A Tale of Two Awards

A lot of attention has come to the state of awards in the field of science fiction and fantasy in the last few years, thanks to increasing problems with and arguments over the Hugo Awards. If you’re unaware of why, the Hugos were (note the past tense) considered the premiere measurement of excellence in SF&F for decades; but over the last couple, they’ve stopped reflecting overall fan appreciation and shown an increasing bias for the tastes of a particular (and vastly smaller) group that would rather celebrate rapists, racists, and child molesters as long as they said the right things.

Can you guess why there might be some tension? The Hugos were like the Academy Awards for SF&F, except they were actually voted on by the fans, not a cabal of elites patting each other on the back. Now there’s no difference . . . except that millions of people still care about Oscar, and most people don’t care about Hugo. There are other awards, but few of them try to be comprehensive.

Well, you can read about it from my perspective, or read our own Declan Finn’s recap from last year at Liberty Island. All I wanted was to lay out why it’s so important that two new comprehensive-category awards are debuting this year: the Dragons and the Manticores.

And yes, the mythological coincidence is just that: coincidental.

Both awards are, like the Hugos, hosted by a different fan conventions. The Flight of Dragons (the name Declan and I hope will catch on, because we loved that movie) is hosted by the Dragon Awards, while the Rampant Manticore is hosted by HonorCon. Both of them were, at least in part, organized as a direct response to the Hugo Awards collapsing under their own weight.

The Flight of Dragon Awards

Declan’s talked about the Flight of Dragons before, and there’s even a Hitler reaction video on the subject. The gist of it is that the people who are trying to push out everyone the Hugos and Worldcon that don’t agree with their worldviews have been telling us to go start our own award; so DragonCon, seeing how Worldcon would rather burn their own awards down than accept anyone who wasn’t pre-approved by the Right People, decided to set up their own. Even more, as Worldcon sought to limit who would have the right to vote, DragonCon decided that they wouldn’t even ask for a single red cent or limit it to members.

That’s right, people. Anyone can vote. Go sign up here, get your ballot, and make your voice heard! Just remember, DragonCon starts next week, so if you want to vote, sign up now in order to get your ballot. Voting closes on midnight Eastern Time, Thursday, September 1st!

Yes, I used a lot of italics and exclamation marks. It’s important, gorammit!

Here are the nominees for each category. There are a lot of them, and Declan already broke them down, but I just want to list the titles:

  • Best Science Fiction Novel
    • Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwitheriing Realm by John C. Wright
    • Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
    • Raising Caine by Charles E. Gannon
    • The Life Engineered by J-F Dubeau
    • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
    • Agent of the Imperium by Marc Miller
  • Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
    • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
    • Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
    • Blood Hound by James Osiris Baldwin
    • The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
    • Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer
    • Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams
    • Grave Measures by R.R. Virdi
  • Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
    • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    • Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
    • Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer
    • Trix and the Faerie Queen by Alethea Kontis
    • Updraft by Fran Wilde
    • The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
    • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
    • Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley
  • Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
    • Hell’s Foundations Quiver by David Weber
    • The Price of Valor by Django Wexler
    • Wrath of an Angry God: A Military Space Opera by Gibson Michaels
    • Chains of Command by Marko Kloos
    • The End of All Things by John Scalzi
    • Blood in the Water by Taylor Anderson
    • Allies and Enemies: Fallen by Amy J. Murphy
  • Best Alternate History Novel
    • 1635: A Parcel of Rogues by Eric Flint & Andrew Dennis
    • League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
    • Germanica by Robert Conroy
    • Bombs Away: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove
    • Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry
    • 1636: The Cardinal Virtues by Eric Flint & Walter H. Hunt
  • Best Apocalyptic Novel
    • The Desert and the Blade by S.M. Stirling
    • Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine
    • Dark Age by Felix O. Hartmann
    • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
    • Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole
    • A Time to Die by Mark Wandrey
  • Best Horror Novel
    • Honor at Stake by Declan Finn
    • Souldancer by Brian Niemeier
    • Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay
    • Chapelwood by Cherie Priest
    • Alice by Christina Henry
    • An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
  • Best Comic Book
    • Saga
    • DC Universe: Rebirth
    • Ms. Marvel
    • Providence
    • Daredevil
    • Civil War II
    • Astro City
  • Best Graphic Novel
    • Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine
    • Virgil by Steve Orlando
    • The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman
    • March: Book Two by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin
    • Chicago by Glenn Head
    • Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
    • Doctor Who – BBC
    • Game of Thrones – HBO
    • Jessica Jones – Netflix
    • The Expanse – Syfy
    • Outlander – Starz
    • Daredevil – Netflix
    • The Flash – CW
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
    • Ant-Man
    • Captain America: Civil War
    • The Martian
    • Crimson Peak
    • Deadpool
    • Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
    • Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment
    • Darkest Dungeon by Red Hook Studios
    • Metal Gear Solid V by Konami Digital Entertainment
    • XCOM 2 by 2k Games
    • Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks
    • Undertale by Toby Fox
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
    • Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks
    • PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist by Outerminds Inc.
    • Quaser One by Emre Taskin
    • Hyper Burner by Patrick Cook
    • Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Arts
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
    • Monopoly: CTHULHU by USAopoly
    • Codenames by Vlaada Chvatil
    • Blood Rage by Cool Mini or Not
    • Pandemic: Legacy by ZMan Games
    • Talon by GMT Games
    • Star Wars: Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
    • Star Wars: Armada by Fantasy Flight Games
    • Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls by Flying Buffalo
    • Magic the Gathering: Battle of Zendikar by Wizards of the Coast
    • Mouse Guard (2nd Edition) by David Petersen & Luke Crane
    • Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game (7th Edition) by Chaosium Inc.

The Flight of Dragons is a bit rushed and the DragonCon staff in charge of it have run into a few hiccups along the way; but they’re definitely serious about covering the field. They’re also doing it in a way that reflects DragonCon itself, as well as how the field of science fiction and fantasy (and SF&F fans) have grown over the last quarter-century.

The Rampant Manticore

The Rampant Manticore, as I said, was also in large part a reaction to what happened with the Hugos; but it takes a very different focus and a very different way of handling the problem.

For one, the Manticores will be presented at HonorCon, but — like that convention — they are adminstered by the Royal Manticoran Navy. The RMN, named after the military in the books they honor (no pun intended), is the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. It’s sanctioned by the author, David Weber, and beloved by the publisher for how this organization of several thousand members gets people to read (and buy) this bestseller among bestsellers. The RMN is of course chiefly concerned with the Honor Harrington series, but cheerfully encompasses all military genre fiction. As a result, the Manticores have a heavy focus on military science fiction and fantasy.

The Manticores are also taking an opposite tack from the Flight of Dragons; instead of opening it up to everyone (or even just supporting memberships like Wordcon and the Hugos), they put very particular limits on who can vote. You have to either attend HonorCon itself, or have been a member of the fan association for a full year and taken at least two exams (these are really easy exams, don’t worry).

Additionally, in an effort to prevent the sort of inner circle cabal at Worldcon and accompanying accusations of back-room collusion, the RMN’s leadership has taken the remarkable step of getting third-party judges. These judges are contracted by the RMN, but do not have any membership in the association nor stake in the outcome. When the nominations were read out at MantiCon this spring, they were delivered in a sealed, certified legal envelope with an official letter that sounded like it was written by a lawyer — because that’s exactly who the judge had been. No one in the association knew what the results were until that envelope, with a list printed on actual paper rather than emailed, had been opened.

One final detail worth noting: while I have had no confirmation that this, too, was due to the Hugo Awards’ tendency to award and nominate the same people over and over (it could just as easily be due to a desire to keep the field fresh), past winners are ineligible for a Manticore two years in a row. The really interesting part, though, is that those same winners are allowed to vote (even if they are not part of the association nor attending in person) that second year, and their votes count for five of everyone else.

The lists of categories and nominees are both shorter, and the Manticores are a literary award (no TV shows, movies, or games). Here are this year’s nominees:

  • Best Author – Fantasy Short Story:
    • Rules of Enchantment by Klecha & Buckell
    • The Way Home by Linda Nagata
    • Look at Me Now by Sarah Norman
  • Best Author – SciFi Short Story:
    • Horus Heresey #31 by Graham McNeill
    • Blue Knight by Carol Pedroso
    • Yes! Yes! Yes! by Lily Velden
  • Best Author – Fantasy Novella:
    • Tallaran: Ironclad by John French
    • Bounty Hunter by Samantha Harvey
    • Tiger’s Paw by Kimberly Rogers
  • Best Author – SciFi Novella:
    • Riding Redemption by Jolie Mason
    • Draxius Redeemed by Brian Dorsey
    • Burnsides Killer by Timothy Ellis
  • Best Author – Fantasy Novel:
    • Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
    • The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
    • Cold Iron by Stina Leicht
  • Best Author – SciFi Novel
    • Angles of Attack by Marko Kloos
    • Oncoming Storm by Christopher Nuttall
    • An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff
  • H. Beam Piper Memorial Award
    • Angles of Attack by Marko Kloos
    • Riding Redemption by Joile Mason
    • Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia

There’s no rush to sign up to vote; HonorCon is the last weekend in October, and chances are that if you’re not already going, you’re not going at all. But if you are, or you’re a member of the Royal Manticoran Navy who qualifies, don’t forget to put in your picks!

I’m fascinated by these two awards. Not only are they both debuting at the same time and in response to the same events, but they also have little else in common. Both are reflections of their host organizations. DragonCon is a crowded party, intense and chaotic, and their awards match. The RMN is organized and regimented (literally!), and have arranged their award system accordingly. I’ve also seen the Manticore award template, and it is pretty (sadly, I don’t have a photo of it, but I’ll edit one in when I can), while I have no clue what DragonCon will be handing out.

Meanwhile, the Hugos keep coming out with new rules to make voting more difficult, not less.

I’ll be sad to see the Hugos die, but I’m happy to see these two different takes on SF&F rise up in their place. Perhaps we’ll see others.

In the meantime, Declan and I will be on assignment at the Flight of Dragons ceremony, and I’ll be at the Manticores two months later. Stay tuned, and we’ll let you know what happens!

In the meantime, I’m interested . . . what would you vote for, and why?

About Matthew Bowman

Matthew Bowman is a traditionally-minded Catholic convert and freelance science fiction and fantasy editor, which means that he's in high demand in a small population. Fortunately, he loves talking about stories. And Catholicism. And history. And philosophy. And lots of other stuff.
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23 Responses to A Tale of Two Awards

  1. jim082573 says:

    Hey under the Manticore Awards you misspelled The name of Jim Butcher’s book


  2. I’m really torn between Larry Correia and Jim Butcher. I mean, that’s like asking who’s “better”, Peter or Paul?


  3. Bravo for Dragoncon and Honorcon (I am attending the latter) for advancing fannish awards for science fiction in all its forms!

    Readers may also be interested in the Neffies (originally the Laureate Awards), first given in 1949 (or perhaps 1941; there is an obscure reference in an early issue of the newsletter). Readers are invited to join the National Fantasy Fan Federation http://n3f.org/join/ ($6 with an electronic membership), notify me that you have joined (phillies@4liberty.net), and vote on our awards, the Neffies (given at least as early as 1949, then as the “Laureate Award”). Associate Memberships are free.

    2016 Neffy Awards Nominations

    Nominations for the 2016 National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Awards are now complete. The Neffy Ballot will appear in the August issue of TNFF, giving members plenty of time to discuss the merits of the nominees.

    The astute reader will recall that we originally asked for nominations in a long list of categories. Curiously, while we had a considerable number of nominations they were narrowly distributed. Indeed we have nominations for Best Novel, Best Paper Series Novel, Best Editor, Best TV Show, Best Comic, and Best Film.

    The 2016 Neffy Award nominations are

    Best Novel
    Somewhither—John C. Wright
    Shadows of Self—Brandon Sanderson

    Best Paper Series Novel
    163X—Eric Flint
    Schooled in Magic—Chris Nuttall
    Safehold—David Weber

    Best Editor
    Peter Buch (Elsewhen)
    Sheila Gilbert (DAW)
    Toni Weisskopf (Baen)

    Best TV Show
    Sense8 Season 1 Jonathan Strange miniseries
    The Expanse
    Jessica Jones

    Best Comic
    Astro City
    Girl Genius

    Best Film
    What We Do in Shadows
    The Martian
    The Lobster
    Ex Machina


    • I’ve heard people refer to this, but never saw information on it. Thanks; I’ll check it out.

      And you’ll likely see me there, then. I’m giving several talks on writing, and I’m easy to spot as one of the few (perhaps only) in a manual wheelchair.


  4. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter says:

    None of the above.


  5. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter says:

    I wrote a comment that said “None of the above.” But I did not explain why. It is because the Hugo Awards are irrelevant. The Dragon Awards and the Manticore awards are probably irrelevant too. I wrote an article on this a couple of years ago, which no one seems to understand, and which since it was published on a German fan website has been mostly ignored.

    You can find it The Hugo Awards are Irrelevant.

    Give it a read.




    • You can feel free to ignore these awards as well. No one is forcing you to participate.


      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter says:

        You missed my point. It does not matter whether I ignore these awards or not. I’m one individual.

        What matters is the immense number of fans who ignore them, in many cases because they have no idea they exist or because they don’t read books. The vast majority of SF&F fans get their view of the genre from anime, movies and television. Books, magazines, manga, comics, and other written forms, along with radio and other spoken forms, are now minority ways to enjoy SF&F (and Horror – I’ve sold a bunch of Horror short stories).

        I don’t know if you read the article, but in it I lay out the changes in how fans get their SF&F genre ‘fix’ over the last hundred years. This has nothing with my (our your) approval. I personally prefer to read, and I have a variety of written works in progress, so I have a vested interest in lots of people reading.

        The problem is too many other people prefer the video forms. Take Harry Potter. It was a fantastic publishing success, and my wife who was working as a teacher’s aide, told me that Harry Potter has introduced and entire generation of fans to the written format, and helping followers such as Twilight, Percy Jackson, etc. by creating a market which grew and expanded. Teen and tween readers the grew up, and a certain percentage joined fandom. But the vast majority of kids don’t read, instead they watch video.

        Whether we approve or not does not matter. It is just the way things are, and we are unlikely to be able to change things.


  6. dorseybrian says:

    Wow…just found out I was nominated for an award on your blog!


  7. Pingback: The Sad Puppies Should Have Done Better | The Arts Mechanical

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