Anna-Marie McLemore Wins the 2016 Tiptree Award! Plus Honor List, Long List Announcements

2016 Tiptree Award Winner Anna-Marie McLemore Collage

Congratulations to Anna-Marie McLemore, who has won the 2016 Tiptree Award for her novel When the Moon Was Ours (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2016).

About the Winner

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore is a fairytale about Samir, a transgender boy, and Miel, an orphan girl who grows roses from her wrists and is bullied as a result. In fact, there is a fairytale within the fairytale: the first chapter telling us the version of the story that mothers would tell children for years after — before also telling us what that story leaves out. Then the book takes us through all of it, step by step, exploring the heartache and frustration that being and loving differently generates. Beautifully, the novel never lets go of its unique magical realism framework. While the thoughts and emotions these characters share are incredibly familiar to anyone who is queer or trans or has loved someone who is trans, the imagery and particular scenarios the characters encounter are also completely bright and new.

In the author’s note at the end of the book, Anna-Marie McLemore tells us that when she was a teenager she fell in love with a transgender boy who would grow into the man she married. This is their story, reimagined as legend.

About the Honor lISt

2016 Tiptree Award Honor List Collage

In addition to selecting the winners, the jury chooses 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. These notes on each work are excerpted and edited from comments by members of this year’s jury. This year’s Honor List is:

Eleanor Arnason, Hwarhath Stories:Transgressive Tales by Aliens (Aqueduct Press, 2016)

This is a wonderful collection of stories that examine the ways that culturally, deep-rooted assumptions around gender restrict vocation and recognition of skills. Arnason tells of a culture with significantly different gender assumptions and customs that lead to a number of subtly shifted societal impacts — both positive and negative.

Mishell Baker, Borderline (Saga Press, 2016)

A fascinating whodunit with wonderful characters, Borderline spotlights diversity and intersectionality. Most of the characters in this novel are viewed as disabled by others, even by each other. But the characters’ so-called disabilities give them advantages in certain situations. Understanding this helps the characters love each other and themselves. Almost every character can be described as having attributes that are both disabilities and advantages. What builds us up can bring us down. Or put another way: our imperfections are openings to beautiful achievements.

Nino Cipri, “Opals and Clay” (Podcastle, 2016)

A beautiful love story about solidarity. With just three major characters, this story does a lot with gender, demonstrating how gendering can be something one does to control or out of love.

Andrea Hairston, Will Do Magic for Small Change (Aqueduct Press, 2016)

A beautiful story of magic and love that spans two centuries and three continents, moving between times and places through a book-within-a-book structure. Its 1980s protagonists are a family who has been torn apart by an act of homophobic violence. Through a discovery of their past, they are able to reconnect and find love again. Among other things, this novel depicts an amazing range of queer characters. Importantly, the book de-colonizes these representations, making queerness not a white or American thing, but something that emerges in different shapes and structures at different times and places, particular to individuals as well as the cultures and communities that they are a part of.

Rachael K. Jones, “The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2016)

A moving story set in a world where people live separate lives by night and day, with an opposite-sex lover by day and same-sex lover by night as the standard family structure. The theme of being trapped in one’s body and circumstances and in the customs of one’s times is dealt with well. The metaphor of a city/body that traps people in prisons of identity was very powerful. A surprising (yet well set up) twist to the story broadens its scope.

Seanan McGuire, Every Heart a Doorway (Tor Books, 2916)

This is a lovely YA novel about teenagers who return to our world, against their wishes, from magical lands that they entered through secret pathways — a magic door, an impossible stairway at the bottom of a trunk, a mirror. Their parents cannot understand their pain and misinterpret the stories their children tell and send their children to Miss West’s Home for Wayward Children. Miss West, herself a returned child, helps them deal with their separation or return to what they all think of as their real homes. This novel came to the attention of the Tiptree jury because of the reasons the children are taken from or rejected by their magical worlds. The protagonist, Nancy, is asexual, and finds an ideal world through her door. A character named Kade was born Katie, and discovers he is a boy, not a girl. He is thrown out of Fairyland as punishment for his transition. Two twin girls named Jack and Jill take up identities opposite from those their parents imposed upon them. There are beautiful lessons here about the importance of finding one’s home–that place where one can be one’s self. An emotionally engaging novel.

Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning (Tor Books, 2016)

This book will start conversations about gender, philosophy, religion, government, even war.The judges perceived contradictions within this book that may be resolved in the sequel, but these only serve to spark interest. In the future in which it is set (the twenty-fifth century of our world), gendered language is considered taboo in most circles and gender/sex-related cues are minimized and overlooked in clothing, vocation, and all other public areas of life. However, the book slowly reveals that gender stereotypes, sexism, and sexual taboos still remain strong despite the century’s supposed enlightenment and escape from such notions.

Johanna Sinisalo, The Core of the Sun (Grove Press/Black Cat, 2016)

This emotional, moving and thought-provoking novel, set in an alternate present in Finland, provides a critique of heteronormativity, eugenics, and all forms of social control, done uniquely and with humor. In this alternate present, the government values public health and social stability above all else. Sex and gender have been organized as the government sees fit, much to the detriment of women, who are bred and raised to be docile. All .drugs, including alcohol and caffeine, have long been banned. Capsaicin from hot peppers is the most recent substance to be added to the list. Our protagonist, Vera/Vanna, is a capsaicin addict. Consuming peppers provides an escape from a world that has treated her horribly. Most chapters are from Vera/Vanna’s perspective, but others relate the history, laws, fairytales, and other literature of this fictional Finland.

Nisi Shawl, Everfair (Tor Books, 2016)

In this gorgeous steampunk revisionist history of anticolonial resistance, a coalition of rebels defeat King Leopold and transform the former Belgian Congo into Everfair: a new nation whose citizens comprise Africans, European settlers, and Asian laborers. Told from many different perspectives, the story switches among the viewpoints of a dozen protagonists. This novel shows how relationships can grow over time between people of different races, classes, and religions as they build community together. Characters work through their internalized racisms and demonstrate how this is necessary for those in interracial relationships.

But Wait — There’s More!

In addition to the honor list, this year’s jury also compiled a long list of twelve other works they found worthy of attention.

Now What?

Anna-Marie McLemore, along with authors and works on the Honor List, will be celebrated during Memorial Day weekend at WisCon 41 in Madison, Wisconsin, May 26-29, 2017. She will receive $1000 in prize money, a specially commissioned piece of original artwork, and (as always) chocolate.

Each year, a panel of five jurors selects the Tiptree Award winner. The 2016 judges were Jeanne Gomoll (chair), Aimee Bahng, James Fox, Roxanne Samer, and Deb Taber.

Reading for 2017 will soon begin. The panel consists of Alexis Lothian (chair), E.J. Fischer, Kazue Harada, Cheryl Morgan, and Julia Starkey.

The Tiptree Award invites everyone to recommend works for the award. Please submit recommendations via our recommendation page. Full information on all the books mentioned above will be in the Tiptree Award database before the end of March 2017.

Video of 2016 Tiptree Symposium Now Available

Couldn’t make it to Eugene in December? Didn’t hear about it in time?

You’re in luck: The University has posted videos of all of the sessions, including the Sally Miller Gearhart Lesbian Lecture the day before.

December 1

Sally Miller Gearhart Lesbian Lecture, Dr. Alexis Lothian, “Queer Longings in Straight Futures: Notes Toward a Prehistory for Lesbian Speculation.” Dr. Lothian is a member of the Tiptree Award Motherboard.

December 2

Welcome and Panel 1: Ursula K. Le Guin and the Field of Feminist Science Fiction, with Karen Joy Fowler, Vonda N. McIntyre, Molly Gloss, Debbie Notkin and Suzy McKee Charnas, moderated by Julie Phillips. (For those keeping score, that’s one Founding Mother, one Motherboard member, four past winners, and four past jurors.)

UO Prof. Edmond Chang’s Feminist SF students on The Word for World is Forest, with Allison Ford, Lauren Stewart, Keegan Williams, and Kylie Pun

Keynote and Q & AUrsula Le Guin and the Larger Reality”

December 3

Panel 3: “Speculative Gender and The Left Hand of Darkness”, with micha cárdenas, Aren Aizura and Tuesday Smillie, moderated by Alexis Lothian. micha cárdenas was the inaugural Tiptree Fellowship recipient.
Panel 4: “Le Guin’s Fiction as Inspiration for Activism, with adrienne maree brown and Grace Dillon, moderated by Joan Haran (a past Tiptree Award juror).

Panel 5: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Ben Saunders: “New Directions in Feminist Science Fiction: A Conversation with Kelly Sue DeConnick
Keynote: Brian Attebery, “The James Tiptree Jr. Book Club: A Mitochondrial Theory of Literature.” Brian Attebery is a past Tiptree Award juror.

Check them all out; you’ll be glad you did.

2016 Fellowship Honorable Mentions

When we announced our 2016 Tiptree Fellows, we also mentioned that we had three honorable mentions this year: K. Tempest Bradford, Emily Coon, and Marianne Kirby. We’re delighted to tell you a little bit about them and their work:

K. Tempest Bradford is a writer of fiction and non-fiction who is best known for her media criticism and activism. She is currently working on her first novel: a steampunk narrative set in Ancient Egypt, which draws from her activism, her cultural critiques, and her desire for a narrative that includes people who look like me as well as other people who don’t often see themselves in fiction. The culture Bradford is building for this alternate history challenges ideas about the role of women in Ancient Egypt held by many Egyptologists and most people with casual knowledge of the dynastic era.

Emily Coon writes about trans relationships and the ways in which trans characters care for one another, particularly outside of a heterosexual monogamous bond and when dealing with living in poverty or near-poverty. They are currently completing a book of short stories that engage the complexities of gender through exploration of the multifaceted, nonbinary, personal intentions as regards gender, by letting the protagonists’ feelings be messy and by there not being a ‘right way’ to experience life as a trans person. In Coon’s writing being trans is a boon, trans people are not assaulted and traumatized simply because of their gender expression, and being trans is not only a process of discovery, but a process that results in collective liberation.

Marianne Kirby writes about fat characters because they have so many stories no one is telling; she writes about queer characters for the same reason. Her first novel, Dust Bath Revival, was published in November and grew out of her deeply held memories, anxieties, and celebrations as a fat, queer, white Southern woman with roots in small town Florida. In the novel the risen dead, the Reborn, are a way to examine the uncontrollable body (especially of women), insatiable hunger whether it be for food or sex, and what it means to embrace that hunger instead of to fight it— to allow one’s body to be out of control.

New York City Event Celebrates Tiptree/Sheldon

On Wednesday, January 11, 2017, at 7:00 p.m., at 484 14th Street, Brooklyn, NY, the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the literary journal Conjunctions will co-host a free gathering of writers and editors .Participants will wread from Tiptree’s letters to science fiction author Joanna Russ, and will discuss the importance of Tiptree’s work to their reading and writing lives. Almost all of the Tiptree/Russ letters were published for the first time this fall in Conjunctions:67, Other Aliens 

The event marks the first-ever public reading from Tiptree’s correspondence.

Speakers will include Deb Edel, Bradford Morrow; Micaela Morrissette; Nicole Nyhan; Ashley-Luisa Santangelo; Ellen Datlow; and Tiptree-Award winner Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Seating is first come, first served. Light refreshments will be served, and copies of Other Aliens will be available for sale. Optional $10 donations to the LHA are welcome. The space is fully accessible to those with physical disabilities.

The James Tiptree Book Club: A Mitochondrial Theory …

A collage of Brian Attebery’s final keynote

Professor Brian Attebery, who teaches English at Idaho State University and is editing Ursula K. Le Guin’s work for the Library of America, gave the closing keynote (full text now available at at the James Tiptree Symposium last weekend.

Prof. Attebery proposed a “mitochondrial theory of literature” in which he drew direct lines from Nike Sulway’s story “The Karen Joy Fowler Book Club” (check it out! the characters are all rhinoceri!) not only to Karen Joy Fowler’s work but also to Jane Austen, James Tiptree, Jr. (and Alice B. Sheldon). From there he found paths to Connie Willis, Nancy Kress, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Donna Haraway. And the paths just keep branching outwards.

The whole speech is well worth reading, as Attebery surefootedly takes us down several literary, academic, and biological paths, concluding with:

I would propose that everyone here is part of the James Tiptree Jr. Book Club, which is also the Ursula K. Le Guin Book Club, the Karen Joy Fowler Book Club, and so on. We are a set of interlocking cells, what one male SF writer suspiciously termed the Secret Feminist Cabal.* This, unfortunately, is a time for resistance: for secret cells and mutual support and active intervention in literary culture and the broader culture. Whenever a group of readers takes in a new book, that book becomes part of the collective DNA and a powerhouse for the cell, the conspiracy, the cabal. That is part of what Karen Joy Fowler tells us in “What I Didn’t See” and Nike Sulway tells us in “The Karen Joy Fowler Book Club.” Whatever we call the process, whether mitochondria or allusion or something else like the Exhilaration of Influence, it can serve as a corollary to Russ’s work. It shows How Not to Suppress Women’s Writing.

One of the slogans of the Tiptree Award is “World Domination Through Bake Sales.” I suggest we add a corollary to that: “World Insurgency (and Mitochondrial Power) Through Book Clubs.”

* A phrase the Tiptree Award immediately pounced on and made our own.

Photos from the Tiptree Symposium

If you missed the Tiptree Symposium, you might enjoy this panoply of pictures of all symposium participants (plus an extra shot from the Friday night Tiptree Award party). All photos by Jeanne Gomoll.

Vonda N. McIntyre, Molly Gloss, Karen Joy Fowler, Debbie Notkin, Suzy McKee Charnas, and Julie Phillips
Allison Ford, Lauren Stewart, Keegan Williams, and Kylie Pun from Professor Edmond Chang’s feminist science fiction class; moderator Philip Scher
Karen Joy Fowler giving her keynote speech
Filmmaker Arwen Curry introduces her documentary about Ursula Le Guin
Alexis Lothian announcing the 2016 Tiptree Fellowship winners
micha cárdenas, Aren Aizura, Tuesday Smillie, and Alexis Lothian
adrienne maree brown and Grace Dillon
Kelly Sue DeConnick, interviewed by Ben Saunders
A collage of Brian Attebery’s final keynote

Space Babe Gear for the Holidays


Hoodies modeled by Tiptree Motherboard officers, Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin, Jeanne Gomoll, and Ellen Klages (retired). Design by Jeanne Gomoll.

Also available: Official James Tiptree Jr. Award Space Babe shirts and mugs. All profits from these items go to support the James Tiptree Jr. Literary Award.

The zipper hoodie features a small front logo and a large back print. The pullover hoodie (Ellen is wearing one in the picture) features a large logo on the front.

Dark-colored shirts, hoodies and mugs
Light-colored shirts, hoodies and mugs

Tiptree 2016 Symposium Honors Ursula K. Le Guin

The second Tiptree Symposium was held this past weekend in Eugene, Oregon, where the University of Oregon houses one of the best feminist science fiction archives imaginable, including the papers of Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., Suzy McKee Charnas, and more. Last year, the symposium honored James Tiptree, Jr.; this year, the focus was Ursula K. Le Guin.


The Symposium was a fine celebration of Le Guin’s life and work.

The day before the Symposium started, Alexis Lothian, professor at the University of Maryland and Tiptree Award Motherboard member gave a Sally Miller Gearhart lecture in Lesbian Studies:  “Queer Longings in Straight Futures”in which she talked about three novels from the 1920s and 1930s, both how they are problematic and how they express coded queer/Lesbian desires.

Day 1 of the symposium featured a panel of (mostly) authors talking about Le Guin and Feminist Science Fiction. Participants were Vonda N. McIntyre (previous Award juror), Molly Gloss (previous winner and juror), Karen Joy Fowler (founding mother), Debbie Notkin (Motherboard member) and Suzy McKee Charnas (previous winner and juror). The panel was moderated by Julie Phillips, author of James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. Ursula Le Guin was in the audience for the first day, and participated occasionally. The panel was largely a love poem to Le Guin and how her work and awareness and willingness to change have shaped us all, and so many others.

In the afternoon, four students (two graduate, two undergraduate) from Professor Edmond Chang’s class read passages that struck them from Le Guin’s The Word for World Is Forest, and discussed those passages, the book, and their relationships to science fiction and feminist science fiction. A dazzling array of posters from the class were also provided for Symposium attendees to look at.

Karen Joy Fowler gave a lyrical keynote speech in which she made strong connections between Ursula’s work and ways to look at the current political situation, ending with a call for how to think about plot in ways that are not hero-driven and war-focused.

At the end of the day, film-maker Arwen Curry treated us to the trailer for her forthcoming documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, which is in the editing phase and will have limited availability in 2017 and more general availability (quite possibly including theatrical release) in 2018.

Symposium participants walked over to the Knight Library, where an exhibit of materials from Le Guin’s papers was on display, including exchanges of letters with editors, Le Guin’s original drawings, family photographs, and more.

Read the Twitter Storify of Day 1.

Then the Tiptree Award hosted a party in a nearby hotel, where we had the pleasure of announcing our 2016 Fellowship winners: Mia Sereno and Porpentine Charity Heartscape, to thunderous applause.

The second day of programming was very exhilaratingly different from Day 1. The first panel, organized by Alexis Lothian, featured three transgender artists and scholars exploring their reactions to The Left Hand of Darkness, a novel Le Guin wrote to explore what would happen on a world largely without gender. The panelists, Tuesday Smillie, Aren Aizura, and micha cárdenas also explored some of Le Guin’s later examinations of her own 1969 novel, and did a remarkable job of appreciating the book while calling out its limitations and blind spots from their perspective. This may well be the first time that a group of trans and/or gender-fluid people have had a public forum to discuss this crucial work.

Immediately following that experience, we moved into a panel (curated by Joan Haran), in which Grace Dillon,of the Inishinaabe people, and adrienne maree brown, a Detroit activist and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood (with Walidah Imarisha) explored Le Guin’s The Dispossessed as a starting point to think about activism. In inspiring presentations, Dillon and brown both continued Karen Joy Fowler’s theme of decentering the individual and honoring group action.

In the afternoon, Kelly Sue DeConnick, who brought Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers into the 21st century and now creates Bitch Planet with Valentine deLandro, talked about her work in a context of her admiration for Le Guin. Then Brian Attebery(former juror) gave a stand-out keynote address on “The James Tiptree Book Club, or a Mitochondrial Theory of Literature” in which he drew great connections between many of the authors we know and love, He’s looking for a home for that speech, and we’ll let you know when it’s published.

The only disappointment was that Ursula Le Guin could only attend one day, and thus was not there to hear the Day 2 presentations, which might well have been more fresh and original to her than Day 1.

Read the Twitter Storify of Day 2.

When the University posts the audio transcripts of the panel, we’ll give you the links. We would be remiss if we didn’t thank the organizers, especially Linda Long of the University of Oregon libraries, and also Professor Carol Stabile, who was the mistress of ceremonies and also led us in an exploration of “what’s next” after Dr. Attebery’s speech.

2016 Fellowship Winners Announced

We are pleased to announce the selection of two Tiptree Fellows: Mia Sereno and Porpentine Charity Heartscape.

Sereno is a visual artist and poet who uses her art to explore the weight of her heritage as a queer Filipino which in her words means being “heir to a history of struggle and revolution, colonization and war; descendant of women who spoke and fought, built and taught, and were as unflinching in their pursuit of their goals as they were whole hearted in love.” She describes her work as arising at “the point where women and monsters wear the same face,” where she can celebrate “the act of throwing off conceptions of women and femininity that were imposed on us by colonizers.” The support of the Tiptree Fellowship will help Sereno bring her project, a series of illustrations tentatively named The Magnificent Ones, to fruition. The series reimagines Filipina woman as near-mythological figures of fantastic grandeur.

likhain2 likhain3

Porpentine makes stories and games that draw on the powerful world building potential of science fiction and fantasy to experiment with gender, femininity, and/or non-normative mental states in new ways. She describes her work as being “about the visceral body, a body that sweats and dissociates and aches and desires and above all fights for itself until the day it dies.” In addition to making her own work, much of which is available for free online, she has popularized accessible tools for working with electronic literature, running workshops and helping people online. She will use the fellowship to pay for rent and healthcare to ensure that she can focus on her current projects – feminine-centered work that innovates both technology and socially, often in collaboration with other disenfranchised women.


The Fellowship Committee also decided to award honorable mentions to writers Emily Coon, Marianne Kirby, and K. Tempest Bradford.  We will let you know more about their work later this month.

The Tiptree Fellowship program, created in 2015, 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.

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 the 2015 Tiptree Fellows, Elizabeth LaPensée and Walidah Imarisha; Tiptree Award winner Nike Sulway; and Tiptree Motherboard member Alexis Lothian.

If you would like to donate to the fund for future Tiptree Fellowships, you can do so here. Let us know if you would like your donation to support the Fellowships program specifically.

Ellen Klages Steps Down from Motherboard

After the two Founding Mothers, perhaps no one has been more important to the success and identity of the Tiptree Award than Ellen Klages, whose legendary auctions gave the Award much of its visibility, character, and flair (not to mention raising enough money to keep us going as a stable organization for over 20 years).

Ellen Klages at SRK Headshot Day
Ellen Klages at SRK Headshot Day

Ellen retired from her auctioneer role in 2015. Now she is taking an open-ended leave of absence from the Tiptree Motherboard.

If you only know Ellen as our take-no-prisoners fundraiser, you’re missing out on some great writing, including her award-winning story “Basement Magic” and her wonderful middle-grade historical novel, The Green Glass Sea. We can’t be too sad about losing Ellen from the Motherboard, since her plan is to concentrate on her own career. That includes a new novella, Passing Strange (, January 2017), a collection of her recent short fiction, Wicked Wonders (Tachyon, May 2017), and a novel-in-progress. We can’t wait.

Ellen says:

The Tiptree Award changed my life, and brought me friends and a community that I will cherish forever. Don’t think of this as goodbye; I’m not moving on, just shifting a little sideways to focus on my own work. I will continue to offer advice and opinions to the Motherboard, if called upon; to add Tiptree winners to my teetering to-read pile; and even manage to make a few magic objects for the auction!

Ellen, we’ll miss you, but we’re glad you’ll still be around!