...because it looks like he's compensating for something.
I saw for the first time the ToC for Eclipse Three, an ongoing anthology series of new fiction.
Notice that 11 out of the 16 authors are women. (Also notice that the cover advertises Peter Watts but he isn't in the ToC but that's beside the point) That's an unusually high number.
Let's take a look at the original ToC for last year's Eclipse Two:
Hmmm... only 1 woman in the original ToC for Eclipse Two. And no authors that are clearly members of minority groups. Hey! Isn't this the same anthology that got criticized last year for not having enough women and minorities? Wasn't the ToC later revised to include Ted Chiang and Margo Lanagan? Boosting that diversity factor by 200%?
The covers are strange too. In Eclipse One the ratio of M:F was 9:7 but all 6 cover authors were men. In Eclipse Two, the ration of M:F was 13:2 and both women made the cover (after Eclipse One received some heat for that). Eclipse Three has 4 female authors on the cover, one male author, and for fun another author who isn't even in the table of contents! That's Jonathan Strahan just screwing with us right there. "I'll put 10 male authors on the cover but have all of the content written by female authors. Who's sexist now?"
Now I'm not suggesting that any one of these authors don't deserve to be in the anthology or can't write. That's not the case at all. I'm suggesting that the disproportionately high number of female authors gives the impression that Jonathan Strahan was purposefully trying to build an anthology around female authors. This is even more suspicious when you consider the criticism that was voiced around Eclipse Two last year. I know its counter intuitive but I think this does a disservice to the authors. To me the ToC says "I got in trouble for not having enough women authors last year, this ought to shut them up" instead of "Hey here are some really good SF&F stories, enjoy."
I realize I'm walking a fine line here but I feel like you can't react to Eclipse Two or The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF with outrage without at least raising an eyebrow at the make-up of Eclipse Three. Why does a book with an unusually high amount of men cause outrage but an unusually high amount of women slip by? Don't they both suggest that the editor might have been considering something else other than the stories themselves when it came to commissioning/selecting work?
Certainly, with any EditorFail you can't know for sure what the editor's intention was. Jonathan Strahan probably didn't realize that he had a lot of women this year, just as I'm sure he didn't realize it was mostly men last year. It appears he is leaning to more of a slipstream/fantasy feel for this anthology and maybe he had more female authors in mind for the style of stories he was looking for. I can't be sure if he did or not. You can only know what you personally interpret it as or what you think it could be interpreted as by someone else. And I can clearly see how some people could see this as an apology, as pandering, or as biased; even more so than last years. Unfortunately, there's also no clear right way to fix the problem. It would appear that the Jonathan Strahan's anthologies might be eclipsed by the stigma of EditorFails for years to come.
And why is there still only one author clearly representing a minority group? Not as easy spell that out on the cover? Are we saving that for Eclipse Four?