Monday, February 28, 2022

(Red) Dragon Awards

Guess what everybody, it's that time of year again... 

Time to have yet another Dragon Awards discussion!


If you’ve been here a while, you know I often talked about the Dragon Awards, from January to July. They’re the largest fan-voted awards out there. It’s free to vote on it. You don’t even have to register attending the convention.

It also gives me an excuse to talk about books at large. Not that I really need an excuse.

If you want to think that way, the Dragon Awards a front in the culture war. Nerd culture is, surprisingly, important. If you don’t believe me, look up “GamerGate” sometime. It was largely just a matter of calling out gaming journalism for being, well, crap. While GG has been out of action for years (at least seven years, IIRC) you’d think that it was a massive conspiracy theory on par with the Illuminati. It left a mark. You’d think the line was that “the Geek shall inherit the Earth.”

It could be worse. It could be Sad Puppies. And that’s another kennel for another time.

One of the reasons I even go into the cultural aspect of things is that, in 2020, no one cared about the Dragons. I can’t imagine why. Something about the Beer Plague, probably. So, that front was ignored entirely.

The dirt bags interested in taking over every aspect of American life moved in. And while DragonCon is not a bastion of the Right (just look at the parade of Handmaiden cosplayers a few years ago) it has always been a place where everyone can show up, do their own thing, and most importantly, be left alone.

People are trying to make it not that. Then 2020 became… a clusterfuck, really.

So yes, we need to push back.

Voting in the Dragons is a way of making sure that we can all push back without any real investment … aside from a little bit of time.

And if you want to vote, trust me, I’m going to be investing WAY more time than you are.

Nominate here

Yes, the nominations are already open! I'm not even joking.

Yes, I have a list of who I’m voting for. Here, for you folks, I’m also going to give you my reason for why I’m voting for each, and why I think it’s important.

But first…

My thought process

I'm not nominating anyone who already has an award. Most of those who have won already have the attitude of “Oh, I don’t need more dust collectors.”

I’m leaving out Big Name Authors. Frankly, if you're Jim Butcher or a Baen author, you don't need my help.

If I leave the categories blank, it means I STILL got nothing.

You may wonder why I’m not having a full, massive, months-long discussion, gathering up every eligible author and product.

Been there, done that. It turned into an unmanageable mess. Authors came in a hit and run to my posts, screamed "ME ME ME" in the comments, then dropped links to their book and ran. There was no discussion. That’s it.

I seriously want a discussion if I can get one. Why do this? Because if I don’t try one, who will? And the nominations **are already open.** Believe it or not.

Voting happens here: 

Please remember that eligible nominees came out AFTER 7/1/21, up 6/30/22. So double check before throwing something into the ring. I’m starting with who I’m voting for at the moment. Unless I have no other option, if someone has an award I’m not giving them more dust collectors

But then again, if you’re Jim Butcher, you don’t need my help.

So... here... we ... go.

Best SF

White Ops


It could also be Military SF, but since it’s a space opera, it’s genre fluid.

Then again, I’m so far behind on my TBR pile, this is one of the few SF novels that I know came out in the eligibility window.

Yes, for the record, White Ops is mine. I’d like to boast that I deserve it. I’m the best out there. I covet the shiny award, blah blah blah.

But I also can’t name you a damn thing in SF that came out in the eligibility window.

Best Fantasy (Paranormal)

My personal pick is The Dragon and his Wrath, by Dan Humphreys.

Yes, this this is an Urban Fantasy novel.

Why can’t the Dragons please get one lousy UF category?

We can call it the Jim Butcher award.

Best YA

Sworn to the Light, the Avatar Wizard Book 1, by Denton Salle.

My Review.

Sworn to the Light: The Avatar Wizard - Book 1 by [Denton Salle]

Good God, this was just plain FUN. I do recommend you at least check out the review over here. It’s where I did most of my gushing.

Best Military SFF Novel

Karl Gallagher, Seize What’s Held Dear.

My review.

Imagine if Honor Harrington were fighting 1984 and not the French Revolution. You’d get this. I don’t think I’m exaggerating how good this is in the review.

Best Alternate History Novel

The Romanov Rescue, by Tom Kratman, Kacey Ezell, et al.

This review is incoming, but it’s Tom and Kacey. Are we really surprised that it’s entertaining?

Best Media Tie-In Novel

I just found out that Timothy Zahn released a Thrawn book last year, called Lesser Evil. I’ll read it and get back to you.

Best Horror Novel

Summer Storm, Morgon Newquist

Best Comic Book

I’ve been told that "Finnian and the Seven Mountains #5" is good. No, I haven’t read it. I haven't read a comic book since Straczynski left Amazing Spider Man nearly 20 years ago.

However, I’m told that Demon Slayer outsold the entire American Comic book industry last year. And the English run finished in in August 2021. So it’s eligible.

Offical Demon Slayer DvD Cover : DemonSlayerAnime

Best Graphic Novel

I got nothing. [To be clear, it’s: an illustrated story in traditional comic book format that is at least 36 pages long and has been first released in print or electronic format] 

I’m told Kamen America is good.

Kamen America, Volume 4: Scars and Bars by [Timothy Lim, Mark Pellegrini]

Best SFF TV Series, TV or Internet

I hope someone comes up with something, or Disney shills are going to just vote in Book of Boba Fett, and everyone seems to hate that... except for when it's an episode of Mandalorian.

I’m not a fan of what they’ve done to The Witcher.

I couldn’t get into The Expanse.

However, I’m told that Resident Alien is pretty good.

Best SFF Movie

While I haven’t seen anything that came out last year, I’m told the following were good.

  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife?
  • Dune?
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home?

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

I have no idea, I have a stack of video games over a foot high that I haven’t touched.

Halo: Infinite, 343 Games?

Demon Slayer?

And not for the "I have no f***ing idea" categories.

Best SFF...

  • Mobile Game?

  • Board Game?

  • Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game?

Good luck with those, I have no clue.

So that’s it. Those are my best guesses for right now. I'd throw in hashtags or tag people, but most of the ones who I'd want to bring in either don't care, or are so self-aggrandizing, it wouldn’t be a discussion, it'd be nothing but "ME ME ME."

Trust me, been there, done that. Never again.

So if you want to start voting, you can.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Declan Finn! (Geek Gab, Episode 263!)

 If you’ve wondered why I’ve slowed down with the blog posts, it might have to do with all of the podcast interviews I’ve been working on.

White Ops 1

White Ops 2

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Monday, February 21, 2022

White Ops Reviewed

 Sorry for the lull between posts. But I wanted to collect some reviews out in the wild. Previously, I had posted these online one at a time on my old blog.

But yikes that sucks up a lot of time and effort.

So, I have some excerpts and links.


Upstream Reviews

Finn takes his penchant for larger than life characters who have no problems taking out the bad guys and puts it in space. What follows is not just action but a healthy dose of political intrigue and a hint of mystery that demonstrate that the author can do a lot more than just write a solid fight scene.

NR La Point

Sean Patrick Ryan is basically a huge, Irish, telepathic, Catholic leprechaun. With guns. And who also likes to break and explode things. Think if Cable had a brogue and decided to put together an elite team of space Templars to stop a malevolent group of very hungry alien monsters ripped from nightmares. You get the idea of where this plot is going.

Jimbo’s Blog

What do you get when you mix Star Wars, James Bond, The Hardy Boys, Chuck Norris and The Manchurian Candidate? Honestly, I get excited, but if you’re Declan Finn and you mix all of those things you get White Ops.  What a thrill ride. Seriously, this was a really good time but it’s really hard to classify outside of being a Science Fiction novel. There is a lot here though.

Castalia House Blog

The opening description of a ramshackle space colony, serving as the backdrop to a kayfabe barfight between Ryan and a partner, sold me on White Ops. For once in an indie secret agent space opera, the setting felt broken-in, disheveled, and grimy. The setting was brought into the foreground. And then Finn throws an ill-tempered space raptor headfirst through it.

Anthony Avina

I can only describe this book as the ultimate sci-fi opera meets space western meets sci-fi military action-adventure all blended into one epic sci-fi tale. Simple, right? For such a lengthy read, the author did such an incredible job of writing in a way that allowed the action and mythos that the author created for this universe to flow smoothly and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, eager to jump into the next chapter of this story.

So, I recommend trying these.

White Ops 1

White Ops 2

White Ops 3

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Writing the future... again... dang it.

People who have read my novels probably have noticed that I have the uncanny ability to predict the future.

Those who follow me on social media know that I’m not particularly happy about it.

The Pius Trilogy wasn’t all that bad. I mean, only some of it came true.

But geez, Saint Tommy drove me nuts. I wrote a particularly horrific circumstances, with demons and a cult motivating it and the circumstances around it… it becomes law.

I have a conclusion to a massive three-book conspiracy… then New York state codifies it.

I have an entire book centered around AntiFa minions acting as muscle, burning down entire cities, rioting, and generally carrying on cranky. THAT one I wrote in February of 2020, before the “summer of love” burned down a city or two for a few hundred days.

Hell! I have enough demonic politicians and scuzzy evil bastards that I’m still pissed off at the whole Qanon thing. (Demonic pedophile politicians? I killed those guys like three times!)

This got to the point where I said, screw it! I’ll use ripped from the headline stuff from years ago, and modify it. At least I can’t have these things come true, they already ARE sort of true. (Then freaking CNN producers started running pedophile rings! AYFKM? Thankfully, that book isn’t published yet.)

How do I do it, you ask? I reductio ad absurdum—I take everything out to their dumbest, most absurd end point. The point where no one, and I mean no one in their right mind would ever think about going. Then I have fun with it.

So of course, I have my plot elements become headline news.

Because there is nothing so freaking stupid that can’t become a political platform!

Why do I bring it up? Why isn’t there a post here on alien design and how I built a culture? You know, like I wanted? Why am I writing this post in the evening, far after I’ve usually shut down for the day?

In Politics Kills—which is literally releasing today—I had Earth under martial law. A tyrannical dictator locks down the planet and turns it into an armed camp. Anyone who disagrees gets arrested, thrown in jail, and disappeared.

So the night before the book releases, Justine Castreau in Canada declares emergency powers.

Really? Emergency powers? What? Did someone give this guy Attack of the Clones and he thought it sounded like a great idea?

Seriously, could the bastard son of Castro have waited five minutes? Maybe a day or two? Argh.

Right now, I’m hoping—really, truly, madly deeply hoping—that everyone looks at Justin Trudeau throwing a fit and goes “Really? AYFKM? Go have sex with a goose while the adults go talk with some truckers.”

There’s a saying among historians, and anyone who pays attention to history, is that history happens twice. The first time is a tragedy and the second time, it comes through as farce. And oh boy is this a farce. “Let’s break out emergency powers! Some truckers are parked in town, they’re honking, and they’re building shelters for the homeless and bringing in bouncy castles for children!”

I’m sorry, the level of stupid makes my brain hurt.

Anyway. I’m marking this piece, right here and now, so I can say “called it” at a later date. Just one of many stupid things that I called by complete accident. But nothing would please me better than to look back on this post and go “well, that was a wet firecracker.”

If I’m really lucky, it will have been misreported, no one is actually putting up with this crap, and this was all for nothing. I will have been pissed off by wasting my time, but frankly, I will prefer NOT having called this one in fiction.

For once.

Anyway, Politics Kills is out to day, please buy it, and let me know what you think.

White Ops 1

White Ops 2

White Ops 3

Other books