I was present at Loncon last Sunday when Ellen Datlow won a Hugo, her fifth. Ellen and I have been friends since she was a new-minted assistant fiction editor at the late, lamented Omni. She rose to the position of fiction editor, which we all expected would be the peak of her career – not because any of us had any doubts about her abilities, but because there simply was no higher position as a genre short fiction editor available. When Omni folded, she became the fiction editor of Event Horizon and then Sci Fiction, both webzines. Meanwhile, she was co-editing The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (she chose the horror while the fantasy was handled by first Terri Windling and then Gavin Grant and Kelly Link). When that volume ceased to be she began editing The Best Horror of the Year. And simultaneously with all that, Ellen was editing many, many original SF, fantasy, and horror anthologies. For which she has won, in addition to the aforementioned Hugos, three Bram Stoker Awards, two Shirley Jackson Awards, and nine World Fantasy Awards.
Oh yeah, and she’s slated to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in D. C. this year.
But for all that, I was caught by surprise Sunday when the slate of nominees for Best Editor (Short Form) was read out. All the editors were popular with the crowd. But the applause for Ellen was not only louder but warmer than the applause for all the rest. And when she was announced the winner the entire room roared.
All these years I've known Ellen, liked her, sold her stories, and admired her editing. But now, in amazement, I realized that she was not just an extremely good editor -- she was a legendary editor.
There is no official mechanism for achieving this status, no trophy, no ceremony, not even a certificate. It is something that can be only given spontaneously by the readership at large. And for this reason it is worth more than all the other awards put together.
Congratulations, Ellen! I'm proud to be your friend.
And I really must say . . .
Thank you to everyone who congratulated me on being chosen as a guest of honor for MidAmeriCon 2, the 2016 Worldcon. I was delighted by the honor and am deeply grateful for your good wishes. Particularly those of the writers who (you know who you are, most of you) deserve that same honor yourselves.
Um... and that's all, really. I'm going to slip back into obscurity now.
Above: Everybody's favorite photo of Ellen, created by the brilliant J. K. Potter.