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July 06, 2015

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I'm using the classic bookshop "buy or not buy" test to evaluate the nominees (already widely mentioned by others over the last few months).

If I'm keen to keep turning pages within 5 pages, then I'm pretty much sold on finishing* the book. If I'm bored or dreading what I'll find on page 6, I stop reading because life is too short. Any of the nominees that doesn't pass the bookshop test goes below No Award and I move on without regret.

Works that I read to the end and enjoy will not necessarily go above No Award on my ballot. For me a work will have to also truly engage the 'sensawunda' with cohesive worldbuilding, plus be either a technically excellent execution of their narrative or a distinctly innovative exploration of a what-if (ideally both) to be considered Hugo-worthy.

* A work that passes my bookshop test might still end up failing to hold my willing suspension of disbelief at some later point, and so I might stop reading at page 50 or page 350 or even page 550 if whatever the disruptor was is sufficiently problematic to me in any number of ways. Any such nominated work will also be placed below No Award on my ballot as non-Hugo-worthy.

tigtog:

That's a pretty good test. Your also approach supports my theory that world-building is the core literary value for Hugo voters.

What rubric do you use for the Editor categories?

If the works they edited (as included in the voter package or linked to otherwise for consideration) seem to be meeting or at least yearning/stretching well towards my Hugo-worthy criteria, then that's the sort of editor I want to see more of, so that's the sort of editor I would rank highly. I'm not sure what other rubric I really have at my disposal.

'Scandanavia' would be a promotion of sorts :)
Currently Australasian but I've been other things.

I find the editor categories very difficult to vote for and in normal circumstances I probably wouldn't...

For me, anything on a slate is going below no award, because in my opinion slating is unfair.

Legitimate (i.e. non slate) nominations go below no award if I have to hold my nose to rank them. Legitimate sole nominations go below No Award if I don't honestly like them well enough to vote them #1.

If something was slated but I would have voted for it had it made the ballot honestly, I will rank it first below No Award.

To tell you the truth I've been kind of busy for the last month or so and I'm not sure how much reading time I have. I've read the legitimate fiction nominees, (and most of the slate ones also) but slogging through slate dreck in Best Related Works is not really high on my to-do list right now. So I may end up just leaving slate works off the ballot entirely in many categories. The Campbell only has one non-slate nominee if I remember correctly; I should try to read his stuff next. t I bounced off it last year, so I may vote No Award in that category also. We'll see.

There are two available axes for evaluating editors.

#1. The author's published work recently under two or more different editors. Take John C. Wright. He continues to put out novels with Tor, where he's edited by David Hartwell, and several of those books have the look-inside option at Amazon. You can compare his work there to what he's put out with Castalia House, and a lot of it's in the Hugo voter's packet for this year.

The work Hartwell edited is consistently superior in every way: the wordiness reined in, the sentence-by-sentence and paragraph-by-paragraph flow better, random grammatical errors simply not present. Granting that it's always possible that Wright writes drastically differently and worse for Beale than he does for Hartwell, the much more likely conclusion is that Hartwell is a very fine editor and Beale is a very bad one.

#2. Multiple authors publish work with the same editor. Ideally they'd all have easily available work edited by others for the fullest comparison, but we can look at this stuff in isolation to see if there are consistent problems (or virtues!). Do the same kinds of bad grammar turn up in all the various authors? Are there verbal tics that get reused in the dialogue or exposition? Do stories excerpted from longer works provide necessary info to new readers, and do they have a completeness of their own?

Filling in the blanks here is left as an exercise to the reader. :)

But it seems like those are good ways to start assessing the impact of an editor.

How to Vote ABD (Anyone But Day) for the Hugo Editor Categories

Speaking as someone who is voting for the Hugos for the first time this year, I don't have a lot of basis to judge most of the candidates for the best editor Hugos, and in a normal year, I wouldn't vote in either of these categories. This, however, is not a normal year. The architect of the Rabid Puppies slate, Vox Day, has put his own name on the ballot in both editor categories. Given his success at appealing to #gamergaters to put his nomination slate forward, I must assume there will be a similar effort to bring people in to vote for him in the final election. Therefore, if I have an opinion about his candidacy, which I do, I believe it is important for me to vote in these categories.

The number of Castalia House entries in the Hugo packet this year have certainly given me a basis to form a judgement about Day as an editor. He presumably chose these stories as worthy of publication, performed (or failed to) detailed editing on the text, and further selected these stories as worthy of a Hugo nomination on his slate. All these are editorial functions on which I can judge him, above and beyond his sin against the Hugos themselves by exploiting a broken nomination system to exclude the rest of the electorate from many nomination categories.

I therefore judge Day/Beale as unworthy of an editing Hugo, and wish to express this judgement through my ballot by placing him below No Award. However, this leaves me with a small problem: as Kevin Standlee has noted (http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/1440530.html), once you rank No Award on your ballot, you no longer have a meaningful No Opinion option available by leaving other entries off your ballot. Any such entry left off is implicitly ranked below anything you do rank, including No Award. This would not be a problem if I was willing to automatically vote No Award against all slate nominees, but at least in the editor and dramatic presentation categories, I am not going to do that. (This in part reflects my judgement about how important the slate support was to these entries getting on the ballot.)

So instead, what I have done is to rank the remaining nominees in the two editor categories randomly above No Award, then No Award in fifth position, and finally Day in sixth. I did this with a few rolls of a single die - roll once until I got a number from 1-4, which became my first position, then assign the remaining nominees (1-2), (3-4), and (5-6) for a second die roll, which determined my second choice, and then the last two got (1-3) and (4-6) for the third-place die roll. This ensures that all permutations of the other four nominees are equally likely. If I get enough information about one or more of these nominees to form an informed judgement about them before the voting deadline, I may move them up or down from that initial random position. But if not, I am at least voting in a way that should minimize the effects of my ballot on the collective informed opinions of other voters, while still making sure that my vote counts against Day getting a rocket.

If there were, hypothetically, 99 other voters who shared my general opinion and voted the same way, we would average 25 first-place votes for each of the four non-Day nominees, with a standard deviation of 4.33. After two of these nominees were eliminated, we would have an average of 50 first-place votes for the remaining nominees, with a standard deviation of 5. That means, roughly, that 2/3rds of the time, we would contribute between 45 and 55 votes for each of the two finalists, while 95% of the time it would be between 40 and 60 votes (obviously the vote for each one would be the mirror-image of the other). While that means there would be a certain amount of randomness in the final vote, it could only make a difference in the outcome if the informed vote was very close between the remaining nominees. Meanwhile, our votes would count as 100 solid votes against Day winning, both head-to-head against the other candidates, and in the final "No Award" showdown, if it came to that.

While this randomness is somewhat undesirable, it's the best I can do without explicit coordination, which I am loath to propose. Accordingly, I offer this strategy for others who may be in a similar position and wish to vote against Day while still allowing more-informed voters to (mostly) determine the final result among the others.

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