Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hugo Thoughts: Best Editors

And now, suddenly, you'll see me being vastly less sarcastic and dismissive, since these two categories are filled with people I know and respect. Let's see if I can manage to be interesting even under those handicaps....

Best Editor, Short Form

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Gordon Van Gelder
  • Sheila Williams

John Joseph Adams edits the magazines Fantasy and Lightspeed. Also, during 2010, the anthologies The Living Dead 2 and The Way of the Wizard, both edited solo by Adams, were published. I haven't read any of that, though I do have a copy of Way of the Wizard that came with the Hugo Voter's Packet. He's the young up-and-comer in this crowd, though he's been a serious SF editor for about a decade now.

Stanley Schmidt has been editing Analog magazine -- the current incarnation of John W. Campbell's original towering Astounding -- since 1978, which I think makes him the SF editor who's spent the longest time in the same job. (He still has a couple of years to beat Campbell's 1937-1971 record, but he's getting close at this point.) This is his thirty-second consecutive nomination, in this category or its predecessor, "Professional Editor," which beats Susan Lucci handily -- and which implies, as we all suspect, that Analog has a hard core of supporters that love the kind of stories that it does, but that group has never been big enough to put Schmidt over the top. I'm not a particular fan of the standard Analog story, but you have to admire what Schmidt has done there.

Jonathan Strahan is an anthologist -- 2010 saw the books Engineering Infinity, The New Space Opera 2 (with Gardner Dozois), Wings of Fire (with Marianne S. Jablon), Swords & Dark Magic (with Lou Anders, which I reviewed), The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 4, and, most importantly from my point of view, Godlike Machines (which I commissioned from him, way back when I was still at the SFBC and which sadly seemed to have a long and rocky road to publication once I was gone). I tend to read books more than magazines, so I'm more familiar with Strahan's editing than the others on this list.

Gordon Van Gelder has been editing The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction since 1996, and also publishing it since 2000. He's been nominated thirteen times in this category or its predecessor, and won it in 2007 and 2008. As far as I can tell, no books he edited came out in 2010, though he's had a number of anthologies as well, most recently Welcome to the Greenhouse earlier this year. And, as I've said a couple of times, I'm pretty out of touch with SF magazines these days.

Sheila Williams has been working at Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine since 1982, and became the editor there in 2004. She's been nominated in this category for the past six years, and hasn't won yet. Her magazine published one novella nominee, three novelette nominees, and one short story nominee -- vastly more than any other single outlet (Subterranean had two and so did Analog; no other outlet had more than one nominee). I've said for several years that, given that nominations and awards have tended to go to Asimov's more than other outlets, Hugo voters do logically think Williams is the best editor, but they haven't quite figured out that.

Best Editor, Long Form

  • Lou Anders
  • Ginjer Buchanan
  • Moshe Feder
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Nick Mamatas
  • Beth Meacham
  • Juliet Ulman
Lou Anders is the founding editor and editorial director of Prometheus Books' Pyr imprint, which began in March of 2005. In 2010, Pyr published thirty books, including entire trilogies by James Barclay and Mark Chadbourn, plus the first four books in Adrian Tchaikovsky's epic fantasy series. He edited the Hugo-nominated Dervish House by Ian McDonald, and books by Paul McAuley, Kay Kenyon, George Mann, Mark Hodder, Jon Sprunk, Matthew Sturges, Tom Lloyd, James Enge, and Jasper Kent. And he edited, as previously mentioned, the anthology Swords & Dark Magic with Strahan. Frankly, I'm surprised the man has time to sleep, even if a fair number of those books were originally published in the UK a few years ago. (Because trolling other countries' backlists for treasure isn't easy, either.) He's been nominated in this category five times -- its entire lifespan to date -- and hasn't won yet.

Ginjer Buchanan, long before my time there, worked for the Science Fiction Book Club, which would make me favorably disposed towards her even if there weren't other reasons.  (And there are: she's a very smart editor and a great person to talk to at conventions.) Since 1984, she's edited for Ace, and is currently their Senior Executive Editor. In 2010, she edited twenty-three books, including books by fan-favorites Allen Steele, Robert J. Sawyer, Charlaine Harris, Stephen Baxter, S.M. Stirling, Charles Stross, Sharon Shinn, and Jack McDevitt. She's also been nominated in this category the maximum five times without winning.

Moshe Feder is also a SFBC veteran, and I worked with him for several years at the book clubs in the '90s, when he had moved up to edit the Military Book Club. (He had my favorite piece of office decoration ever -- a giant defused WWII-era shell.) Since then, he became an editor at Tor Books in 2000, where he discovered Brandon Sanderson, among others. He only had four books out in 2010, but two of them were from Sanderson and the other two were from Campbell-nominated Dan Wells, so his batting average is immense. This is his first nomination.

Liz Gorinsky also edits for Tor, where she's spent her entire publishing career (since 2003). In 2010, she edited what I think are eight originals and three reprints, including Cherie Priest's Fathom and Mary Robinette Kowal's Shades of Milk and Honey (which I reviewed). She also edits George Mann, A.J. Hartley, Dave Duncan, and Pamela Sargent. This is her second consecutive nomination in this category.

Nick Mamatas is notable enough even for Wikipedia, as an award-winning writer of novels and short stories (including Move Under Ground, which I reviewed) and as the founding editor of Viz's Haikasoru line of translated SF, fantasy and horror from Japan since 2008. Haikasoru published ten books in 2010, including Rocket Girls by Housuke Nojiri and The Next Continent by Issui Ogawa. This is his first nomination.

Beth Meacham has been working in book editing since 1981, and at Tor since 1984. She edited seven books in 2010, including two Xanth novels by Piers Anthony, for which she certainly deserves some kind of award. Other authors include Ken Scholes, Jay Lake, Cecilia Holland, and Trish J. MacGregor. This is her fifth Hugo nomination -- she's been in this category the last two years and the old catch-all "Professional Editor" twice in the early '90s.

And Juliet Ullman is the most interesting case in this category, since she's a freelance editor. (She did spend more than a decade at Bantam, where she edited some of the best-reviewed books in the business. ) In 2010, she edited four books, including Jon Armstrong's Yarn and The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente.

This turned out pretty dry, I'm afraid; I may be entertaining primarily when I dislike things, and I like all of these people and their work. But, if this helps anyone fill out their ballot -- and, especially, to help voters focus on the actual works from the year 2010, as we're all supposed to -- then it'll be worth it.

I will note that the editors of four of the five novel nominees weren't nominated for editing award-quality work -- I believe that would be Anne Groell for the Willis books, Toni Weisskopf for Cryoburn, Devi Pillai for Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and DongWon Song for Feed.  It's less obvious on the short fiction side, where only a few outlets (Subterranean, Clarkesworld,, and the anthology Stories edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio) had nominated stories without editor nominations. I may be overly reductionist, but I'd think that "best editor" would be highly congruent with "editor of the best stories."

1 comment:

GordonVG said...

You know your way around the sport of baseball, don't you, Andy?

I've long thought that suggesting the best editor award should go to the editor with the most nominated stories is like saying baseball's MVP Award should go to the batter who hits the most home runs.

If you'll be at Readercon, perhaps we can continue this discussion there. Otherwise, I probably won't be able to reply until next week.

You're correct that I published no books in 2010.

Thanks for these Hugo posts, by the way. I've enjoyed them thus far---in particular, I appreciate your candor about the fiction.

---Gordon V.G.

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