Our pause and interim plans

As has been the case for many volunteer-run organizations, the Otherwise Award has struggled since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Our (volunteer) board and other volunteers have had to juggle many more issues than previously around health, paid work, and caretaking concerns than previously, which has resulted in our falling behind on the administration and maintenance of the Award. We’re sorry that we didn’t communicate about this earlier—that made it hard for readers, authors, and publishers to know what to expect.

Our Motherboard met recently to discuss how to move forward. We remain dedicated to our mission: to celebrate science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of speculative narrative that expand and explore our understanding of gender . But we’re discussing how, as an organization, to continue to pursue that mission in a sustainable way, given our limited resources.

Here are the decisions we’ve made so far.

Most of our programs are paused. This is us acknowledging what’s already been happening. We were later than usual at deliberating and announcing the Awards for work published in 2020 and in 2021, and did not run a Fellowships process in 2021 or 2023. We have not yet convened a jury to consider works published in 2022, 2023, or 2024.

We intend to run the Fellowships this year. We will open applications in several months—August at the earliest, October at the latest.

We may honor 2022 and 2023 work in a different way. We’re exploring various approaches to celebrating work from those years. That celebration may end up taking a very different form than usual.

We’re considering alternative approaches to the Award in the future. It could be that we’ll convene a jury soon to read 2024 work and deliberate towards an Award, but if we do, we may change our practices to reduce the workload on individual jury members and to make our procurement system for recommended works less laborious. Also, we currently rely on volunteer work for almost all of the organization’s labor (exceptions being technological work on our website, and art commissioned to give to Award winners); we may try to find ways to focus more on paid labor.

We’ll be at Readercon. We usually honor the most recent Award winner at WisCon , but this year we have no new award winner, and WisCon is taking a break . So we will instead hold some Otherwise-related events at Readercon (July 11-14, 2024, near Boston, Massachusetts). Specifics to be determined.

We’ll say more soon. Within the next few months, we’ll have further announcements about our activities, and will announce them on this blog, on our mailing list, and on social media.

Thank you for your support for the Award.

-Sumana Harihareswara, Motherboard chair

Eligible for nomination: 2023 books & stories by past Otherwise winners and fellows

We bring to your attention books and short stories published in 2023 by creators whose works have previously won the Otherwise (formerly Tiptree) Award, and our past Fellows. As nomination and voting deadlines get closer for awards for 2023 work (Feb. 28th is the nomination deadline for the Nebulas!), consider adding these to your reading list:

Happy reading and nominating!
And thanks to Zoe Samer for researching this list.

Comings and goings

We’re bidding a fond farewell to some of our longtime dedicated volunteers, and welcoming two new members of the Motherboard.

We’d like to thank the following people for their years of service and support of the award:

  • Alexis Lothian was the chair of the Motherboard until 2022, and had been a Motherboard member since 2012.
  • Kate Schaefer had been managing our mailing list for years—sending out emails to the list, adding and removing people on request, and more.
  • Liz Henry had been on the Motherboard since 2021, and was the chair of the jury for the 2005 and 2020 awards.
  • Pat Murphy is one of the Founding Mothers of the award, having co-founded it with Karen Joy Fowler in 1991, and had served on the Motherboard since that founding.

We’ll miss all of them, and we look forward to seeing what they do next.

We’d also like to welcome our new Motherboard members:

  • Jed Samer is a feminist, queer, and trans media and cultural studies scholar; remix artist; and documentary filmmaker.
  • Jed Hartman is an editor and writer of fiction and nonfiction.

Otherwise Award recommendations deadline: December 31

It’s not too late to recommend works for the Otherwise Award!

If you want to recommend a work of science fiction or fantasy that explores or expands our notions of gender and that was published in 2023, fill in the recommendation form on or before December 31.

The bottom of that page lists the works that have already been recommended for the 2023 award.

(You can also recommend 2022 publications that weren’t considered for the 2022 award. To see what works were considered for the 2022 award, see the 2022 recommendations list.)

After December 31, you can make recommendations for next year’s award. (The 2023 recommendation form will be closed, and there will be a new recommendations page for the 2024 award.)

Otherwise Award activities at WisCon 2023

Come join us in celebrating the 2021 Otherwise Award winners at WisCon next week!

WisCon is an annual science fiction convention with a focus on feminism and social justice, held in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. This year’s convention runs from May 26 through May 29.

WisCon is capping its in-person membership at 600 people this year, and they have only a few of those in-person memberships remaining. So if you want to attend in person, register as soon as you can.

Alternatively, you can register to attend the online parts of WisCon. There’s no cap on online attendance.

This year, as usual, the convention’s program will include several panels and other events related to the Otherwise Award, including the traditional live auction on Saturday night to benefit the Award.

Program items listed in this post are in-person except where marked as online.

Celebrating the winners

The winners of the Otherwise Award for 2021 were Light from Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki, and Sorrowland, by Rivers Solomon.

Aoki and Solomon will both be at WisCon 2023 in person. We’ll celebrate them and their winning novels on Sunday night of the convention, during the Dessert Salon, with a brief awards ceremony. We’ll present both authors with their awards and the most important Otherwise accoutrement: chocolate.

(The award for 2021 was announced early in 2023 rather than in 2022, for pandemic and other reasons. The award for 2022 will be announced later in 2023.)

Two panels that are specifically relevant to the Otherwise Award:

  • Otherwise Award 2021 and Beyond (Sun 1:00 PM–2:15 PM CDT), discussing such topics as:
    • The 2021 winners and Honor List.
    • Trends in the handling of gender in speculative fiction.
    • Plans for the award to catch up from pandemic delays.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in SF/F (Sat 2:30 PM–3:45 PM CDT), which will discuss Otherwise as well as many other organizations.

Rivers Solomon’s panels

Rivers Solomon will be on the following program items:

  • Guest of Honor reading and reception (Thurs 6:00 PM–8:00 PM CDT)—Solomon is one of this year’s Guests of Honor at WisCon.
  • Fighting the Good Fight with Limited Resources (Fri 1:00 PM–2:15 PM CDT)
  • Healing From Cissupremacy (online; Fri 4:00 PM–5:15 PM CDT)
  • Opening Ceremonies (Fri 5:30 PM–6:00 PM CDT)
  • Too Disabled to Labor? (Sat 1:00 PM–2:15 PM CDT)
  • Colonialism and the Social Sciences (Sat 2:30 PM–3:45 PM CDT)
  • Guest of Honor Reading: Rivers Solomon (Sun 10:00 AM–11:15 AM CDT)
  • Abolition and Transformation (Sun 1:00 PM–2:15 PM CDT)
  • What We’ve Gained and What We Grieve (Sun 2:30 PM–3:45 PM CDT)
  • Guest of Honor Speeches & Otherwise Ceremony (both in-person and livestreamed; Sun 8:00 PM–9:00 PM CDT)
  • The SignOut Autograph Party (Mon 11:30 AM–12:30 PM CDT)

In addition, the following program items will include discussion of Solomon’s work:

  • The Fiction of Rivers Solomon (online; Fri 4:00 PM–5:15 PM CDT)
  • Generational Trauma in Rivers Solomon’s Fiction (Sat 1:00 PM–2:15 PM CDT)
  • Sea & Sky: Spaces of Black Liberation & Dreams (Sun 4:00 PM–5:15 PM CDT)

Ryka Aoki’s panels

Ryka Aoki will be on the following program items:

  • Fighting the Good Fight with Limited Resources (Fri 1:00 PM–2:15 PM CDT)
  • Healing from Cissupremacy (online; Fri 4:00 PM–5:15 PM CDT)
  • Opening Ceremonies (Fri 5:30 PM–6:00 PM CDT)
  • Otherwise Award Winner Reading: Ryka Aoki (Fri 9:00 PM–10:15 PM CDT)
  • Nonviolence in SF/F (Sat 10:00 AM–11:15 AM CDT)
  • Redemption 2: Beyond Good and Evil (online; Sun 2:30 PM–3:45 PM CDT)
  • Guest of Honor Speeches & Otherwise Ceremony (both in-person and livestreamed; Sun 8:00 PM–9:00 PM CDT)
  • The SignOut Autograph Party (Mon 11:30 AM–12:30 PM CDT)

Aoki was added to the program late, so may not be listed in some printed or online program listings, but will be listed in errata for each day.

Fundraising auction

Our fabulous live auction will be on Saturday evening of the convention (7:30 PM–9:30 PM CDT), featuring fabulous auctioneer Sumana Harihareswara. It will be livestreamed, but only in-person attendees will be able to bid.

Items to be auctioned include the following:

  • A signed copy of 1998 Otherwise Award winner Raphael Carter’s novel The Fortunate Fall, which is currently out of print, donated by the author. (The author has since transitioned and is now Cameron Reed.)
  • Cover of The Fortunate Fall, by Raphael Carter.
    The Fortunate Fall cover
  • A ’zine created by Sumana: Quill & Scroll.
  • Two pages from Sumana’s ’zine Quill & Scroll, describing Hedgehog’s all-night bookstore.
    ’Zine pages
  • Dead in the Scrub (A Shirley McClintock Mystery) by B.J. Oliphant, a pseudonym of Sheri S. Tepper, donated by Sigrid Ellis.
  • A first edition of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, donated by Heather Rose Jones.
  • An item to benefit the Carl Brandon Society: a lot of three handspun yarns and a project bag, all made by Carl Brandon Society co-founder Candra K. Gill. These fine-weight skeins include a tonal blue Merino & jewel-toned rainbow sparkle Merino/Cashmere/Stellina (80/10/10), each spun from fiber dyed by women of color fiber artists and a one-of-a-kind mini-skein of mill-end wool mixed with other fibers that Candra blended herself. (Note that these were made in a cat-friendly home.)
  • A handmade project bag containing three skeins of handspun yarn.
    Yarn in bag
    Three skeins of handspun yarn in blue and jewel tones.
    The yarn without the bag
  • Keepsake bookmarks.
  • Three bookmarks: one for Choose Your Own Adventure books, one for Goosebumps, and one for Pinky & the Brain.
    Nostalgic bookmarks
    Six bookmarks commemorating important African American historical figures.
    African American history bookmarks
    Two bookmarks, one depicting a rose emerging from a woman’s forehead, the other depicting a fantasy space scene with dragons and spaceships.
    Fantasy-art bookmarks
    Bookmark advertising America Online.
    AOL bookmark
    White lace bookmark depicting cats playing with yarn.
    Lace bookmark

And lots more!

For those of you attending WisCon in person, auction items will be displayed ahead of time at the Gathering on Friday of the convention.

Hope to catch you—in person or online—at WisCon!

Eligible for nomination: 2022 books & stories by past Otherwise winners

We bring to your attention books and short stories published in 2022 by past Otherwise Award winners. As nomination and voting deadlines get closer for awards for 2022 work (Feb. 28th is the nomination deadline for the Nebulas!), consider adding these to your reading list:

  • Eleanor Arnason, 1991 winner for A Woman of the Iron People, wrote the short story “Grandmother’s Troll,” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction in the September/October 2022 issue. You can buy that issue digitally on Magzter. The print issue may be available from Asimov’s.
  • Maureen F. McHugh, 1992 winner for China Mountain Zhang, wrote the short story “The Goldfish Man,published in Uncanny Magazine in March 2022. You can read it for free on Uncanny‘s website.
  • Elizabeth Hand, 1995 winner for Waking the Moon, wrote the novel Hokuloa Road, published by Mulholland Books on July 19, 2022. You can order it from Room of One’s Own Bookstore.
  • Geoff Ryman, 2005 winner for Air: Or, Have Not Have, wrote the short story “Not Best Pleased,” published on February 15, 2022 as part of the book Vital Signals. You can buy the book from Bookshop.org.
  • Catherynne M. Valente, 2006 winner for The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden, wrote the novel Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods, published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on April 26, 2022. You can buy the book from Bookshop.org. Also, Valente wrote the short story “The Difference Between Love and Time,” published on May 10, 2022 as part of the book Someone in Time. That book can be purchased at Room of One’s Own Bookstore.
  • Nisi Shawl, 2008 winner for Filter House, wrote the short story collection Our Fruiting Bodies, published by Aqueduct Press in November 2022. You can purchase it directly from Aqueduct Press.
  • Anna-Marie McLemore, 2016 winner for When the Moon Was Ours, wrote the novel Lakelore, published by Feiwel & Friends on March 8, 2022. You can buy the book from Room of One’s Own Bookstore. McLemore also wrote the novel Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix, published by Feiwel & Friends on September 6, 2022. This book can be purchased from Bookshop.org.
  • Akwaeke Emezi, 2019 winner for Freshwater, wrote the novel You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, published by Atria Books on January 25, 2022. You can buy the book from Room of One’s Own Bookstore. Also, Emezi wrote the novel Bitter, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on February 15, 2022. You can order it from Room of One’s Own Bookstore.
  • Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, 2020 winner for “Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon”, co-edited the anthology “Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction”, published by Tordotcom on November 15, 2022. You can purchase it from Room of One’s Own Bookstore. Also, Ekpeki published the short story “Destiny Delayed,” published in the May/June 2022 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. You can buy that issue digitally on Magzter or contact the magazine to try to purchase it in print.
Happy reading and nominating!

Ryka Aoki and Rivers Solomon win 2021 Otherwise Award! Honor List announced

The Otherwise Award is pleased to announce two winners for the 2021 Award: Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki and Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon. The Otherwise Award (formerly known as the Tiptree Award) honors stories that expose the many ways we experience gender in this world and others. The jury is also pleased to share an Honor List of nine works.

The Otherwise Award jury for 2021 offers the following statement about this year’s Award:

Given the recent literal and legislative attacks on transgender people, it’s no surprise that we the jury were drawn to titles that cut to the heart of what it means to be trans or otherwise-gendered in our world as well as in other pasts or futures. We read stories that focused on what it means to become a fully fledged person in worlds that sometimes do all that they can do to keep their people in tightly constrained boxes as well as stories in which those boxes have been flung open, showing us new ways to be and new ways to imagine relationships between people of all genders. Both winners and each work on our Honor List do so in a way that only speculative fiction can do, illuminating how gender functions in the societies we live in by showing us a world different from our own in big and small ways. At the same time, each of these chosen titles showed us what actual diversity looks like and feels like and sounds like; explorations of gender in this list are not separated from race, sexuality, ethnicity, sexuality, class, or disability. Intersectionality is no buzzword but is brought to life through the characters we meet, whether they are in ancient China, the year 3000, or the Big Donut Shop in today’s LA.

Maybe what grabbed us the most in our winners and honor list titles was the strangeness we encountered in them—a strangeness that entranced, haunted, intrigued, delighted, and stopped us in our tracks—something that good speculative fiction should do.

Each year, a jury selects the Otherwise Award winner and Honor List of works that celebrate science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of speculative narrative that expand and explore our understanding of gender. The jury that selects the Award’s winner and the Honor List is encouraged to take an expansive view of “science fiction and fantasy” and to seek out works that have a broad, intersectional, trans-inclusive understanding of gender in the context of race, class, nationality, and disability. The 2021 jury members were Rebecca J. Holden (Chair), Anya Johanna DeNiro, Craig Laurance Gidney, Liz Haas, and Ana Hurtado. The winners will receive $1000 in prize money, a specially commissioned piece of original artwork, and (as always) chocolate.

About the winners

Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki is by all accounts, in the words of juror Anya Johanna DeNiro, “a joyous novel.” It’s a delightful mashup of science fiction (aliens coming to Earth from another planet); the demonic (a key character sells her soul to the devil for musical prowess); and a bildungsroman (a young trans woman asserts her identity); and to top it all off, donuts play a formative role in the plot and relationships. At the same time, this novel delves deeply into the trauma of rejection, betrayals, family estrangement, displacement, and survival—including, as juror Ana Hurtado writes, “the traumas of being transgender in a city/family that does not accept who you are.”

Juror Liz Haas notes that this novel “feels grounded in contemporary LGBTQ Asian American experiences while also using the speculative elements to expand on and play with its queer themes in an enjoyable way.” The novel upends, sometimes in a satirical manner, Asian immigrant stereotypes of both the model immigrant who is a violin prodigy—cue Faustian bargain with the devil—and the family-owned donut shop—cue the aliens who hail from a distant planet and need the large donut perched on top of the shop to make some kind of galactic stargate. Aoki’s characters, like the themes running through the book, are far from one-dimensional. Jury chair Rebecca J. Holden comments: “I love the focus on music and also how the characters and relationships between characters, all of whom are truly alien to each other, develop throughout the story—no one is perfect and no one, except perhaps the demon, remains static.”

This is not just a story about Katrina, the young trans woman finding her place in the world; but also a story about Lan, an alien woman falling in love with Shizuka, a human woman, who has sold her soul for enhanced musical prowess; and Shirley, Lan’s holographic, cybernetic “daughter” asserting her position as a person and part of her family. We travel along with the characters as they learn what it means to find acceptance and success in the world they have found themselves in. This novel not only forces its readers to think about our notions of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, personhood, and power, but also explodes our notions about what a speculative novel could be and how explorations of difficult and traumatic stories can transform into a joyful song. This novel, borrowing words from its epigraph, definitely has “the right soul” and thus gives us “transcendent song.”

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon’s novel explores the link between Black and queer trauma in a provocative and dark narrative. In the words of juror Ana Hurtado, it is a “powerful exploration of history and gendered violence.” Resistance to the kyriarchy, that invisible web of multi-vectored oppression, is woven through this taut, cross-genre (horror? science fiction? gothic?) story of survival. The novel grapples with histories of experimentation on Black people and government infiltration into movements for racial justice, exploring these topics with nuance while remaining unflinching about their impact. Vern’s journey to gain ownership over the way her body has changed and evolved as a result of her experiences is a striking metaphor for finding one’s own power in a racialized and gendered body.

Vern is an unforgettable character, whose Black and queer identity is a source of strength against the obstacles, both “real” and speculative. Vern has the resilience of Octavia Butler’s heroines. Reminiscent of the work of Butler, Walker, and, in particular Gayl Jones in its unflinching and sometimes uncomfortable honesty, Sorrowland is written with a fever-dream intensity—that careens from nightmare to moments of epiphany. Vern’s journey as a mother, as queer woman, as a survivor from a patriarchal cult is resonant with the history of the oppression of Black and female bodies.

About the Honor List

In addition to selecting the winners, each year’s jury chooses an Otherwise 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.

A Natural History of Transition by Callum Angus
This brilliantly written collection of stories disrupts what is “natural” and who gets to decide what is natural. It’s a beautiful, at times stark, array of magic realist techniques that Angus puts at his disposal to get at what it means to have a body, let alone a trans body. The fabulism is wise, darkly funny at times, and constantly shifting. —Anya Johanna DeNiro
Danged Black Thing by Eugen Bacon
This sharp collection of Afro-Surrealist work takes the reader to near-future dystopic states where the body and tech and magic are all intertwined, twisted, and pulled from the earth. Myths are born and undone from the quotidian and later broken down through a candid and unafraid voice. —Ana Hurtado
The Actual Star by Monica Byrne
This complexly structured novel takes place in three times—ancient Mayan culture in the year 1000 CE, US and Belize in 2012, and Earth as a whole in the year 3000. By the year 3000, all people are treated in the womb so that they are born with both male and female sexual organs, all people use she/her pronouns in honor of St. Leah (who is from 2012), but people can also identify with certain historical gender positions. Sexuality is described by four “preferas”—whether the person prefers to take or give, grip or penetrate, or both, or neither. All people are basically nomads, or in the language of the book, “viajeras,” and families as we define them no longer exist. The book follows the story of two Mayan royal teens just prior to their ascension to king and queen (1000 CE), the American girl Leah who is of Mayan and Euro-American descent and forms the basis of the religion guiding the future Earth (2012), and two people in the year 3000 who represent two factions in the “viajera” world. By telling the story of the origins of this future, Byrne shows how time distorts intentions and choices meant to free humanity from its tendency to “other” those who differ from whatever norm is currently in vogue and gives us much food for thought regarding our conventional ideas regarding gender, family structure, sexuality, ethnicity, and religion. —Rebecca J. Holden
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
Bestiary is a strange and beautiful novel. The frank and yet poetic discussion of bodies immediately struck me, and I loved its magical realist approach to exploring the connections and disjunctures between the immigrant generations of daughter, mother, and grandmother. I always appreciate when fiction uses speculative elements to put into words feelings that are too big and complicated to contain in a straightforward, realistic telling, and Bestiary does that effectively. —Liz Haas
Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
McLemore has written a deeply intersectional novel that deals with Romani culture, religion, and trans issues set across two timelines. There is magic in how the author resurrects trans lives that have been erased by history. Dark and Deepest Red is, like the author’s other works, a fairytale for marginalized people. The dreamy romanticism of the style belies complex examination of history, gender, culture, and religion. Though marketed as a YA novel, it has a structural sophistication that will appeal to readers of all ages. —Craig Laurance Gidney
Chouette by Claire Oshetsky
Chouette is an incisive examination of how the pressures of ableist societal structures shape the experience of motherhood, using the brilliant device of the owl-baby to recontextualize these issues. The writing is at turns darkly hilarious and moving, and it’s like nothing else I’ve read this year. —Liz Haas
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Big, bold, and assured about the story it tells—and subverts—particularly about the relationship between gender and power. How much is the body you’re “born into” tied to fate? The interplay between free will and determinism is not so cut and dried however, and as the political stakes rise, so do the costs. Shelley Parker-Chan has written a queer historical fantasy that never relents, and also dismantles the timeworn conventions of white, colonialist historical fiction. —Anya Johanna DeNiro
The Unraveling by Benjamin Rosenbaum
In this highly imaginative world, there are two genders—but the genders do not fit into current gender categories. In fact, my brain kept trying to figure out which one was like “woman” and which one was like “man”—without success. The gender roles in Rosenbaum’s world are quite restricted and policed, but also outside of the categories or gender roles we might normally think about. Rosenbaum also plays with embodiment as well as with body modification and multi-bodied-ness, sometimes in ways that are disconnected to gender and sometimes in ways that continue to push the envelope on our notions of gender. In this way, the story plays with and explodes our current notions of gender while simultaneously critiquing restrictive gender norms in this fictional and sometimes overwhelming but fascinating world. —Rebecca J. Holden
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Through a rebel act against a patriarchal ceremony whose folklore roots are heavily linked to machismo and otherness, Cemetery Boys dismantles the brujx tradition to uncover the ways gender is constructed. The transgender young man practices radical hope while fighting for his personhood, falling in love, and, in the process, strengthening his latine community. —Ana Hurtado

Recommendations and more

The process for selection of the 2022 Otherwise Award is underway. The Otherwise Award invites everyone to recommend works for the 2023 Award. Please submit recommendations via the recommendations page of the Otherwise Award website. On the website, you can also donate to help fund the award and read more about past winners and works the Award has honored.

The Otherwise Award began in 1991 as The James Tiptree, Jr. Award, named after Alice Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. By her choice of a masculine pen name, Sheldon helped break down the imaginary barrier between “women’s writing” and “men’s writing.” In 2019, the Award’s governing body, the Motherboard, decided, in response to community concerns, to rename the Award. The Tiptree Award became the Otherwise Award. (For more on the reasons behind the change, visit the history section of the Award’s website.)

The Otherwise Award, under any name, is an award with an attitude. As a political statement, as a means of involving people at the grassroots level, as an excuse to eat cookies, and as an attempt to strike the proper ironic note, the award has been financed through bake sales held at science fiction conventions across the United States, as well as in Britain and Australia. Fundraising efforts have included auctions conducted by Ellen Klages and Sumana Harihareswara, the sale of T-shirts and aprons created by collage artist and silk screener Freddie Baer and others, and the publication of four anthologies of award winners and honor-listed stories. Most of these anthologies, along with other publications, can be purchased through the Otherwise Award store.

For more information on the Award or this press release, contact info@otherwiseaward.org.

Two Otherwise Auctions on Saturday at WisCon, and our Gathering plans

This year’s WisCon is both in-person and online, so this Saturday, we’re hosting both an in-person benefit auction and a virtual auction! Register now to get a chance to win one-of-a-kind items, and enjoy the entertainment.

Liz Henry, in shiny metallic purple and yellow, CC BY-ND
Your in-person host Liz Henry, shiny and ready to rock

Liz Henry will be your auctioneer in Madison! The in-person auction will raise money to benefit the Otherwise Award and entertain you with comedy, stunts, mystery guests, and bizarre and special auction items. It’s an opportunity to donate and support fantasy and science fiction that explores and expands gender — and to laugh for a while. Liz chaired the 2020 and 2005 Otherwise juries, has participated in WisCon for decades going back to WisCon 20, and will bring a wealth of stories and an incisive sense of humor to the stage! In-person attendees will be able to bid (with money) on memorabilia, books (including a signed copy of Charlie Jane Anders’s City in the Middle of the Night), and weird stuff. As usual, Otherwise will be able to accept payments and donations via cash, check, and credit card.

Sumana Harihareswara, gesturing as if holding something, photo courtesy Jeff Fortin
Sumana Harihareswara will host the online auction through WisCon’s virtual offerings

The in-person auction will start at 19:30 CDT and will run for probably 60-90 minutes, ending by 21:30 CDT. It will be captioned with CART and it will be livestreamed for the benefit of WisCon’s virtual attendees as well.

Sumana Harihareswara will be your host for the virtual auction, which will start 21:00 CDT on Saturday night [CORRECTION: 21:15] and run for 45-60 minutes, ending by 22:00 CDT. Online participants will be able to view the auction via Zoom or YouTube, and participate via Zoom and Discord. Sumana has hosted the Otherwise auctions at WisCon (online and in person) for the last several years, and this year will again entertain the audience with comedy, special guests, and obscure, fun, or even desirable objects to bid on. As we did in 2020, this year our virtual auction will be moneyless! Instead of bidding in dollars, you’ll try to one-up each other with recommendations, poems, and more in the Discord chat. Enjoy using the gestures of “bidding” while prefiguring how auctions might work in postscarcity societies! A guest from the Carl Brandon Society will share an update on CBS’s work increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction, and Sumana will solicit donations for the Otherwise Award and for the WisCon Member Assistance Fund.

All that is this Saturday, May 28th. We’ll also host a table at the Gathering on Friday afternoon, 12:30 pm to 4 pm, in-person in Madison. Our table will include posters celebrating the history of past Otherwise award winners and recent Honor List honorees — plus, local bookstore A Room of One’s Own will be on hand to sell you books from those lists, with a portion of those proceeds going to the Otherwise Award.

Register now if you’d like to experience either or both! Registration for the virtual convention is only USD$25, with no cap on attendance and no deadline to register.

WisCon and Otherwise events in 2022

Otherwise’s home convention, WisCon, is holding both an in-person and a virtual event this year (May 27th-30th) to maximize accessibility. Otherwise will be there as well and we’re planning multiple events within this year’s WisCon, including our traditional benefit auction! Auctioneer Sumana Harihareswara will raise money to benefit the Otherwise Award and entertain you with comedy, stunts, special guest stars, and bizarre and special auction items. It’s an opportunity to donate and support fantasy and science fiction that explores and expands gender — and to laugh for a while.

Currently our plan is to run the auction in person and to host a table as part of the Friday afternoon Gathering, adhering to all of WisCon’s COVID-19 health precautions. As of yesterday, the WisCon COVID-19 vaccination policy includes required booster shots for many participants, so do make plans to get boosted if that includes you.

We’re still figuring out whether there will also be a virtual auction, or whether/how virtual WisCon participants will be able to participate in the in-person auction. We’ll post here on our blog when we know more.

If you are planning to visit WisCon in person, register and book your lodging soon. (And please subscribe to the WisCon email newsletter so you can stay up to date..) If you’ll join us online, please register soon. And WisCon needs both in-person and online volunteers so please consider volunteering if you can!

2022 Otherwise Fellowships

We are pleased to announce the selection of three new Otherwise Fellows: children’s fiction writer Cat Aquino, speculative fiction writer Naseem Jamnia, and speculative fiction writer and illustrator Dante Luiz.

Cat Aquino is a Filipino children’s fiction writer, currently working on a young adult graphic novel titled Champion of the Rose. This graphic novel is a fantasy reimagining of the centuries-long Spanish colonization of the Philippines and South America, and features two main characters: Rey, a trans “indio” swordsman, and Rosa, a“mestiza” princess. Through the story of these characters, Cat hopes “to explore how the intersections of race, class, trauma, and gender interact, neither favoring one identity pole over the other, to talk about how empires and governments restrict human lives, but can also be defied because of human choices and actions.” Cat will use the fellowship to fund Dominique Duran, illustrator Champion of the Rose‘s illustrator and co-creator. Cat’s work creates BIPOC-led, anti-colonial, and anti-monarchical narratives for young adults.

Naseem Jamnia is a speculative fiction writer whose work contains “unquestioned and undoubted queerness so deeply embedded in the worldbuilding that it can no longer be called queer, and gender is a central focus of that inclusion.” For Naseem, queer genders are central to their fiction, even though their stories are seldom about queerness. They will use the grant money for historical research on non-Western genders that exist outside the binary, in order to better understand the world in which their novella The Bruising of Qilwa (Tachyon Publications 2022) takes place. In Naseem’s novella, “the main character Firuz, an agender nonbinary trans person—who would not use those terms for themself, but rather, call themself a binoh, ‘one without type’—grapples with their responsibilities as a clinician and a magic user in a city overrun by refugees like them. Meanwhile, their younger brother, Parviz, a binary trans boy, is desperate to transition with the magic only Firuz can do in their new home. The issue here is not whether Parviz is actually a boy, or whether Firuz runs the risk of being misgendered; the issue is while the city is in crisis, while an ethnic genocide of Firuz’s people happens in the background, the rest of life continues on and demands Firuz’s attention and time when they’re stretched so thin.” Naseem’s work is “a promise of possibility” and a love letter to their queer, brown communities,

Dante Luiz is a Brazilian speculative fiction writer and illustrator. In the application, Dante wrote about wanting to “write flawed yet humane trans men who are adults, responsible for their actions, both the good and the bad” as a way to combat inadequate and often infantilizing representations of transmasculine people. Dante’s story My Mother’s Hand, which was part of the application as a writing sample, is a historical fantasy set in 19th century Desterro. This story “is a short tale of a trans man dealing with the ghost of his mother possessing his dominant hand—a witch mother who never accepted his gender identity, or his love for women.” Dante is currently working on a graphic novel, Thicker Than Blood, which follows a “trans man who does a Faustian deal with the devil to keep the ancestral land of the family who does not see him as the legitimate heir, and separates him from his former lover and current enemy, a woman after the same land.” He is also working on a Brazilian romantasy novella with a trans man protagonist. Overall, Dante is deeply invested in creating fully-rounded trans characters who find themselves in exciting speculative situations and spaces.

In addition to choosing three Fellows, the Fellowship Committee announced an honor list, which includes L.J. Phillips, Calvin Gimpelevich, A.L. Major, Nicole Martinez, and Eugen Bacon. These writers and artists are all doing exciting work in gender and speculative fiction.

The members of the 2022 selection committee for the Otherwise Fellowships were Aqdas Aftab (chair), Shreya Ila Anasuya, and Eleyna Sara Haroun.

Perhaps you noticed that we did not award Fellowships in 2021. In these difficult times, our selection process took longer than usual. We decided it really didn’t make sense to give out 2021 Fellowships in 2022. So to catch up, we skipped a year. Fortunately, we managed to give out the same number of Fellowships by providing three Fellowships in both 2020 and 2021, rather than our usual two. Applications for the 2023 Fellowships will be due in summer 2022.