|Dragon Awards from left to right: Brian Niemeier, John C. Wright, Nick Cole|
But it wasn't a surprise.
Two weeks ago I predicted that the fans would choose Souldancer as this year's best horror novel.
Making a call like that is risky. The public eye is on SFF, and the internet is forever, so if you want to pull a Babe Ruth you'd better know what you're doing.
Fortunately there were plenty of signs pointing toward a Souldancer win. Not only that, my friends can tell you that I predicted a blowout in favor of Somewhither, Son of the Black Sword, and Ctrl-Alt-Revolt!
If you knew where to look, you could see the writing on the wall in the weeks leading up to Dragon Con. Here are a few of the omens that indicated how the awards would turn out.
The Hugo controversy
I've written plenty on the hijacking of the once prestigious Hugo Awards by a cadre of ideologically motivated elitists. The CHORFs have dominated Worldcon for about twenty years, but this open secret of old Fandom wasn't made known to the general public until Larry Correia was nominated for a Campbell Award.
The CHORFs snubbed Larry for having the wrong politics. Then they denied it, claimed that the Hugos represent the tastes of all SF fans, and insisted that he'd lost because his work was unpopular--which would be odd for a best selling author.
Skip ahead to 2016. Four iterations of Sad Puppies and four freakouts over popular Hugo nominees with the wrong opinions later, and the CHORFs are openly admitting that they snub authors over political disagreements.
The Worldcon clique is already trotting out wild accusations that the Sad and/or Rabid Puppies rigged the Dragon Awards. Their theory that two groups with combined total memberships of about 500 people controlled a direct democratic vote at a con with a minimum of 60,000 attendees that's open to anyone with an internet connection reeks of desperation.
Nope. This year's Dragon Award results aren't the work of the Puppies. Not directly. The hysterical CHORF reaction to the Puppies is another story. When you repeatedly snub and libel best selling authors and their fans under the pretense of increasingly insane and contradictory excuses; all the while claiming to speak for all of SFF fandom, don't be surprised when fandom hands you a massive backlash.
Popular demand for a new award to replace the Hugos
This one's pretty simple. When it became obvious that the SJW-converged Hugos no longer rewarded literary quality or popularity, fans started clamoring for an award that did.
It's basic supply and demand. The vast legions of SFF fans didn't have anyone speaking for them, so Dragon Con stepped up to meet their needs.
Prior to the Dragon Awards' inception, no small number of CHORFs even advised folks who disagreed with how they ran things at Worldcon to go and start their own award. That kind of hubris just begs for a truly epic nemesis. You can't do better than a dragon.
The paradigm shift in fandom
Another key factor in the rise of the Dragon Awards is the fundamental shift in fan demographics. Worldcon was started by fans who consumed SF almost exclusively in print. In addition to books, today's SFF fans get their fix from movies, games, and TV.
If you change the medium, you change the message. SFF isn't a niche hobby for nerds in basements. The nerds have long since broken out and conquered pop culture. An exclusive award run by a small clique of aging elitists who just read each others' books doesn't cut it anymore.
Ceding the moral high ground
As military historian William S. Lind can tell you, holding the moral high ground is the most important element in war. This is no less true of cultural conflicts.
It doesn't take a master strategist to see that paying lip service to tolerance while vociferously excluding a particular group from your clubhouse, publicly insulting them and their fans, changing the rules to keep them out, and constantly telling obvious lies about it inclines neutral observers to see you as petty tyrants and the riffraff you're trying to kick out as underdogs.
Author tip: people love to root for underdogs.
All of this is why, when I finished last below No Award in the Campbells, I knew that I would finish first in the Dragons.
It's storytelling 101. Young bright-eyed hopeful goes up against the bullies who run the table and gets crushed. Not only do they ride him out of town on a rail, they spit on the supporters who got him there.
You can guess what happens in the sequel.
The CHORFs' failure to see Larry, John, Nick, and me coming tends to confirm their reputation as poor storytellers.
My readers want thrilling, uplifting stories. Worldcon handed me the perfect outline for a classic come-from-behind underdog victory tale. Even better, they made my fans the protagonists.
Congratulations to my awesome readers! The Dragon Award went to Souldancer, but you guys won. I'm grateful that you placed your faith in me, and I'm overjoyed that I didn't let you down.
After all, not letting you down is my job description.
Big thanks and congratulations to my wonderful editor, L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright. The Dragons don't have editing categories, so this award honors her work on Souldancer just as much as mine.
Congratulations to all of this year's Dragon Award winners, especially Larry Correia, John C. Wright, and Nick Cole. It's a blessing to have such talented coworkers and an honor to have such good friends.
Epic bragging rights go to Castalia House for having two--and soon, three--Dragon Award winners writing for them. It was a true delight to be notified of Souldancer's win via a personal call from their lead editor.
Two other upstanding citizens of the ever-expanding SFF universe deserve special recognition. Thanks to my fellow nominee Declan Finn for receiving Souldancer's award while I was out of town. Bonus points for doing John C. Wright the same courtesy and thanking Vox in the bargain. I tip my hat to author and publisher Russell Newquist of Silver Empire, who suggested Souldancer for the horror category, the only one where it wasn't guaranteed to get annihilated.
Once again I reaffirm my dedication to my readers. You made me the only self-published author to win a Dragon Award. This achievement is a sign of things to come. And as we navigate the changing SFF landscape together, I'll double my efforts to make the journey as much fun as humanly possible, under the hand of Providence.
My Dragon Award-winning novel Souldancer and its predecessor Nethereal are available here: