Best Editor Hugo resource

For those who haven't heard, the Hugo award for Best Editor has undergone a change.

For quite some time, the nominees for the Best Professional Editor award in any given year have generally consisted of at least three editors best known for their magazine editing, and at most two book editors. In the past decade, it's usually been four magazine editors, with David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden trading off the single book-editor spot (except for 1999, when the two of them were both on a six-nominee ballot).

In the new system, the editor award has been split into two awards: "Best Editor, Short Form" and "Best Editor, Long Form." The former covers anthologies, collections, and magazines (I would expect it to also cover chapbooks and other short material, but those aren't explicitly mentioned in the official description); the latter is for novel-length works.

(Note that the split is not 100% permanent yet; it can be repealed if there's a vote to repeal it at the 2009 or 2010 WSFS meetings.)

Also, as Cheryl noted in her 2006 WorldCon report, the field is now open to a much wider range of editors:

The wording of the Constitutional Amendment very deliberately removed the word "professional" from the category definition. That means that all of those semi-pro fiction ‘zine editors are now eligible. And because non-fiction editors have been explicitly included I guess that non-fiction magazine editors are eligible for the Short Form award too[....]

One concern that various people raised during discussion of this change (I gather) is that the Hugo-nominating and -voting public often doesn't know who edited a given book. Fortunately, there's now a Science Fiction and Fantasy Editor wiki that provides a list of editors and basic information about them, including info on what they've edited lately.

A very useful resource--but like most wikis, it's a work in progress. I know several people who aren't listed there. Remember: it's not just for editors of "professional" publications any more. If you've edited anything in sf in the past year, and you've edited at least four works total, then go add yourself to the list! (My reading of the official description in the WSFS Constitution, new sections 3.3.8 and 3.3.9, is that if you've edited, say, four issues of an annual magazine, and one of those came out in 2006, then you're eligible for the 2007 Short Form award.)

There are some instructions on the wiki main page. Basically, the way it works is that you sign in (using the wiki password given on the main page), and you go to the page containing the list of editors, and you click "Edit page." Then you copy the wiki code for the entry template at the top of the page, and you paste that in the right alphabetical place for your entry, and then you fill in your details.

You can also list other eligible editors; editors don't have to list themselves.

. . . Since someone is bound to ask, and/or to leap to conclusions about the answer: Susan is listed there and Karen and I and the other SH editors are not, because if you're going to nominate an editor from SH, we'd rather you nominate Susan as editor-in-chief. The Hugos aren't really set up to allow for nomination of a group of editors, and we SH fiction editors make decisions collectively (and our other departments make decisions in their own ways); and, of course, the public has no way of knowing which stories were edited by which editor.

(This is a tricky issue that I'm oversimplifying here. What is the award really intended to reward? The public has no way of knowing how much editing was done on any given work from any publisher, nor how good a job the editor did with that editing; so presumably the award is primarily for selecting good work rather than for doing a good job of editing that work. But then is the focus really on the editor per se, or is it on the publication that they edited? Thorny questions. In the end, it'll probably come down to what Cheryl refers to as "Vox populi, vox dei"--that is, if enough nominators nominate a given person in a given category, then they'll probably appear on the ballot. The question of who to nominate from SH if you are inclined to nominate one of our editors is probably fairly irrelevant anyway, since I don't think any of us have ever come anywhere close to making the ballot.)

(I suppose I have to make explicit here that the above is not intended in any way to request that people nominate any SH editor. It's just intended as a suggestion for people who already want to nominate the editors of SH but aren't sure how to nominate a group of editors.)

I just took a look at the full Hugo nominees list from 2006 to see what the ballot might have looked like if the split had already gone into effect, assuming that the split wouldn't have resulted in people receiving different numbers of nominations. The Short Form ballot might've looked like this:

  • Ellen Datlow (SCI FICTION and anthologies)
  • Gordon Van Gelder (F&SF)
  • Stanley Schmidt (Analog)
  • Sheila Williams (Asimov's)
  • Gardner Dozois (Asimov's and anthologies)

(Shawna McCarthy would've been next on the list, but wouldn't have made the ballot.)

And the Long Form ballot might've looked like this:

  • David G. Hartwell (Tor Books and anthologies)
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor Books)
  • Ellen Asher (SF Book Club)
  • Lou Anders (Pyr and anthologies)
  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden (Tor Books)

Except: Note that Hartwell edited two Year's Bests in 2005 as well as editing novels. So in fact he could've been nominated in both categories. (Note that in the case of the Year's Bests, he was co-editor with Kathryn Cramer, so if he does appear on a Short Form ballot, that's more or less equivalent to what I was talking about above re Susan as representative editor for SH.) Lou Anders also edited anthologies in 2005, but he wouldn't have made the short-form ballot.

But of course the ballots might have looked rather different from the above if the split had already gone into effect. The above imaginary ballots are just a thought experiment: samples of the people that might show up on the split ballots.

Side note: Cheryl also mentioned that the only place in the WSFS Constitution where the term "professional" was defined was in the Best Pro Editor description. Thus, WSFS appears to have given up on providing criteria for professionalism; in the few remaining categories that make a distinction between "pro" and anything else, it's up to the nominators (even more than it used to be) to determine who counts as pro and who doesn't.

One Response to “Best Editor Hugo resource”

  1. Kevin Standlee

    As far as I can see, you have it exactly right. And yes, WSFS has just about given up trying to define “professional” in any objective manner. Any theoretically objective criteria is capable of being “gamed” in some way, and the old 10,000-copy print-run rule was getting increasingly unworkable. Therefore, we’re leaving it up to the voters (for the most part) to decide as a matter of fact (as opposed to matters of law, like word count, which are still in the administrator’s hands) whether someone is professional or not.


Join the Conversation