Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Dragon Awards Will Have a Category for Alternate History

Since 1995, the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History have been the only game in town when it came to awarding the best published alternate histories...but that is about to change.

Dragon Con, Atlanta’s pop culture convention that will be held Sept 2nd to Sept 5th, announced the introduction of the Dragon Awards, a program of fan-chosen awards to recognize outstanding achievement in science fiction and fantasy literature, comics, gaming and filmed entertainment.

According to the press release, the introduction of the Dragon Awards is part of the convention’s 30th Anniversary celebration. Dragon Award winners will be selected by all fans, not just Dragon Con members or attendees, in an open nomination and final voting system.  To accommodate as many creative genres as possible, awards will be given in each of 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming and tabletop gaming.

Nominations will be open from early April until July 25. The best and most popular of the nominated properties in each category will then be offered for a second and final vote beginning August 2. Fans will be allowed to vote just once for each category’s best in this final round of voting. Winners will be announced at the 30th Anniversary Dragon Con convention,

What really caught my attention, however, was that one of the 15 categories is actually for the "Best alternate history novel". Here is the description of that category from File 770:
What is the best and most outstanding novel whose story takes place in a world that did not happen, but could have been, so is an alternative to the world as we know it that you have read in the last year, one that you would tell your friends to read? 
Qualifying is any book that is at least 70,000 words long, containing a single story (no anthologies), and has been first released in print or ebook format between 1/1/2015 and 2/1/2016 whose story is set in a variant future or past universe including those with steam powered technology.
This is pretty big news since there really aren't many awards dedicated to alternate history. In comparison to the Sidewise Awards, anyone will be allowed to vote in the Dragon Awards on the alternate history novel, whereas with the Sidewise Awards only the judges are allowed to vote. The Sidewise Awards, however, have the word count for a novel set at 40,000 and do give out an award for alternate history short stories, with the Dragon Awards do not.

When asked about the Dragon Award for Best Alternate History Novel, Doctor Q (track director of the Dragon Con Alternate History Track) had this to say: "It makes me happy to see that Dragon Con wanted to ensure that the writers of alternate history were honored in and of themselves and I for one am happy to be part of the process of an awards process by fans, of fans, and for fans to honor the creators of worlds that never were but could have been."

So is our genre big enough for two alternate history awards? Probably and I'm not just saying that because I am also a Sidewise judge. General SF&F have multiple awards given out for a variety of reasons. Alternate history has grown in popularity enough that I feel the community can support more than one award for the best alternate history.

I personally am curious to see if there is any overlap between those who vote in the Dragon Awards and the Sidewise judges. Will more steampunk works be considered as well by the Dragon Con fans? I guess we will find out in the months to come.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

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