Tiptree Fellowship Winners selected!

We are pleased to announce the selection of two Tiptree Fellows: Elizabeth LaPensée and Walidah Imarisha. LaPensée expresses herself through writing, design, and art in games, comics, and animation. Imarisha is an educator, editor, writer, organizer and spoken word artist. Both these creators are stretching the boundaries of speculative fiction by telling new stories and exploring new media through which stories can be told.

The Tiptree Fellowship program, created earlier this year, is designed to provide support and recognition for the new voices who are making visible the forces that are changing our view of gender today. Each Fellow will receive $500. The work produced as a result of this support will be recognized and promoted by the Tiptree Award.

In describing her work, Elizabeth LaPensée writes:

My work speaks to Indigenous futurisms and to questioning the “speculative” of speculative narrative. I have been raised with an understanding that our science fiction is not science fiction, but rather science fact, recognizing as Anishinaabekwe and Métis that our traditional stories pass on vital teachings that will unravel healing for the world. Acceptance of gender fluidity is an aspect of healing.


With the support of her Tiptree Fellowship, LaPensée plans to create an addition to Spacecanoe, her interactive web-friendly non-linear episodic animation. In this alternate reality, people choose what varying expressions of gender they are happiest with and any arrangement of partnership that makes them happiest from moment to moment. This world reflects the views of certain Indigenous cultures present and active today. The animation does not include dialogue, but rather is an abstract and artful expression of this way of living and knowing.

Walidah Imarisha is working on several projects that work with the concept of visionary science fiction. One project is a new collection of poetry called Tubman’s Uncertainty Principle. These poems explore Black women’s freedom struggles historically, currently, and futuristically through a poetic framework of quantum physics. Imarisha is also is writing a novel that expands on her short story “Black Angel,” originally published in the anthology Octavia’s Brood. Imarisha writes,

With characters like a big-haired grumpy Black woman/fallen angel turned reluctant superhero, a Palestinian anti-racist skinhead, an undocumented girl whose parents have been sold to a sweatshop, I explore issues of crime, punishment, gender, sexual identity, war, race, faith and religion, xenophobia, colonialism and redemption.

We intend to continue to provide Fellowships in future years. Over time, the Fellowship program will create a network of Fellows who can build connections, provide mutual support, and find opportunities for collaboration. This effort will complement the on-going work of the Award — that is, the celebration of speculative fiction that expands and explores gender roles in thought-provoking, imaginative, and occasionally infuriating ways. The Tiptree Award is intended to reward those writers who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society.

The selection committee for this year’s Tiptree Fellowships was made up of Tiptree Motherboard members Alexis Lothian and Debbie Notkin, Tiptree Award winner Nisi Shawl, and inaugural Tiptree Fellow micha cárdenas.

If you would like to donate to the fund for future Tiptree Fellowships, you can do so via paypal@otherwiseaward.org, or you can mail a check to 680 66th Street, Oakland, CA 94609. Let us know if you would like your donation to support the Fellowships program specifically.

The Otherwise Fellowships, 2015: Call for Applications

What are the Tiptree Fellowships?

Backstory: Who was James Tiptree, Jr?

How to Apply

We would like you to submit three things: two statements of 1-2 pages each (500 words at most), and an example of your work. At the moment, we regrettably only have the resources to consider English-language applications.

Statement 1 should answer this question:

How are you working with speculative narrative to expand or explore our understanding of gender?

Here we want you to tell us why your work is groundbreaking: what’s speculative about it, and how you engage questions of gender and their context – such as intersections with race, nationality, class, disability, sexuality, age, or other categories of identification and structures of power. Use this statement to tell us why we should be excited about supporting your work.

Statement 2 should answer this question.

What will you use the fellowship for?

Here we want to know why the monetary grant will be important for the particular project you plan to use it to help realize. Maybe it will go toward materials, travel for research, or the cost of presenting your work at a conference or exhibition. Maybe it will buy you time away from a job or other responsibilities so that you have time to focus on your creative work. We realize that $500 is a drop in the ocean when it comes to some kinds of projects, like films; maybe you will be using your fellowship as seed money, to help build up a larger sum you need to raise.

The third requirement is an example of your work.

This can take any form you like: a link to something online, a copy of a published or unpublished piece of fiction or nonfiction writing, a set of images that tell a story, a video, or something else. If you are applying for a Tiptree Fellowship to work on a larger project that is in progress, you may wish to share pieces that you have already completed.

To apply, email these three things (please save your statements as a single file) to fellowships@otherwiseaward.org by September 1.

Expectations of Tiptree Fellows

As a Tiptree Fellow, the main thing we want from you is for you to do your work.

However, at the end of the year in which you have been a Fellow, we will ask you for two things.

  1. To write a short report on what you did as a Tiptree Fellow, which we will publish on the Tiptree website.
  2. To be a part of the committee that selects Tiptree Fellows for the following year. This will involve reading applications and discussing them; discussion will happen online.

We also hope to bring the Tiptree Fellows together for a virtual or physical gathering in the future, so we would like to be able to stay in touch.

Procedures: Who decides on the Fellowship Awards?

The applications for Tiptree Fellowships will be read by the Tiptree Fellowship Committee, which will change every year. The first committee will be made up of the inaugural Tiptree Fellow, micha cárdenas, who was invited by the Motherboard to collaborate on the structure of the Fellows program, together with Tiptree Motherboard members Alexis Lothian and Debbie Notkin and Tiptree Award winner Nisi Shawl. In the future, former Tiptree Fellows will serve on the Committee alongside members of the Motherboard and other affiliates of the Tiptree Award.

As with the Tiptree Award, each Fellowship Committee will make its own interpretations of the guidelines, and will set its own procedure for reading and discussing applications. We will have some guiding concerns that all committees will be asked to take into account, however, and we suggest that they be considered in the following order:

  1. Merit: how exciting is the work proposed in its speculative, intersectional exploration of gender?
  2. Need: will this financial award make a big difference to this applicant’s capacity to do this work in the way they want to do it?
  3. Diversity: are the Fellows chosen in any given year representative of the diversity (of race, nationality, gender, dis/ability, class, age) of creators working in speculative narrative forms?
  4. Recognition: will this award bring needed recognition to someone who has so far had little of it?

How to Support the Tiptree Fellowships

If you would like to donate to the fund for future Tiptree Fellowships, you can use the Paypal button at the upper left of this screen or mail a check to 680 66th Street, Oakland, CA 94609. Let us know if you would like your donation to support the Fellowships program specifically.