First, I’d like to congratulate all of the nominees for the Dragon Awards. I had friends, both from cyberspace and meatspace, on the ballot. I’m sorry they didn’t win.
And now, I have a confession to make.
I didn’t vote this year. I didn’t vote for the Gemmells either. Before anyone starts screaming about hypocrisy and double standards, I had a very good reason for not voting.
I didn’t read any of the nominees.
I’m not going to vote on a ballot when I haven’t read at least some of the titles under consideration. Not that I didn’t want to. I’ve got nominated titles from the Dragons and the Gemmells in my TBR pile (or will when a few come out in paperback). Reading time has been tight the past couple of years. I simply didn’t get to the titles on the shortlist. The same thing happened with the Gemmell Awards. This is part of why I’m not accepting many requests for reviews outside of a small circle of writers and editors I’ve reviewed before. The time currently isn’t there at this season of my life. I’ve started cutting out review commitments so I can have time to read the work of my friends. I also am trying to be more consistent in my own fiction writing.
There’s been a lot of noise over the summer about the Dragons not being a valid or “real” award. The argument that intruded on my Twitter feed the other day said something about the way they’re setup invites manipulation. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Don’t really care much, either. The Dragon Awards are only in their second year; I’m sure they’ve still got a few bugs to work out. Either they will or they won’t. I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
loudmouthed high profile authors recently made a big deal out of removing their names from the ballots. Personally, I find that insulting to the people who nominated them. Were I ever to find one of my works on an awards short-list, I would (most likely) leave it there. After all, if my writing touched enough people on some level that they went to the trouble of nominating me, it would be churlish to withdraw. Even if my work was nominated by the “wrong sorts” of people. In fact, I would take that situation as a compliment. If someone with whom I had deep philosophical/political/religious differences liked something I wrote that much, I must have done something right to have written a story that reached them through our differences. (Only if I had irreconcilable differences with the philosophy behind the award or had an ethical concern with being on the ballot would I withdraw.)
Ever since the wooden asshole stunt a few years ago, I’ve not really concerned myself with awards. I do consider the Dragon Awards, along with the Gemmell Awards, to be real awards that are valid and reflect the views of the readers. As opposed to other groups.
In fact, about the only awards I pay any attention to are the Dragons, the Gemmells, and the Shamus (for private eye fiction). I use them as suggested reading lists. Unlike some award ballots, which I use as titles to avoid lists.
But ultimately, the only award that really matters to me is the Beer Money Award.