Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Canadian science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer stirred up some controversy recently by calling for Analog Science Fiction and Fact editor Stanley Schmidt to win the Hugo Award for Best Editor. Schmidt has been nominated for the award many times, but has never won. Sawyer's call was taken up on the readers forums of both Analog and Asimov's. While a number of people supported Sawyer's call, others said that this wasn't a strong year for Analog and that the award should not be given for mercy or pity reasons.
Personally, I take exception to the idea that giving Schmidt a Hugo would be an act of mercy or pity or that this wasn't a strong year for his magazine. Analog remains the best-selling science fiction magazine in the U.S. and a number of the magazine's stories from the last year have been honored. Richard Horton picked two Analog stories--"Vectoring" by Geoffrey Landis and "Virus Changes Skin" by Ekaterina Sedia--for his upcoming best of the year anthology, while "Things That Aren't" by Michael A. Burstein and Robert Greenberger made the Nebula preliminary ballot. To those 2007 stories I would add several other strong tales, especially "Icarus Beach" by C. W. Johnson and "Some Distant Shore" by Dave Creek. And to top all that off, I absolutely loved the serialization of Karl Schroeder's Queen of Candesce. Without Analog I'd never have started Schroeder's Virga sequence, which for my money is the best hard science fiction series in many years.
And that's just from 2007. This year is also shaping up to be a great one for Analog, with the first three 2008 issues having some amazing stories (especially the serial Marsbound by Joe Halderman).
So would it be an act of mercy to give Schmidt a Hugo for all that? Absolutely not. Instead, the award would be well deserved.