Welcome to the Otherwise Award

If you can’t change the world with chocolate chip cookies, how can you change the world?

Pat Murphy

The Otherwise Award

What is the Otherwise Award?

The Otherwise Award celebrates science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of speculative narrative that expand and explore our understanding of gender. We encourage each jury to take an expansive view of “science fiction and fantasy,” considering works that don’t fit into a narrow genre definition. We also seek out works that have a broad, intersectional, trans-inclusive understanding of gender in the context of race, class, nationality, disability, and more.

Each year, the Otherwise Award is presented at WisCon, the world’s premiere feminist science fiction convention, to the creator of a work published in the previous year. Alongside the winner, an Honor List is announced, with the goal of celebrating MANY works, not just one or two per year. The Award celebration is known for its exuberance and irony: the winner is crowned with a tiara, serenaded by hundreds of attendees, showered with chocolate, and awarded a check for $1000 and a piece of original art.

Space Babe tiara art, created by Jeanne Gomoll for the Award in 2018.
The Otherwise Award’s iconic Space Babe, created by Jeanne Gomoll.

Although most of the works honored are novels or short stories, poetry, film and television, and music have also been nominated. Anyone can nominate any work (including their own) at any time of the year and at no cost.

The Otherwise Fellowships are small grants for emerging creators who are using speculative narrative to change the way we think about gender in its intersections with other systems of identity and power. Each year’s Fellows help to choose those who will be honored in the following year.

We fund our program activities entirely through donations, which we often raise through communal efforts, including bakesales and an annual charity auction (more accurately described as an intersectional feminist stand-up performance) hosted each year at WisCon.

Sumana Harihareswara hosts the Auction in 2018.