Monday, August 13, 2018

2018 Dragon Awards: Quick Update prompted by MGC post

These are the books mentioned in this post, although for different reasons.
They are all, however, FINALISTS(!) for a 2018 Dragon Award. YAY!

A big Howdy to ya, Friends and neighbors out there in Internet land! Hope this finds you experiencing life, and that abundantly!

Why I'm writing this. This post is prompted by the first part of a post by Dave Freer I read this morning over on Mad Genius Club. The second part is likely even more excellent than the first, but you can be the judge of that yourselves.

In the first part, Dave gives mention to WorldCon, which I believe will be starting this week in some place I believe begins with 'San.' Those of you who are intersted are sure to use your Google-fu and get more details, but I've given you all the information I have on that.

There may be some great stuff going on there; for example, Spider Robinson is a Guest of Honor. It's really encouraging to see Spider appearing anywhere, frankly, as the man has taken some really tough hits in recent years. So, good on him for going, and good on them for asking.

However, it was the nature of the subject matter programmed  that put me off my feed, a bit, thus leading to this post. Dave lists some of the topics in his post at MGC, so go there if you want to see what they will be doing. I was going to make my own list, but then the difficulty of the interface and the unrewarding results I would find at the end lead me to abandon that effort.

History, and a Confession. Confession: Three years ago, I was EXCITED about the Hugos for the first time in ages! That happened when I first saw the nominees for the 2015 awards (in March? April?). I was sufficiently enthused that I started a series of Amazon reviews and blog posts on as many of the nominees that I could get access to. This was, actually, just a month after I had made the decision to dive SERIOUSLY into the world of reviewing and blogging, and writing about the Hugo nominees gave me a focus that I needed.

Within a very short time, I  picked up some warning signs that things might NOT go so well as the nominations suggested, and that there was open hostility directed to some nominees and people who had nominated them.  However, I still had some hope that Good Things could happen when I tuned in to the simulcast of the Awards Ceremony in August.

That's when I learned that my kind was not welcome around there.

This was a sad moment, because I had devoted a LOT of time reviewing as many of the Hugo nominated works as I could, regardless of any affiliation, and I had discovered some truly great work. I reviewed a few more books that were related to that convention, but really, I never cared much about WorldCon or the Hugos after that.

A New Hope! And then: DRAGON AWARDS! The system is set up so that there CANNOT be the kind of process-eviscerating events that made me sadder but wiser back in 2015.

This year, for the first time, I'm attempting to review the finalists for the Dragon Awards in four categories:
Best Science Fiction Novel;
Best Fantasy Novel;
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel; and
Best Alternate History Novel.

But there is a bit of a problem: I received my Dragon Awards ballot on August 8, which is when I first discovered the names of the finalists. The voting ends at 11:59 PM EDT, on Saturday, September 1, during the convention. Since I would LIKE for my reviews to be a source of information for voters, I need to have my reviews and blog posts done before the deadline (and as soon as possible). That meant I had 24 days to review 24 books. (It could have been worse: originally, I was going to review the 'Best YA/Middle Grades Novel' category, but gave that up when I discovered NONE of those books were available through my usual sources.)

What about the three books with icons at the top of the page? Before the finalists were announced, I had already reviewed  "Minds of Men" by Kacey Ezell, and "Legend," by Christopher Woods.   I'll have to do something to refresh the signal strength on those reviews to give them the same impact as my written-right-now reviews, and until I figure out how I'll do that, putting them at the top of the page works for me. The icon for Brandon Sanderson's "Oathbringers" is there because I'm NOT going to review it, but I do want to treat it with due respect. I'm not reviewing it because of time constraints: he describes it as 'massive,' others call it 'an epic,' and the print length according to Amazon is 1220 pages. I just don't have time to do it justice, even if I COULD get a copy of it to review. So, that left me with 21 books to read and review, as quickly as I can get that done competently.

A note of appreciation. When my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, discovered the task I had assigned myself, she promptly and pleasantly said 'Well, I'll just have to give you some space, then!" And she has done so, DESPITE the fact that it's meant she has had to do all the cooking and almost all of the kid maintenance.
Is she not lovely? 
Am I not fortunate?

Where it stands now. 
24 books in the four categories: 
ONE I do not plan to review, because it's a massive epic; leaves 23.
SIX I have already reviewed, two before the crunch time started. That leaves 17.
ELEVEN I have downloaded, and they are waiting for me now. That leaves 6.

For those last six books, I have submitted requests to the appropriate people for review copies. That has been industry standard policy for decades, but FIVE of the six are published by big-name houses, and I do not hold out much hope for a favorable response. While it is true that  I AM a reviewer, I'm not a New York Times reviewer, and my lovely blog swings no weight with them. However, my Amazon reviewer rating of 2,324 is mildly respectable, and maybe I'll get lucky. If I keep getting 'helpful' votes on my Amazon reviews (hint, hint), I will eventually move into the top 1000, at which point I get a little blue badge that will appear on all my reviews.

So, there you have it. D J Butler's "Witchy Winter," finalist in the 'Best Alternate History Novel' category, is calling to me; I'm on Chapter Seven, and loving it. If you haven't read "Witchy Eye," the first book in the series, you can read my Amazon review here. Umm...if you do, don't forget to vote 'Helpful."

Peace be on your household.


  1. She is lovely, and you are fortunate indeed.

    HOWEVER - the list at the top has disappeared (at least for me).

    1. If you have an adblocker software running on your browser, they won't show up. They are the links to the books on Amazon, and something about that triggers the block. Thanks for the report, because I'm right now seeing if there is a solution.