In February of 1991 at WisCon, award-winning SF author Pat Murphy announced the creation of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender. Pat created the award in collaboration with author Karen Joy Fowler. The aim of the award is not to look for work that falls into some narrow definition of political correctness, but rather to seek out work that is thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating. The Tiptree Award is intended to reward those women and men who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society.
The award is named for Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. By her impulsive choice of a masculine pen name, Sheldon helped break down the imaginary barrier between “women’s writing” and “men’s writing.” Her fine stories were eagerly accepted by publishers and won many awards in the field. Many years later, after she had written some other work under the female pen name of Raccoona Sheldon, it was discovered that she was female. The discovery led to a great deal of discussion of what aspects of writing, if any, are essentially gendered. The name “Tiptree” was selected to illustrate the complex role of gender in writing and reading.
Wikipedia has a nice clear list of past winners.
Special shoutouts to:
* Rachel Swirsky, a feminist blogger who comments here at Feministe under the name Mandolin, and who totally won a Nebula Award this year! (The Nebula is one of the most prestigious awards in speculative fiction.) Congratulations Mandolin, you’re so awesome. Here’s Mandolin’s archive of posts over at Alas, A Blog. And here’s her award-winning novella, freely available online: “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window“.
* Think Galacticon, an upcoming radical speculative fiction convention happening in Chicago. From their site:
Think Galacticon strives to create a space in which leftists can discuss politics and speculative fiction in an intelligent, engaging, and fun fashion. There will be multiple tracks of programming that seek to expand the boundaries of typical discussions. We want to explore issues of oppressive hierarchies, confronting topics of race, gender, sexuality, class and more.
Previously on Feministe (thanks Chally):
Comments with more recommendations, debate about various books, etc. are welcome.