Another friend gone

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A few days ago I shared the news that a fellow sci-fi writer, and a good friend too, Gibson Michaels, had died suddenly in his home near Houston, Texas. It was a hammer blow to his family and friends.

downloadWe were going to meet up in Santa Barbara this Thursday, he was scheduled to be in town for a conference and I live about an hour away. I am sure Thursday at 9 a.m., when I am sitting at my desk here instead of at the restaurant in Santa Barbara where we were going to meet, is going to be a sad time for me.

Then yesterday I got word that another friend had passed, a long-term illness finally overcoming his well-fought battle to beat it back. This news was just as sad, though not as much a shock, since we’d had warning that his health was failing.

Still, losing two good friends in such a short amount of time is hard to take. Ron Sarhad was an attorney, a veteran of the Vietnam War like Gibson was, and I met him back in 2013 when I began researching From The Fields.

WMB0063957-2_20170830Ron was the starting quarterback for the 1957 State Championship football team from Turlock High School. He was a valuable resource for information and access to other former players whose stories enriched the final version of the book.

He was also a valued and ardent supporter of From The Fields. His first response, when I called him and told him I was writing a book about the history of football played at Turlock High, from the first ever game in 1920 to present day, was classic Ron Sarhad:

WMB0063957-1_20170830“It’s about damn time someone did,” he said.

Plans to commemorate the 1957 team in Turlock on Oct. 6th during halftime of the Turlock vs Golden Valley game were already in the works with Ron expected to be a big part of it. It won’t be the same without him, although I’m sure he’ll be there in spirit.

But it will be another day that a planned meeting will not happen, another day that I am reminded of a friend taken away.

And I am starting to tire of taking roll call and hearing fewer calls of “here” in response.

 

Hey Reddit, is this proof enough?

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Good lord, sometimes I worry about people.

I set up an Ask Me Anything page over at Reddit, under my user name ScribesShade which is also my Twitter handle, which was promptly taken down because Skynet over there is worried I’m going to terminate it, or something.

So I am hoping this silly waste of time blog post will prove to the mods over there that I am who I say I am and they will put my AMA back up.

Otherwise, its hasta la vista, baby and you can talk to the hand because I won’t be back.

(Okay, is that enough Terminator references for one day or what?)

If the post is restored, check it out and ask me a question right here:  https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/6zd7rq/iama_scifi_author_ama/

My friend, Reb

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I am sad to report that sci-fi writer, Gibson Michaels , suffered a massive heart attack in his home this morning and passed away. He passed quickly and with apparently little suffering.
His wife called me this morning with the news and it has taken me this long to be able to try to articulate the sense of loss I’m feeling today.
We’ve known each other for 13 years and had become good friends without ever once meeting in person. We’d tried to meet back in February, but couldn’t because I got sick a day before I was to head for Houston.
We were going to meet next Thursday in Santa Barbara when he flew out here.
His nickname was Reb. He was among the first class of Dragon Awards finalists in 2016 – losing to David Weber. He was a great writer.
He was my friend.
He will be missed.

A counter to the Anti-Dragon crowd

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POSTED IN REPLY TO ANOTHER BLOGGER’S SCREED:

 

I know this won’t set well with the tin-foil hat crowd (i.e. Contrarius & China Mike’s Vile 770 crowd) but the Dragon Awards were never the Puppy’s. Were the Puppies the first to recognize the potential of the brand new Dragon Awards in 2016? Of course.

Why? Because the Dragon Awards are everything the Puppies have been saying the Hugos – and to some extent, the Nebulas – used to be and should be again: Open to everyone and without excluding any person or group for any alleged “wrongthink” crimes.

The 2017 Dragon Award finalists – as originally announced – was a perfect mixture of all of the “factions” in SF/F (and lord knows I wish we didn’t have these “factions” at all) with someone for every group to get behind and support.

Are there groups campaigning for their choices? Of course. The Puppies, the Hugoites, The RedPandas, the folks that are neutral and just want to enjoy good SF/F etc, etc. They all had their favorites. And when you look at the winners from Sunday, it seems everyone walked away with a winner they backed.

That is part of what makes the Dragons the perfect SF/F award. It isn’t shutting anyone out of the process like the Hugos and Nebulas have. It is literally open to every single one of the 7+ Billion inhabitants of Planet Earth who can access a computer and fill out a ballot.

No political BS filter keeping out the “wrong sort”, no rules designed to pre-determine the nominees, no ability for a deep-pocketed publisher to buy an award annually, no Wooden Assholes, No “No Award” designed to embarrass the occasional “wrong thinker” that somehow slipped past the gatekeepers.

A pure award to allow fans of SF/F to express themselves.

I’ve heard the ridiculous claims: There’s a secret cabal running the Dragons. (There isn’t) They won’t release all of the numbers so its fake! (No it isn’t and I for one am glad all they release are total nominations – 140,000 or an average of 9,600 per category – and 8,000 ballots turned in for the final vote). And I’m pretty sure the company they use to process the ballots are able to filter out the multiple votes from single IP addresses – which one of the Dragon haters bragged about doing, which begs the question: if he/she was so willing to do it in the Dragons, seems logical to assume they did the same for the Hugos.

That is all the info we need. Double the Hugos and more than the Nebulas and in only its second year. The Dragons will only grow from here and more and more people will participate. This means we will get a true representation of what really is the best of SF/F fandom – I would argue we got that this year.

And no, we don’t need to know who finished 2nd thru 8th in each category. We don’t hear this in the Oscars or any other major award. All that matters is who won and the rest of the nominees share the honor of being Finalists. No shaming, no hard feelings.

The funniest claim I’ve heard over the last 24 hours is that the Dragons were sexist because only one woman won: Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman (my pick for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film for the record). There were several women and minorities nominated and more than one of them won. For the record, two women withdrew before the final vote so this lowered the chances to have more than one woman win.

My question to those making this claim is this: If the Dragons are sexist because a majority of the winners were men, does this mean we must view the 2017 Hugos as sexist because a majority of the winners were women?

This is my primary complaint with the SJW/Antifa/BLM movements. They aren’t interested in true justice. All they want is payback for wrongs committed years – sometimes decades – before they were born and against people who have never wronged them. (BTW, before you make the claim, I have even less use for the KKK, White Supremacist crowds)

Frankly, I tire of this nonsense. I prefer that books, films, TV shows and games be judged solely on their content and not solely on the skin color, genitalia and/or political philosophy of their creator(s). Maybe I’m asking too much of the human race, but as you can tell from the stories I write, I tend to try to have a hopeful outlook for the future of mankind.

In the meantime, I consider it an honor for my novel, Escaping Infinity, to be a Dragon Award Finalist. Losing to the incredible writing duo of James S.A. Corey is nothing to hang one’s head over. I certainly hope I earn the honor of being a finalist again in the future and maybe even one day collect one of those amazing-looking awards.

And I will continue to support the Dragon Awards as much as I can. I will nominate. I will vote. I will continue to urge as many people who will listen to me to do so as well.

Because I want the Dragons to be everything the Hugos and Nebulas used to be but are no longer: A true representation of the very best of Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Thoughts in the aftermath

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The 2017 Dragon Award winners have been announced and there were 15 very worthy winners. Sadly, I wasn’t one of them, but I still I am very honored to have been one of the finalists.

Congrats to James SA Corey for winning Best Sci-Fi Novel (my category) I can’t think of a better writer to lose to in any award. And thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for Escaping Infinity this year.

But one thought I want to touch on is how many people participated. (UPDATED TO CORRECT NUMBERS) 140,000 total nominating votes, an average of 9,600 per category, were received and 8,000 individual people voted in the final round to determine the winners.

Wow!!!

That is well more than voted for the Nebula Awards and also more than voted for the Hugo Awards (3-4,000).

I said it before and the numbers bear this out: The Dragon Awards are the premier award in Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

Congratulations to the administrators of the Dragon Awards. In just two short years, you have ascended to the pinnacle and I feel you’ve only just got started. There may not be one of those incredible Dragon Awards sitting on my mantle (yet) but I am honored and humbled by the fact that I am, and will always be, a Dragon Award Finalist.

UPDATE: Here’s the link from DragonCon for the winners: 2017 Dragon Award Winners

 

My Dragon Ballot

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I put this off to the very last minute, but I’ve decided to share who I voted for in this year’s Dragon Awards. It was a very tough ballot because I know several of the nominees and I hate choosing between friends.

So here goes:

Best Sci-Fi Novel

Escaping Infinity.  C’mon, you really think I wouldn’t vote for my own book?

Best Fantasy Novel

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia & John Ringo. A rare easy call as I didn’t care for any of the others.

Best Young Adult

Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright. Sorry, Jagi Lamplighter, you were a very close second but I had to go with John.

Best Military SciFi/Fantasy

Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz. This was a three-way tie with J.F. Holmes and Mark Wandry’s excellent books. But the tie-breaker was by taking Jon, my good friend Mike Glyer and his Vile, er, File 770 hate site would blow a gasket.

Best Alternate History

Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli. Another close one with Harry Turtledove and Kai Wai Cheah very worthy honorable mentions, but Lou’s book is the class of the field.

Best Apocalyptic Novel

A Place Outside The Wild by Daniel Humphreys. A four-friend category, ugh, and all three books were worthy of winning. But Dan gets the nod over the Declan Finn/Allan Yoskowitz entry and J.F. Holmes’ well-written book. Why N.K. Jemisin is on this list escapes me. I guess when you have a deep-pockets publisher behind a book, one can find a way to scrape up enough votes to get onto any ballot. But, in my humble opinion, her book is unworthy of the honor.

I guess, as we have seen with the Nebula and Hugo Awards the last few years, when you have a deep-pockets publisher behind a book, one can find a way to scrape up enough votes to get any book onto any ballot.

But, in my humble opinion, Jemisin’s book is unworthy of the honor.

Best Horror Novel

Live And Let Bite by Declan Finn. This vote damn near killed me. Because I loved Declan’s book and the Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten entry, Blood of Invidia, was just as good. In the end, I had to go with Declan and hope Tom will forgive me.

Best Comic Book

The Dresden Files: Dog Men by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers & Diego Galindo

Best Graphic Novel

Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card by Jim Butcher & Carlos Gomez

OK, disclaimer time. Butcher’s Dresden Files were the only entries I read in both the comic book & graphic novel categories.

Best SciFi/Fantasy TV Series

Marvel’s Agents of Shield, ABC. Yeah, I like this show. I like Phil Coulson and I don’t watch or like any of the others. Doctor WHo normally would be an automatic pick for me, but ever since Matt Smith departed, the show is unwatchable.

Best SciFi/Fantasy Movie

Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins. This was a crazy category. If the vote was taken last October, I would have gone with Dr. Strange. If it was last January, I go with Passengers. If it had been before June 1st, I go with Guardians of the Galaxy.

But no, the vote was called after June 2nd and the day I went to see Wonder Woman and the others were toast. I said it earlier this year, I’ll say it again: Dear DC Comics, turn over the entire DC cinematic universe over to Patty Jenkins. She knows how to properly produce a superhero movie.

Best SciFi/Fantasy PC/Console Game

Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix. Only one I’ve played, easy choice.

Best SciFi/Fantasy Mobile Game

Super Mario Run, Nintendo. See above.

Best SciFi/Fantasy Board Game

Hero Realms by White Wizard Games, See above.

Best SciFi/Fantasy Miniatures/Collectible Card/Role Playing Game

Magic The Gathering: Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast. I’ve been a fan of MTG since the early days. I even still have my original Goblin Deck.

 

Congratulations to all of tomorrow’s eventual winners. And yes, congratulations to all of the finalists, no matter who wins and who does not, it is an honor to share the title of 2017 Dragon Award Finalist with such wonderful creators.

 

 

Heartfelt Thanks

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Sometime after 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia at DragonCon, the 2nd Annual Dragon Awards will get underway. Fifteen categories make up the second annual award and 15 winners will be announced.

My novel, Escaping Infinity, is one of eight finalists in the Best Sci-Fi Novel. Even now, on the eve of the winners be announced, I am still amazed and honored to even just be a Finalist. So if, by one of the biggest upsets ever (seriously, if Scalzi or Niemeier isn’t the winner in my category I will need to have CPR performed on me), my name and novel are called as the winner of Best Sci-Fi Novel I will be ecstatic. And if it isn’t, there won’t be any head-hanging on my part. I am satisfied being listed among the best eight sci-fi novels of the year.

Which is why I want to do this today, before the final results are known:

To everyone who nominated my book earlier this year, and did so in sufficient numbers to become a finalist, thank you. I cannot begin to tell you how much your vote means to me.

The same goes for everyone who voted in the final round for my novel since August 3rd. Whether it is enough to win or not we’ll find out soon. But in reality, that doesn’t matter. That you thought highly enough about it to give it your vote is an incredible honor that I will forever appreciate.

So, good luck to each and every one of the finalists in all 15 categories on Sunday. All of you are worthy of the honor of being a Dragon Award finalist, win or lose.

And finally, to the folks at DragonCon, thank you for putting together this incredible award. I know a certain faction is trying to drag an argument from another award into this one. I also know this will soon pass and I look forward to watching the Dragon Awards grow with each passing year. Keep up the good work.