Sunday, February 3, 2008

On the importance of naming the editors.

Locus Magazine has just posted their list of recommended reading for 2007. It would be really sweet if they would also list the names of the editors for said books, because if the Hugos are going to continue to award for Long Form Editorial, it might be nice to remind people out there who those editors actually are.

Tor lists the names of the editors in their books; no other publisher does this. In some publishing houses it is even considered bad form to do so. So how exactly will people know who the editors of all those great books are?

How many of you out there know that Anne Groell edited Elizabeth Bear's amazing novel Undertow? Or that Fleetwood Robbins edited the powerful gender-bendy fantasy Maledicte? That Juliet Ulman edited Chris Barzak's lovely debut novel One for Sorrow? That Betsy Mitchell edited Brian Aldiss's paranoid thriller Harm? That Alison Callahan edited Matt Ruff's critically acclaimed Bad Monkeys? That Ginjer Buchanan edited the equally acclaimed Halting State by Charles Stross? That Eloise Flood edited Justine Larbalestier's gorgeous Magic's Child? Note how many Night Shade Book titles are on this list, and now think about the fact that all of these extraordinary books are acquired, edited and published by a two-man operation: Jason Williams and Jeremy Lassen.

Last year Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden won this award. Certainly I mean no disrespect to Patrick by this, but I strongly suspect that he won primarily because most of folks eligible to vote for this Hugo award simply didn't know the names of any of the other fine science fiction and fantasy editors out there.

So this year, let's put a public name to the editors for all these books, shall we? Give them a fighting chance for the Long Form Editorial Award? I can put editor names to some of these books, but not all of them. If anyone out there can, please email me your list and I'll post it here.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden said...

Great idea. Just to start out, here are all the Tor novels on Locus's list, with their editors indicated:

Daniel Abraham, A Betrayal in Winter (Jim Frenkel)

Kage Baker, The Sons of Heaven (David Hartwell)

Emma Bull, Territory (Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

Kathleen Ann Goonan, In War Times (David Hartwell)

Jay Lake, Mainspring (Beth Meacham)

Ken MacLeod, The Execution Channel (Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Tor; Darren Nash at Orbit UK)

Susan Palwick, Shelter (Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

Paul Park, The White Tiger (David Hartwell)

Karl Schroeder, Queen of Candesce (David Hartwell)

Jo Walton, Ha'penny (Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

Robert Charles Wilson, Axis (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

Gene Wolfe, Pirate Freedom (David Hartwell)

John C. Wright, Titans of Chaos (David Hartwell)

In addition, I think we can assume that Ian McDonald's wonderful Brasyl was edited by Lou Anders at Pyr, although I dunno who handled it at Gollancz. And likewise I'm pretty sure that Hal Duncan's Ink was handled by Jim Minz while he was still at Del Rey, although, again, I don't know who was in charge of it at HarperCollins UK.

I mildly dispute the idea that I'm literally the "only" book editor the Hugo voters have heard of; the other four nominees got on the ballot somehow! But I strongly agree that there are a bunch of good editors who really deserve to be noticed. Beth Meacham has been one of the best editors in this field for decades, and she's been shortlisted exactly twice, most recently in 1994. Juliet Ulman has been doing terrific work at Bantam lately. Jeremy Lassen's list at Night Shade is as classy as any trade list that there is. Jim Frenkel, editor of fully four Hugo-winning novels, has never even been shortlisted. And so forth.

The one thing I would add to all this is the observation that the Locus recommendations list, while useful, shouldn't be an endpoint but merely a beginning. A year doesn't go by in which the Locus list doesn't have peculiar omissions. This year, I don't see a single book from Sharyn November's dynamite YA fantasy publishing program at Firebird/Dutton/Viking, possibly because the guys (and they're mostly guys) who do most of the recommending for Locus don't pay very much attention to that end of the field. Similarly, I was very surprised to see Brian Slattery's brilliantly weird and interesting debut novel Spaceman Blues, edited by Tor's Liz Gorinsky, not on the Best First Novels list. There's always something, and frequently many somethings.

La Gringa said...

Hi Patrick!

I agree that the Locus list should just be the starting point of a good editorial list - I was surprised as hell to see so many good titles missing from the list. Really surprised about Spaceman Blues missing from the list - it was one of my favorite books of the year. Also surprised not to see Acacia by David Anthony Durham (edited by Gerald Howard at Doubleday).

I was also surprised (and continue to be surprised every year) not to see Karen Traviss's Wess'Har series, edited by Diana Gill. This is one of the best SF series out there, and deserves a stronger readership.

And how do you consider books like Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, which had Chris Schluep and Simon Spanton editing it, both of whom are extraordinarily talented editors?

Ink was edited by Jim Minz, yes, but he also acquired the Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet before he left Del Rey.

Maybe I'll put up a single blog post that i can update here where folks can keep contributing names of books and their editors. I can update it periodically as I get more information.

John Picacio said...

Hi, Gringa --

Haven't seen you in a while....hope you're doing well over there.

Good stuff so far from you and Patrick. And yes, I second the shoutouts for Jim Minz and Diana Gill.

Here's a specific list for Lou Anders, editorial director of Pyr....these are his entries spotted from the Locus Recommended Reading List....

Novel: BRASYL, Ian McDonald (as mentioned above by Patrick)

Antho: FAST FORWARD 1, ed by Lou Anders

Novelette: "Wikiworld," Paul di Filippo

Short stories:"Jesus Christ, Reaimator," Ken MacLeod

"Savjeev and Robotwallah," Ian McDonald

John Klima said...

A few years ago I created a Best Editor Wiki:

Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee are taking over running it, which should help give it a little more exposure. Regardless, it's still up and running at its current place and can be viewed, edited, etc.

John Klima

John Klima said...

And I forgot to note that while it shows clearly that I edited Logorrhea, I also edited the William Shunn chapbook that has a novelette and short story in the Locus recommendation list.

Lou Anders said...

Hi all.
The wonderful Simon Spanton, whose tastes I hold in very high regard, is Ian's editor in the UK at Gollancz, (though in the case of Brasyl they made use of our edits/copyedits when setting their edition). The whole Gollancz list is very impressive.