The Post-2021 Dragon Awards Report

The Sixth Annual Dragon Awards were handed out at DragonCon this past Sunday. Normally, I write up something about the winners, and losers, and the awards overall on the day they are announced. But this year’s Labor Day Weekend was anything but restful around Casa de Paolinelli. My father being in a hospital with COVID took up all of my time and energy. 

But I do want to at least get in one blog post and I want to begin with an overall comment on the Awards after six years. The Dragons have clearly taken hold and have easily surpassed the failing Hugos and Nebulas as the award that best represents all of sci-fi/fantasy. The simple fact that it is not a wokefest, has no gatekeepers keeping out the *wrongfans*, and is open to every sci-fi/fantasy fan to have a voice with the ability to nominate for and then to vote on the awards, makes it the premier award to win.

It also managed to fend off an openly concerted effort by one faction to game the vote and still produced a pretty-well rounded group of finalists and, for the most part, a respectable group of winners. I am amused by the fact that many of the people who bad-mouthed the award when it was first announced in 2016 have finally gotten the memo and got on board. Although there are still some gate-keepers out there that will never give it its due. Screw ’em.

For all six years of its existence I have been an avid supporter of the Dragons and have nominated and voted all six years (2016-2021). I am proud of the small part I have played in promoting it and happy to see it take its rightful place in sci-fi/fantasy. I look forward to seeing how it progresses in the future, but will not be as active a participant in it going forward.

My focus will turn to the Helicon Awards, which I founded in 2019, as part of the Helicon Society. Our awards judges serve two-year terms and then are replaced. Our second class of judges will see their terms end four months from now in January when they present the winners for the 2022 Awards on Jan. 14, 2022. Which means I need to start recruiting the third class of judges for the 2023 & 2024 awards. We’re also going to tweak some of the categories and what works/creators qualify starting with the 2023 Awards, so that will be taking up a lot of time as well.

My hope is to grow the Helicons to be equal to the Dragons in time. They also have already surpassed the Hugos and Nebulas, although I have to admit, the actual Dragon Award is a lot nicer than ours. But since the Society takes no membership fees and does not generate any income… well, we have to find a less-expensive way. At least for now.  

But, lets get on with what will be my final Dragon Awards post (so certain parties can stop lurking around my website every Labor Day from now on) and on to the winners (in red) and my comments (in blue): 

1. Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

  • The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

  • Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow

  • Machine by Elizabeth Bear

  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

  • A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

I voted for Weir in this category as his was the clearly superior work on this list.

2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross

  • Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

  • Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

I also voted for Butcher, although Sanderson was likely a close second. A couple of the others I was literally saying, who? , when I looked over the list last month.

3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips

  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

  • Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

  • A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer

  • The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

I don’t read YA but I threw in a vote for Lou Diamond Phillips simply because I like the guy as an actor and as a person.

4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • Orders of Battle by Marko Kloos

  • Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio

  • Sentenced to War by J.N. Chaney, Jonathan Brazee

  • Direct Fire by Rick Partlow

  • Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams

  • Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown

My one complaint with the Dragons has been I’m often forced to choose between friends in at least one category every year. And here we are, having to pick between Larry, Rick and Christopher. I went with Larry but it was a close call. And can someone tell me how I, who does not write MilSciFi, know so many writers that do?

5. Best Alternate History Novel

  • The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

  • Daggers in Darkness by S.M. Stirling

  • 1637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon

  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

  • Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis

  • The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris

I did not vote in this category, but I am happy to see Eric win after his wonderful defense of Baen after its editor was viciously attacked and slandered by the same crowd that dishes out the Hugos.

6. Best Media Tie-In Novel

  • MacGyver: Meltdown by Eric Kelley, Lee Zlotoff

  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn

  • Shadows Rising World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by Madeleine Roux

  • Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

  • Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon

  • Penitent by Dan Abnett

I voted for Timothy Zahn’s book but I shouldn’t be surprised that Firefly won. As my friend Declan Finn remarked in his post-Dragons report: “The Firefly fanbase is rabid, so they probably got the entire fanbase to vote for one category, then disappeared.”

7. Best Horror Novel

  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

  • The Taxidermist’s Lover by Polly Hall

  • True Story: A Novel by Kate Reed Perry

  • The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

  • Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

  • Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings

This was another category I passed on voting in because I hadn’t read any of the books. But mega-Kudos to T. Kingfisher on the double-win this year!

8. Best Comic Book

  • Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto

  • Once & Future by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora

  • Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson, Christian Ward

  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda

  • Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett

  • X-Men by Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar

Say what? I haven’t heard anything good about the winner here and really thought Monstress would take the win. This again was a pass category for me as I didn’t know enough about any of the books to vote intelligently on them.

9. Best Graphic Novel

  • The Book Tour by Andi Watson

  • Pulp by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips

  • The Green Lantern Season Two by Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp

  • Dracula, Motherf**ker by Alex de Campi, Erica Henderson

  • The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

  • The Magicians: New Class by Lev Grossman, Lilah Sturges, Pius Bak

Say what, Part Deux? As with the previous winner, I haven’t heard anything good about the winner here and really thought Grant and Liam’s Green Lantern would take the win. This again was a pass category for me as I didn’t know enough about any of the books to vote intelligently on them. 

10. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • The Expanse, Amazon

  • WandaVision, Disney+

  • Star Trek: Discovery, Paramount+

  • Resident Alien, SYFY

  • Loki, Disney+

  • Shadow & Bone, Netflix

  • The Nevers, HBO

Okay, I have to admit, I get a nervous tick whenever The Expanse is brought up after they mopped the floor in the 2017 Best Sci-Fi Novel category that I was a finalist in with Escaping Infinity. But this was a category I passed on as well because I didn’t like any of them at all.

11. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Tenet by Christopher Nolan

  • The Old Guard by Gina Prince-Bythewood

  • Justice League by Zack Snyder

  • Godzilla vs Kong by Adam Wingard

  • Space Sweepers by Sung-hee Jo

  • Wonder Woman 1984 by Patty Jenkins

  • Bill & Ted Face the Music by Dean Parisot

I voted for Godzilla vs Kong because I’m a Godzilla man. I have the 1968, 2014 and 2021 Godzillas on my bookshelf. No, not the DVDs, I’m talking replicas of the actual Godzilla from those years’ films. But in my heart of hearts, I figured Nolan’s Tenet would take the award. And while I am glad the Snyder abomination didn’t win, and sad that Wonder Woman 1984 was such a flop that it didn’t even deserve to be a finalist, I have to say the only winner from this year that I absolutely cannot believe is The Old Guard for Best SF/F film. Like, seriously, WTAF?

The rest of the categories I neither nominated for or voted for because I just don’t have time to play the latest games and know next to nothing about them. So I’ll just list the winners and move on.

12. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

  • Ghost of Tsushima, Sony Interactive Entertainment

  • Crusader Kings III, Paradox Interactive

  • Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Ubisoft

  • Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt

  • Hades, Supergiant Games

  • Star Wars: Squadrons, Electronic Arts


13. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

  • Genshin Impact, miHoYo

  • Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells, Zynga

  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Ustwo & Plug in Digital

  • South of the Circle, State of Play Games

  • Empire of Sin, Paradox Interactive

  • Orwell’s Animal Farm, The Dairymen Ltd.


14. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

  • Marvel United, CMON Games

  • Dune: Imperium, Dire Wolf Games

  • Pandemic: Legacy Season 0, Z-Man Games

  • Oceans, North Star Games

  • Sleeping Gods, Red Raven Games

  • Curious Cargo, Capstone Games


15. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

  • Magic: The Gathering, Zendikar Rising, Wizards of the Coast

  • Magic: The Gathering, Strixhaven: School of Mages, Wizards of the Coast

  • Cyberpunk RED, R. Talsorian Games

  • Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, Wizards of the Coast

  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Soulbound Role-Playing Game, Cubicle 7

  • Pokemon TCG: Champion’s Path Elite Trainer Box, Pokemon   

  •                         *     *     *     *     *

And there you have it. The sixth class of Dragon Award Winners and the Dragon Award Finalists. Congrats to the winners and welcome to the club of honored nominees to those that did not win. I’m sure they all agree with me that even just being a finalist for the Dragon Awards is an honor to be cherished for the rest of one’s life.

As this will be my last post about the Dragons, I want to wish them a long and happy future honoring the very best in SF/F.

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