The editor we mentioned in our previous post has posted thousands of words in response to our rankings. While the suggestion of racist motives and the trolls that inevitably appeared in our comments after were not appreciated, we did find some things to think about among his words.
We would like to address some of their statements:
Essentially saying that I didn’t do enough. What I did do, was no work, or not my work. & finally, not really editing.
Your interpretation is not what was intended and we apologize if it made you feel that way. Editing a reprint anthology is different work than editing an original, but it is still editing.
On the other hand, I haven’t heard anyone refer to those other Year’s Best anthologies as showcasing the work of other editors. So what’s different btw me & them?
This wasn’t about you. Other editors were ranked on the same criteria for their original and reprint work. We would have done the same if you weren’t on the ballot. If we were using past year’s ballots, we would have ranked some of the previous winners in 6th place, but even so, we don’t find them unworthy. Who hasn’t disagreed with the winners at least once in their life? Your place wasn’t solely based on being a reprint editor. We stated many things about the work done by other editors that caused them to place higher on our ballots.
For us, reprint anthologies are a celebration of the authors, editors, and places that published them. To have stories for those anthologies, someone has to lift them up first. It was not our intent to belittle the hard work done by the editors of those anthologies, but instead celebrate the editors raising up the stories first. We’re unpublished writers, so it should be understandable that we’d value the editors that are providing opportunities for people like us. In retrospect, we could have stated this more clearly.
Other online comments have suggested that the obstacles you faced while publishing this anthology should cause you to rank higher than other editors. We admit that the argument has some merit. It isn’t something we considered. We don’t know the challenges faced by other editors, but yours appear to be unusual. After some discussion, we are willing to recognize that it does change your position, but it still leaves you behind our top three.
…things that deliberately and obviously denigrate or demean me & other marginalized people in a racial or other marginalizing and bigotted way.
We are “other marginalized people”. You’ve chosen to be public about your experiences, but we don’t feel safe doing the same. If that causes you or anyone else to disbelieve us, we’re prepared to live with that.
Welcome to our new visitors! We saw some extra traffic in our logs thanks to one of the Hugo finalists we picked as our top choice mentioning us. Unfortunately, he did so on Twitter, so we held our breaths and hoped for the best. Didn’t work. (We don’t use Twitter, but someone tipped us off in a comment when it didn’t.)
Someone decided they disagreed with the criteria we used for editor short form and, in true Twitter fashion, decided to make insinuations about our character to promote their own choice, which happened to be our last. In short, a white man called us racist. They also refused to link to us, which is either good because the people inclined to believe such things won’t show up here, or bad because people won’t discover how he misrepresented us. He has power/influence and we’re still nobodies, so it’s probably better he didn’t.
We’ll return the favor and not link back.
We don’t feel it’s unreasonable to suggest that publishing original fiction should rank higher than reprints. Other editors originally discovered or solicited those stories, worked with the authors to improve them, and published them first. Reprint editors pick stories from what other editors have published, which is inherently less risky. They don’t edit the stories, they reuse them. Aside from that important difference, they put in the same level of work the editor of an original story would.
We don’t dismiss the valuable contributions reprint editors make to the field, but we do see it as the lesser of the two. Without the original editors, reprint editors wouldn’t have anything to publish.
It also sometimes happens that the original editor of a work is on the same ballot as the person who reprinted it. If our favorite story in a reprint anthology edited by A was originally edited by B, should A, B, or neither get the credit when ranking one over the other?
If you look at Wikipedia, you might be inclined to believe our accuser and think, Why yes, plenty of other reprint editors have won. Surely they are racist for singling out this editor for 6th place on their ballot.
Wikipedia, however, is incomplete. A few minutes of research on ISFDB confirmed that no editor has ever won the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form without publishing some original fiction that year. Each has published original fiction in other magazines or anthologies during the years in which they won.
Even so, we didn’t draft our criteria based on past results. Ours are based on personal experience as readers and writers just starting in the field. We identified the aspects we valued most highly from short fiction editors and then outlined them in advance to ensure they would be applied consistently and fairly.
Our critic would have you believe that it singled out their favorite and with racist intentions. If you look at our ballot, you’ll see that the editors with the lowest amounts of original fiction ranked in the bottom half. (Conveniently, they failed to mention that.) Their favorite had none. It was as simple as that. When all of the editors are publishing good work, we favor the originals.
[Do you see how misinformation and innuendo can be used to craft an attack on someone? Do you see how someone with a platform can punch down without consequence? Can you see how linking to source material works against their agenda? How many times must this pattern repeat itself?]
Someone has to end up in 6th place and there’s no shame in that this year. If we felt someone was an unworthy finalist, we would have used “no award” or not ranked them at all. That’s another criteria we use.
If the editor in question happens to be reading this, please know we enjoyed your anthology. Congratulations on your nomination! Your supporter, while admirably passionate about your work is, however, misguided and causing harm. We hope you don’t sanction such things. (That’s a criteria too.)
Should our accuser decide to stop by: You don’t know the color of our skin, yet you assume to. This community will not feel safe for people like us while men like you still behave in this manner. All we did was like something differently. You painted the rest of the picture yourself. Smearing us told us more about you than anything else.
We’re celebrating the works we loved. Disagree with our methods. Disagree with our rankings. Just don’t make it personal. That’s when it all falls apart. Great for clicks. Terrible for our community.
Voting for the Hugo Awards closes on August 11th. With that deadline looming, we used the last two zooms to flush out our ballots instead of having extended conversations about the individual finalists and categories. Categories with vote totals less than six reflect instances when members were either not prepared to make a final vote, abstaining from voting in the category, or no awarding the category.
Time permitting, we will revisit the merits of the short story, novelette , and novella finalists in another post.
Our ballots will reflect the following:
4 for A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine
2 for Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki
4 for A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers
1 for Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard
1 for The Past Is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente
4 for “Bots of the Lost Ark”, by Suzanne Palmer
2 for “L’Esprit de L’Escalier”, by Catherynne M. Valente
Best Short Story
4 for “Mr. Death”, by Alix E. Harrow
2 for “Proof by Induction”, by José Pablo Iriarte
1 for Terra Ignota, by Ada Palmer
Best Graphic Story or Comic
2 for Far Sector, written by N.K. Jemisin
2 for Monstress, vol. 6: The Vow, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda
Best Related Work (discussion)
3 for Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985, edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre
2 for “How Twitter can ruin a life”, by Emily St. James
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
5 for Dune, screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth; directed by Denis Villeneuve; based on the novel Dune by Frank Herbert
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
3 for The Expanse: “Nemesis Games,” written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, and Naren Shankar; directed by Breck Eisner
2 for Arcane: “The Monster You Created,” written by Christian Linke and Alex Yee; story by Christian Linke, Alex Yee, Conor Sheehy, and Ash Brannon; directed by Pascal Charrue and Arnaud Delord
1 for For All Mankind: “The Grey,” written by Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi; directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
Best Editor, Short Form (discussion)
6 for Neil Clarke
Best Editor, Long Form
no votes at this time
Best Professional Artist
2 for Maurizio Manzieri
2 for Alyssa Winans
2 for Rovina Cai
Best Semiprozine (discussion)
6 for FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, publisher Troy L Wiggins; executive editor DaVaun Sanders; managing editor Eboni Dunbar; poetry editor B. Sharise Moore; reviews editor and social media manager Brent Lambert; art director L. D. Lewis; web editor Chavonne Brown; non-fiction editor Margeaux Weston; guest editors Summer Farah and Nadia Shammas; acquiring editors Kaleb Russell, Rebecca McGee, Kerine Wint, Joshua Morley, Emmalia Harrington, Genine Tyson, Tonya R. Moore, Danny Lore; technical assistant Nelson Rolon
3 for The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog, editors Amanda Wakaruk and Olav Rokne
1 for Quick Sip Reviews, editor Charles Payseur
3 for Octothorpe, by John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty
3 for The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Best Fan Writer
3 for Paul Weimer
1 for Cora Buhlert
1 for Chris M. Barkley
Best Fan Artist
We were dismayed by the presence of professional artists in this category and collectively decided not to consider them.
2 for Iain J. Clark
2 for Ariela Housman
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
We know adults read these books, but should they be the primary audience judging them? If this award was for any other demographic segment and voted on by everyone but that group, the internet would be on fire. It doesn’t feel right. We love several of these books, but will not be voting.
Astounding Award for Best New Writer (discussion)
1 for each:
Xiran Jay Zhao
Most recently, we discussed the finalists for Best Related Work:
- Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism, by Elsa Sjunneson
- The Complete Debarkle: Saga of a Culture War, by Camestros Felapton
- Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985, edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre
- “How Twitter can ruin a life”, by Emily St. James
- Never Say You Can’t Survive, by Charlie Jane Anders
- True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee, by Abraham Riesman
Once again, our conversation drifted to the category itself. Before the Hugorati jump down our throats this time, we would like to state that we have read the definition, but it doesn’t change our opinion that this is a catchall category that tends to put apples and oranges in the same bucket.
This year it contains:
3 – Memoirs/Biographies
1 – Book of essays/history
1 – Article
1 – Obligatory Hugo- or Worldcon-related work
and last year, it was won by a translation of Beowulf. Among its finalists in previous years, we have acceptance speeches, conventions, YouTube videos, a project to bring people to Worldcon, a podcast, the software for AO3, and other various things. Surprisingly, no video games, despite the interest from some parties to see that become a category. If AO3 could clear the hurdle for eligibility, we can’t imagine a reason a game wouldn’t. We even discussed the possibility of the James Webb Telescope or various space missions being eligible. (We suspect they could be.)
The very nature of the category makes it difficult to rank and rate works against one another. We were unable to come up with a criteria that would assist in the cross-type ranking of these works and viewed that as a problem with the very nature of the category.
The only thing we completely agreed on was that we were tired of seeing Hugo- or Worldcon-related finalists. This year’s contribution was a rehashing of the events surrounding the Sad Puppy era, which is easy fishing for certain segment of Hugo voters. We’ve had enough of that. Some of us have decided rank Debarkle below no award, but the rest have decided not to rank it at all.
At the top of our ballots, three ranked the Dangerous Visions book first, two chose the St. James piece, and one vote no award based on the merits of category itself. Among those voting for finalists, both works ended up in everyone’s top two.
The Dangerous Visions book was an interesting look into an era that predated some members and encouraged further investigation into works and authors. That inspiration was the primary reason cited among those making this book their top choice.
Those selecting the St. James piece were impressed and moved by the author’s ability to break down what happened to Isabel without sensationalizing it. It was respectful, heartbreaking, and something that encourages us to remember that those are human beings on the other end of our screens. The events described are not something that should be swept under the rug and forgotten. As a community, we need to learn from what happened. Ranking it highly demonstrates our belief in the importance of that sentiment and the quality of the work itself. Two for one.
This week, we returned to our discussion of the Astounding Award finalists.
Xiran Jay Zhao
In many cases, this was our first exposure to their work.
Prior to our meetings, we’re each required to rank the finalists. During our Zoom, we’ll look for commonality and try to convince one another of the relative merits of our choices. Collectively, we recognized that there was a very level playing field. No one felt very strongly about their selections, top or bottom, and each ranked the finalists in a different order. We failed to reach a consensus, but agreed that we won’t be disappointed by whoever is selected winner.
We did observe that all six finalists published novels. After reviewing the eligibility list at astoundingaward.info, we noticed several short story authors that would have been welcome additions. Of those, we selected Grace Chan as our top choice. Unfortunately, this was her last year of eligibility and we won’t be able to nominate her next year.
It looks like some people noticed our comments about the Astounding Award and immediately assumed we were ignorant or children or men or right-wing Americans…
Wrong on all counts.
We know the Astounding Award is administered by Dell Magazines. It says that alongside its name in the list of Hugo finalists, right next to the “not a Hugo” we were reacting to.
We were pointing out that, in our opinion, this is the type of award that should be a Hugo. It’s presented during the Hugo Awards ceremony, voted on alongside the Hugo Awards, and something the community believes worthy of being on the same stage, so it isn’t a ludicrous concept.
We’re asking (now in a more direct manner) why no one has invited Dell to step aside and let it become a real Hugo (we know there’s a process) and if they have, what happened? You might even consider us saying these things a shot across the bow. Dell Magazines, would you be up for this?
Instead of seeing any serious consideration given to the worthiness of the Astounding becoming a Hugo someday, all we observed a sideshow of snarky insults for daring to suggest that we didn’t like the tiara or felt it was inappropriate. We knew some of you would disagree and we were fine with that. Our problem was with how. Thank you for proving some of our concerns about this community accurate.
With our eyes on the Hugo Awards. we almost missed that the Locus Awards were given out this past weekend. Aside from Best First Novel, A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark, none of us voted for any of the winners this year. The highest rank any of the other winners achieved on our ballots was third, but we can’t complain too much about the results. If we were doing “should win/will win”, we would have scored much higher.
The special award was the only one that was a surprise and not just because none of us remember it being an option.
We were supposed to talk about the Astounding Award finalists during this week’s Zoom, but we went in a different direction instead: the “not a Hugo” status of the award. Maybe someone can tell us how has this never become an official Hugo Award? As writers, the current status feels like a slap in the face and we’re not even eligible yet.
Fiction categories are always listed first and presented last. Those are positions that indicate just how much of a priority they are. Fiction categories often receive the highest number of votes and nominations. The Astounding Award receives a competitive level of participation and is for the same kind of work.
Fan writers and fan artists can get a Hugo, but not the best new writer. Aren’t they all worthy? It’s possible for a blog post–even this one, which would probably get extra credit for complaining about the Hugos–to win a Hugo, but not the best new writer. Does that seem right? (We have thoughts about the messy state of Best Related Work, but that’s a distraction we’ll indulge if we get to that category.)
And then there is the award itself… Instead of the iconic shiny rocket, an Astounding Award winner gets a plaque and a tiara. A tiara?! What kind of message is that? The pinnacle of an early career shouldn’t be something commonly associated with princesses. How do you react when someone calls you “princess”? Did anyone stop and think “should we be doing this?” Is it Disney instead of Dell sponsoring the award?
Should any of us ever win or become a finalist we will be thrilled. Some of us would even swallow our pride and wear the tiara, but we will always think the award should be a real Hugo Award category and come with a rocket. If we’re twice lucky, it will have changed by then.
Our group’s second Hugo discussion was focused on the finalists for Semiprozine, the semiprofessional magazine category. It was a predictable list of magazines and we were disappointed that khōréō or The Deadlands didn’t make it.
This year’s finalists are:
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- Escape Pod
- FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction
- Strange Horizons
- Uncanny Magazine
We ranked them:
A solid fantasy podcast that publishes a mix of reprint and original stories. When we talked about editors, we decided to rank publishing original work over reprints. The stories we liked the best from PodCastle were their reprints and it didn’t seem right to rank them higher than the others because of that.
5. Escape Pod
A science fiction podcast that publishes a mix of reprint and original stories. Their editors are finalists for Editor Short form and we stand by the opinions stated there. On discussing this publication for the second time, however, we questioned why the same work is eligible for two awards. This isn’t the first time it has happened, but we think it would be more fair if these magazines choose to be in one or the other. With how often there are repeat finalists in these categories, restricting it to one would give us more variety to choose from.
4. Uncanny Magazine
A science fiction and fantasy magazine that has won this award many times in recent years. We ranked them fourth because they solicit so many of their stories and for how often they push for award nominations on social media. We nearly penalized an editor for that too. Judging by the number of stories they have on the ballot this year, the formula works for them, but we think it has a negative impact on the award. Like our editor selections, we wanted to favor magazines that are expanding the field and not just publishing the usual suspects.
3. Strange Horizons
A speculative fiction magazine that is run by a regularly changing collective. That aspect of the magazine is something we discussed as both a strength and a weakness. Even though they publish a wide variety of authors, there is a certain sameness that comes from having so many cooks in the kitchen. It’s hard to call a comfortable consistency a negative. We enjoy and respect this magazine, but ultimately, that prevented them from passing the final two.
2. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
A reliable publisher of quality fantasy and occasional science-fantasy stories. Our longest discussion was over who should get second place and third place. This magazine eventually won on the strength of having both a specific focus and the willingness to poke at the edges of that focus, most obviously during their science-fantasy issue. Their editor is also known for providing feedback on submissions and working with new authors.
1. FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction
Last year’s winner, but the hands-down first choice for everyone in our group. Our decision was based on the quality of the fiction, variety of authors, openness to new authors, and their very clear vision for what they want to accomplish. That vision sets them apart and has made them a positive force in the field. We can see their impact and think this distinction earns them a second win.
The low-hanging fruit for any new genre blog is to talk about some of the many awards present in science fiction and fantasy. The Hugo Awards are the biggest, or at least most well-known, among them. In April, they announced their current finalists.
A unique feature of this award is the Hugo Voter’s Packet. It includes representative work of most of the finalists and is often well-worth the price of a $50 supporting membership. It also grants you the right to vote for the winner. We’ve been busily consuming the ebooks, audio files, and pdfs included in this year’s packet since its release in May.
During our latest Zoom session, our writing group discussed how we could add anything of value to the ongoing discussion of finalists. The fiction and dramatic presentation categories are already well-trodden, if perhaps a bit too rose-tinted for our liking. Then someone pointed out that there’s almost no discussion at all about the editors. We’re all actively writing or submitting fiction to magazines and anthologies, so we settled on Editor Short Form.
This year’s finalists are:
- Neil Clarke
- Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
- Mur Lafferty & S.B. Divya
- Jonathan Strahan
- Sheree Renée Thomas
- Sheila Williams
We were already familiar with these editors and their work and read the entries provided in the packet as refreshers. With one exception, six of us independently ranked the six finalists in the same order.
6. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Ekpeki is a promising new editor and first-time finalist (and writer-finalist in novelette), but his only work for 2021 was The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction, a reprint anthology showcasing the work of other editors. There is some merit to assembling a reprint anthology, particularly one that shines a light on another part of the world, but all the other editors contributed original fiction they selected and edited.
5. Mur Lafferty & S.B. Divya
Lafferty and Divya edit Escape Pod, a well-known podcast. Both are established writers and Escape Pod is also a finalist for Best Semiprozine. Escape Pod is best known for being a reprint market, but also published about a dozen originals. Again, a case of enjoyed the reprints, but the originals didn’t particularly stand out to us and represented only a small portion of their output.
4. Jonathan Strahan
Strahan is the second of three year’s best anthology editors on this list, but also a prolific anthologist and one of the many freelance editors at Tor.com. He is also a finalist as one half of the team behind 2021 Hugo Fancast winning, Coode Street Podcast. Unfortunately, The Year’s Best Science Fiction 2021 was his only anthology in 2021. His seven Tor.com novellas, however, were enough to push him solidly to fourth place, but not past the next three, all of whom have open submissions and try to discover new authors. That’s a criteria we look for in editors.
3. Sheree Renée Thomas
Thomas started as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2021 and has previously edited anthologies. Her first year was a step up for the magazine, but a transition year is bound to be a bit uneven and that’s how it felt to us. This is where we had some disagreement. One of us ranked her as #2 simply based on the difficulty of such transitions and how well she’s handled it. All of us have high expectations for the magazine under her leadership.
2. Sheila Williams
Williams is the only previous winner on this year’s ballot and the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction. She’s also edited several anthologies, but none of those were published in 2021. Asimov’s output for 2021 was exactly what we’ve come to expect and Williams continued involvement with the Dell Award did not go unnoticed by us. There’s a reason she’s won two Hugos and continues to appear on this list.
1. Neil Clarke
Clarke is editor and founder of Clarkesworld Magazine. He also edits Forever Magazine–a reprint magazine–and anthologies, including the Best Science Fiction of the Year series. He didn’t publish any anthologies in 2021, but he did edit and publish a translated collection of stories by Xia Jia. Clarke’s work in support of translations and frequent encouragement of international or new authors is something that has made him stand out among his colleagues in a very positive way. We also love the transparency he’s shown with regards to his submission process. Clarkesworld had a strong year, producing some of our favorites, and Clarke, a ten-time finalist, is overdue for a win. This is also the editor each of us submits our work to first.