On May 25, in Madison, Wisconsin, at WisCon 38, N.A. Sulway accepted the Tiptree Award for Rupetta.
The Tiptree Award is especially pleased that the publishers of Rupetta have published a paperback edition of the book as a direct result of its receiving the award.As is traditional, Sulway received a check for $1,000, a certificate of winning, a box of home-made chocolates, a Tiptree t-shirt (designed by Freddie Baer), a Space Babe cloisonne pin, and a piece of original artwork. Rupetta‘s protagonist has a clockwork heart, we commissioned Carl Cone to make one for Nike.
Nike gave an especially remarkable acceptance speech, which we are delighted to share with you all here
The 2014 jury is reading now. Jurors are Darrah Chavey (chair), Elizabeth Bear, Joan Haran, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Amy Thomson. Please recommend stories, books, and other works that explore and expand gender, using the link to the left of this column.
The Drowning Girl by Caitlin Kiernan didn’t only win the Tiptree Award; it also just won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel, presented in New Orleans in June 2013. Coincidentally, we brought Caitlin’s Tiptree prizes to her that same weekend. Her art award was designed by Catherine Crowe and consists of a beautifully designed box which incorporates a removable magnetic brooch.
Andrea’s art award is a double doll designed and created by Madeleine Robins. The fabric was designed by Nalo Hopkinson, who also provided design assistance. This doll represents the character Redwood until you flip up the skirts and turn the doll the other way up, at which point it becomes Wildfire.
Hairston also received $1000 in cash, the traditional chocolate (this year’s was handmade by Alan Bostick), a plaque, a Tiptree t-shirt designed by Freddie Baer, and a Space Babe pin. The impromptu chorus known as “the Tips” serenaded her with a song based on Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” accompanied by David Emerson on electric piano. For the duration of the convention, she got to wear the Tiptree tiara, designed by Elise Matthesen.
Now that the 2011 Tiptree Award has been announced, the 2012 jury is starting work. We are delighted to welcome Joan Gordon as a returning Tiptree Award chair. Joan will be working with the stellar jury team of Andrea Hairston, Lesley Hall, Karen Lord, and Gary Wolfe. Something exciting will come of this.
Dubravka Ugresic accepts Tiptree Award artwork and certificate. Because Ms. Ugresic lives in Amsterdam and couldn’t come to WisCon, James Tiptree’s biographer Julie Phillips got together with her to give her the original artwork by Johnna Y. Klukas. Here’s a picture of Julie Phillips, Dubravka Ugresic, and the artwork.
Although Dubravka Ugresic was unable to attend, we honored her in absentia at WisCon 35. The beautiful original art trophy by Johnna Klukas was on display in the WisCon art show. The trophy, the traditional chocolate, and her award certificate will be given to Ugresic in August by our woman in Amsterdam, Julie Phillips (author of James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon
The 2011 jury is closing recommendations at the end of this month and zeroing in towards winners and an honor list: This year’s jurors are: Lynne Thomas (chair), Karen Meisner, James Nicoll, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Nisi Shawl. Please recommend anything you read that you think is an interesting exploration and expansion of gender here
Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston (Aqueduct Press, 2011) is the winner of the 2011 James Tiptree Jr. Award.
Redwood and Wildfire was a favorite of the jurors from the moment they read it. They reported: “This vivid and emotionally satisfying novel encompasses the life of Redwood, a hoodoo woman, as she migrates from rural Georgia to Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. While Redwood’s romance with Aidan Wildfire is central to the novel, female friendship is also a major theme, without deferring to the romance. Hairston incorporates romantic love into a constellation, rather than portraying it as a solo shining star. Her characters invoke a sky where it can shine; they live and love without losing themselves in cultural expectations, prejudices and stereotypes, all within a lovingly sketched historical frame.
“Intersections of race, class, and gender encompass these characters’ entire lives. They struggle with external and internal forces around questions of gender roles, love, identity, and sexuality. This challenge drives how they move through the world and how it sees them. The characters in Redwood and Wildfire deftly negotiate freedom and integrity in a society where it’s difficult to hold true to these things.”
This year’s jurors were Lynne Thomas (chair), Karen Meisner, James Nicoll, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Nisi Shawl.
In addition to selecting the winner, the jury chose a Tiptree Award Honor List. The Honor List is a strong part of the award’s identity and is used by many readers as a recommended reading list for the rest of the year. This year’s Honor List is:
Libba Bray, Beauty Queens (Scholastic Press 2011) — In this atypically comedic Tiptree candidate, a cast of iconic characters trapped on a hostile island (populated by the capitalist analog of Doctor No) illuminates the limited palette of roles for women and offers the hope of more rewarding and rounded lives.
L. Timmel Duchamp, “The Nones of Quintilus” (in her collection Never at Home, Aqueduct Press 2011) — This standout story addresses the relationships between mothers and daughters and how the world looks different when you become (or intend to become) pregnant.
Kameron Hurley, God’s War (Night Shade Books 2011) — Set on a marginally habitable world divided by a common religion with diverse interpretations, this engaging work explores a militaristic matriarchal society.
Gwyneth Jones, The Universe of Things (Aqueduct Press 2011) — Running through these gorgeous stories is a fierce awareness of how gender roles and other social power imbalances are always factors in how we think, how we approach one another, how we see the world. The author questions the status quo, and then questions the questioning, so what emerges is a mature, honest, thoughtful complexity.
Alice Sola Kim, “The Other Graces” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, July 2010) — This elegantly written short story revisits the role of mirroring in self-actualization and casts that path in a new and skiffy light as its heroine, Grace, is mentored by her older alternate selves. It also depicts racial/cultural intersections with gender roles.
Sandra McDonald, “Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots” (Strange Horizons, 2010.10.04) — A surreal and subversive take on human-AI relations. An older female character exploring her sexuality is a rare thing in science fiction, and it is refreshing to see it handled here with such a deft hand.
Maureen F. McHugh, “After the Apocalypse” (in her collection After the Apocalypse, Small Beer Press 2011) — This title story of an impressive collection brings to the foreground gender expectations concerning the practice of motherhood in extreme situations and then completely and matter-of-factly upends them.
Delia Sherman, The Freedom Maze (Big Mouth House 2011) — A clear-hearted, magically immersive time travel story that explores powerful ideas. Thrown back through time to an antebellum plantation, a thirteen-year-old comes to understand how women’s experience is shaped by cultural expectations as they interweave with social, economic, and racial truths.
Kim Westwood, The Courier’s New Bicycle (Harper Voyager Australia 2011) — This compelling novel depicts a variety of sexually transgressive characters and looks at themes of fertility and alternate family structures through a dystopic lens.
The jury also named a “long list” of books worth mentioning, which is available at the link at the top of this page.
The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council is pleased to announce that the 2010 Tiptree Award is being given to Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, by Dubravka Ugresic (Canongate, 2010).
Baba Yaga Laid an Egg impressed with its power and its grace. Tiptree juror Jessa Crispin explains that the beginning of the book
“does not scream science fiction or fantasy. It starts quietly, with a meditation on the author’s aging mother, and the invisibility of the older woman…. But things shift wholly in the second act, with a surreal little tale of three old ladies, newly moneyed, who check into an Eastern European health spa. There’s another revolution in the third act, where what looks like a scholarly examination of the Russian fairy tale hag erupts into a rallying cry for mistreated and invisible women everywhere.”
Crispin notes that the fairy tale figure Baba Yaga is the witch, the hag, the inappropriate wild woman, the marginalized and the despised. She represents inappropriateness, wilderness, and confusion.
“She’s appropriate material for Ugresic, who was forced into exile from Croatia for her political beliefs. The jurors feel Baba Yaga Laid an Egg is a splendid representation of this type of woman, so cut out of today’s culture.”
The Honor List is a strong part of the award’s identity and is used by many readers as a recommended reading list for the rest of the year. This year’s Honor List is:
The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum (Orbit 2010) — noted for a deliciously complicated plot that challenges 21st century Earth attitudes toward transfolk. One juror noted that this book came closest among the honor list to meeting her Tiptree ideal by including a character that not only embodies a challenge to prescribed roles, but also creates a crack in or addition to the structure that carries forward to future generations.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit 2010) — set in a matriarchal society where the privilege and expectations between the sexes are reversed, while the gender roles are different but recognizable (and believable).
Diana Comet and the Disappearing Lover by Sandra McDonald (published as “Diana Comet,” Strange Horizons, March 2 & March 9, 2009) — a (true) love story, in which the author does something simple but radical with the identity issues at play.
Drag Queen Astronaut by Sandra McDonald (Crossed Genres issue 24, November 2010) — a wonderful exploration (and ultimately an affirmation) of a gender presentation that tends to be ignored or ridiculed.
The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick (Aqueduct Press 2009) — an academic look at the history of early feminism in science fiction, science fiction criticism, and fandom that provides a valuable documentation of our beginnings
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW 2010) —A strong female lead character breaks out of restrictive gender roles to change her life, perhaps changing history as a result. A well-written perspective on prejudice and discrimination and the lessons needed to overcome their bonds on our identities and imaginations.
Living with Ghosts by Kari Sperring (DAW 2009) — an unusual perspective in a main character —a feminized man who makes much of his living as an escort/high-class sex worker who sees ghosts when he is not expecting — or expected — to be able to do so. An excellent read.
The Colony by Jillian Weise (Soft Skull Press 2010) — Takes on the idea that pervades our culture that women have to be perfect in order to have sex with men. One juror notes: “I’ve never read a book that made a woman with one leg so sexually normal.” Smart and well written with subtle gender politics.
In addition to the honor list, this year’s jury also compiled the following “long list” of additional works they found worthy of attention: