The short version.
Son of the Black Sword won the inaugural Dragon Award for best fantasy. I want to congratulate all of the other nominees and winners. There were some truly fantastic stories to choose from. There were a lot of talented creators up for awards, and it is an honor just to be considered.
I want to thank my fans for voting, because they are absolutely amazing. I have the best fans ever. I wouldn’t trade my fanbase for anyone’s (and my fans are better armed too). I love you guys. Seriously. You are a bunch of bad asses.
I want to thank Toni and the good folks at Baen for putting together one hell of a book, and being awesome to work with.
And thank you, DragonCon. You guys rock. You saw the need for an award that represented all of fandom, and you stepped up. Thank you for all of the hard work this must have been. You did a great job.
Now the long version!
I was at Salt Lake City ComicCon for the last few days. I picked up some nasty con crud which turned into a cold, so I skipped church and slept until 11 on Sunday morning. I was—am still—pretty wrecked. I was playing World of Tanks (I’m never too sick to tank) when my wife got home from church. I heard the garage door open, and she came in excited and shouting something. Because Bridget isn’t the excitable/shouty kind, I knew something important was up, so I shut my game off and rushed downstairs.
She was saying you won.
I couldn’t believe it. Son of the Black Sword had won the Dragon Award for best fantasy. It took a minute for that to sink in. Somebody had sent her a text while she was getting out of the car, giving her a heads up. Toni Weisskopf was up on stage accepting on my behalf at that very moment.
I had to grab my phone and start checking Facebook. I had multiple messages from people at the ceremony. Congratulations were pouring in. It was stunning. I would have been watching, but this snuck up on me. I actually thought the award ceremony was later in the day, but then again, when you’re drinking Nyquil straight out of the bottle and don’t get out of bed until lunch, time is relative.
I checked in throughout the day, reading what people had to say. It was great to see so much overwhelming enthusiasm. One really cool thing was that I heard the award show was up-beat. There was no stupid posturing or useless virtue signaling. Nobody talked trash in their speech. Nobody handed out wooden buttholes. They were just fans there celebrating fun.
That’s the nature of DragonCon though. It is a big enthusiastic, Nerdi Gras. I try to hit DragonCon every other year, and I was there in 2015. Because of a scheduling screw up with the building, my local Salt Lake City ComicCon ended up on the same weekend as Dragon this time (and I talked to the program director, they really didn’t want to, because they share so many guests and vendors, but they were stuck this time). I was already committed to SLCC when I found out I was a Dragon finalist, because otherwise I would have loved to have been there. I’m planning on being back at Dragon again next year.
I want to talk about the nominees and winners a little bit. Starting with my category.
You can ask any of the fans who asked me about the Dragons during SLCC, and I told them the same thing. I thought Jim Butcher was going to win my category, and I was cool with that. Not just because Jim is my friend and about the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, but because he’s a brilliant, imaginative, storyteller and his work deserves recognition. And though the Venn diagrams of our fanbases overlap, his circle is way bigger, so I figure Jim would take it.
Except for one thing, Jim is such a class act that after they announced the finalists, he came out and told everybody that he voted for Son of the Black Sword! Aeronaut’s Windlass is a great book, but Jim thought SotBS was the stronger of the two this year. (I was honestly moved by that).
And one of the other finalists I was up against, where our fanbases overlapped a lot, was Dave Freer, who was nominated for Changeling’s Island. And Dave came out and said in that category he was voting for SotBS! Dave was also nominated in the YA category, and being a gentleman and a scholar, said that was where his book belonged. And he said that knowing that he was up against the late and extremely great Sir Terry Pratchett.
I’ve known Jim and Dave for a few years but I didn’t know the other nominees as well, and had not read the books in question. But I will say that R.R. Virdi is a very nice guy. I ended up talking to him a little bit yesterday on Facebook when he offered his congratulations, and said that he was honored to be competing against other authors that successful. He’s got a great attitude and really wants to entertain his readers. I’d encourage you guys to go check out his stuff.
In sci-fi, I’m not going to say who I voted for, because I’m friends with two of them. It came down to John C. Wright and Chuck Gannon for me, both excellent authors, but with two really different kinds of books. John took it, and I am really happy for him. I have no doubt Chuck will be back up there again in the future.
Sir Terry to took YA. I don’t think that surprised anybody, because the man was a legend, and this was all of his fan’s last chance to give him an award. It’s sad to think that this is it. Like Dave said on his page, he’d gladly lose to Terry Pratchett every year, if it meant keeping him around.
Military sci-fi was a tough category, with a bunch of really solid authors in it and a few friends. But I’ve got to say that I am really happy David Weber won. David is a great guy. Honestly one of the nicest people I’ve met, not just in this business, but in general. And when it comes to mil-SF, he’s like a godfather of the whole genre. I really like Marko’s stuff too.
Alternative history was an interesting one. You had some big dogs of the genre. I think the 1632 verse is the biggest thing in alternative history, but there were two of those competing against each other. Then you’ve got Harry Turtledove. And if Weber is a godfather of mil-SF, you’ve got to say the same thing about Turtledove for Alternative History. (I actually voted for Jonathan Maberry, because he’s awesome, and I love Deadlands) Only Naomi Novik took it. I’ve not read that series, but my wife tells me that they are fantastic. At least one book about dragons took home a Dragon!
Apocalyptic was a tough one. I’m friends with three of the nominees, so will plead the 5th as to how I voted. Nick Cole took home the Dragon. I Book Bombed that one, and it got a lot of attention for getting booted from his first publishing house for ridiculous political reasons, so it probably had an attention edge. But let me just say that you guys should all go look up Mark Wandrey’s A Time To Die on Amazon and get a copy. He’s got skills, and I think you will be seeing him as a finalist again. Sorry, Marina, but I haven’t had a chance to read your stuff yet. 🙂
Horror, again, lots of good books. Ironically, the winner Brian Neimeier was at Salt Lake City ComicCon with me (I book Bombed the prior book in the series). When we talked about the Dragons on Thursday, we both figured we would be losing. Brian is a humble guy, so I’m really happy for him.
I’m not an expert on the comics and graphic novels stuff, so have no idea there. Gaiman won, and despite him knowing jack shit about what Sad Puppies are actually about, the man has mad writing skills and lots of fans. Same with TV shows, GRRM may hate my guts, but Game of Thrones on HBO has tons of fans, so that sounds like another deserving win. (I voted for Daredevil season 2, because the Punisher was amazeballs). The Dragons are unabashedly about rewarding enthusiastic fans, and those things have lots of excited, motivated fans, so good for them.
The Martian won movies. I actually voted for Captain America: Civil War. But you really couldn’t go wrong in movies.
Fallout 4 won video games. Holy moly, yeah, I can see why. I’ve got about 160 hours into my Fallout game.
Fallout Shelter won mobile. That’s another one that I played the heck out of. Maxed out two vaults before I got bored, and the way I drift away from the vast majority of video games after a day or two, that’s really saying something.
On the games, I was mostly in the dark, because they weren’t things I was up to speed on. Next year I’m going to campaign for some Warmachine and Infinity! 🙂 Though I do love Call of Cthulhu (though have never played that edition) so way to go there.
I look through the list of nominees and winners, and for once it is a bunch of fun stuff, where I’ve read, or would actually want to read most of them. That’s fantastic. I look forward to many more Dragon Award ballots like this.
Somebody was asking me what I’d like to see in the future. I think it would be cool to have Fantasy broken into Fantasy and Urban Fantasy, or maybe even Paranormal Romance, sort of like how they’ve broken up Sci-Fi. Those are genres that sell millions of books, yet where the authors get very little respect from the traditional snooty awards types. I’d love to see those fans have a chance to celebrate what they think is great too.
Whatever the Dragon Award folks decide to do going forward, I have no doubt it will be great. They’ve shown what they’re about—fans having fun—and that’s what is really important.
I don’t even know what the rules are for prior winners, but I’ll tell you guys right now, since I’ve been lucky enough to get one, I am perfectly happy if you never nominate me for a Dragon again. I’ve been recognized. There are so many awesome writers out there who have been ignored by other awards for years and years, that I would love to see some of them get a shot. Spread the love. Read great books. And then next year, nominate whoever you think was great.
Again, thank you. I love you guys. You’re the best.