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Welcome to the Website of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council

  • Ellen Klages and the Tiptree Auction:The Motherboard is sorry to be posting this … (*sniff*)In her own words …Ah, dear friends. This is a hard blog to post, but….

    After twenty years of having the honor and pleasure of being the emcee for the Tiptree Auction at Wiscon, I am retiring.

    I’m sad, but it’s the right decision. I am no longer a spry young thing. Young at heart, always, but the body is different now, and less able to caper and cavort for hours at a time. Plus, I injured my back in 2014, which has limited my mobility and flexibility, not to mention the ease of traveling. Add to that a general WisConian sense of transition, transformation, and change — and it’s time.

    It feels like the end of an era. But what an era it was.

    (read the rest here)

    The Tiptree Auction at WisCon 39 will happen with multiple auctioneers, as it did at WisCon 38.

  • Announcing Tiptree Fellowships! In conjunction with announcing our 2014 winners, we are delighted to announce Tiptree Fellowships, starting this year! We opened applications at Wiscon 39. Fellowships are $500 per recipient and will be awarded each year to two creators who are doing work that pushes forward the Tiptree mission. We hope to create a network of Fellows who will build connections, support one another, and find collaborators. The Tiptree Fellows might be writers, artists, scholars, media makers, remix artists, performers, musicians, or something else entirely. If you are doing work that is changing the way we think about gender through speculative narrative – maybe in a form we would recognize as the science fiction or fantasy genre, maybe in some other way – you will be eligible for a Fellowship. You won’t have to be a professional or have an institutional affiliation, as we hope to support emerging creators who don’t already have institutional support for their work.
  • On May 25, in Madison, Wisconsin, at WisCon 38, N.A. Sulway accepted the Tiptree Award for Rupetta. Nike gave an especially remarkable acceptance speech, which we are delighted to share with you all here.
  • The Drowning Girl by Caitlin Kiernan didn’t only win the Tiptree Award; it also just won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel, presented in New Orleans in June 2013. Coincidentally, we brought Caitlin’s Tiptree prizes to her that same weekend. Her art award was designed by Catherine Crowe and consists of a beautifully designed box which incorporates a removable magnetic brooch.
  • In 2011, Founding Mothers Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler went to Poland to accept the Science Fiction Research Association’s Thomas D. Clareson Award for extraordinary service. Pat Murphy has written a madcap trip report, replete with opportunities for you to choose the next step of their journey. Pat at her best!
  • We’re on Twitter (@JamesTiptree).

  • We’re on Facebook! Drop by and say hi
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Welcome to the Website of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council

What is the Tiptree Award? | Why the Name Tiptree? | What’s New

“If you can’t change the world with chocolate chip cookies, how can you change the world?”

— Pat Murphy


Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler,
Founding Mothers of the Tiptree Award

What is the Tiptree Award?

In February of 1991 at WisCon (the world’s only feminist-oriented science fiction convention), 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. (To read her speech go to PatMurphy.pdf.) 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.

Why the Name “Tiptree”?

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.


2014 Tiptree Award Winners! And more.

The 2014 Tiptree Award winners, honor list, and long list have been selected. Our congratulations to Monica Byrne and Jo Walton, this year’s winners!

2014 winners

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.

Honor List

2014 honor list

In addition to selecting the winner, each 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. This year’s Honor List (in alphabetical order by the author’s last name) is:

Jennifer Marie Brissett. Elysium (Aqueduct Press 2014) — A masterfully layered tale of star-crossed lovers, ambiguously situated before, during, and after a devastating alien invasion. Adrian/Adrianne and Antoine/Antoinette move through a liminal, re-creative space that tells spooling variations of an original story we might never see, but can reconstruct. Variously lovers, siblings, and parent and child, these relationships change in subtle and overt ways that are tied to the gender of the characters in each looping iteration.

Seth Chambers, “In Her Eyes” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2014) — This excellently written and evocative story is about a woman who is a polymorph, capable of drastically altering her body.  It’s told from the point of view of the man who loves her.  Each week she becomes a different woman for him, until she changes her gender, then her very self.

Kim Curran, “A Woman Out of Time” (Irregularity, edited by Jared Shurin, Jurassic London 2014) — A fictionalized version of Joanna Russ’s classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing, based on a true history (with very mild adjustments). Time travel paradoxes, complexity theory, and alien intervention are beautifully interwoven in this lyrical exploration of the gendering of scientific discovery. The story’s epigraph will tempt readers to explore what is known of the life and work of Emile Du Chatelet, a contemporary of Voltaire and the translator and commentator of Newton’s work, and to undo the disservice she has been done by history.

Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water (Harper Voyager 2014) (published in Finnish as Teemestarin kirja, Teos 2012) — This beautifully crafted novel, written simultaneously in English and Finnish, uses a delicately-told coming-of-age tale to examine a future replete with water crises, a totalitarian police state, and suffocating gender roles.

Jacqueline Koyanagi, Ascension (Masque Books 2013) — A fun, fast-paced space opera with surprising heft. Its beautifully diverse cast of characters explores intersections of gender and race, class, disability, and polyamory, all while racing to save the universe from certain destruction.

Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, editors, Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press 2014) — An anthology of young-adult stories about diversity, many featuring queer or trans characters or gender issues. This is a book that should be in every middle and high-school library!

Pat MacEwen, “The Lightness of the Movement” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2014) — A solid, well-told alien-contact story about a xeno-anthropologist studying an alien species.  The alien’s gender roles are well described and very alien.  Though the story never enters the aliens’ minds, MacEwen does a fabulous job of making it clear how the aliens think.

Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon (Hodder & Stoughton, 2014) — This gloriously chaotic look at the day after aliens land in the lagoon off of Lagos, Nigeria’s coast approaches gender with a diversity that intersects with many aspects of modern Nigerian life: age, religion, social class and politics, among others. The character Ayodele, an alien who takes the form of a human woman to make first contact, is particularly noteworthy in how her chosen gender exposes fault lines across the panoply of characters that drive the narrative.

Nghi Vo, “Neither Witch nor Fairy” (Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, Crossed Genres, 2014) — Two orphaned brothers try to get by in 1895 Belfast. The story focuses on the younger brother, who thinks he’s a changeling. He asks the fairies to tell him what he truly is. (Saying anything more would be telling.)

Aliya Whiteley, The Beauty (Unsung Stories 2014) — A piece of disturbing, thought-provoking horror that explores what happens to a small community of men when sentient mushrooms spring from the graves of women who died years before from a deadly fungus infection. These mushrooms, called “Beauties” by the storytelling narrator, gradually and inexorably shift their roles over the course of the narrative, starting as supposedly mindless providers of comfort and ending with roles more traditionally masculine: inseminating, caring for the male mothers, and engaging in violent battles to protect their progeny. Allegorically explores a variety of aspects of the human experience, including gender and sexuality.

It was a particularly good year for gender exploration in science fiction and fantasy. In addition to the honor list, this year’s jury also compiled the following long list of other works they found worthy of attention:

  • Corinne Duyvis, Otherbound (Amulet 2014)
  • Meg Elison, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Sybaritic Press 2014) At the same time that the Tiptree winners were announced, this book won the Philip K. Dick Award.
  • L.S. Johnson, “Marigolds” (Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, Crossed Genres 2014)
  • Laura Lam, Shadowplay (Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry 2014)
  • Ken Liu, “Knotting Grass, Holding Ring” (Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, Crossed Genres 2014)
  • Sarah Pinsker, “No Lonely Seafarer” (Lightspeed Magazine, September 2014)
  • Michael J. Sullivan, Hollow World (Tachyon 2014)
  • Deborah Wheeler, Collaborators (Dragon Moon Press 2013)
  • Cat Winters, The Cure for Dreaming (Amulet 2014)

Monica Byrne, along with authors and works on the Honor List and the long list will be celebrated during Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25, 2015) at WisCon in Madison, Wisconsin. Jo Walton is unable to attend WisCon, but will be feted at an alternate celebration in San Francisco in August. (You cannot have too many celebrations.) 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 2014 jurors were Darrah Chavey (chair), Elizabeth Bear, Joan Haran, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Amy Thomson.

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