Of Course, There Is Chocolate

Pawel, our conference organizer, seemed determined to make certain we experienced a great range of Polish culture — so we finished that day with a feast of Polish cuisine in a restored grain mill outside Lublin. We could not necessarily pronounce all the dishes that we ate, but we could (and did) enjoy them all.

The next day we returned to the university for discussion of gender and sexuality, of Hispanic SF, teaching SF, and much more, ending the day and the conference with the Awards Banquet at the Grand Hotel Lublinianka. The award presented to the Tiptree Motherboard was named for noted science fiction scholar Thomas D. Clareson, The Clareson Award has been presented annually since 1996. Past winners have included Frederik Pohl, James Gunn, David Hartwell, and Paul Kincaid.

Pat and Karen accept the Clareson Award
Pat and Karen accept the Clareson Award

At the ceremony, Karen expressed the Motherboard’s appreciation, saying, “As everyone in this room knows full well, when you join a volunteer organization you’d best expect virtue to be its own reward.  That’s not meant as a complaint.  Pat and I have loved every minute of running the Tiptree Award.  We’ve met amazing people and read amazing work and it’s all been a very good time.  But we did start the award with a specific mission, to support and encourage a kind of speculative literature we worried was not being recognized, a literature very important to us.  And it’s hard to see from the inside whether an impact has been made.  So we are enormously surprised, gratified, and grateful that you’ve chosen to honor us with this award.  It makes us hope that we are, perhaps, achieving those initial, fundamental goals.”

From its inception in 1990, the Tiptree Award has been associated with chocolate. The first award was a typewriter made of chocolate, and all subsequent awards have included chocolate. For that reason, the SFRA presented the Tiptree Motherboard with a delicious but difficult-to-pronounce addition to the usual plaque:  Plum in Chocolate or Śliwka Nałęczowska w czekoladzie.

Polish ad for chocolate beverage
Polish ad for chocolate beverage

What next?  Make your choice: 

Option 1:  Demonstrating our great will power, Karen and I transported the chocolate back to California, where we shared it with other Motherboard members Debbie Notkin, Jeanne Gomoll, Jeff Smith, and Ellen Klages.

Option 2: That night, Karen and I devoured all the chocolate, washing it down with Żubrówka, a specialty of Poland. (In English, Żubrówkais called bison grass vodka, but why call it that when the native Polish offers so many exciting diacritical marks and opportunities for mispronunciation?)

Before you make your choice, here are some questions to consider:

How do you feel about diacritical marks? If you like them, say Śliwka Nałęczowska w czekoladzie three times fast. Do you still like diacritical marks?

Is it proper to eat something you can’t pronounce? What if the item in question is chocolate? Does that change the rules?

Is unpronounceable chocolate better when washed down with an unpronounceable beverage?

Żubrówka can be mixed with chilled apple juice to make a drink known in the United Kingdom as a “Frisky Bison.” Do you think there is a name for a blend of Żubrówka and chocolate? Should there be? Or is the whole thing a very bad idea?

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