Hugo Category Highlights: Best Editor (Short Form) and Best Editor (Long Form)

Best Editor (Long Form): This is the first of the person categories, so the Award is given for the work that person has done in the year of eligibility. To be eligible the person must have edited at least 4 novel-length (i.e. 40,000 words or more) books devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy in the year of eligibility that are not anthologies or collections.

Best Editor (Short Form): To be eligible the person must have edited at least four anthologies, collections or magazine issues devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy, at least one of which must have been published in the year of eligibility.

Once again, the definitions are from the Hugo Awards categories page. The awards themselves aren’t specifically for editors of professional work as defined by the Hugo Rules, but they are, by their nature, most likely to go to someone for professional work.

Of course, both editor categories have historically tended to be rather a closed pool, mostly because there really aren’t that many editors who meet the criteria and whose achievements are sufficiently widely known that they’re likely to attract nominations.

So. Who is eligible? The usual suspects, of course. In Long Form that would include the major editors at the big 5, Baen, and the medium to small houses – although the small house editors might not be eligible if they didn’t edit at least 4 books in 2015 (good luck figuring out who edited which novel without actually owning it, and not necessarily even then). This is one of the reasons I personally consider the Long Form award in particular more of a “participation prize” – it tends to be nominated for and awarded more in recognition of contributions to the field overall. More on that topic later.

For the Short Form, people whose work can be judged are a bit easier to find: the editor of an anthology is listed as such, as are the editors for most magazines (print or electronic). It’s also easier to judge their work: does the collection, anthology, or magazine flow as a unit or does it feel like a disparate mix of unrelated things? Have they sourced a variety of voices or does everything have a similar feel to it? As for who is eligible, this is another award where the same names keep showing up year after year, partly because there are a handful of editors in the field who utterly dominate, and partly because there aren’t that many short work markets, therefore not too many editors who are eligible.

Both these categories have seen controversy since their introduction: first the lobbying to split Best Editor – the whispers say this was so that a specific individual could receive an award instead of always playing second fiddle to a very prominent (and very skilled) magazine editor, the apparent hand-off of both through much of their history between an extremely small number of people – so much so that it appears a group of Tor editors considered the Long Form award to be their property (just look at the list of winners…). Then, of course, we have last year’s No Awards overshadowing the achievements of all the editors nominated in both categories.

Frankly, without knowing who edited a novel, and without any way to tell how much the editor improved the novel (there are a number of Baen fans who do have this information for their favored Baen authors, because they are crazy-wonderful fans and buy e-ARCs, ebooks, and hard-copy. They would be able to see the differences the editor’s work made, but only for the books they personally own in multiple versions), the Long Form award becomes more of a popularity contest or participation prize. Still, if that’s what most of the people involved in the Hugo Awards want, so be it.

Don’t forget to add your recommendations for Best Editor – Short Form and Best Editor – Long Form, both for this year’s awards and for the Retros. Please remember to note the Retro recommendations so they can be easily split off when we collate them. As always, I’m not censoring any recommendations (or anything else) – if you get caught up in moderation hell, I’ll find you within a day or so and get you out.

31 thoughts on “Hugo Category Highlights: Best Editor (Short Form) and Best Editor (Long Form)

    1. Hmmm, Maybe, maybe not. This year will be the last year David Hartwell will be eligible. (He edited L.E. Modesitt & John C. Wright, among others.) The industry lost a good man, and a good editor, yesterday.

      Granted, he’s won three, but these things do happen in tribute.

  1. Note: According to the Hugo rules, fans who did not participate last year will need to purchase their membership before January 31 if they want to be able to nominate this year.

    “During the nomination period ballots may be cast by members of the current and following years’ Worldcons (as of January 31) and members from the previous year’s Worldcon.”

    1. Thanks for the update, Brian! I’m only one Sad Puppy, and I can’t keep my eye on everything.

  2. I would note that (at least in the books that I buy), the author frequently “reveals” their actual editor in the acknowledgements. Probably not available everywhere, but some help at least.

    1. And, in some cases, the editor of a book is listed on the copyright page by the publisher. Not all houses do that, and not all editors at some of the houses that do that get listed — but it is another source of the information.

      1. True – but neither is helpful if the book you really want to nominate someone for editing doesn’t give you either!

        I guess that’s why the editor award tends to be more of an “influence on the field” award.

  3. I’d nominate Vox Day for his long form work on John Wright’s Somewhither, except that I do not gather that Castalia has done four long works this past year.

    I’ve read enough Baen books that came out last year to suspect that I’ve seen at least four that Toni has done. Probably four that Tony has done.

    1. You need to buy your membership this week or else you will miss the cutoff to be eligible to nominate. The nomination period will open any day now, as soon as the con announces it. You will have a couple months before it closes.

      1. Buy a membership in the case you didn’t participate last time, that is. Sasquan members are already eligible to nominate this year without buying a new membership.

        1. Ah, thanks! I’ve got last year’s membership still; so I’ll nominate. I may not have the finances to buy a membership to vote.

          I actually think what I got this time was worth not getting the ability to vote: I got the 14/15 Artist Proof’s Print of Alex Ross’ The Final Frontier which is signed by the artist AND William Shatner. (Link goes to my blogpost about it.)

          There was more here but I felt that it’s a rant worthy of it’s own blogpost.

        2. In addition, members of the Helsinki Worldcon (in 2017) as of the Jan 31 cutoff are also eligible to nominate (but not vote). Final award voting is limited to current year members, but there is no cutoff as to when you join, except for the close of the voting period.

          We also know a bit more about the schedule, since there’s a paper ballot in MAC2’s Progress Report 2 (actually, two — one for the current year awards, and one for the Retros). Technically, voting is open now, if you want to vote on paper. The electronic balloting will open shortly (and the vast majority of the ballots are electronic, with about 1% cast on paper). And, per the instructions on the ballot, all ballots must be received prior to March 31 2016, 11:59 PM PDT.

          1. Thanks for the update! There are times when it seems like this is Top Secret Information (and others when I get eaten by my day job and don’t check the sites for updates. The life of a software tester)

  4. Vox may be eligible for long form. Somewither, Between Light and Shadow, Back from the Dead book 1, Victoria, and SJWs Always Lie should all fall under qualifying works according to Amazon publication dates. That said, he would likely be disqualified by committee. Hyperspace Demons should qualify him for short form.

    Mr. Pournelle qualifies for short form via There Will be War vol X.

    1. You need four for short form, too, Alfred. So definitely not Dr. Pournelle (dang it).

      1. This brings up another question. The Hugo rules, so far as I can see, don’t prevent you from taking past work into account when evaluating an award for a person (as opposed to a specific work), and in the case of Best Editor Short Form, seem to me to suggest doing it (Pournelle for example qualifies on the basis of having at least three anthologies published in earlier years).

        1. It’s a bit more complicated.

          (Note — all references I make to the Constitution by section number refer to the current Constitution, which is online at )

          The first question which needs to be answered for a Editor-Short nominee is whether the person is eligible. For that, the requirement is set out in:

          3.3.9: Best Editor Short Form. The editor of at least four (4) anthologies,
          collections or magazine issues (or their equivalent in other media) primarily devoted to science fiction and / or fantasy, at least one of which was published in the previous calendar year.

          So to determine if, for example, Dr. Pournelle is eligible, the administrators will check if he edited at least four anthologies, ever, of which one was first published in 2015. Since I’m not the Hugo Administrator, I’m not going to say what the ruling will be (should he get enough nominations to make a ruling necessary), although, since it’s a straightforward question of fact, it’s easy to check, and everyone will come up with the same answer.

          The next question, which everybody will have an opinion on (and the Administrators won’t care about, since that’s not the fact-based questions that administrators answer) is whether the person deserves nomination. And, for that, you need to look for guidance elsewhere in the Constitution, specifically:

          3.2.1: Unless otherwise specified, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.

          So that only work that the person edited in 2015 should be used in determining the merits of the person’s nomination, and not work done in prior (or subsequent) years. But, unlike things like 3.3.9, which is a fact question that’s easy to answer, a person’s ability to keep 3.2.1 in mind when nominating is impossible to check. I certainly know it’s hard for me to nominate in some of the categories, for exactly that reason.

          I realize it’s a bit of a tangle; I hope this clarifies how the pieces of the Constitution fit together.

          1. I really appreciate your efforts to clarify the rules. I know I find them horribly confusing at times, and I can’t be the only one.

            Knowing some of the reasons behind those rules also helps.

            1. I wish they were less confusing, since that confusion serves only to make them less accessible, which is a major failure. The problem is that we can either add a lot more words, which will make them unreadably long, in the hopes of covering all of the edge cases, or keep them short and hope that word of mouth and past practice will be a sufficient guideline. And, with a large number of people new to the process getting involved, it makes it much harder to depend on that working — it becomes a barrier to entry, instead, and that’s a real problem.

              So that means that people like me need to act as open resources for the history and reasoning behind the rules (although I note that these interpretations are unofficial, with official ones coming from the Business Meeting Presiding Officer, or the Hugo Administrator). It helps to have heard and participated in the debates on their adoption, and, failing that, read the minutes from when the section was adopted.

              We’ve also got most of the minutes online, which can be used to help look up the discussion about the adoption of a particular section. So that, for example, in order to figure out what was discussed during the Best Editor split, you start with figuring out when it was done. Since Best Editor first showed up as two categories with the 2007 Hugo Awards, then (since Constitutional amendments currently take two years of being voted on) you can look at the minutes of the 2005 and 2006 Business Meetings for the debate on the split And, also unfortunately, the quality of the minutes varies significantly, and, in some cases, refers to things printed in the program books (which aren’t online), or in handouts at the meeting. Recent ones are much better — the secretary for the last few years has been wonderful.

              And, unfortunately, the volunteer who was archiving old minutes has been busy with real life considerations for the last few years, so the main archive site stops with 2012. Fortunately, Worldcons since then mostly still have their web sites online, and the minutes from the prior year are usually there.

          2. If I am reading that correctly, Dr. Pournelle should be eligible for nomination if he has at least had been editor for a minimum of 4 anthologies/magazines,etc that focus on SFF, at the one qualified for nomination is one done in the previous year (2015 in this case.)

            There Will Be War, I think is edited by Dr. Pournelle, right? (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong at any part of this comment, thanks =D ) I think there was one released last year, so if he was the editor for that, he should be eligible for that volume.

          3. Ben, thank you for replying. This was bugging me. I had looked recently at the historical criteria for eligibility in documents archived here:


            Before 1998, for an award for a work of genre literature, the specific criteria for each category included whether or not the work appeared for the first time in the previous calendar year. From the 1996 Constitution:

            2.2.1: Best Novel. A science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year…

            For awards given to a person (not a work), the person was simply required to have been an active editor, artist or fan writer during the previous calendar year. Nowhere did the Constitution say that Worldcon members must evaluate that person’s merit solely on the basis of things edited (illustrated, written) during the previous year. From 1996:

            2.2.7: Best Professional Editor. The editor of any professional publication devoted primarily to science fiction or fantasy during the previous calendar year…

            2.2.11: Best Fan Writer. Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year…

            And so on.

            Say Fan X wrote the critically acclaimed fanzine War Beaver Apocalypse up until 1994. In 1995, he published a single article, in praise of the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie “Time Cop”, in a spring issue of File 770. In 1996, Worldcon members gave him a Hugo for Best Fan Writer anyway. He was not chosen on the strength of his thoughts on “Time Cop” alone. I can’t see how that’s unreasonable.

            The Constitution was revised in 1997-98, after a proposal titled “Polishing the Hugos” which seems intended to streamline the eligibility criteria. Section 3.2.1 appeared:

            3.2.1: Unless otherwise specified, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.

            At the same time, specific reference to “the previous year” for the novel, novella, novelette, and short story categories was dropped. For example:

            3.3.1: Best Novel. A science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.

            That seems clear. The usage of “work” is similar to that of a 1997-98 amendment changing Best Related Book to Best Related Work – a literary or creative work. (The 1997 business meeting minutes noted that the amendment did not specify exactly how “a work” will be defined.)

            However, the existing temporal criteria for awards given to people were unchanged. 

            [Later, Best Editor was divided into long and short.]

            And the business meeting minutes suggest there was some concern over possible problems in interpretation of the revised text.

            If Fan X re-emerged in 1996-97 with the stunningly popular zine Filk the Future, yet his major piece of fan writing in 1998 was a review of “Armageddon”, wouldhe fans of 1999 suddenly be duty bound to think only of his love for Michael Bay and nothing else? How does that make sense?

            Editors, artists and fan writers are people, not “work in the field of science fiction or fantasy” appearing in the previous year. If the literary work they edited is meant, must all reprints be excluded from consideration? That’s silly. And their work in the SFF field was no doubt appearing long before the previous calendar year.

            I think it is particularly unappealing to impose such a reading of a “previous year” restriction on the Best Editor awards. It is not an award for editing a single book. It is not Best Copy Editor. A great editor – say, David Hartwell – excels at ineffable tasks like discovering and recruiting obscure talent and helping writers to hone their craft and develop their careers, activities only discernable by taking the long view.

            Similarly, if, to take another example, Abigail Nussbaum were nominated as Best Fan Writer, I’d be tempted to vote for her on the strength of her evolving critical perspective over several years running (though she has written great individual posts in 2015).

            I see that others disagree, but I’m not certain it is a settled issue, since the Hugo awards for people seem to me to be used to reward overall professional/fan achievement in practice, at least a lot of the time. It would be great to understand how much consensus exists.

            1. The “people” awards have always been more problematic than the “thing” awards. For the Best Novel, it’s clear — the work either appeared in the right year, or it didn’t. Although, certainly, there have been instances where a popular author won with what I consider to be an inferior work, based on that author’s overall skill and past contributions rather than the work — but that’s very much my opinion, and one that it’s hard to prove.

              But for the “people” awards, it’s hard to separate out the overall body of work from the work that was done in a specific year, in forming an impression of who to vote for.

              When we rewrote the Hugos article with the “Polishing the Hugos” motion, we hoped that by pulling out the specific year references from the individual sections, and making it its own section (now the 3.2.1 section we’ve referred to above), we were hoping to make it clearer that, even for the “people” awards, they were only to be judged on work in a given year. As you say, in the original version, the year text tended to be in the individual sections, but this let us call out the year requirement into its own section, and make it clearer that it applied to everything, except where there is a specific exception. So that, for a fanzine, it needs four issues in its history, but it’s to be judged on the issues that came out in that specific year.

              — short digression about a specific rule —
              (Just for historical reference, the four issue requirement came in after Earl Kemp’s one-shot, “Who Killed Science Fiction”, won in Best Fanzine in 1961. It was very well deserved — it was a brilliant collection of essays by some of the best professionals in the field, talking about that topic. But it was a one-shot fanzine, and the Business Meeting put the four issue requirement in immediately thereafter, to make it clear that the award should go to an ongoing fanzine, not a one-shot.

              (For people interested in reading about the state of magazine SF of the period, the fanzine is online at

              (Note that the issues do not need to come out frequently — just that they come out, with one issue in the right year. The win in 2007 by “Science Fiction Five Yearly” was for a fanzine that had been appearing regularly — every five years — since Lee Hoffman started in in 1951, and continued on that schedule, with assistance from some guest editors starting in the 70s, until Lee’s death in 2007.)
              — end of short digression —

              In general, we’d hoped that pulling out 3.2.1 would be sufficient highlighting of the year requirement. However, when it was clear to the professional artists in the field that it wasn’t working in their category, a number of artists and art directors proposed what is now 3.9.2, asking for the artists to call out works appearing in the right year, in their acceptances, so the voters (although not the nominators, since the nominations period would be over) would know what were the works the artist should be judged on, and not the lifetime body of work.

              So we really meant that people should be judged on their works in a specific year. And, in the Hugo packet, we ask editors to let us know what they edited in the right year, and things like fanzines enclose an issue from the right year, etc.

              I agree — since discussions like this show there’s uncertainty with some of the nominators and voters on the “right year” basis — that 3.2.1 doesn’t make that intent as obvious as we’d intended. So I suspect that if someone comes up with better wording to make that intent clearer — that only the work in a specific year is the basis of judging merit in a category — that the Business Meeting would pretty easily adopt the better wording.

              And, to take this back to your specific example, Hartwell edited a number of books in 2015. In some cases, the books are better because he started working with the authors years earlier — helping them perfect their craft and their art. So in that sense, I agree — it’s a lifetime of work by an editor. But it resulted in a book that was published in a specific year, and his work in helping to create that book (and all the other books that came out in the right year) are what he’s to be judged on.

              And, as has been said before, I certainly continue to agree with the feeling that Editor-Long is probably the hardest category to nominate and vote in, even more since you’re looking at a specific year, not a career.

              1. Thank you for this history. It is clear that you and others put a lot of care into crafting the rules. Thank you for clarifying the intent: you wanted a rule that everybody getting a “best people” award – editors, artists, fan writers – should be judged on the merits of their works appearing for the first time during the previous year, and nothing else.

                (I didn’t really see this intent made explicit – for the people awards – in the business meeting minutes, so I do still wonder how universal that sentiment has been, beyond the particular subset of fans who provided input on and voted yes on that amendment in 1997-98.)

                From where we stand today, in my personal view, the Golden Age of the Hugo Awards was from the 1950s to the 1990s. There were always hits and misses, but at some point in the new millennium, particularly after circa 2010 in my view, the rocket started losing some of its luster. I don’t mean that is true for any sort of political reason at all, and I’m not singling out any particular awardee, but that’s my honest general observation. So if today’s me were able to go attend that Worldcon in ’97, I might have argued, “if it ain’t broke…”

                One thing that seems to be lacking these days – especially with the uncontrolled explosion of ebooks and new outlets, in addition to the “old school” publishers – is the sense of deep history that fans shared between the fifties and the nineties. The sense, for example, that if one nominates David Hartwell, it is because one has read a wide sampling of the authors he edited, at various stages of their careers, gaining a deep understanding of Hartwell’s vision as an editor and how he was able to see it through.

                So I like voting for a “best person” based on an attempt to understand the nuanced totality of their impact on the field. (As opposed to, say, reading one blog post that I enjoyed or thought was important, and deciding the author should become Best Fan Writer. As opposed to, say, basing one’s decision about how to rank an editor on whether the editor has provided samples of chapters edited, or lists of books published in one year, in the downloadable awards packet.)

                If the Hugos are primarily about fans reacting to one year in isolation, it may boil down to “I bounced off that” and “this orbited my socks” without as much of a sustained attempt appreciate where the work came from. Then the rockets might lose their luster for good.

                So that’s where I’m coming from with the “previous year” rule and why I’d rather see things nudged in a different direction. (That’s my perspective today – I’m sure I would have seen things differently in 1997.)

                You also pointed out an elephant in the room – not only for “people” awards, but even for novels or stories, some nominees may receive a lot of votes because fans love the author, not necessarily because the specific work was judged the finest thing published that the year. Critical assessment of each work standing on its own merit is paramount, but there is also a natural fannish impulse to vote for what you love. This has become more true, I guess, as the standalone novel is eclipsed by the 18-part series, a trend I dislike personally. At least as long as that fannish impulse also encourages fans to be on the lookout for new authors and to read outside one’s usual comfort zone, not just reflexively read the next book in a favorite series, maybe it’s not an entirely bad thing either.

                  1. And I agree that, particularly in the people categories (and even more particularly in the Editor-Long category, where it takes many years to see the full influence of an editor) trying to judge on the basis of one year is difficult, and possibly yields suboptimal results.

                    I maintain, however, that this is what the rules point towards, and it’s certainly the way I have tried to nominate and vote.

  5. Just a note from earlier posts – I have decided to nominate Eric Flint for “Best Fan Writer.”

    I just can’t resist… (evil, evil grin).

  6. While Toni certainly deserves the long form editor award my expectation is that if she is nominated she will again lose to Noah Ward.
    You see the CHORF have the taste of blood on their lips, they actually think that obscenity of a demonstration last year means that they won, they sure showed those Sad Puppy presumptuous scum what for. And I fully expect they will double down at World Con this year again.
    So, the real winner in all categories will most likely be the same one what won last time, Vox Day, by turning a once meaningful award into the effluent left over after a pissing contest. And do not forget that Vox didn’t start it all, that responsibility rests entirely on the SMOF and CHORF who first subverted the system, turning it from a legitimate award into their own private chew toy. Vox just drove the final nails into that coffin by tricking the SJW into destroying the whole thing by slate voting no award in half the categories.

    1. Well, I also like the job he did on Somewhither this year. Maybe next he will have four titles out with some comparable next year. Think an admin would be willing to edit my post upthread to match my usual user name?

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