James Tiptree Jr. Award
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The James Tiptree Jr. Award is an annual literary prize for works of science fiction or fantasy that expand or explore one's understanding of gender. It was initiated in February 1991 by science fiction authors Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler, subsequent to a discussion at WisCon. The award is named for Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree Jr.
In addition to the award itself, the judges publish a "Tiptree Award Honor List" that they describe as "a strong part of the award's identity and (...) used by many readers as a recommended reading list."
Due to controversy over the appropriateness of naming an award after Tiptree, the committee administering the award announced on September 11, 2019 that the award "can’t go on under its existing name".
By choosing a masculine nom de plume, having her stories accepted under that name and winning awards with them, Alice Sheldon helped demonstrate that the division between male and female science fiction writing was illusory. Years after "Tiptree" first published science fiction, Sheldon wrote some work under the female pen name "Raccoona Sheldon"; later, the science fiction world discovered that "Tiptree" had been female all along. This discovery led to widespread discussion over which aspects of writing, if any, have an intrinsic gender. To remind audiences of the role gender plays in both reading and writing, the award was named in Sheldon's honor at the suggestion of Karen Joy Fowler.
Fundraising efforts for the Tiptree include publications (two cookbooks), "feminist bake sales", and auctions. (The Tiptree cookbook The Bakery Men Don't See, edited by WisCon co-founder Jeanne Gomoll, was nominated for a 1992 Hugo Award.) Tiptree Award juries traditionally consist of four female jurors and one male juror (the "token man"). The funds are administrated by the "Tiptree Motherboard" (currently consisting of Gomoll, Murphy, Alexis Lothian, Gretchen Treu, Sumana Harihareswara, and Jeffrey D. Smith, with Fowler remaining closely involved).
Award to the Tiptree Motherboard
In 2011, the Science Fiction Research Association gave its 2011 "Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service" to the Tiptree Motherboard. The Clareson Award was presented to the Tiptree Motherboard for "outstanding service activities – promotion of SF teaching and study, editing, reviewing, editorial writing, publishing, organizing meetings, mentoring, and leadership in SF/fantasy organizations".
Controversy and name change
In 2019, controversy arose over the appropriateness of naming an award after Tiptree. In 1987, Tiptree killed her ailing husband Huntington Sheldon before shooting herself. Although some have called the killing a "suicide pact", others characterize the act as "caregiver murder"—i.e., the murder of a disabled person by the person responsible for caring for him. In light of these allegations, the Tiptree Motherboard received requests to change the name of the award. On September 2, 2019, in response to these requests, the Motherboard made a statement that "a change to the name of the Tiptree Award is [not] warranted now"; but nine days later, on September 11, they announced that the award "can’t go on under its existing name".
Selections of the winners, various short listed fiction, and essays have appeared in four Tiptree-related collections, Flying Cups and Saucers (1999) and a series of annual anthologies published by Tachyon Publications of San Francisco. These include:
- Flying Cups and Saucers: Gender Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by The Secret Feminist Cabal and Debbie Notkin (1999)
- The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin, and Jeffrey D. Smith (2005)
- The James Tiptree Award Anthology 2 edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin, and Jeffrey D. Smith (2006)
- The James Tiptree Award Anthology 3 edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin, and Jeffrey D. Smith (2007)
- Retrospective Award: Motherlines and Walk to the End of the World by Suzy McKee Charnas; The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin; The Female Man and When It Changed by Joanna Russ
- 1991: A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason, and White Queen by Gwyneth Jones
- 1992: China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh
- 1993: Ammonite by Nicola Griffith
- 1994: The Matter of Seggri by Ursula K. Le Guin and Larque on the Wing by Nancy Springer
- 1995: Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand and The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak
- 1996: Mountain Ways by Ursula K. Le Guin, and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
- 1997: Black Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey and Travels with the Snow Queen by Kelly Link
- 1998: Congenital Agenesis of Gender Ideation by Raphael Carter
- 1999: The Conqueror's Child by Suzy McKee Charnas
- 2000: Wild Life by Molly Gloss
- 2001: The Kappa Child by Hiromi Goto
- 2002: Light by M. John Harrison and Stories for Men by John Kessel
- 2003: Set This House in Order: A Romance Of Souls by Matt Ruff
- 2004: Camouflage by Joe Haldeman and Not Before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo
- 2005: Air by Geoff Ryman
- 2006: The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente and Half Life by Shelley Jackson; special recognition for Julie Phillips' biography of James Tiptree Jr.: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon
- 2007: The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall
- 2008: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and Filter House by Nisi Shawl
- 2009: Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales by Greer Gilman and Ōoku: The Inner Chambers by Fumi Yoshinaga
- 2010: Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugresic
- 2011: Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston
- 2012: The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan and Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam
- 2013: Rupetta by N. A. Sulway
- 2014: The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne and My Real Children by Jo Walton
- 2015: The New Mother by Eugene Fischer and Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz
- 2016: When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
- 2017: Who Runs The World? by Virginia Bergin
- 2018: "They Will Dream in the Garden" by Gabriela Damián Miravete
- Gender in speculative fiction
- Sense of Gender Awards
- Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction
- Women in speculative fiction
- Women science fiction authors
- Notkin, Debbie. "2015 Winners, Honor List, and Long List Announced!". James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- Lothian, Alexis (September 2, 2019). "Alice Sheldon and the name of the Tiptree Award". James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
- Merrick, Helen. The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms ISBN 978-1-933500-33-1 Seattle: Aqueduct Press, 2009; pp. 172–176
- "Motherboard « James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award". James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
- "Tiptree Motherboard Receives Clareson Award" Locus Online August 29, 2011
- "2010 Tiptree Award Winner Announced!". James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council. Archived from the original on 9 April 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
- "2011 Tiptree Award Winner announced". James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- "2017 James Tiptree, Jr. Award". Retrieved 25 March 2018.