Hugo Choices 7: Best Editor – Long Form aka Hell’s Own Category

Previously on Hugo Choices:

Current Hugo State of Play

Hugo Choices 1: Best Novel

Hugo Choices 2: Best Related Work – The Story of Moira Greyland

Hugo Choices 3: Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Hugo Choices 4: Best Short Story

Hugo Choices 5: Best Fanzine

Hugo Choices 6: Best Fan Writer

Best Editor – Long Form

Oh, how much do I hate this category? Let me count the ways:

  1. There is no way of independently finding out who edited what so you are wholly reliant on the Hugo packet to even find out what these editors edited.
  2. Even then you haven’t necessarily read any of the works that the editors list, (assuming that they listed anything).
  3. Even if you HAVE read a work that the editor said they edited, you still have no idea what contribution they made.
  4. Even if you have somehow some way identified the contribution one editor has made there is no obvious way of evaluating that compared with the other finalists (even assuming that you’ve overcome issues 2 & 3 for at least one other finalist)

Please, may I have another category as this one seems to be broken…

This is a silly and divisive category. It positions the Hugo Awards as an industry award, which they aren’t. While the Puppy kerfuffle has played out in many arenas it is notable how much of the precursors to the kerfuffle surround this category (in particular the attempt to lobby for Jim Baen to win the Hugo for this category posthumously) and how much the Sad Puppies focused on this category in the aftermath of the actual 2015 Hugo voting (specifically Toni Weisskopf losing to No Award).

So we have one easy decision in this category: Vox Day has convincingly provided sufficient evidence not to rank him anywhere on the ballot. One way or another I’ve ended up reading more Castalia House output than seems plausible and all other objections aside (which are legion) it is safe to say that the editing is notably not good or at times laughably bad. This itself provides some hope for the category: bad or neglectful editing is at least noticeable. Good editing, on the other hand, is often invisible.

In terms of useful contribution to the Hugo packet to help voters make their decisions, the best is Shelia Gilbert (DAW) followed by Liz Gorinzky (Tor) and Jim Minz (Baen). Toni Weisskopf does not have a packet contribution. Having said that even Gilbert’s contribution is not that useful and Gorinzky’s has a useful link to her bio that gives some testimonials.

In terms of books I’ve read that were edited by the finalist from 2015…the only one seems to be The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin (edited by Gorinzky). I’m sure that was a daunting task as it was a complex book translated from Chinese but it was also a flawed book. Maybe it needed more editing or less or maybe Gorinzky did a perfect job with an imperfect book??? – arrrggggghhhhh. Stupid, stupid category.

Irony of ironies I’ve spent more time looking at the editing output of Vox Day than the other candidates – so the only one I genuinely feel equipped to critique is the one who I wouldn’t vote for anyway.

So how else to vote? Others (was it George RR Martin? Can’t recall…) have suggested that this category is a Best Publisher category. Ah, yeah, but. I’ve been impressed by Tor’s *shorter* form output via Tor.com but aside from The Dark Forest, the standout works of 2015 aren’t from Tor. Best Publisher looks more like Orbit than DAW, Tor or Baen.

So still stuck how to vote. I could just leave it blank but… I do have at least one solid and highly defensible judgement in this criteria: No Award deserves to beat Vox Day. So No Award gets onto the ballot. That means I can’t really leave the rest of the ballot blank – I haven’t judged the other editors and found them lacking in award worthiness but instead find myself in a position of agnostic disinterest. If it weren’t for Mr Day then I could leave the ballot blank…

I’m tempted to put Toni Weisskopf number 1 just in the hope that stops all the lingering moaning from the Sad Puppy side of things. This is a poor basis for voting but perhaps marginally better than no basis at all.

So interim results:
1,2,3,4: The people above
5: No Award
Second 5: Vox Day

Hopefully, I can submit my ballot like this:

BELF

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16 comments

  1. greghullender

    I think the simpler approach is to vote No Award #1 and leave the rest blank. That’s the traditional way to signal that you think a category shouldn’t exist.

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  2. Bartimaeus

    I agree, this is impossible to judge. I like Kevin Standlee’s proposal to replace it with Best Publisher. (This might intensify the “Tor vs Baen” arguments, and there’s also the UK/US/imprints thing to be figured out, but it’s much better than what we have now). GRRM said he loved it so that bodes well.

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      • Andrew M

        I’m puzzled by the idea that Best Publisher would be better. I can see that it might be easier to nominate for Best Publisher, since at that stage you just have to name the publishers of books you liked, and it’s easier to find who the publisher is than who the editor is. But at the voting stage, when you are actually trying to decide who is the best, you ought to take account of everything they have produced, and that is much harder to do for a whole publisher than for a single editor.

        In any case, if the Locus awards are anything to go by, the award would always go to the same publisher, which would be unhelpful, even if just.

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    • po8crg

      I’ve be inclined to go for best editor or editing team (ie best imprint), and award primarily on their work as purchasing editors, not their production pipeline work.

      That is, “basing solely on the novels or other long-form fictional works first published by this imprint or solo editor this year, who published the best work?”. Sure, that means you can win by signing a great author ten years ago, but it’s something that’s much easier to determine from the outside – and it parallels the short-form editor, which is basicaly “best magazine or anthology”.

      … and we should award the novel Hugo to both author and editor.

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  3. Andrew M

    Well, I’m not sure we need to create anything else specifically to replace this one. There are two committees working on plans for new Hugos or not-Hugos right now, and the proposal for a game Hugo is unlikely to go away. The trend in number of Hugos is always up rather than down.

    What I think would really be good is an award for book editors, not given by the Hugo voters, but by a jury of professionals or people close to the industry – but dropping the Hugo need not depend on that.

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