expect it to be a 1/7 chance they were born on, say, a tuesday. If most winners were born on a Saturday then that would be really interesting – or if most winners were, say, a Scorpio.

    On the face of it, there’s no obvious reason why men or women wouldn’t be equally likely. In reality they aren’t. Why is a relevant question.


    • Thanks for clarifying those points. As I said in a response to another commentator, there’s probably no way we’ll ever know for any award if the results were “gamed” in any way. I also mentioned that although literally anyone can vote in the Dragon awards, it’s okay to have a “common person’s award.” I do appreciate you coming here and expressing your viewpoint. I apologize for not commenting on your blog, but given my recent history with at least one of the people who visit your platform, I prefer not to open that particular can of worms.


      • That’s fine.
        Currently the most extensive common person’s award is the Goodreads Award. If that’s were the Dragons are heading that’s interesting but obviously Goodreads has a lot of advantages in terms of broad participation.
        For the first few years the Dragons also had a strong indie element to them. That was certainly a distinctive feature and it meant that books that otherwise got no recognition got some. But numbers voting meant it was open to manipulation by people like Vox Day.


      • I must admit that this whole awards thing is still new to me, even after following the controversies for the past year or so. I’ve been keeping track of some of the folks who attended DragonCon via social media. This is just a guess, but I wonder if one of the attractions is that more politically moderate and conservative authors feel a bit more welcomed there? Yes, I wish the Dragons or some awards catered more to small time, indie authors like me. Also, it would be terrific for them to add a short story category, since writing a novel is kicking my hind end. 😉

        Thanks for reminding me about Goodreads. The fact that they let authors write reviews for books they’ve contributed to bothers me a little, but it’s their platform.


      • The Puppy Debarkle (as I like to call it) was very polarising and hostile, so yes, sadly, I do think there are people who now see Worldcon as a hostile place. The DC Worldcon in 2021 (or is it 22?) will have Baen chief editor Toni Weiskopf as a Guest of Honour which hopefully should help heal some wounds.

        I think there is clearly a space for the huge indie publishing SF in awards. The Hugo’s cover this partly in short fiction. If the Dragons get bigger than inevitably trad-published works will crowd out indies just because of marketing. I think they should add a specific non-trad published category so the Dragons retain that aspect.


      • Since I’m coming to all of this late, I don’t have much of an emotional investment, but I can understand that there are people on both sides of the issue that are still hurt and angry. I’ve been concerned in the past that because my political views tend to learn right, that as an author, I wouldn’t be welcome in the industry. Certainly blogging and the realm of social media seems to bear that out. That said, I don’t see why there couldn’t be authors/fans who have different viewpoints and why they couldn’t be welcomed in the same venue. Yes, there will always be folks who aren’t going to get along, but that’s true of any collection of human beings.

        I did have to look up Toni Weiskopf and have to ask how you see her providing healing at the future WorldCon? I mean, it would be great if that happened but grudges are sometimes difficult to put down.


  5. Oh! One other thing you asked about. Chris Kennedy Publishing is a group of independent writers who have been quite successful over the years in getting Dragon Award nominations. There were fewer independently published writers nominated this year but this grouping of writers did OK in the first round.


  6. Point of order: The person who is claiming that 10 out of 10 Dragon Award winners in the SF and Fantasy categories are men?

    Yeah, there has only been four years of the Dragons: 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019. That is only 8, not 10. If you can’t even get your simple math equations correct, I’m afraid we can’t buy into your ability to calculate odds.

    Also, the Hugos have gone to women 4 straight years in the same category. Where is their outrage posts about that award’s sexism? Don’t bother looking, you won’t find them. Because for that crowd, its perfectly fine for them to be sexist, racist and biased against the *wrongthinkers*.


    • //Yeah, there has only been four years of the Dragons: 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019. That is only 8, not 10.//
      That’s 8 *books*. The statistic is counting *MEN* not books. Ten men won Dragon Awards in those categories in the past four years. You might want to check out who won in 2017 and then check out who James S A Corey is…

      Where is the outrage post about women and the Hugos? Good question. I wrote about it here It is notable that only when the gender disparity advantages women is it presented as a problem by Sad Puppy supporters. Whereas I’ve been looking at gender balances across awards regardless 🙂


      • That’s not how he presented it, and you know it. He bungled the math at best or tried to pull a fast one at worst, and got caught.

        Now then, go away and don’t come back until you start posting under your real name. I don’t cotton to wasting my time talking to cowards who attack creators while hiding under the blanket of anonimity so they cannot be properly dealt with.


      • The statement was “10 out of 10 were awarded to men.” Not “Of the eight awards given out, 10 men shared them.”

        WHoever made that statement tried to inflate the number to make it look even “worse”. They got caught and called out for it.

        Now you’re trying to run cover and use a healthy dose of revisionist history (something you are quite well known for) to try to cover up the error.


      • 10 men won in those categories. It is a simple fact and easy to check. I could say 8 out of 8 books won with male authors – same percentage (100%) either way I count it. Counting PEOPLE works out better for the Dragons in general because some winning works in some categories were produced by men & women (eg Sarah Hoyt & Kevin J Anderson) which IMPROVES the stats for the Dragons in general. It’s all explained in earlier posts. But sure if you want to go with 10 men out of 8 awards and end up with 125% (!?!?) as the gender split and think that makes the Dragon Awards look better…well, it’s not the kind of maths I’d endorse.


  7. I feel like this conversation is meant to give everyone the impression that they have to morally choose one award over the other (Hugo vs Dragon) but is it too much to ask for both? As I’ve recently mentioned, there are tons of awards out there I’ve only recently heard about. I don’t think the Dragons take anything away from the Hugos or the reverse, since the nomination and voting is structured so differently.


      • I know who David Gerrold is but have no idea about wooden asterisks. I also have to contradict the comment you made to Camestros Felapton. My general comments policy here is that people can interact as long as they don’t personalize conflict. That means unless someone really crosses the line, they can come back. I’ve done blogging in the Christian/religious space for almost ten years, and believe me, you’ll never find a more contentious group of people than those debating theology. I had to start moderating every single comment made just to control it all, and ended up blacklisting a few folks. Things have calmed down in recent years, but I still have to keep a watchful eye. Other than that, my comment policy over there is the same. As long as people can be civil they can converse. I often learn more from people who disagree with me (or each other) than if I ran an echo chamber. Of course, when the disagreements turn nasty, I’ll jump in. That’s part of the reason I started reading File 770, although I seriously doubt I’ll comment there ever again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I knew. Cam and CHinaMike and Cora are all banned from my blog and e-mails. The only social media of mine they can see is Twitter and they are muted there. And that only because sometimes I want them to see something without having to torment my brain cells by seeing their replies. You’d think they’d figure that out sooner or later. At any rate, I won’t respond to them here either. I probably shouldn’t have earlier, but that attempt to back-track was just too much to allow without comment.


      • Sometimes the best way to resolve an otherwise “unresolveable” disagreement is just to drop it. On twitter, the only people I call out by tagging are certain politicians, and I know they won’t be responding to anything that isn’t from a “blue checkmark.” Actually, Representative Steve Cohen did block me (which I didn’t see coming) because I criticized him eating KFC chicken as a way to mock Barr. More specifically, I said he looked like he had a “fast food body,” which I’m sure he didn’t appreciate.

        N.K. Jemisin did block me on twitter, I think because I was a tad critical of a specific character she added in her novel “The Fifth Season.” I still gave it a four out of five star review on Amazon and Goodreads. After the whole John W. Campbell award debate, I did start following Jeannette Ng on twitter, and even tagged her stating that her criticism of Campbell might have been more valid if she had also refused to accept the award. She hasn’t blocked me, so good on her.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. As for WorldCon 2015, that was the year they No Awarded any category that had “Puppy-backed” as they called it, nominations and no *correct thinkers* among the finalists. Gerrold handed out wooden disks with asterisks carved into them that looked like, well, let’s just say it was remarkably similar to what your proctologist sees and nobody else and leave it at that. Everytime “No Award” was announced the audience cheered like they’d just won the Super Bowl. Little did they know they had just proven the whole point of the Sad Puppies that night. They still refuse to recognize it, which is why their award is slowly dying away.


  9. Just a wee addition. I noticed on File 770 in the article 2019 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize Shortlist that of those works “shortlisted” for a prize in this contest (it isn’t an award in the same sense as the Hugos, Nebulas, Dragons, and such), only one was penned by a woman. I say this because there was quite a debate over how few female winners there were at this year’s DragonCon, and allegations of sexism abounded. The point is that we can’t always expect there to be an exactly equal distribution of male and female nominees and winners. Some years there may be more female winners and some years there will be more males. There could be a wide variety of factors involved in the “gender distribution” besides jumping to the assumption that more male winners must mean sexism and misogyny.


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