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Tuesday 18 October 2005

Short Fiction Awards Winners and their Editors

By Rich Horton

[See Table of Hugo and Nebula Short Fiction Awards Winners for lists of winning stories and their editors]

The SF field has long been influenced strongly by its editors. Many of the biggest names in the field's history are known primarily for their editing: most obviously John W. Campbell, Jr., but also people like H. L. Gold and Cele Goldsmith Lalli and Terry Carr and even Hugo Gernsback. There are also of course many people with significant reputations as writers who also have made names for themselves as editors: Frederik Pohl, Michael Moorcock, Damon Knight, and Gardner Dozois spring to mind. (Of course, of the first five I mentioned, all but Lalli published fiction of some note or influence on the field.)

Sometimes editors are influential because they significantly affect what is written, that is, they make suggestions to writers that cause them to markedly improve their stories. It's not always easy to know when that has happened, but there are certainly plenty of stories about John W. Campbell helping young writers improve, and more controversially about H. L. Gold altering stories (sometimes for ill, but Alfred Bester, at least, praised Gold's help). Editors are also influential because they significantly affect what writers choose to write about: what kind of stories, and what subject matter. Clearly Campbell, Gold, and Moorcock profoundly affected the field by the sort of stories they chose to publish, and indeed the sort of stories they explicitly asked writers to give them. Editors can have some influence just by providing different venues for stories. Gernsback's founding of Amazing Stories was important because it solidified the idea of Science Fiction as a separate genre. Pohl and Knight both helped greatly in making the original anthology a viable market for stories. More recently, Ellen Datlow's persistence has surely had much to do with making online venues a reasonable, and sometimes reasonably paying, market for SF. And, finally, sometimes an editor can be influential just by consistently buying good stories, and consistently finding new writers, even if it might be hard to point to a "movement" with which he or she can be associated, or to cite public examples of ways in which he or she has directly made writers better (not to say that such examples might not exist): here I think of Lalli, Dozois, and Carr.

Who were the best editors in the field's history? There are many ways to answer that question, and many different answers. Here's one approach. Some while ago on the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written James Nicoll asked the question: "Which editors have won the most awards for their stories?" The answer might shed some light on who was most influential in the field at a given time. In a very rough way, it might be regarded as a barometer of editorial success.

It should first of all be mentioned that this "barometer" ignores two very important categories of editors. One is those editors who acquire novels for book publication. This is a more difficult area to study, in part because the acquiring editor isn't always easy to determine. The second category is editors who primarily do reprint anthologies. Perhaps the two most famous such editors are Judith Merril and Groff Conklin. (Both did do some original or partly original anthologies, but most of their editorial influence was by publishing reprint anthologies.) We shouldn't ignore the importance of reprint anthologies in establishing the field's canon, and influencing writers both by bringing obscure stories to wider notice and by rewarding writers for good work with another check. In Judith Merril's case she exercised outsize influence through her series of Best of the Year anthologies (particularly when she began to look outside traditional genre sources for stories), and also with her landmark England Swings SF, which introduced the English "New Wave" to many American readers.

I decided to gather the data concerning acquiring editors for Nebula and Hugo winning short fiction. This data was not previously recorded anywhere that I have found. The editors of the original publications for each story that won a Hugo or Nebula award are shown in this Table of Hugo and Nebula Short Fiction Awards Winners, along with some overall statistics.

I've made a couple of simplifying assumptions. One, I indicate the editor of record at the time of publication. It is of course possible that certain stories might have already been in inventory when an editor took over a magazine, but it seemed an unwieldy task to try to determine which stories fit that category. Two, in those cases where the story was first published in a single author collection, or as a book by itself, I have listed the author as "editor". This applies to seven stories: Larry Niven's "Inconstant Moon", James Morrow's "City of Truth", Kelly Link's "Louise's Ghost", Vernor Vinge's "Fast Times at Fairmont High", Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Eileen Gunn's "Coming to Terms", and Charles Stross's "The Concrete Jungle". (In cases where the story was published simultaneously or near-simultaneously in a collection and a periodical, I credit the periodical's editor.)

For consistency, dates cited for both Nebula and Hugo winners are the years in which the awards were given, rather than the year stories were published or were 'eligible'. (Traditionally the Nebulas are dated by year of "eligibility", i.e. the year prior to the award ceremony, though the current "rolling eligibility" rule has meant more often than not that winners were actually published a year earlier. Most Hugo winners were published in the year prior to the award, though in the award's early years, the rules for eligibility weren't as well established, and people often voted for stories published in the same year as the award, but prior (of course) to the actual voting.)

I will discuss a few of the statistics associated with this data, and some of the interesting patterns, trends, and conclusions I could extract.

The Most "Successful" Editors

One simple way to quantify editorial success is to count how many award-winning stories each has published. By this "absolute" measure Gardner Dozois is by far the most successful editor, having published 44 award winning stories, 34 Hugo winners and 15 Nebula winners (five of the stories having won both awards). Edward L. Ferman is in second place, with 27 award winners, 15 Hugos and 17 Nebulas (and he has published more Nebula winners than any editor). Other double digit totals belong to Stanley Schmidt with 18 (16 Hugos and 7 Nebulas), Ben Bova with 13 (11H/5N), Shawna McCarthy with 12 (5H/9N), Ellen Datlow with 11 (4H/9N), Kristine Kathryn Rusch with 10 (3H/9N), and Frederik Pohl with 10 (9H/2N).

This is all very well but it does not take into account the opportunities each editor has had. After all, Dozois was editor of Asimov's for much longer than, for example, Bova's combined term at Analog and Omni. In addition, there were many fewer awards given out in earlier years: the Nebula didn't start until 1966, and until 1972 there were usually only one or two (and sometimes zero) Hugo short fiction awards. Thus though the highly respected H. L. Gold only published one award winning short story, we note that only 5 awards for short fiction were given during his editorial tenure.

In that light, another measure of editorial success might be the percentage of possible awards their stories won. Harlan Ellison's two Dangerous Visions anthologies between them took 6 of the 11 short fiction awards in the two years they came out: 55% of the total. (One of the stories from his other anthology, Medea: Harlan's World, also won an award, Poul Anderson's "Hunter's Moon", but the Anderson story was first published in Analog.) During his brief tenure as editor of F&SF, Joseph W. Ferman published 2 award winners, out of only 4 possible awards. But those are over a rather small sample size. More impressive are the records of Gardner Dozois, Frederik Pohl and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Dozois was editor of Asimov's for some 19 years, and in that time stories he bought took home 43% of the major short fiction awards. During Pohl's time at the helm of Galaxy and If, his stories won 37% of the available awards. Kristine Kathryn Rusch won 40% of the awards possible while she was editing F&SF, though her overall stats would be less impressive if one considered the Pulphouse years. (And for that matter none of the stories from Pohl's original anthology series, Star, won an immediate award, though two, "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke and "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby, made their way into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.) The percentages for the long-time Analog editors Stanley Schmidt and Ben Bova aren't quite as impressive: 15% and 27% respectively. I think that does reflect the relative standing of Analog relative to the other magazines with the award voting population. There were periods of Edward L. Ferman's career (mainly the early 1970s) when F&SF dominated the awards, but he also weathered the Pohl and Dozois juggernauts, and so his final numbers ended up at about 21%.

Even this measurement isn't quite fair, however. Some venues publish more stories per year than others. All other things being equal, Asimov's, publishing nearly 70 stories each year, will have more potential winners than Realms of Fantasy, which publishes fewer than 40 (none of them novellas), or than an original anthology like Starlight, which may publish only a dozen or so pieces. For instance, if we take a closer look at Shawna McCarthy's total (14 awards, approximately 17% of the total available), we see that her overall stats may be diluted by her recent years at Realms of Fantasy, during which only one of her stories (Jane Yolen's "Lost Girls", the 1999 Nebula winner for Novelette) has won an award, while during her three year run at Asimov's, she selected a remarkable 67% of the award-winning stories, 12 of 18. (Not only does Realms of Fantasy publish fewer stories, but the Hugo Awards, at least, appear to lean somewhat in favor of SF as opposed to fantasy, which will also work against McCarthy in her current position. Though again, in very recent years, Hugo voters have been much more likely to favor fantasy. This bias might also affect the numbers for F&SF, which has typically published much more fantasy than the other major magazines.)

Of course, all other things aren't equal, anyway. A magazine's budget can be a major factor. The dominant editors all worked at magazines that were among the highest-paying in the field during their tenure, though not necessarily the very highest paying. (Indeed just now SCI FICTION is easily the best-paying regular market for SF, but Asimov's, F&SF, and Analog have all had about as many award winners as SCI FICTION over the last few years.)

Visibility is another factor. I mentioned that Kristine Kathryn Rusch had an excellent record of picking award winners while at F&SF, but she didn't publish any Hugo or Nebula winners while at Pulphouse. Obviously, the small press status of that project was a big factor. Not only might that have made it harder to attract the top writers and stories, but even when stories of award-winning quality are published by small presses, they tend to be seen by fewer award nominators and voters, making it much harder to get on ballots and win. (The jury selections which can be added to the Nebula Final Ballot seem an attempt to address this problem, and indeed in recent years two jury picks that originated in small press publications have won: "Louise's Ghost", by Kelly Link; and "Coming to Terms", by Eileen Gunn.)

Original Anthologies

Even though original anthology editors generally have fewer "entries" per year, their projects tend to be high profile, and I believe they also pay quite well. (This applies, at any rate, to the "prestige" books, like Full Spectrum and Starlight, and for that matter the Dangerous Visions books.) Thus they have a good chance to attract the best stories from the top writers, and they will tend to be read by a good portion of the active readers who nominate for the Hugo, and by those writers who recommend for the Nebula.

How have original anthology editors done, then? As I've already mentioned, Harlan Ellison's record is quite remarkable: his two major original anthologies picked up over half the possible awards in their years. Patrick Nielsen Hayden's recent Starlight anthologies have each featured one award winning story, a solid record. Somewhat surprisingly, to me, the records of Damon Knight, Terry Carr, and Robert Silverberg, during their respective editorships of Orbit, Universe, and New Dimensions, aren't all that impressive in the baldest terms: 5, 4, and 4 awards, respectively. That doesn't change my opinion that those were wonderful books — no doubt the fact that they competed with each other was one factor in their award totals. Nowadays it is unusual to see more than one "major" non-theme original anthology in a given year, while in the '70s there were generally three per year. Other original anthology series that have published award winning stories, one each, are the Bantam project Full Spectrum and Judy-Lynn del Rey's Stellar.

Only a few "one shot" original anthologies have produced winning stories. Aurora: Beyond Equality, edited by Vonda McIntyre and Susan Janice Anderson, published James Tiptree, Jr.'s "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?", which won both the Hugo and the Nebula. Another Nebula winning Tiptree piece, "Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death", first appeared in Stephen Goldin's The Alien Condition. Charles L. Grant's Nebula winner "A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn's Eye" appeared in Graven Images, edited by Edward Ferman and Barry N. Malzberg. Bruce Holland Rogers's "Thirteen Ways to Water" first appeared in Black Cats and Broken Mirrors, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers. Walter Jon Williams's "Daddy's World" appeared in Not of Woman Born, edited by Constance Ash. Neil Gaiman's Hugo winning short story appeared in Shadows Over Baker Street, edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan. And "The Faery Handbag", by Kelly Link, first appeared in The Faery Reel, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. It would be fair to mention that occasionally stories commissioned for original anthologies appear first in magazines: this happened with "Hunter's Moon" by Poul Anderson, and with "The Lincoln Train" by Maureen F. McHugh.

Of all the Hugo and Nebula award winners, 37 different stories have been published first in books (5 of which won both awards), including seven (listed earlier) that first appeared in single-author collections or stand-alone books. Of the other winners, one first appeared in Playboy, and three first appeared in New Worlds. Four first appeared online, at SCI FICTION. None have come from what I would characterize as a "small press" magazine. The remainder come from the American SF magazines, overwhelmingly the "major" magazines. These include, certainly, Astounding/Analog, F&SF, Galaxy, and Asimov's. Given its high profile, high pay rates, and high circulation, Omni could be considered "major" as well. There were two winners from SF Age, which had a reasonably high profile, decent circulation, and decent rates itself. (The SF Age Nebula winners were "A Defense of the Social Contracts" by Martha Soukup, and "Mars is No Place for Children", by Mary A. Turzillo.) Realms of Fantasy also has a fairly high circulation and a reasonable profile — it might be considered roughly parallel in reputation to its former stablemate SF Age. This leaves only the following stories from magazines that, it seems to me, were unambiguously not in the first tier: "The Star", by Arthur C. Clarke, a Hugo winner that appeared in the first issue of Larry Shaw's magazine Infinity in 1955, Roger Zelazny's Nebula winner "He Who Shapes", a serial from Amazing in 1965, and Larry Niven's Hugo winner "Neutron Star", from If in 1966.

Of English Origin

Most Hugo voters live in the United States. The very name of SFWA declares its bias towards North America. Thus it is no surprise that only three stories first published in overseas magazines have won awards. These were all published in the latter half of the '60s in New Worlds, during Michael Moorcock's editorship, when the "New Wave" was at its crest. The stories are Samuel R. Delany's "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" (winner of both the Hugo and Nebula in 1970), Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog" (1970 Nebula winner), and Moorcock's own novella "Behold the Man" (1968 Nebula winner). All three stories had US exposure by the time they won their awards, Ellison's in his collection The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, Moorcock's and Delany's in volumes of Terry Carr & Donald A. Wollheim's annual World's Best Science Fiction anthologies — in fact, it was the US reprints that made them eligible for the Nebulas, which consider only American publication.


This article purposely doesn't consider the editors who acquire the books that won novel awards, partly because that information is not as readily available. However, the early novel winners were generally serialized in magazines first, and it is worthwhile to look at the editors who bought those stories.

Legendary Galaxy founding editor H. L. Gold only gets credit for buying one award-winning short story, but he also was responsible for serializing two Hugo winning novels: The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, and The Big Time, by Fritz Leiber. Galaxy under Frederik Pohl was the source for Clifford Simak's Hugo winner Way Station, which was serialized as "Here Gather the Stars". In addition to the many Hugo winning stories John Campbell published in the 1950s and 1960s, he serialized several winning novels: They'd Rather be Right, by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley; Double Star, by Robert A. Heinlein; and Dune by Frank Herbert (as two separate serials totaling 8 parts!). F&SF first published the stories that became Walter M. Miller's Hugo winner A Canticle for Leibowitz (under Anthony Boucher's editorship), and Boucher's successor Robert P. Mills serialized Heinlein's Starship Troopers (as "Starship Soldier").

By the mid-'60s many award winning novels first appeared as books, so I'll stop mentioning the serials, though serials do still win awards. Most notably, Stanley Schmidt has published several serials in Analog that won Nebula awards rather unexpectedly. In this category I would place Lois McMaster Bujold's Falling Free, Robert J. Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment (serialized as "Hobson's Choice"), and the first half of a recent Nebula winner for Best Novel, Catherine Asaro's The Quantum Rose.


A close look at the list of winners reveals some fairly impressive winning streaks. Most remarkable is a recent Gardner Dozois run: from 1997 through 2000 stories from Asimov's won every short fiction Hugo award. Indeed, Dozois published 5 consecutive novella winners and six consecutive novelette winners around that time. Interestingly, during that same period Asimov's featured only one Nebula winner. A slightly less impressive streak is Kristine Kathryn Rusch's run of Nebulas from 1994 through 1997, in which F&SF stories took 2 of the 3 short fiction Nebulas each year. Not surprisingly Dozois has had other streaks nearly as impressive: taking 10 of the 12 possible Hugos from 1990 through 1993, for example. Fred Pohl published all three short fiction Hugo winners in 1969, both in 1967, and indeed from 1965 through 1969 the only Hugo winners not from Pohl's magazines were in 1968, the year of Dangerous Visions. (Ironically, that year the only person to keep Dangerous Visions from sweeping the short fiction Hugos was Dangerous Visions editor Harlan Ellison himself: his "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream", from Pohl's Galaxy, took the Short Story Hugo, though Ellison's anthology was the source of the two other nominees: Larry Niven's "The Jigsaw Man" and Samuel Delany's Nebula winner "Aye, and Gomorrah". (Though one should also note that the Novella Hugo was a tie between the Dangerous Visions story "Riders of the Purple Wage" by Philip Josť Farmer, and the Analog story "Weyr Search" by Anne McCaffrey.))


Is there any evidence that women editors buy more award winning stories by women writers? Or that women are more prone to win Nebulas than Hugos? Only slightly in the first case, but yes in the second case. I made an arbitrary dividing line at 1982, approximately when Ellen Datlow took over the fiction editor's seat at Omni, and when Kathleen Moloney, soon to be followed by Shawna McCarthy, took over at Asimov's. Prior to then, women editors bought only 2 Hugo winners, and 3 Nebula winners. (The Hugos both came in 1977, for Isaac Asimov's "The Bicentennial Man" and James Tiptree, Jr.'s "Houston Houston Do You Read?". The same two stories won Nebulas, as did Roger Zelazny's "He Who Shapes" in 1966, bought by the pioneer Cele Lalli at Amazing.)

Since 1983 women editors have been responsible for 12 Hugo winners, and 30½ Nebula winners, quite a striking discrepancy. The gender of the writer is also significant: women writers in that time period have won 17 Hugos and 31½ Nebulas. Over the history of the awards, women have won 24½ Hugos, and 42½ Nebulas. (The ½'s reflect Spider and Jeanne Robinson's collaborative awards, and Lou Aronica and Shawna McCarthy collaborating on the editorship of Full Spectrum 1.) The total number of short fiction Hugos to date is 130, and there have been 120 Nebulas.

Of the 12 Hugo winners bought by women since 1982, 8 were stories by men, or two-thirds. In the same time frame, of 55 Hugo winners acquired by male editors (leaving off the two from single-author books), 42 were written by men, about 76%, a very slight difference. Among the female-edited Nebula winning stories, 17 were by men, or 56%. Among the stories male editors bought that won the Nebula, just over half were by men. At least in recent years, it certainly looks like an editor will snap up an award-winning story regardless of the gender of the writer. It also seems clear that women are far more likely to win the Nebula than the Hugo. Perhaps most striking of all is the disparity between Nebula and Hugo Award winners bought by women editors. I can only conclude that the editors responsible, primarily Rusch, McCarthy, and Datlow, tend to buy stories more in line with the tastes of the Nebula voters. It is often said that Nebula voters prefer more literary-oriented stories than Hugo voters, and it is also fairly clear that Nebula voters are more likely to vote for fantasy stories. Of the venues edited by the three women mentioned, two seem somewhat lit-focused (in relative terms): F&SF and SCI FICTION (and, indeed, Datlow's Omni was quite literary in focus), and two are sufficiently open to publishing fantasy that they have the word in their names: F&SF again as well as Realms of Fantasy. I would think that those factors go some way towards explaining the bias towards women editors buying Nebula winners vs. Hugo winners.


It's worth asking what we might see if we looked at the list of Hugo and Nebula nominations (or, perhaps more precisely, short-listed stories). This isn't quite as simple a task. For one thing, there were no lists of Hugo nominations until 1959. And in the early years of both Hugo and Nebula "short lists" the number of stories on the short lists varied greatly. And very possibly the presence of jury-selected stories on recent Nebula shortlists will slightly skew the results. (Particularly as the juries have usually concentrated on finding stories from less traditional sources: out-of-genre publications, small-press publications, and online sites.) However, I have compiled a list of the editors of all Hugo and Nebula short-listed stories, which I will gladly email to anyone on request. (It's a bit cumbersome to put on the web just now.) I should caution that my list is incomplete: in many cases I was not able to determine the acquiring editor. (Particular thanks to Mark Kelly, who supplied the lists of nominees from which I worked.)

I was able to glean some tidbits from the list of editors of short-listed stories. One of the great joys is to be reminded of the editors of publications that have not been represented in the awards, usually due to obscurity or to being overseas. Thus, we see some stories from Interzone, primarily edited by David Pringle, on the list. And we see stories from worthy small magazines like Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, editors), Century (Robert K. J. Kilheffer, editor) and Crank! (Bryan Cholfin, editor). There are also online sources such as Strange Horizons (Jed Hartman, fiction editor), and out-of-genre anthologies like McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (Michael Chabon, editor). Going back to 1971 and Larry Niven's "The Fourth Profession" I was reminded of Samuel R. Delany and Marilyn Hacker's offbeat anthology series Quark. (Of which Niven's story was surely one of the least characteristic!) And going back farther in time stories appear from E. J. Carnell's English magazine Science Fantasy, from Avram Davidson's editorship of F&SF, and from Sol Cohen's somewhat controversial time editing Amazing and Fantastic. Other not well remembered magazines show up: Cosmos (edited by David Hartwell), from the '70s; from the '60s, The Magazine of Horror, edited by the great Robert A. W. Lowndes, who spent his career publishing surprisingly good stories in low-budget magazines; from the '50s, the almost unknown Vanguard, edited for its only issue by James Blish. And throughout the late '60s and early '70s we see a bunch of stories nominated out of original anthologies: The Farthest Reaches (edited by Joseph Elder), Three for Tomorrow (edited by Robert Silverberg), The Alien Condition (edited by Stephen Goldin), Future Power (edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann), and of course the legendary (though not quite in a good way) Epoch, edited by Robert Silverberg and Roger Elwood. And many more. For all that, by and large the stories on the short lists have always tended to come overwhelmingly from the top magazine and anthologies.

Of the 51 Hugo nominees bought by women editors since 1982, 39 are by male writers, or 76%. This tracks exactly with the total percentage of short-listed stories since 1982 by male writers: also 76%. (Over the history of the Hugo Award, 18.5% of the short fiction winners have been women, and 19.5% of the nominees have been women.)

Finally, one last Gardner Dozois statistic. Of the 304 short fiction Hugo nominees during his tenure at Asimov's, a remarkable 167, or 55%, have been from his magazine.


A number of web sites and other sources were very helpful in researching this article. In particular, the Hugo lists come directly from the Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards. The Nebula lists come from SFWA's own site. I found the editors by consulting such sources as the Internet Science Fiction Database, the Contento Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections, Combined Edition, The Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984-1998), Stephen T. Miller and William G. Contento's Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index: 1890-2002, and of course my own library.

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