Not a Blog

Wild Cards Goodness

July 19, 2017 at 10:12 pm
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Some cool new stuff out there for Wild Cards fans.

Over at Tor.com, the Wild Cards Reread continues with Katie Rask’s insightful look at the fourth volume of the original series, ACES ABROAD. Check it out and join the discussion at:

https://www.tor.com/2017/07/18/religion-revolution-and-80s-politics-wild-cards-iv-aces-abroad/

And there’s some new content on the Wild Cards website as well. A new blog post by Mary Anne Mohanraj about writing an intertwined story

http://www.wildcardsworld.com/how-do-you-tell-an-interlinked-story/

and some great art uploads of work by some of our favorite artists: John Picacio, Marc Simonetti, and Michael Komarck.

((Meanwhile, development continues on the Wild Cards television series. I could tell you all about that as well, but then I’d have to kill you. Oh, yes, and the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel is nearing completion as well. Seven of ten stories in, and the last three expected soon)).

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Hugo Thoughts: Best Professional Editor, Long Form

February 26, 2017 at 5:03 pm
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We are creeping closer and closer to the close of Hugo nominations for That Finnish Worldcon. I hope that all of you reading this who are eligible to nominate will do so. Even if you only nominated one or two of your favorite things in one or two categories, that’s better than not nominating at all.

Last year I put up several long long posts about the two editorial categories, their history, their controversies, some candidates. I don’t have the time or the energy to rehash all that again, but there’s no need… almost all I what I said last time around is still true, and you can find it (if you’re interested) just by searching for the Hugo Award tag in my Not A Blog, downstream.

Today I will limit myself to recommending three outstanding book editors for your consideration. All three are more than worthy of a nomination for Best Professional Editor, Long Form.

Let’s start with my own editor — well, actually, I have a whole bunch of editors, but she’s my main American editor — ANNE LESLEY GROELL.

Anne is the SF and fantasy editor for what used to be Bantam Spectra, and is now Random Penguin or something like that. You know what I mean. She’s edited all my ICE & FIRE books, for starts, plus several of the anthologies I’ve done with Gardner Dozois, and lots of other stuff besides. If you read any SF books from Bantam Spectra or Random Penguin last year, you’ve read work that she’s edited. Anne was nominated for the Hugo once before, but she lost, so she’s a Hugo Loser in good standing. It’s past time she was nominated again.

Next up, let me point you at JOE MONTI.

Joe is the editor at Saga, the SF fantasy imprint of Simon & Schuster. He’s had a long career in the genre, starting as a YA buyer for Barnes & Noble, then working as an agent for several years, before joining the editorial ranks with S&S, where he was giving the assignment of building a new SF line from scratch for a publisher who had been absent from the genre since the end of Timescape. He’s done that, and in fine style. Look at the books Saga published last year and you’ll see his work. Joe has never been nominated for a Hugo. Time he was.

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, I present to you JANE JOHNSON.

Jane is the editor and publisher of HarperCollins Voyager, one of the leading publishers of SF and fantasy in the United Kingdom. British editors are eligible for the Hugo, just like their American counterparts, but they are NEVER nominated, no matter how great their accomplishments… and that’s bollocks, as the Brits might say. Jane is one of the towering figures in our field across the pond, yet she’s never been recognized, and it is bloody well time that she was.

Yes, there are plenty of other talented long form editors in the field who did good work last year. Some of them have won Hugo awards in the past, however… some are nominated year after year. Let’s go beyond the usual suspects this year in Helsinki. I am nominating Anne Lesley Groell, Joe Monti, and Jane Johnson for the rocket this year, and I hope you will consider doing the same.

Whoever you nominate, though… NOMINATE.

A Bit More (Fake) History

January 31, 2017 at 5:06 pm
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I had intended to write this post a few days ago, when Bantam gave me the green light, but I got busy, and we had Carrie Vaughn coming to town, and a worldcon/ Hugo deadline approaching, and all that seemed more time-sensitive, so I wrote those instead. Unfortunately, that meant the news below broke from other sources, and inevitably, all sorts of weird distortions crept in, and now the internet is rife with rumors and false reports and misinformation. Pfui. I need to set the record straight.

My friend Gardner Dozois, long-time anthologist and winner (many many times) of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, has a big new fantasy anthology coming out this fall. It’s called THE BOOK OF SWORDS, and it’s about… well… swords. Y’know. “Stick ’em with the pointy end.”

I have a story in the book. “The Sons of the Dragon” is the title. Those of you who enjoyed “The Princess and the Queen” in DANGEROUS WOMEN and “The Rogue Prince” in ROGUES will probably like this one too. It’s water from the same well. A history rather than a traditional narrative. A lot of telling, only a little showing. (The opposite of what I do in my novels). But if you’re fascinated by the politics of Westeros, as many of my readers seem to be, you should enjoy it. As the title suggests, “The Sons of the Dragon” chronicles the reigns of the second and third Targaryen kings, Aenys I and Maegor the Cruel, along with their mothers, wives, sisters, children, friends, enemies, and rivals. If you’re read something to that effect on the web, good, that much is right.

However, there is a lot that’s wrong out there as well. THE BOOK OF SWORDS is not my book. I didn’t write but a small part of it, and I didn’t edit it, nor even co-edit it. Gardner is one of my oldest friends and he and I have co-edited a number of anthologies together. We did OLD MARS and OLD VENUS together. We did SONGS OF LOVE & DEATH and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS together. We did the huge award-winning cross-genre anthologies WARRIORS, DANGEROUS WOMEN, and ROGUES together. But we did not do THE BOOK OF SWORDS together.

SWORDS is all the Great Gargoo. I mean, it’s not as if he hasn’t edited a hundred other anthologies all by himself, before he did a few with me. We’re friends, but we are not attached at the hip. I edit Wild Cards without any help from Gardner, and he edits lots of great stuff without any help from me… including THE BOOK OF SWORDS and next year’s THE BOOK OF MAGIC (which will also have a story from me, a reprint).

Truth be told, I loved editing those anthologies with Gardner, and we want to do more together. We’re talked about MORE ROGUES and EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WOMEN, since those two books were hugely successful, and we have definite plans for OLD LUNA and, who knows, maybe eventually OLD MERCURY and OLD PLUTO and OLD URANUS. But we’re not doing any of that NOW. The anthologies, much as I loved them, were taking too much of my time, so I stepped back from them… until I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, at least. Once that’s done, maybe I can sneak another one in…

The point is, just because I had to step back did not mean Gardner had to. And he hasn’t. Hence THE BOOK OF SWORDS, which I expect to be just as good as ROGUES or DANGEROUS WOMEN.

The lineup of THE BOOK OF SWORDS is an impressive one:

Introduction by Gardner Dozois
THE BEST MAN WINS, by K.J. Parker
HIS FATHER’S SWORD, by Robin Hobb
THE HIDDEN GIRL, by Ken Liu
THE SWORD OF DESTINY, by Matthew Hughes
“I AM A HANDSOME MAN,” SAID APOLLO CROW, by Kate Elliott
THE TRIUMPH OF VIRTUE, by Walter Jon Williams
THE MOCKING TOWER, by Daniel Abraham
HRUNTING, by C.J. Cherryh
A LONG, COLD TRAIL, by Garth Nix
WHEN I WAS A HIGHWAYMAN, by Ellen Kushner
THE SMOKE OF GOLD IS GLORY by Scott Lynch
THE COLGRID CONUNDRUM, by Rich Larson
THE KING’S EVIL, by Elizabeth Bear
WATERFALLING, by Lavie Tidhar
THE SWORD TYRASTE, by Cecelia Holland
THE SONS OF THE DRAGON, by George R.R. Martin

There’s some amazing writers there. Some of the stories, I expect, will contend for the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award. But I wouldn’t know which, since I haven’t read any of them yet, since I am not the editor. Unlike, say, ROGUES and OLD MARS and the like, where I read every word, because I was the co-editor.

THE BOOK OF SWORDS is scheduled for release on October 10 in hardcover and ebook. (I don’t have the cover art yet, but when I do I will post it here).

As for my own story…

Long-time lurkers on this site will recall that several years ago, when we were working on the gorgeous illustrated worldbook/ concordance that was eventually published as THE WORLD OF ICE & FIRE, I wrote a number of ‘sidebar’s about Westerosi history. Actually, I got rather carried away, until I found I had written 350,000 words of sidebars for a book that was supposed to have only 50,000 words of text (it ended up having a lot more that that, actually). Since I had only reached the regency of Aegon III the Dragonbane, and had largely skipped over Jaehaerys I the Conciliator, however, it became apparent that my sidebars were going to burst the book.

So we pulled them all out, including only severely abridged versions of the main events in THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE. The full versions, much longer and unabridged, will eventually be published in a fake history tome to be called FIRE & BLOOD (and sometimes just the GRRMarillion), but since that one is years away, I included excerpts (again abridged, though not as severely) in DANGEROUS WOMEN and ROGUES. That’s where “The Princess and the Queen” and “The Rogue Prince” came from.

“The Sons of the Dragon” came from the same place. Gardner asked me for a story. I told him I did not have the time to write a story. He asked if perhaps I had more like “The Princess and the Queen” lying about… as it happened, I did. So I sent him “The Sons of the Dragon,” he liked it, and there we are. (Fwiw, though “Sons” has never been published before, some of you may have heard me read it at one convention or another. I think I’ve read it twice, though offhand I do not recall when).

Anyway… that’s the story of the story. Don’t believe any other weird crap you may encounter on the web. It’s Gardner’s book, and it should be a fine one. You can’t go wrong with Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, Lavie Tidhar, Daniel Abraham, Matthew Hughes, and the rest of the contributors that Gargy has assembled. You’ll love their stuff, I know. Maybe you’ll like my contribution as well… if you’re partial to fake history.

GENIUS

January 29, 2017 at 10:20 pm
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A few posts down you’ll find my Hugo Award ruminations for the Dramatic Presentation categories, where I opine at some length about the best films and television shows I saw last year.

Much as I love SF and fantasy, however, not everything I read or view falls into those categories. I wanted to say a few words about another movie I saw recently, and loved.

It’s a film called GENIUS, a period piece set in the 1930s about the relationship between Maxwell Perkins, the legendary Scribners editor, and his most troubled (and troubling) writer, Thomas Wolfe. (No, not Tom Wolfe, the 60s journalist of THE RIGHT STUFF fame, Thomas Wolfe, the doomed 30s novelist of YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN). Stars Colin Firth and Jude Law, both of whom gave brilliant performances. Scripted by John Logan, directed by Michael Grandage.

GENIUS came and went last year almost unnoticed. It was certainly unnoticed by me, else I would have tried to book it for the Jean Cocteau. But it’s running on HBO right now, so all those who missed it (virtually everyone) now has another chance to see it.

I hope you do. Especially if you’re a writer, or an editor, or have any interest in 20th Century American literature, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Maxwell Perkins.

The movie got very little notice from the world at large, but I loved loved loved it. Maybe because it’s a writer’s movie. The period is wonderfully evoked, the acting is fine, and there’s one ten minute scene in the middle of the movie… from when Wolfe delivers OF TIME AND THE RIVER till when Perkins gets on that train… that I thought was just hilarious, heart-breaking, poetic, painful, and just all-around… blue. A blue that was deeper than blue, a blue such as never before…

Well, let’s just say it was a great scene in a fine movie.

Lots of fine movies came out last year, in our genre and out of it. Many of them have been nominated for various Oscars. GENIUS was not, but if I were in the Academy I would certainly have nominated it. Much I loved ARRIVAL and MOANA and some of the other big movies of 2016, I think GENIUS was my favorite film from last year.

Wild Cards Take Texas

January 27, 2017 at 3:52 pm
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We’re calling the latest Wild Cards volumes the America Triad. First one up was MISSISSIPPI ROLL, which we completed and turned in back in October. Then came LOW CHICAGO, delivered in December. And now comes the third and final book in our cross country tour: TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.

Another one done. The manuscript went off to our editors at Tor yesterday. Hot damn!

The table of contents for this one:
Caroline Spector “Bubbles and the Band Trip”
Max Gladstone “The Secret Life of Rubberband”
William F. Wu “Jade Blossom’s Brew”
Diana Rowland “Beats, Bugs, and Boys”
Walton Simons “Is Nobody Going to San Antone?”
Victor Milan “Dust and the Darkness”
David Anthony Durham “Drop City”

TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is the final book in the America Triad, and the twenty-sixth volume of the overall series… but no, it’s not necessary to have read the first twenty-five to enjoy this one. In fact, it’s not even necessary to have read MISSISSIPPI ROLL and LOW CHICAGO (though we hope you will). The America books are not a triad in the traditional sense, like the ones we have done before; they are more in the nature of three stand-alones, linked thematically rather than by plot. Aside from a couple of double-dippers, each book of the three has a different roster of writers.

The cast in TEXAS HOLD ‘EM includes long time fan favorites like the Amazing Bubbles, Mr. Nobody, and Rustbelt, and brings back a couple of minor players from past books in much bigger roles (Jade Blossom from INSIDE STRAIGHT, the Darkness from SUICIDE KINGS), but you’ll meet a bunch of fun new characters as well. Diana Rowland and Max Gladstone are here making their Wild Cards debuts (Abandon hope, all ye who enter here). I think you’ll love their work as much as I do.

TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is a departure for us in other ways as well. Like the Marvel and DC universes, the Wild Cards universe is huge, and allows for all sorts of different stories. Last summer’s HIGH STAKES was our horror outing, and one of the darkest we have ever done. TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is the other side of the coin; a romp, light-hearted and frenetic, with touchs of screwball comedy.

Which doesn’t mean it was easy. “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard,” someone once said (just who is a matter of dispute).

Look for TEXAS HOLD ‘EM sometime next year. At last word, Tor is slating MISSISSIPPI ROLL for publication in hardcover in the fall of this year, with Chicago and Texas to follow, but we don’t have hard dates for those two yet, but you’ll know when we do.

Meanwhile, we have further Wild Cards books in mind… and that TV series in the works…

Remember, we can’t die yet. We haven’t seen the Jolson Story.

Wild Cards Take Chicago

December 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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New York City has been the center of the Wild Cards universe since 1946, when Dr. Tod met Jetboy in the skies over Broadway, and the Takisian xerovirus was unleashed upon the world. It’s past time the Second City got its due. So I am thrilled to report that I’ve just turned in the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel: LOW CHICAGO, set entirely in the city on the lake.

This is the second book in what we’re calling our ‘American Triad’ (MISSISSIPPI ROLL was delivered in October, and we’re still hard at work on TEXAS HOLD’EM), and the twenty-fifth volume of the overall series… but no, it’s not necessary to have read the first twenty-four to enjoy this one.

And it’s a helluva ride, I think. The cast includes old fan favorites like Mr. Nobody, Double Helix, Abigail the Understudy, Golden Boy, Natya, John Fortune, John Nighthawk, Hardhat, and the Sleeper, but some exciting new characters will be on hand as well. Wait till you meet Meathooks, Birdbrain, and Khan.

The table of contents:
John Jos. Miller “A Long Night at the Palmer House”
Kevin Andrew Murphy “Down the Rabbit Hole”
Christopher Rowe “The Motherfucking Apotheosis of Todd Motherfucking Taszycki”
Paul Cornell “A Bit of a Dinosaur”
Marko Kloos “Stripes”
Melinda M. Snodgrass “The Sister in the Streets”
Mary Anne Mohanraj “A Beautiful Facade”
Saladin Ahmed “Meathooks on Ice”

I had a great time editing this one. Hope you’ll all like it as much as I do.

And if you’ve yet to try Wild Cards, the world’s longest-running shared world anthology series (thirty years and counting!)… hey, what are you waiting for!

No publication date for LOW CHICAGO yet, but you’ll know as soon as Tor tells me.

Rolling on the River

October 1, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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The old MAVERICK tv series (one of my childhood favorites) had a great theme song with a line about Maverick “living on jacks and queens.” In the Wild Cards series, we prefer aces and jokers.

And you’ll find plenty of both in MISSISSIPPI ROLL, the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel, which we’ve just completed and delivered to our editors at Tor. This is the first book in what we’re calling our ‘American Triad’ (to be followed, in good time, by LOW CHICAGO and TEXAS HOLD’EM), and the twenty-fourth volume of the overall series… but no, it’s not necessary to have read the first twenty-three to enjoy this one.

The lineup this time out:
Stephen Leigh “In the Shadow of Tall Stacks”
John Jos. Miller “Wingless Angel”
Carrie Vaughn “A Big Break in the Small Time”
Cherie Priest “Death on the Water”
Kevin Andrew Murphy “Find the Lady”
David D. Levine “Under the Arch”

No publication date yet, but you’ll be the first to know as soon as we get the word from Tor.

HIGH STAKES was one of our darkest books, an excursion into Lovecraftian horror. MISSISSIPPI ROLL will have a much lighter tone, but plenty of fun and excitement.

I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did editing it.

Behold, The Mighty Editor

March 25, 2016 at 11:07 am
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I have my editor’s hat on today. (It looks just like my writer’s hat, only in a different color). ((No, not really, I am being facetitious. Damn, you guys, don’t take everything I say so literally)).

For the past three weeks, the forty-odd (some very odd) members of the Wild Cards consortium have been submitting story proposals and pitches for the three new WC books from Tor, LOW CHICAGO and MISSISSIPPI ROLL and TEXAS HOLD ‘EM. Last night at midnight was the deadline for pitches.

As usual, we have more proposals than we need. Only eight writers per book. So today is Decision Day, wherein I decide who gets to be in which book, who is out, who gets to double-dip. It is never easy. So many talented writers, so many great characters, so many fun ideas.

But that’s why I get the Big Bucks as editor (that was another joke, yessir, for sure, this is a labor of looooooove).

John Sebastian said it best:

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Wild Cards Times Three

March 16, 2016 at 5:15 pm
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Some exciting news on the WILD CARDS front for fans of the world’s longest running shared world anthology series.

HIGH STAKES will be out later this year, as previously announced. That’s the third and concluding volume in what we’ve come to call our “mean streets and madness” triad, and the twenty-third volume in the overall series (which originally began way way back in 1987). It was also the last new volume under contract to Tor.

But no longer! Wild Cards will fight another day. Tor has just stepped up and signed us for three more originals. This set we will be calling (informally) “the USA Triad.” But it won’t really be a triad, more like three stand-alones, each with its own setting, cast, and tone.

The three new books are:
TEXAS HOLD ‘EM
MISSISSIPPI ROLL
LOW CHICAGO

Details? Sorry. You’ll need to wait for those. The ink on the contracts is not quite dry yet, so we’re just getting up to steam (as in MISSISSIPPI… no, that would be telling).

This much I can tell you. I’ll be editing the new volumes, natch. Melinda Snodgrass will continue as my assistant editor and right hand woman. And we’ll be calling on the madman and wild women of the Wild Cards consortium for stories, as ever. Whenever we begin a new triad and a new contract, however, we like to reach out and recruit a few new writers. Fresh blood is just so tasty, and adding some new characters to the mix always helps to enliven things.

So let me introduce you to our Class of 2016. The newest inmates in the asylum are:
SALADIN AHMED
MAX GLADSTONE
MARKO KLOOS
DIANA ROWLAND

They’re all insanely talented, and they claim they play well with others (we’ll see). And no, I won’t tell you about the new characters they’ve created for us… but we think you’re going to like them.

WILD CARDS! From 1987 to forever….

((And if you have not caught the virus yet, there’s still time. Head over to the Jean Cocteau Bookshop at http://www.jeancocteaubooks.com/ and you’ll find all sorts of signed Wild Cards books on sale, some of them with multiple autographs from editors and writers both).

[[Comments welcome. On Wild Cards only, please. Stay on topic]].

What They Edited, the Third

February 20, 2016 at 7:55 pm
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Returning once more to the Hugo Awards…

In my original post about Best Editor (Long Form), I mentioned the names of a number of very gifted and hard-working editors deserving (IMNSHO, of course) of nomination. Some of the fans commenting on that post, both here and over on FILE 770, said they could not possibly vote for any of them — or for any editor, actually — without knowing what titles each of them had edited during the awards year.

So I asked them.

Some have replied. Downstream of this, you’ll find a list of the books edited last year by Anne Lesley Groell of Bantam Specta, Diana Pho of Tor, and Jane Johnson of HarperCollins Voyager. And today I have a response from an editor who was NOT mentioned in my original post, but should have been: JOE MONTI of Saga Press.

Saga, for those who do not follow the ins and outs of publishing closely, is the new science fiction imprint of Simon & Schuster/ Pocket Books. S&S, of course, is one of publishing’s Big Five, a major major house with a long and storied history, but they have not had much presence in our genre since David G. Hartwell’s prestigious Timescape imprint folded a few decades back. The return of S&S to SF was one of the big publishing stories of recent years, and a very good thing for our field. It says a lot for Joe Monti’s skills that he was the guy S&S chose to launch Saga and go head to head with Tor, Bantam Spectra, Del Rey, DAW, Baen, and the other long-established SF imprints.

And so far, I think, he’s done a hell of a job. But you can judge that for yourself. When I wrote Joe and asked what books he’d edited last year, he replied:

“As for this, I sat on it a bit as I wasn’t sure if I deserved to be mentioned, but I will play along… I edited and acquired a lot in my inaugural year for Saga Press! I really was scrambling to present a full list, along with my fellow editorial conspirator Navah Wolfe, to showcase the kind of books I hope to publish and a sense of my tastes.

“One author I snapped up in a pre-empt in my first days: The great Ken Liu. Some were through previous relationships I had as an agent, a friend, others were just serendipity like The Gospel of Loki and Lagoon, which I saw on publisher rights list and ran screaming after. They are, in loose order of publication:

The Darkside War by the enigmatic Zachary Brown
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris
Cold Iron by Stina Leicht
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Loosed Upon the World: the Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction, edited by John Joseph Adams
The Red by Linda Nagata
The War Against the Assholes by Sam Munson
The Trials by Linda Nagata (The Red trilogy #2)
Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman
Going Dark by Linda Nagata (The Red trilogy #3)

I also reissued a few excellent books that were previously at other publishers:
Chuck Wendig’s first three Miriam Black novels: Blackbirds, Mockingbird, and The Cormorant (Setting up for books 4, 5, & 6 starting in 2017)
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
The November Criminals by Sam Munson

And then I repackaged a few great books from the S&S lists for adult SFF readers:
The Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey: Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums; all with new introductions by Tamora Pierce, Naomi Novik and Brandon Sanderson (respectfully)

The Sea of Trolls trilogy by Nancy Farmer: The Sea of Trolls, The Islands of the Blessed, The Land of Silver Apples

The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black: White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart.

PHEW! I am really proud of that list, as they contain a few debuts and all of them reflect authors… stretching their… skills… I really feel lucky to be in my dream job after all this time. That’s why I got the Saga colophon tattoo!”

So there’s another name to consider when you are making those Hugo nominations.

We have a wealth of choices in Best Editor (Long Form) this year. Good editors, who would make worthy winners. Regardless of what the slates chose to do, my own hope is that one of them gets to claim a rocket in Kansas City, to thunderous applause.