A Conservative Play

Dragon Con

The Dragon Awards saga continues taking unexpected twists and turns as Dragon Con first refuses; then allows, authors to withdraw from the ballot.

Dragon Con's decision drew comment from a number of prominent critics in the #PulpRev movement. Here's Castalia House blog editor Jeffro Johnson:
Anybody that has ever run a lot of old school D&D should immediately be able to see why this was a boneheaded move. Make a call like this in the heat of the game and all of a sudden you find out that the players have a reason why everything in the game could maybe be ruled differently. It’s way easier to just let the game be what it is and then leave it to the players to figure out how to deal with that.
But you do see the kicker there, don’t you? If you give this request your blessing, then you have basically agreed that Allison Littlewood was put on the ballot unfairly.
Gosh, if that’s the case… then maybe there are other people on the ballot that ought not to be there. Hell, you maybe even gave out awards last year to people that didn’t come by them honestly!
Seriously, did anyone running this thing give any thought to the implications of what they were doing here?
This is asinine.
Not only was the administrators' rationale for allowing Littlewood's withdrawal shortsighted, it flew in the face of the original spirit of the competition as related to me by a friend of the awards' main organizer. The folks running the Dragon Awards originally wanted authors to rally their readers behind them and for readers to promote their favorite books.

Contra Ms. Littlewood's complaint, her book was not placed on the ballot as part of a slate. It was recommended by a reader who liked the book, albeit a reader with whose politics she apparently disagrees.

The Injustice Gamer goes into more detail on the poor precedent that this decision sets and offers a solution:
Giving in to demands of this nature is a very "conservative" play, by which I mean it loses nobly and accomplishes nothing. To their credit, they are going to reissue ballots for those whose votes are affected by these.  Here's DragonCon's official statement.
There are good reasons to not give in, and I'm going to talk about them first. But then, I'm going to discuss a PROPER response that would have allowed withdrawals as well. This is important, because giving the opponent a way out that doesn't damage you changes perceptions. But, the way they went does damage the perception, and plays to the Narrative against the awards.
So, first, why would you not allow withdrawals? Because though the award is for the work of authors and other content producers, IT'S NOT ABOUT THEM. Even in this press release, DragonCon states that the award is about the fans. DragonCon has a history of caring far more about the fans than the celebrities, and not inviting back ones that ignore fans, panels, etc.
Also, the biggest part of the complaining on Littlewood's part is that a bloc voted for her. Last year, Larry Correia was actively encouraged to campaign for the award, and this is after his time running Sad Puppy campaigns. So, because these fans are voting together, their voice doesn't matter? That's ridiculous. George R.R. Martin even finally had to admit that campaigning had ALWAYS existed in the Hugos awards, of course, downplaying it because it was behind closed doors.
Now, I can understand concern over voter fraud. But that's not what they're talking about here. How would I combat fraud?  First, check things by IP. Second, I would, at a later date determined randomly, send a confirmation email that REQUIRES a reply. Yes, I'm saying people need to watch their inbox and junk email. If no reply occurs within a specified time period, delete their nominations.
Now, as to how I would allow for withdrawal if I were them. Make it permanent. Yes, if you're going to allow for withdrawal from a fan award with a reputation for favoring fans over celebrities, deny them forever. Why? Right now, they're also playing a game of the Dragons not being real, legitimate awards. The next step, to take it the rest of the way, is to deny them a professional presence at DragonCon in perpetuity, for denying the fans.
In short, Dragon Con's decision, as it stands, represents an administrative failure on a number of levels:
  1. It shows a fundamental preference shift from the from the fans to the talent.
  2. By caving once, the administrators have gravely compromised their resilience against future politically motivated demands.
  3. They also set the potentially fatal and self-contradictory precedent that any group of fans campaigning together risk fraud accusations simply for engaging in voting practices that are intrinsic to any democratic process.
Alfred Genesson has the right of it. Withdrawing from a democratically selected awards ballot in the name of ideological purity shows contempt for the voters and the process itself. Fans are now denied the chance to express their appreciation for a book they enjoyed, and the award organizers must scramble to issue revised ballots--which they will now have only one day to count.

I concur with Genesson and others who have made the same proposal. Allow withdrawals from the Dragon Awards ballot, but with the caveat that any author who withdraws is permanently ineligible to appear on any Dragon ballot thereafter.

John Scalzi has pulled the same stunt two years in a row, but has now withdrawn his withdrawal. Since the Dragon Con organizers will not condemn this insulting behavior, the only remedy left is to defeat him in the Best Science Fiction Novel category. If Scalzi can show such blatant contempt for the fans and still win an award, the Dragons' integrity will suffer severe and likely permanent damage.

The Secret Kings, my highly praised space opera novel, is the only viable competitor against Scalzi's Collapsing Empire. How do we know this? Because Scalzi and his clique have already invoked Godwin's Law in a desperate attempt to smear me.

Scalzi - Mecha-Hitler

I've made the choice significantly easier for readers, since I'm offering my entire award-winning series at a lower price than Scalzi's failed Asimov pastiche.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

Scalzi - Collapsing Empire remaindered
My whole series still costs less than Scalzi's remaindered book.

Request your free Dragon Award ballot!


  1. //f Scalzi can show such blatant contempt for the fans and still win an award, the Dragons' integrity will suffer severe and likely permanent damage.//

    Darn, but I already voted for you!

  2. apparently camel is that obnoxious kid un class who will throw up on your desk to get attention

    1. See! Exactly - don't vote for him then it is an evil SJW plot, do vote for him it is an evil SJW plot*. Talk about the Dragons it is an evil SJW plot, don't talk about the Dragons it is an evil SJW plot.

      Every and any event? Yup, it is an evil SJW plot.

      *[OK, I'll concede that voting for him IS an evil SJW plot.]

    2. What the hell are you talking about? My comment was on your pathetic need to piss in other people's punch bowls. On a number of sites I visit, you will jump in with idiotic comments designed to troll the locals. My comment was about your stupidity, not any silly conspiracy.

    3. Chris, "don't touch the poop" is relevant here.

  3. This thing was conceived when I was still too tired to notice the comment between "mecha Hittler" and cat.