The 2020 Dragon Awards

There has been a ton of traffic to my site since the 2020 Dragon Awards ballot was released yesterday. I got my ballot in the mail right after I heard the finalists had been posted and had checked the Awards’ website. Seems lots of folks out there are eager to read what this alum of the 2nd Class of Dragon Awards Finalists thinks about the fifth class of Dragon Award Finalists.

Hey, even West Point has its occasional class of stinkers.

Yeah, the 2020 list offers slim pickings in quality. For the record, I only voted in three of the 15 categories this year. As usual, I didn’t vote in the last four which dealt with video, mobile & board games/collectibles. I just don’t dabble in those areas enough to feel comfortable voting for them.

Which leaves me the remaining 11, usually. But I found nothing award-worthy in any of works among the six finalists in the categories of Best Sci-Fi novel, Best Fantasy novel or Best YA/Middle Grade novel.

I voted for Savage Wars by Jason Anspach & Nick Cole in the Best Mil SF/F Novel, found nothing of note in the Alternate History category and laughed myself sick at the list that comprised Best Media Tie-In. Hello? Timothy Zahn anyone? How is his latest Thrawn book not a finalist? And the Best Horror category was pretty horror-ible. The comic book and graphic novel slate wasn’t much better.

I did vote for The Mandalorian for Best TV series and then I checked out Best Movie.

Seriously? Joker? A finalist for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy film? W-T-A-F????

Truth be told, none of the other films belonged in there either but at least Ad Astra qualified as a science fiction film, and it was watchable. So I voted for Ad Astra more as a protest against the others than anything else.

Yeah, the ballot is mostly a dumpster fire aside from a small handful of exceptions. I suppose a bad year was bound to happen after four solid years. Hopefully its a one-off.

I suspect it will be. Consider, its 2020 and this year has been screwed up almost from the start. DragonCon was scrapped, which makes me wonder how many people even were aware that the Awards would still go on? 

The Hong Kong Flooey has gutted a lot of things this year and people aren’t focused on things they normally would be. I’ve heard from several others that they hadn’t bothered to nominate. Many who do and usually promote the Dragons haven’t this year.

I’m partially guilty of this myself. I nominated, and intended to do a blog post here listing who I nominated, but never got around to it. When I first saw the ballot, I considered not even voting at all, but there were two works worthy of my vote, so I went ahead and sent in my three-vote ballot. 

Another point to consider: There has been a group that has had a hard-on for the Dragons since the first year they came out. They’ve hated them and over the past two-three years have tried to game the voting system. I’m not sure what that is supposed to prove other than what Larry Correia said about the Hugos was 100% accurate but hey, it’s a free country.

I suspect we are seeing a perfect storm: Regular participants not participating because COVID is a more important issue to deal with allowing this group to finally have enough numbers – and e-mail addresses – to carry the majority in nominations.

It will be interesting to compare the total ballots received numbers for 2020 to past years. I won’t be surprised to see lower numbers, and a depressed turnout would favor an organized group, or even a publisher, with the means to buy enough nominations to game the vote their way. Is that what happened this year? I don’t have access to the data so I can’t say for sure. But it is a theory that can’t be discounted at this time. Nor would I be surprised if the theory turned out to be fact. Nor would I be surprised to learn it isn’t the first time a publisher bought its way to nominations and awards in the book industry.

So here’s hoping this was a hiccup and not a long-term trend, that next year we’ll put the Wuhan Flu behind us and get back to our regular routine.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Helicon Award winners from 2019 and 2020. The Awards Committee is already meeting to discuss who will be named as the four legacy awards in 2021 – the Melvil Dewey Innovation Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Best New Author Award, the John W. Campbell Diversity in SF/F Award and the Frank Herbert Lifetime Achievement Award.

They will gather again in February of 2021 to vote on the “Best” awards categories for works released in the 2020 calendar year.

I can guarantee there will be no stinkers to be found in that group.

Speaking of the 2017 Class of Dragon Award Finalists, check out Escaping Infinity, a 2017 Dragon Awards Finalist for Best Science Fiction right here: ESCAPING INFINITY / available in Kindle, Print and Audiobook formats. 


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