Tiptree Award News & Reflections

by nike, April 6, 2015
The original artwork that was commissioned by the Tiptree motherboard as part of the award for Rupetta.

The original artwork that was commissioned as part of the award for Rupetta. Artwork (Rupetta’s Heart) by Carl Cone.

Last year, my life got shaken, rattled and stirred. It was one of those years that changed the very foundations of my life. One of the amazing things that happened was that I won the 2013 James Tiptree, Jr Award for my novel, Rupetta. This award is presented annually by a panel of judges (overseen by the motherboard) for a work of science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender.

The winners, honour list and long list for 2014 have just been announced. The winners are …

Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road is a painful, challenging, glorious novel about murder, quests, self-delusion, and a stunning science-fictional big idea: What would it be like to walk the length of a few-meter-wide wave generator stretching across the open sea from India to Africa, with only what you can carry on your back? With profound compassion and insight, the novel tackles relationships between gender and culture and between gender and violence. It provides a nuanced portrait of violence against women, in a variety of forms, and violence perpetrated by women. Through the eyes of two narrators linked by a single act of violence, the reader is brought to confront shifting ideas of gender, class, and human agency and dignity.

Jo Walton’s My Real Children is a richly textured examination of two lives lived by the same woman. This moving, thought-provoking novel deals with how differing global and personal circumstances change our view of sexuality and gender. The person herself changes, along with her society. Those changes influence and are influenced by her opportunities in life and how she is treated by intimate partners, family members, and society at large. The alternate universe trope allows Walton to demonstrate that changes in perceptions regarding gender and sexuality aren’t inevitable or determined by a gradual enlightenment of the species, but must be struggled for. My Real Children is important for the way it demonstrates how things could have been otherwise — and might still be.

(These notes from the Tiptree website – where you can read all about the honours list, and longlist works)

This year, the motherboard have also announced a new fellowship program: two annual awards of $500.00 for two creators who are using “speculative narrative to expand or explore our understanding of gender, especially in its intersections with race, nationality, class, disability, sexuality, age, and other categories of identification and structures of power”.

I’m especially proud to have been invited to join the panel of judges for the 2015 Tiptree Award: reading has already begun! If you know of/read a work that you think it Tiptree-worthy, don’t forget to nominate it here.

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