Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hugo Reading - Editor, Short Form

The editor categories are going to be incredibly difficult to judge. A good editor fades into the background. If the editing is excellent, the reader will hardly be aware of it. If the editing is bad, however, it's painfully obvious.

As a professional writer, although not of fiction, I have learned a lot from my editor. He's grumpy and gruff and really good at what he does. My first six months on the job I simply made the changes he suggested, and learned from each one. By the end of the first year I was making my own changes based on what he'd found. Sometimes things that were perfectly clear to me made no sense to him. Seeing my work through another person's eyes was invaluable. The experience has been constantly educational and often embarassing. However, I would be a far poorer writer without his editing. My blog is not edited, and sometimes the most horrible mistakes get through.

So I feel slightly qualified to judge editing. The problem will be whether or not the nominees have given me enough information to judge by. The absolute ideal, and absolute most unlikely, would be to get a story in rough and final forms. The next best would be a couple of stories or a single long work to read. The least best is just a list of stories to read, Which I can hopefully find and then make some judgements on the quality of the editing. For short form, this should not be too difficult. So... into the fray I go.

  • Vox Day
    This is the person who approved those awful Wright stories. That alone, ignoring everything else I know about him, is enough to keep him off my ballot. Add in the other works he claims to have edited from "Riding the Red Horse" and this guy is what I would call a useless editor. Every one of those pieces needed a lot of work to make them good enough for publication, much less good enough to be considered for an award.
  • Jennifer Brozek
    There's an entire collection edited by this nominee in the Hugo Packet. Even more amusing, she lives in a town I lived in 10 years. Hopefully that tidbit won't influence me too much. The theme of the stories in the anthology are robots, and I actually like the majority of them. As with any anthology, there's a couple that don't ring with me, but mostly it's an excellent collection with some interesting ideas explored. I didn't see any evidence of poor editing, most of the works were tightly written and ended at the right moment. Brozek will be high on my ballot.
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt
    There's an anthology in the packet, but it's a co-editing job with Brozek. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to figure out which editor did the bulk of the work on any given story. I definitely would have preferred something he claimed sole editorship on, if he had any such works in 2014. Still, this is what he gave me, this is what I'm going to go by. The stories are all war stories, and many of them are not very interesting to me. In fact, I had to struggle to get through a lot of them. They didn't seem as tight as the stories in Brozek's solo effort, with a few going on too long and many rambling a little in the middle. Very few of them touched me or made me say, "wow" as I finished them. I don't know if that's a problem with Schmidt's editing, a symptom that Brozek isn't as great when working on a different theme, or just me not being fond of the subject matter. Whatever it is, Schmidt's further down on the ballot than Brozek.
  • Mike Resnick
    This is a name that is very familiar to me from dozens of anthologies I've read and enjoyed throughout the years. I'm delighted to read more. The Hugo Packet had a list issues of Galaxy's Edge from 2014, so I searched a bit and found a "Best of Galaxy's Edge 2013-14" collection that contains many of the stories. I read the 15 or so stories that were in the book and on his list, and they are good. Admittedly, there were a couple of stories that could have used another once over, but it was a fun selection. It was nice to not have a theme, as well. In short, I'm pleased with the offerings here.
I'm going to have to give Brozek a slight edge here. While I didn't love every story, all of them seemed very solidly constructed and clean. Resnick gets the second spot. The stories were uniformly fun and interesting, but I felt some of them needed one last edit. Schmidt will get the third spot. Nothing in that collection jumped out and really stunned me. They weren't bad, but some of them definitely could have been better. VD isn't on my ballot, but "No Award" will be. I'm not entirely sure where I'll rank "No Award" in relation to the other entries, but I certainly believe both Brozek and Resnick deserve honors for their work.

There was a fifth nominee, Edmund R. Schubert, but he withdrew from consideration due to the slates. I respect him for that, and hope he gets a serious look from nominators in a year when no idiots are running slates.