On Dragon Awards Drama, and Author-Reader Relations

Once again, I find myself compelled to make a quick, off-the-cuff post despite having a number of other things I would rather–and should be–doing. This wasn’t the most productive week for me, in part due to non-writing obligations, but that doesn’t lessen the workload. (And, I recently learned that I finally have a confirmed date on which I will draft into the Israeli Defense Forces, so that’s a definite positive.)

I’m not going to go into great depth regarding the drama surrounding the Dragon Awards, as numerous others are already writing about it, and it’s being heavily discussed online. For a brief summary:

We can say it “began” with author Brian Niemeier (who, full disclosure, I am friends with), made several posts campaigning for his Dragon-nominated book, Secret Kings, in which he poked fun at Tor’s golden boy, John Scalzi, who also has a book nominated in the same category. This is not a new thing for Brian (and this came after the legitimacy of his nomination was questioned by SJW scumbags), but, apparently, Scalzi now decided to take offense, and thus announced that he was going to withdraw his own nominated book–and also attacked Brian, without even addressing him by name.

Since that, more authors on that side of the political divide have indicated they wanted to do the same, including Alison Littlewood, N. K. Jemisin, and Jim Hines. Their reasons were petty, meant to try and position themselves on the moral high ground while still striking at their ideological opponents. Talk of “not wanting to be involved in a culture war,” and, in Littlewood’s case, because apparently Vox Day, of the Rabid Puppies, had recommended her book for nomination. See, he’s a “bad guy,” and thus anything nominated by him is tainted. At first, the Dragon Awards committee/organizers declined the requests to withdraw, as they should, but have since capitulated. As it stands now, Scalzi, who withdrew his nominated book last year, has agreed to remain in this time, while Littlewood and Jemisin have been allowed to drop out. The damage this is doing to the Dragon Awards, the only truly populist sci-fi/fantasy award, is a topic that deserves to be addressed as well, but I want to focus on the actions and attitudes of these authors.

The way I see it, these authors are spitting in the faces of both the Dragon Awards and the fans that nominated their works. Because, yes, the books were nominated by people who like them. Vox Day recommended Littlewood’s book because he thought it worthy of nomination. These authors are putting virtue signaling, and attacking ideological opponents, above the loyal readers who voted for their books–or worse, implying that the people who voted to nominate them are “wrongthinkers.” This is part of a larger pattern I’ve been seeing lately of creators attacking their own fans for perceived wrongdoing. I’ve seen authors and comic book professionals outright saying that they don’t want “those people” buying their works, and have seen them attack broad groups of people, among whom they most certainly had fans, for holding the wrong opinions. See, awards aren’t to only about the writers, it’s about the fans getting a chance to honor their favorite books. To refuse a nomination like this is to reject the support of fans, to truly make it “all about me.” I’m still a relative nobody, unable to boast of a large fanbase, but I could never imagine attacking my own fans for their political views, nor could I conceive of spitting on the nomination of my book, which my fans took the time to vote for.

By their actions, they are trying to legitimize the awards–unless the award committee changes its system to their liking, as they now appear to be considering. I saw talk of alleged ballot stuffing–how the hell is that possible when everyone can vote for free? I cannot completely blame the Dragon Awards for trying to convince these authors to stay in, as they want their award to be looked well upon and accepted–in truth, they should have stuck to their policy of not allowing withdrawals. I could not conceive of spitting on a popular award like this; you don’t see these people withdrawing from awards like the Hugos–unless they were supported by the wrong people. As I stated above, it says that you care more about your virtue signaling and politics than the people who voted for the award, or for the award seeking to give the fans a true voice, unlike the other major awards, which require either membership in an establishment organization or paying money to Worldcon.

These authors do not care about their readers, at best. At worst, they hate them for holding the wrong views.

I’m sure that this isn’t my most eloquent post on this blog, but this got me angry, and I needed to write something. As I said earlier, I am still pretty much a nobody. I only have a single book out, and I am still trying to build a dedicated readership. As such, seeing these successful (or at least apparently successful) authors act this way is infuriating. The fans are those who brought them their success, but they clearly do not care about those fans. They do not deserve you. I’m not going to plug myself here, because it doesn’t feel right, given the nature of this post, but as for me, I only intend to support authors who respect and value their fans. And, I will promise here that I will never, ever act as they are. I don’t care what my readers’ views are. If they like what I write, I’m happy to have them (so long as they reciprocate my respect for them.)

And to the Dragon Awards, do not let yourselves get intimidated by these bully tactics. They seek to co-opt the award, turn it into the echo chamber of awfulness that the Hugos have become. The Dragons can easily surpass the Hugos as the premier sci-fi/fantasy award, given by the readers, with no restrictions, if you remain strong in the face of this. Think long and hard about how you will react to things like this in the future. Refusing to allow withdrawals really is the ideal way to maintain the spirit of this, but, personally, if I were in charge I would seriously consider lifetime bans for authors who think they are too good for your award, or for the fans that have nominated them.

That’s it for now; it’s late, and I still have what to do. I just needed to get this rant out.

2 thoughts on “On Dragon Awards Drama, and Author-Reader Relations

  1. //Since that, more authors on that side of the political divide have indicated they wanted to do the same, including Alison Littlewood, N. K. Jemisin, and Jim Hines. //

    Not quite, Littlewood withdrew BEFORE Scalzi, basically as soon as she found out she was nominated. Jim Hines commented on the whole issue but didn’t withdraw because he wasn’t a nominee.

    //I saw talk of alleged ballot stuffing–how the hell is that possible when everyone can vote for free?//

    If you have two email addresses you can vote twice etc. Somebody who wanted to spend say $200 can literal buy votes from services on the internet who will vote in competitions for you. Whether anybody would think a Dragon Award is worth that effort, I don’t know but it is trivially easy to game the vote.

    //They seek to co-opt the award,//

    So by not wanting to take part they are trying to co-opt the award? You get that makes no sense right?
    Brian Niemeier was cross that Scalzi and Jemisin and Mass Effect were nominated and claimed it was a SJW takeover, then cross when Scalzi withdrew. You notice that it doesn’t matter these authors do, the conclusion you reach is the same regardless.

    Anyway, as dutiful SJW I did my SJW duty to try and ‘co-opt’ the award and voted for Brian Niemeier. I wonder how you’ll spin that? 🙂

    • That may be true, but Scalzi’s initial withdrawal was the one that most of us following the Dragon Awards drama saw first (he does have a much bigger platform and reach, after all.) And, really, who specifically decided to withdraw first has no impact on the larger point. My mistake with Hines, the post he made sounded like he was withdrawing himself; that’s what happens when I’m trying to follow tweet chains at 1 am.

      All talk of ballot stuffing I have seen, both in regard to the Dragons and in the past with the Hugos, has been in reference to “slates.” No one that I have seen has actually suggested that anyone was voting multiple times. Also, you cannot say it would be easy to game without knowing how the Dragon Awards monitors and manages the votes. Alleging ballot stuffing without any sort of even circumstantial evidence only serves to delegitimize the award. And no, authors giving recommendations for the various categories is not anything near ballot stuffing.

      It’s fairly simple how the attempt to co-opt it is furthered by requesting withdrawals. The Dragons don’t want authors to withdraw, because it damages the value of the award itself. When Scalzi decided to stay, after they asked him to, it was with the guarantee that they were going to re-examine their process, with the goal to end up with some sort of “gatekeeper” arrangement, which goes against the populist nature of the Dragon Awards. And, as the Hugos, and the Nebulas show, having a barrier in from of the voting does lead to the mbeing completely dominated by people with one specific agenda.

      Also, you must not have read any of Brian Niemeier’s posts on the issue if you claim he was mad that certain people were nominated. He campaigned against Scalzi, who is nominated in the same category, and said his book wasn’t very good. Brian was in no way upset then, or when Scalzi withdrew. There was a great deal of amusement, and mockery, and Brian happily looks forward to winning, and is campaigning for his book. You might want to check that again. In fact, it was people on the SJW side who got mad about the nomination of Brian’s book, and they tried to make the case that it didn’t deserve nomination based on the number of goodreads reviews it has.

      I don’t care who you vote for, and, as I said, and others have as well, any co-opting is being done or pushed by the authors, who have the power and influence to do so. The more fans voting, of all types, the better. That’s the point of a populist award.

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