Discover more from Upstream Reviews
The Heart of a Dragon (Award)
Yes, here we go again
One of the book awards that we here at Upstream like to talk about is the Dragon Awards. Why? Because anyone can vote on it, and vote for free. No one has to attend the convention. All they have to do is go to a website, nominate their candidates, and when the top nominees are cultivated, everyone who nominated gets to vote.
And the Dragon Awards are here. Votes FOR NOMINATIONS are due ON JULY 19TH
Please remember that eligible nominees came out AFTER JULY 1, 2022, and up to the end of June 2023. We’ll be discussing our top choices here. But keep that in mind if you decide to not vote from our list here.
Keep in mind, this is going to be a LONG post. If you’re reading this in your email, you’ll have to come to the website for the whole thing.
The Dragon Awards
Also, the Dragon Awards are the largest fan-voted awards out there. It’s free to vote on. It only costs you some time.
And if you want to vote, trust me, we’re going to be investing WAY more time than you are.
You may wonder why we haven’t had a full, massive, months-long discussion, gathering up every eligible author and product since January. Been there, done that. It turned into an unmanageable mess.
Again, please remember that eligible nominees came out AFTER 7/1/22, up 6/30/23. So double check before throwing something into the ring. Trust me, I will beat this horse to death, but that’s because everyone I know has botched this at least once.
Now, let’s look at some books.
And now, the rest of the suggestions.
Best Science Fiction Novel
The Dabare Snake Launcher, by Joelle Presby
Why start here? Because Trevor liked it.
When a wealthy West African family, the Sadous, snag the contract to build Earth’s first space elevator, everyone wants a piece of the action. All the major players in financing and construction, geology and real estate, are simultaneously playing nice and stabbing each other in the back, even as corporate espionage threatens to topple construction before it even gets off the ground.
Ultimately, the success of the space elevator becomes the responsibility of the youngest Sadous, Pascaline and Maurie.
One wants to have her own career, and the other finds herself plagued (or is it possessed?) by a water goddess.
There are of course, other candidates.
If you think these Dabare Snake Launcher are too far fetched—for whatever reason—I can also suggest Karl Gallagher’s latest.
Other options that come to mind?
How can we leave out Blaine Lee Pardoe’s Splashdown?
As our review said
I love a fast-paced book like this one, a book that can put me in the world without taking ten thousand words per chapter to do it. And I really want more high-quality mecha to go mainstream. It seems like those are hard to come by in novel format, and I finally got one here.
While we’re at it, there’s also A Grimm Sacrifice by Jeffrey H. Haskell. The first three books in the series were reviewed by Graham last month.
Marines Never Die by JN Chaney & Johnathan Brazee
Gates of Hell by Rick Partlow
Vision Rising by L.L. Richman
Poor Man's Sky by Wil McCarthy
Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
For this one, there was an easy candidate.
Wraithbound, By Tim Akers
Talk about timing. This review only dropped last month.
Of course, there are other options.
JR reviewed one of her other novels a few weeks back. However, I gather that Cross prefers Sword Maker for the win.
Andrei is more than just a swordmaker.
He's a legend.
Members of the legendary silkmaking clan in the Southern Network understand one thing: the clan keeps the Sirilas magic in balance by obedience to its rules, and the Sirilas magic keeps them alive.
When loyal, steady future Guide to the Clan Andrei Kuzmin finds a sword that stands in his way to ease and prosperity—quite literally—he's shoved out of his stable world and into a new magic.
A magic that doesn't care about the requirements of the Sirilas magic.
While Andrei grapples to rid himself of the meddlesome sword, a new foe enters the stage. Alek Popov, High Priest to the Southern Network, a witch hungry for the well-kept secrets of the silkmaking magic.
Can Andrei keep both magicks happy while forging the path required of him?
Or will Andrei's faltering loyalty destroy the clan from the very center?
THE SWORDMAKER is the second novel in the Historical Collection. This thrilling story will sweep you away to the arctic lands of the Southern Network, where magic teems and mysteries abound.
JR is looking into this one as well. So if we change our mind on this, you’ll know.
Rhymer by Gregory Frost
Arminius, Bane of Eagles by Adrian Cole
Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel
I truly thought I was going to have to beat my head against a wall for this one. Denton Salle didn’t have anything new out. Nor does Jagi Lamplighter. Into the Real came out too early last year.
And then it hit me.
Gun Magnus, by NR LaPoint
… Was it listed as YA on Amazon? No.
Would I give it to anyone ages 9 and up? You betcha.
It’s good. If you don’t vote for it, at least read it.
The last thing Kenneth Jericho needed was a gunfight and car chase with human traffickers. What started as a bad morning only got worse.
A flash of light sends Ken to a strange world filled with magic, hideous monsters, beautiful women, and seemingly unlimited ammo.
With pistol in hand, Ken is thrown into a race against time to stop a local ganglord's reign of terror. But is the thug the brains behind the violence, or is someone - or something - else pulling his strings?
If John Wick fell into the realm of Final Fantasy VI, it might be half as badass as all this.
Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson – Speaking of Mr. Sanderson, this novel is one of the “secret” books promised in his kickstarter. Our own Graham Bradley reviewed the book here and his report has piqued my interest. Seeing this book get a Dragon would certainly be the icing on the enormous cake Mr. Sanderson made for everyone back in 2022!
Saga of the Swordbreaker 2: Lord of Beasts and Saga of the Swordbreaker 3: Spear of the Night by Kit Sun Cheah – Both of these books were released in time for the Dragons. If you like cultivation stories, this series is one you may want to look into and seriously consider putting on your ballot.
Battles in the Black (The Black Chronicles Book 5) by J.M. Anjewierden – I have the first book in this series on my TBR list (you really do not want to see the pile of books I have to read). Given that I’ve put money down to be entertained by the first book, I see no reason not to put Mr. Anjewierden forward as a candidate for a Dragon. He has earned it.
86 – Eighty-Six: Dies Passionis by Asato Asato – I’ve been reading this series of light novels since I started watching the anime. The anime is still on hiatus but the eleventh volume in the light novel series came out last year, making it eligible for a Dragon Award. In my opinion, it has more than earned a nomination!
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
…. Never mind. Dragon Con killed this category.
Best Alternate History Novel
Kevin Ikenberry, The Crossing.
Behind enemy lines and displaced in time!
Before the Battle of Trenton, George Washington reputedly threw a coin across the river. What if that coin was a bicentennial quarter?
When a squad of ROTC cadets training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in November 2008 find themselves transported to December 1776 in the days before the Battle of Trenton, they find a Continental Army in disarray and General George Washington contemplating the potential of a bleak future. To make matters worse, they’ve lost a modern M-16 rifle to a roving Hessian patrol. Understanding the ramifications of such a discovery, the cadets have no choice but to report to General Washington. Without ammunition or their own meager supplies, can Cadet Sergeant Jameel Mason and his friends steel Washington’s courage and set the infancy of the United States of America back on track?
Graham just finished reviewing this one. Timing!
Oh, I’m certain we have other candidates as well.
1637: The Transylvanian Decision by Eric Flint & Robert E. Waters
Time Trials by M.A. Rothman and D.J. Butler
Best Media Tie-In Novel
Oops, never mind.
DragonCon killed this category too.
Best Horror Novel
Blue Saint, by Declan Finn
This was nominated by reviewer Jim McCoy, over on his blog. He also writes for us, so I suspect he’ll be getting around to making up his review soon enough.
When his local church is destroyed by supernatural means, NYPD Lt Tommy Nolan finds himself besieged by old enemies hellbent on revenge. This time, Hell will see Nolan dead, whatever the cost, and destroy his city with him.
What will Nolan risk to stop the coming onslaught? And will it be enough?
Another good reason for this? We haven’t read any of the other candidates we found.
The Blood is the Life by David Carrico
Haunted by the Past by Simon R. Green
Red Unicorn by Weston Oche
Best Illustrative Book Cover
Yes, this is a thing now.
We don’t really have a horse in this race. So Jackson Tjota can have my vote for Titan Mage. I’ve heard her name bandied about, and the cover works.
… Let’s not discuss the genre.
…. Though if you’re wondering who did the cover for Blue Saint … cover by NR LaPoint.
David Mattingly, Salvage Right
Eric Williams, Rhymer
Dave Seeley, Chicks in Tank Tops
Tom Kidd, For Love of Magic
Kieran Yanner, The Crossing
Jeff Brown, Wraithbound
Best Comic Book
Funny thing about that.
The official publishing date of this novel is May, 2023.
Black Tide Rising: By John Ringo and Chuck Dixon.
What’s that you say? Ringo already has an award? This is true…
Chuck Dixon, however, does not.
The media calls it the Pacific Flu. The CDC calls it H7D3, and it spreads like wildfire. The virus combines the worst symptoms of Rabies and the common Flu, and is suspected to be man-made. The first reports of feral, cannibalistic “zombie-like” symptoms were met with disbelief and skeptical amusement, but nobody’s laughing now. Scientists, backed by the world’s governments and its wealthiest institutions, race against the clock to develop a cure as infections rise and cities fall.
A glimmer of hope appears as a vaccine is discovered, but its production requires harvesting the spinal tissue of the infected, a grim task that tests the limits of human morality. With no other choices apparent, time is quickly running out before hordes of infected overwhelm the last remaining bastions of civilization.
In the first days of the outbreak, a college history professor receives a cryptic warning from a trusted source. Its baffling, yet unmistakable message translates as: “PACK UP, GET OUT, AND GO NOW!”
Steve Smith and his family don’t waste any time; they leave their normal, comfortable lives behind to get ahead of the inevitable panic and survive the end of the world!
It’s Chuck Dixon and John Ringo. And I read the original novel. Chuck would have to work in order for it to be less than awesome.
You want some other candidates?
Isom by Eric D. July/Rippaverse Comics
The Siege of the Black Citadel by Chuck Dixon/Castalia House
Private American by Mike Baron & Rich Bonk/BIG Studios
Cyberfrog 2: Rekt Planet by Ethan Van Sciver/All Caps Comics
Ascendant: Star Spangled Squadron by Alexander Macris/Baen Books
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series, TV or Internet
Disney shills are probably going to push Willow. Amazon shills will push Rings of Power. I don’t care.
Is Demon Slayer still around? Is Attack on Titan still good? Is One Piece on episode two million yet? Resident Alien?
After a quick search, I have, well, Other Candidates.
Cyberpunk Edgerunners (Netflix)
House of the Dragon (HBO)
Primal (Adult Swim)
Spy x Family (Crunchyroll)
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
I can’t remember the last film I saw in theaters. Hell, I can’t remember the most recent film I saw.
Hey, maybe for a joke, we should nominate The Flash. Ha!
Or should we nominate Fast X, considering everything they do to the laws of physics?
Let’s get serious a moment. I looked up what’s eligible.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (A Caroline Furlong recommendation)
John Wick 4? (Some of their technology and secret society stuff may count as fantasy)
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Made more money than it had any right to.)
Samaritan (A superhero film with Stallone)
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (I’ve heard good things.)
Violent Night (Santa versus terrorists)
M3GAN (Again, I heard good things)
Sisu (Which may be as much SFF as John Wick)
So, it’s a list.
No, The Pope’s Exorcist is not on this list. I read the books by Gabrielle Amorth. That film… gah!
Best Digital Game
Hogwarts Legacy? That’ll piss people off.
In all honesty, I don’t know. The most recent game in my arsenal is Hitman 3, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge and Horizon, Forbidden West, and I haven’t cracked the wrapper on the last one.
Big names I’m tripping over lately are…
Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Fire Emblem Engage
Like a Dragon: Ishin! (A Yakuza spinoff, if I recall correctly)
Six Days in Fallujah
Best Tabletop Game
A friendly (mostly) card game for lovers of cats, snark, and magical fun. Based on the bestselling Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus book series.
You must collect (or steal) the 5 items necessary to build your assigned artifact, while simultaneously trying to prevent the other players from collecting theirs. The first to successfully assemble their artifact will save the magical library and gain the favor of Sir Edgar Allan Kipling, Magical Talking Cat Extraordinaire.
Designed for 2-5 players. Gameplay lasts about 15-30 minutes. For those with younger family members who want to join, the content is appropriate for all ages, but whether they are wily and sneaky enough to win is all up to them!
This game can be enjoyed on its own, as well as provide readers of the Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus books amusing and delightful insights into the series. Every card contains a Sir Kipling quote from the books, and all the artifacts and items are taken straight from the book series.
Other Candidates? Monster Hunter International the Miniatures Game by Everything Epic Games. But I know Correia doesn’t want another award … or does it go to Epic Games and not Larry? I have no idea.
And that’s it. That’s all I got.
Please remember to vote.
If you could, please share this as well.
The nominees need all the circulation they can get.
Upstream Reviews is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.