A press release from the James Tiptree Jr. Literary Award Council:
The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council (www.tiptree.org) is pleased to announce two winners for the 2012 Tiptree Award:
Caitlin R. Kiernan for her novel The Drowning Girl: A Memoir (Roc), and
Kiini Ibura Salaam for her short fiction collection Ancient, Ancient (Aqueduct Press).
The James Tiptree Jr. Award is presented annually to a work or works of science fiction or fantasy that explore and expand gender roles. The award seeks out work that is thought provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating. It is intended to reward those writers who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society.
Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl probably couldn’t have been written without its multifaceted consideration of gender roles and its extraordinary management of an unreliable narrator who doesn’t even trust herself. For India Morgan Phelps (aka Imp), the act of telling the story parallels the act of choosing a path or an identity as she makes her way through a maze of false memories and blurred realities. Using myth, art, and mental illness, this beautifully written novel explores the boundaries between reality and fantasy, sanity and insanity, and art and dream. It’s complex in its plot, metaphor, and style as well as in its thinking about one’s role as a woman and a daughter. In its characters, lesbian, straight, and transgender, old and young, this novel also recognizes the complexity of human beings.
In Ancient, Ancient, Kiini Ibura Salaam’s startling stories combine science fiction, fantasy, and mythology in a sensuous exploration of what it means to live while struggling to define self and other. Salaam’s language is poetic and sensuous — a unique and original voice. The stories are ambitious and challenging, demonstrating excellent range in both storytelling style and imagery, from the mundane to the fully fantastical. Salaam is particularly interested in agency in oppressive social realities and explores how oppression works on our gendered bodies.
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 for the rest of the year. This year’s Honor List is:
Elizabeth Bear, Range of Ghosts (Tor) — A rip-roaring tale with imaginative worldbuilding, convincing exploration of gender, power, and possibility, and an intriguing juxtaposition of procreative energy, wizardly magic, and necromancy. The first book in the Eternal Sky trilogy.
Roz Kaveney, Rituals (Plus One Press) — Tremendous fun while dealing with serious issues around power, gender, class, economics. Genre-savvy while subverting conventions and tropes. This is the first book in Rhapsody of Blood, a four-part series.
M.J. Locke, Up Against It (Tor, 2011) — On an asteroid world, characters struggle with the social implications of altered biology. The control and betrayal of innocent AI’s are particularly fascinating.
Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312 (Orbit) — A rare and honest effort to examine gender multiplicity in pure hard-SF terms. This vision of freedom from gender assignment could help revise the standard hard-SF future in much the same way that Robinson’s Mars trilogy revised the portrayal of Mars in science fiction.
Karin Tidbeck, Jagannath (Cheeky Frawg Books) — A beautifully written collection of short stories using Norse myth; the ones that involve gender identities present figures not easily forgotten, from the Aunts to the Great Mother to the characters mooning over an airship and a steam engine.
Ankaret Wells, Firebrand, (Epicon Press) — Set in the steampunk era, this fun read shows women dealing with the restrictions of society on their way to gaining political and economic power and considers how definitions of “proper” behavior worked across cultural, class, and species’ boundaries.
Lesley Wheeler, “The Receptionist” (in The Receptionist and Other Tales, Aqueduct Press) — An overt exploration of gender and power in narrative poetry with splendidly drawn characters and pitch-perfect language.
The Tiptree Award winners will be honored during Memorial Day weekend at WisCon (www.wiscon.info) in Madison, Wisconsin. Each winner 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 2012 jurors were Joan Gordon (chair), Andrea Hairston, Lesley Hall, Karen Lord, and Gary K. Wolfe.
Reading for 2013 will soon begin. The jury panel consists of Ellen Klages (chair), Christopher Barzak, Jayna Brown, Nene Ormes, and Gretchen Treu.
As always, the Tiptree Award invites everyone to recommend works for the award. Please submit recommendations via the Tiptree Award website at www.tiptree.org, where you can also read more about the award, about works it has honored, and about past winners.
More background on the Tiptree Award
The James Tiptree Jr. Award was created in 1991 to honor 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.” Her insightful short stories were notable for their thoughtful examination of the roles of men and women in our society.
Since its inception, the Tiptree Award has been 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 England and Australia. Fundraising efforts have included auctions conducted by stand-up comic and award-winning writer Ellen Klages, the sale of t-shirts and aprons created by collage artist and silk screener Freddie Baer, and the publication of four anthologies of award winners and honor-listed stories. Three of the anthologies are in print and available from Tachyon Publications and one is in print and available from www.lulu.com and directly from the Tiptree Award website. The award has also published two cookbooks featuring recipes and anecdotes by science fiction writers and fans, available through www.tiptree.org.
In addition to presenting the Tiptree Award annually, the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council occasionally presents the Fairy Godmother Award, a special award in honor of Angela Carter. Described as a “mini, mini, mini, mini MacArthur award,” the Fairy Godmother Award strikes without warning, providing a financial boost to a deserving writer in need of assistance to continue creating material that matches the goals of the Tiptree Award.
For more information on the Tiptree Award or this press release, contact Pat Murphy at email@example.com or write to the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council at 680 66th St., Oakland, CA 94609.