Friday, June 16, 2017

A Hugo Review: Best Editor, long form and short form

As a writer, I know the impact a good editor can have on your work. My first proper editor was a teacher in middle school, who was amazingly good at making small suggestions that brought out the finest aspects of my work. I had another great editor in high school, who challenged me to write differently and think in different ways - again, as a teacher, but also as an editor. Most recently, I had a fantastic editor at the newspaper who questioned my word choices, fixed up my typos and made every story I wrote better. When he left the paper, I had a crappy editor who rewrote my stories without my permission, changing the meaning of them. Since he was supported by the new publisher (who had driven the previous editor into retirement), I didn't last long there.


When all is said and done, the importance of a great editor cannot be understated. But, in my experience, it's REALLY hard to tell the difference between a fantastic author working with a crappy editor and a mediocre author working with a fantastic editor. Unless you are there, in the trenches, doing the writing yourself, it's difficult to see the impact an editor has. Which makes these the absolute most difficult categories to judge of all the Hugo categories. For me, at least.

To judge this category, I'm looking at the works in the packet - how many works are there, how are they presented as credits. If selections have been provided, I will skim through them. I wish I had time to read everything, but there is just too much of it! I'm also looking at the number of writers the editors have worked with, and if those writers are familiar to me at all. I don't consider this adequate, really. I almost feel like a fraud voting in the category, but I also very much want to have a complete ballot.

So here goes...

Best Editor – Short Form

  • John Joseph Adams - A couple of anthologies and more than 20 issues of short fiction magazines. The packet includes a TON of stories from Lightspeed magazine. Lots of recognizable names in the list, and lots of different writers along with many repeats, which speaks well for ability to pick talent and keep it. Certainly a top contender.
  • Neil Clarke - An anthology and more than 20 magazine issues of short fiction. The packet includes a list of all works edited, a list of which works are award nominated and which appeared in the "Year's Best" anthologies. It also includes a list of works appearing on the Locus Recommended Reading list, and an issue of Clarksworld Magazine in full. Lots of names I recognize on the list, including a few of my favorites. Lost of different writers and many repeats. I appreciated the inclusion of a list of works that were picked out as outstanding, and felt the presentation of a complete issue of the magazine gave me a better sense of how it works as a whole, and included an editorial by Clarke. Another top contender.
  • Ellen Datlow - Several anthologies and a lot of short fiction at The packet includes 11 separate works from, each in their own files (mobi, epub, pdf). Two of the anthologies appear to be reprints, and I'm not sure how to judge those in this category, so I'll assume that's fine and include them. I'm slightly less impressed by the names on this list, but only slightly - there are some great writers in here.
  • Jonathan Strahan - Several anthologies and short fiction from The packet includes three stories, one of the anthologies and an editorial from Locus magazine. Lots of great names on the list, and the editorial is well-written and gives a nice review of fiction that came out in 2015. The choice to include the editorial gives a voice to this finalist, which I appreciate.
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas - Six issues of Uncanny Magazine. As a subscriber, I enjoy Uncanny and am familiar with many of these works already. The selections in the packet include an editorial about the magazine along with a representative sample of the best works in the last year. This is probably my top choice due solely to familiarity.
  • Sheila Williams - Ten issues of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Lots of great names of the field are included. The selection is the October-November issue of the magazine, which has a "slightly spooky" slant and includes a descriptive editorial by Williams.
Conclusion: Every single one of these editors deserves accolades, based solely on the packet. Every single one of them could win and I wouldn't be at all upset. But I'm going to rank them based on how much I, personally, enjoyed their packets. At the top of the ballot is Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, then I'm going to have to put Neil Clarke next. Sheila Williams gets the third spot and Jonathan Strahan will take the fourth. John Joseph Adams and Ellen Datlow will be the final two. But they ALL deserve an award, so it's difficult to complain.

Best Editor – Long Form
  • Sheila E. Gilbert - A good selection of works and authors in this credit list. Gilbert also included a selections file with a very useful introduction and chapters from many of the works. I still think that's a brilliant way to introduce Hugo voters to works they might not have otherwise read. In short, this was the perfect packet for an editor.
  • Liz Gorinsky - Not as nice a packet... and the list includes at least one work I really didn't like. Still, a good selection of authors. There's a link to Gorinsky's editorial bio, which provides more information. No samples.
  • Devi Pillai - A list of five books, no samples. The fact that The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin is one of the five works doesn't quite offset the lack of any further information, for me.
  • Miriam Weinberg - A list of seven books, no samples. I'm not really impressed, sorry.
  • Navah Wolfe - A list of seven books, but this one has some samples. No explanation or editorial, but at least there's something there.
Conclusion: Based on the packet along, Gilbert is the clear winner. She not only gave voters enough information to judge her by, she provided a little more than strictly necessary. Wolfe and Gorinsky come in second, with both of them providing enough information to get a feel for the editor's work without having to go hunt down books. Wolfe provided actual samples, while Gorinsky gave more direct information. Pillai will be next on my ballot due to her editing Jemisin, while Weinberg will take up the rear. The final slot will go to "No Award". I will not be disappointed if any of these five win, although I have preferences based on what they provided in the packet.