The 2017 Dragon Awards are a far-ranging sci-fi and fantasy reading list

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Dragon Con has announced the nominees for its second annual Dragon Awards, designed to highlight the most popular works in science fiction and fantasy literature. While the award appears to be a populist response to the better-known Hugo and Nebula Awards, it’s a wide-ranging snapshot of the last year in genre publishing.

There are a couple of things to unpack about what these awards actually mean. In recent years, the genre’s biggest prizes, the Nebula and Hugo Awards, have gone to an increasingly diverse group of nominees. One faction of SF fandom therefore claimed the awards are agenda-driven and rigged, and that they don’t represent the traditional action-focused books fandom really likes. Thus, for the last couple of years, groups identifying themselves as the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies have worked in voting blocs to stack the awards with their own choices — which focused heavily on works by Puppy leaders and their personal associates. In 2015, the resulting nominees eliminated the diversity the awards had been trending toward. The Hugo voters reacted by voting for no award to be given in the Puppy-slate-dominated categories. Since then, the Puppy groups seem to have petered out a bit, with a lower-key campaign for 2016, and no organized campaign for 2017.

Last year, the Atlanta-based Dragon Con announced the Dragon award. The language describing its mission falls very much in line with the Puppy groups’ manifestos: the Hugos and Nebulas don’t represent what people really like, described as “a true reflection of the works that are genuinely most beloved by the core audience.” To help with this, the Dragon Awards were opened up to the public — anyone can sign up to vote. By contrast, Hugo Awards voters must either attend the World Science Fiction convention (held this year in Helskini, Finland, between August 9th and 13th), or sign up as supporting members, which costs around $50. Nebula Awards voting is only open to members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America organization.

A key feature of the Dragon Awards is that, instead of one broad novel category (for any book over 50,000 words), they break down nominees by subgenre, for a much wider-ranging and more specific field of recognition. There are categories for Best Science Fiction and Best Fantasy novel, but also for Military Science Fiction, Alternate History, Apocalyptic, and others. So while there’s some overlap between the Hugo, Nebula, and Dragon Lists, many more novels turn up on the Dragon slate.

That helps explain why the Dragons have been cheered on by Puppy champions such as Larry Correia: it’s an award that promises easy access in a variety of genres that this particular group of voters congregate around. While the first year’s results weren’t a clean sweep for this movement, several of the prominent categories went to Sad Puppy such as Correia, Nick Cole, and John C. Wright. While there’s no formal “Puppies” list this year, the alt-right’s Vox Day issued his own recommendations, as did others.

But is this award a slam dunk for the predominantly right-wing movement that’s pushed against the types of fiction that have been garnering praise and awards from the Hugo and Nebula awards? Fan site File 770 looked over the 2017 nominees to see what effect the various factions have had on the list. While works on Day’s slate and others do appear on the ballot, the Dragon nominees also overlap with this year’s group of Hugo nominees. A Closed and Common Orbit, Death’s End, and The Obelisk Gate appear on both, although only The Obelisk Gate appears on the Nebula nominee list as well.

Will the Dragon Awards become an alternative to the better-established awards? Probably not, because it’s hard to determine if the Dragon Awards represent a wider swath of fandom, as its supporters claim, given that the awards committee hasn’t released any raw figures concerning voters. But given that the Dragon nominees include 53 novels, compared with just six Hugo contenders and five for the Nebulas, the Dragon awards automatically draw from a much wider pool of candidates and specific subgenres. Do these titles actually represent what’s enormously popular in fandom? That’s also unclear: one fan compared the works in each category on the book-centric social media site Goodreads, and found some huge disparities. Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey, for example has garnered 13,040 Goodreads user ratings, while another nominee in the same category, Brian Niemeier’s The Secret Kings, only has 11 ratings. Goodreads is admittedly a limited series of metrics, it shows that the award is covering an enormously variable field, from well-known, established authors to lesser-known ones pushed onto the ballot by groups looking to send a message.

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Ultimately, we’ll find out who the winners are on September 3rd, but in the meantime, the list does provide a far-ranging reading list for genre fans to find something to read this summer.

Here’s the entire list of Dragon Award nominees:

Best Science Fiction Novel

  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
  • Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu
  • Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli
  • Rise by Brian Guthrie
  • Space Tripping by Patrick Edwards
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
  • The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day
  • Beast Master by Shayne Silvers
  • Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
  • Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi
  • Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo
  • The Hearthstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta
  • Wings of Justice by Michael-Scott Earle

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  • Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
  • Firebrand by A.J. Hartley
  • It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett
  • Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • Swan Knight’s Son by John C Wright
  • The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • Allies and Enemies: Exiles by Amy J. Murphy
  • Caine’s Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon
  • Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey
  • Invasion: Resistance by J.F. Holmes
  • Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox
  • Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arrox
  • Starship Liberator by B.V. Larson and David Van Dyke
  • The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico

Best Alternate History Novel

  • 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint
  • A Change in Crime by D.R. Perry
  • Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
  • Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove
  • No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah
  • The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville
  • Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler

Best Apocalyptic Novel

  • A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys
  • American War by Omar El Akkad
  • Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  • The Seventh Age: Dawn by Rick Heinz
  • Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
  • ZK: Falling by J.F. Holmes

Best Horror Novel

  • A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau
  • Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten
  • Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga
  • Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn
  • Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells
  • The Bleak December by Kevin G. Summers
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle
  • The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood

Best Comic Book

  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eleven by Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
  • Motor Girl by Terry Moore
  • Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa
  • Saga by Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples
  • The Dresden Files: Dog Men by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo
  • Wynonna Earp Legends by Beau Smith, Tim Rozon, Melanie Scrofano, Chris Evenhuis

Best Graphic Novel

  • Clive Barker Nightbreed #3 by Marc Andreyko, Clive Barker, Emmanuel Xerx Javier
  • Girl Genius: the Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne, Book 2: The City of Lightning by Phil and Kaja Foglio
  • Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez
  • Love is Love by Marc Andreyko, Sarah Gaydos, James S. Rich
  • March Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
  • Stuck in My Head by J.R. Mounts

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • Doctor Who, BBC
  • Lucifer, Fox
  • Marvel’s Agents of Shield, ABC
  • Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Sky1
  • Stranger Things, Netflix
  • The Expanse, Syfy
  • Westworld, HBO
  • Wynonna Earp, Syfy

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Doctor Strange directed by Scott Derrickson
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 directed by James Gunn
  • Logan directed by James Mangold
  • Passengers directed by Morten Tyldum
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards
  • Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

  • Dishonored 2 by Arkane Studios
  • Final Fantasy XV by Square Enix
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda by Bioware
  • NieR: Automata by PlatinumGames
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Nintendo
  • Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

  • Con Man: The Game by Monkey Strength Productions
  • Fire Emblem Heroes by Nintendo
  • Monument Valley 2 by Ustwogames
  • Pokemon GO by Niantic
  • Sky Dancer by Pine Entertainment
  • Super Mario Run by Nintendo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

  • Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk by Avalon Hill
  • Gloomhaven by Cephalofair Games
  • Hero Realms by White Wizard Games
  • Mansions of Madness (Second Edition) by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Scythe by Stonemaier Games
  • Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games

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

  • A Shadow Across the Galaxy X-Wing Wave X by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Bloodborne: The Card Game by CMON Limited
  • Dark Souls: The Board Game by Steamforged Games
  • Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast
  • Pulp Cthulhu by Chaosium
  • Star Wars: Destiny by Fantasy Flight Games

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