DragonCon, Atlanta Georgia’s annual science fiction and fantasy convention turns 30 this year, and with the anniversary, they’ve instituted a new genre award: the Dragon Award. The convention’s organizers released the nominee ballot yesterday, and it’s an intriguing list of works that might end up being a bit of a compromise between various factions within fandom.

In 2014 and 2015, an argument had begun to brew within the science fiction community. A group of fans had begun to take issue with the Hugo Awards: science fiction’s top honor. Calling themselves the Sad Puppies, they felt that the award was becoming less accessible to fandom at large, confined to a smaller group that were pushing a political and social agenda. On the other side of the argument, other fans applauded some of the most diverse nominee shortlists that the award had ever seen, with some fantastic stories and authors getting tipped for the genre’s top honors.

In the lead-up to the 2015 awards, the argument got heated, and after two conservative-leaning groups of fans gamed the nominee ballot to place a narrow selection up for vote, a number of nominated works weren’t even awarded a prize: ‘No Award’ earned the top number of votes.

In the aftermath, a new award emerged from the crowded field: the Dragon Award, which will be awarded during this year’s DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia. Like the Hugos, this award would be driven by fan participation: they would nominate their favorite works, and vote on the final shortlist. Unlike the Hugo Awards, which require a paid membership to vote, the Dragon Awards were a completely free process.

Yesterday, the convention announced the final nominees, which includes a wide selection of works:

Best Science Fiction Novel

The Life Engineered, J-F. Dubeau (Sword & Laser)

Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)

Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit)

Agent of the Imperium, Marc Miller (Far Future Enterprises)

Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)

Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, John C. Wright (Castalia House)

Best Fantasy Novel

Asteroid Made of Dragons, G. Derek Adams (Sword & Laser)

Blood Hound, James Osiris Baldwin (Gift Horse Productions)

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher (Roc)

Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia (Baen)

Changeling’s Island, Dave Freer (Baen)

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Grave Measures, R.R. Virdi (Self-published)

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo (Holt)

Changeling’s Island, Dave Freer (Baen)

Steeplejack, A.J. Hartley (Tor Teen)

Trix and the Faerie Queen, Alethea Kontis (Self-published)

The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (Harper)

Carry On, Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Calamity, Brandon Sanderson (Delacorte)

Updraft, by Fran Wilde (Tor)

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

Blood in the Water, Taylor Anderson (Roc)

Chains of Command, Marko Kloos (47North)

Wrath of an Angry God, Gibson Michaels (Arc Flash)

Fallen, Amy J. Murphy (Self-published)

The End of All Things, John Scalzi (Tor)

Hell’s Foundations Quiver, David Weber (Tor)

The Price of Valor, Django Wexler (Roc)

Best Alternate History Novel

Germanica, Robert Conroy (Baen)

1635: A Parcel of Rogues, Eric Flint & Andrew Dennis (Baen)

1636: The Cardinal Virtues, Eric Flint & Walter H. Hunt (Baen)

Deadlands: Ghostwalkers, Jonathan Maberry (Tor)

League of Dragons, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Bombs Away: The Hot War, Harry Turtledove (Del Rey)

Best Apocalyptic Novel

Ctrl Alt Revolt!, Nick Cole (Castalia House)

Chasing Freedom, Marina Fontaine (Self-published)

Dark Age, Felix O. Hartmann (Self-published)

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

The Desert and the Blade, S.M. Stirling (Roc)

A Time to Die, Mark Wandrey (Henchmen)

Best Horror Novel

Honor at Stake, Declan Finn (Caliburn)

Alice, Christina Henry (Ace)

An Unattractive Vampire, Jim McDoniel (Sword & Laser)

Souldancer, Brian Niemeier (Self-published)

Chapelwood, Cherie Priest (Roc)

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, Paul Tremblay (William Morrow)

Best Comic Book

Astro City

Civil War II


DC Universe: Rebirth

Ms. Marvel



Best Graphic Novel

The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman & J.H. Williams III (Vertigo)

Chicago, Glenn Head (Fantagraphics)

March: Book Two, John Lewis & Andrew Aydin (Top Shelf Productions)

Virgil, Steve Orlando (Image)

Sacred Heart, Liz Suburbia (Fantagraphics)

Killing and Dying, Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series


Doctor Who

The Expanse

The Flash

Game of Thrones

Jessica Jones


Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie


Captain America: Civil War

Crimson Peak


The Martian

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

Darkest Dungeon by Red Hook Studios

Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks

Metal Gear Solid V by Konami Digital Entertainment

Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment

Undertale by Toby Fox

XCOM 2 by 2k Games

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

Quaser One by Emre Taskin

PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist by Outerminds Inc.

Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks

Hyper Burner by Patrick Cook

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Arts

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Pandemic: Legacy by ZMan Games

Star Wars: Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games

Blood Rage by Cool Mini or Not

Talon by GMT Games

Monopoly: CTHULHU by USAopoly

Codenames by Vlaada Chvatil

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

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls by Flying Buffalo

Magic the Gathering: Shadows over Innistrad by Wizards of the Coast

Magic the Gathering: Battle of Zendikar by Wizards of the Coast

Mouse Guard 2nd Edition by David Petersen & Luke Crane

Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game (7th Edition) by Chaosium Inc.

Star Wars: Armada by Fantasy Flight Games

Given the nature of this award’s selection process, and the heated environment from which it came, this award could have easily been dismissed as an attempt for disgruntled fans to create their own award, reflecting their own slate of nominees. Looking over the award ballot, however, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Works such as Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin each made the list, which was a bit surprising: their works have been held up as representations for everything that was wrong with genre fiction from certain quarters.

On the other side, authors who have sold well commercially, such as Larry Correia and Jim Butcher made this list, as well as a number of self-published works, which often have a difficult time getting onto the shortlists for the Hugo and Nebula awards.

There are some major differences between this and the 2016 Hugo Award ballot. The Dragon Award includes several forms of gaming, while it ignores the short-fiction field entirely. It splits the genre into several recognizable categories such as Alternate History and Military Science Fiction/Fantasy, which allows for a wider selection of works to have a chance at getting the award.

With the Hugo Awards being issued next weekend at the World Science Fiction convention, and with the Dragon Awards being awarded on September 5th at DragonCon, it will be interesting to see which books walk away with their respective prizes.

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