Okay, head-hopping (aka "best-seller omniscient") is a specific type of omniscient writing that attempts to get away with storytelling in omniscient without the use of a narrator to hold things together (1). Essentially, it dispenses with transitions, with the most powerful tool of the omniscient voice--which is the ability to pull back and show a broad, sweeping perspective, as Richard Adams often does in Watership Down, which is the book I most often point to when I want to demonstrate omniscient done well--and instead bounces the reader from head to head so that the reader can be told what each character is feeling or thinking.See, and here I thought it was the equivalent of a string of first person narratives telling you the events as they looked to the people best qualified to narrate them. Frankly, if you can show me a person's thoughts and *not* characterize them in doing so, I... would suggest the fault lies with the characterization (the characters are stock types or all the same person) and not the narrative technique.
The reason I say its evile is because it is crude, because it's cheating (we don't need to bother to characterize, when we can just bounce into the Duke's head and show you what he's thinking), and because it dispenses with subtlety in the interests of making things as easy as possible on the reader and the writer.
To me a fixed narrator (other than first person narrator, because the I pov is instinctive and natural to us) is a technical trick. Increasingly I feel it's done from habit or worse, conscious cleverness, and not because it's the best or most satisfying way of telling the characters' story. Often the fixed or hands-off narrator hinders and limits my understanding of the action, which *really* requires me to know what B and C are thinking and not only A. But no! I'm not going to find out what B and C are thinking because the small-souled author stays stuck in A's head, figuratively going Nanny-nanny booboo *I* know but I'm not telling!
Alas, when I read I want to know about the characters far more than I want to applaud the author's technical expertise. Well, except with those writers for whom technical expertise is the main reason for writing the book. Then I usually find myself perfectly indifferent to the characters and can put the book down after ten pages with no regret at all.
I understand that sonnets and haiku have technical rules but I can't see why novels should, of necessity and as a default. They never did to start with, good old johnny come latelies that they are. And more- my understanding of how stories are narrated has been influenced by drama and movies, where A will sometimes stop and talk to himself about being and not being, or where I and the camera are free to wander away from what A is doing to show me what B and C are up to, which I see through my eyes and not through the mediating eye of A. I expect to have that freedom in my stories as well. More- I want democracy. Every character is the hero of his own story; why should only the author's designated hero be the one whose thoughts I get to hear?
Well, I can do that. If I want to write the equivalent of a soliloquy not only for my pov character but also his father and his bedbuddy, I will. And I can, because I'm a fanwriter. The freedom that comes from having a hobby, not a profession- Vive la liberté!
(Oh yes- an ancient and time-honoured reason for writing fanfic? To make the other characters the heroes of their own stories, to give them a narrative voice, since their own authors didn't.)