Recommend

Recommendations are open for the 2015 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award.

James Tiptree, Jr. Award 1994 Short List

Winners Short List Long List Jurors

“The Lovers”
Eleanor Arnason, ,

Anthology Link This story is in Flying Cups and Saucers.

Arnason has explored this territory before but finds new insights this time around. The story concerns heterosexual love in a world that allows no such thing. The lovers convincingly embody gender choices that neither their society nor ours is quite prepared to sanction. (BA)

Like Arnason’s other “hwarhath” stories, this poignant tale explores gender on several levels, like a mobile of mirrors that catches new reflections with each turning. Neither Eyes-of- Crystal nor Eh Shawin is a revolutionary, yet their love both grows from and profoundly challenges the deepest assumptions of their society. By incorporating comments about the “author” of the tale, and finally its evidently human translator/editor (who might well be Anna Perez of Ring of Swords), Arnason sketches a broader timescape of a culture in transition. I’m impressed! (SJS)

The Furies
Suzy McKee Charnas, Tor 1994

Charnas follows up her groundbreaking novels about Free Fems and Riding Women with a dark and challenging story of revenge. The Free Fems have returned to Holdfast in order to tear it down. The question that is never resolved is whether they will be able to make a new life for themselves and the remaining men. Amid uncertainty, bitterness, and betrayal, the heroine of the earlier books struggles to keep the Free Fems from become what they have escaped from. (BA)

The 1994 jury was both blessed and cursed with an abundance of riches. This is a book that not only encourages but forces the reader to question assumptions about gender. It connects the words/ideas “women” and “power” and “violence” in a way few authors have ever cared or managed to. (EK)

This continuation of Walk and Motherlines is powerful, brooding, and extremely dark. Somebody commented that the two previous novels embodied key moments in the history of feminism; if that is so, then The Furies shows we live in interesting times (in the Chinese sense). It shows women turning on men, then on themselves, but battles in the end towards a type of understanding, if not forgiveness. Very few novels indelibly impress upon the mind, and this is one of them. (LS)

Like its predecessors, Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, The Furies explores the consequences, for both women and men, of a violently patriarchal society. Here at last the Riding Women, who have never been either slaves or slave owners, see the Free Fems in the latter’s own context-which is to say that they really see the Free Fems for the first time. There are acts of excruciating violence in this book, men against women, women against men, women against women; such is the power of the writing that I couldn’t look away. The Furies is one of the most important feminist novels I’ve ever read-why then did it place a shade behind the winners of this year’s Tiptree Award? Because its brilliance lies not so much in exploring and expanding gender roles-here The Furies clearly builds on the earlier books-but in asking the unaskable questions about revolutionary change, and in imagining, and facing, the unimaginable answers. What shapes the relationship of liberator and liberated? Leader and led? What to do with the despised but indispensable former oppressor? Langston Hughes asked what happened to a dream deferred; Suzy McKee Charnas asks what happens to a dream on the verge of fulfillment. (SJS)

Cannon’s Orb
L. Warren Douglas, Del Ray 1994

Like Genetic Soldier, this novel hypothesizes that pheromones control large areas of human behavior that we think are rational.

Contact with an alien race has altered human pheromones, with the result that everything from sexual cycles to xenophobia is transformed. The book takes a wrong turn toward the end, but in the interim a lot of assumptions about gender and society are questioned. (BA)

The book begins in an interesting fashion-examining the biological roots of human behavior. But starting from there, the story went in a direction that reinforces our cultures biases in what I consider to be a totally wrong- headed fashion. According to my reading of Canon’s Orb, the biological role of women is to control from behind the scenes by flattering and bolstering the ego of the man they have chosen as the alpha male. Women gain their power by supporting men. It sent chills up my spine-and I mean the wrong kind of chills. Because I had such a visceral reaction to the book, it did force me to examine my beliefs related to gender. (PM)

“Cocoon”
Greg Egan, ,

A frightening, and all too credible account of what might happen if corporate R&D capitalism ever decides to really cash in on homophobia. A scientific thriller par excellence. (LS)

Amazon Story Bones
Ellen Frye, Spinsters Ink 1994

The opening stories, revised myths from a feminist perspective, seem a little smug, and I don’t believe traditional mythic figures ever talk quite so much. But when it gets to the central narrative, about the fall of Troy and its impact on the lives of Amazons and other women, the book is powerful and convincing. One of the most interesting touches is that the Amazons are never actually there-they’re either anticipated, in the mythic sections, or sought, in the more naturalistic narrative. They’re a possibility that changes the world, rather than an actuality that can be pushed into the margins. (BA)

Who says that history has to be written by the winners? A tantalizing, evocative account of some of the lesser-known losers of the Trojan war, and how their herstory might have been; at its best when rewriting Homer. (LS)

This book’s Amazons are always off-stage. They are a promise and an inspiration. I like that. (PM)

A fine, not to mention rare, example of what can happen when feminism and fantasy marry. The myths that open the book read like a First Contact tale; familiar gods and heroes are seen through the bemused, benevolent, and often fatally naive eyes of the goddesses they displace. A generation or so after the fall of Troy, a young girl, Iphito, dreams of the near-legendary Amazons and listens to the stories of two old women, one an Amazon herself. This unconventionally structured novel both describes and embodies how storytelling can expand gender roles, especially by sparking the imagination of girls. (SJS)

North Wind
Gwyneth Jones, Gollancz 1994

In this follow-up to the Tiptree-winning White Queen, Gwyneth Jones continues to redivide the gender pie in most interesting ways. There is a war going on between Men and Women-but the Men are not necessarily men. There are also aliens of undoubted sexuality but disputed gender. The narrative itself alternates between masculine and feminine pronouns for one of the main characters, depending on whose perceptions are being echoed. (BA)

A writer friend recently opined, apropos of White Queen that there is more in Gwyneth Jones’ paragraphs than there is in most novels. North Wind is a worthy follow-up to her earlier Tiptree winner, dense with ideas to the extent of almost being too much of a good thing. A fascinating read. (LS)

“Eat Reecebread”
Graham Joyce, ,

Anthology Link This story is in Flying Cups and Saucers.

A study in demonizing the Other, in this case hermaphrodites. Even the sympathetic hero is implicated in their oppression, until the seemingly innocuous Reecebread of the title solves the problem. (BA)

The narrator, an English police officer in the not-too-distant future who falls in love with a hermaphrodite, tries to steer a course between the violent hatred of his colleagues and what he perceives as the extremism of some hermaphrodites-with predictably tragic results. Like several other works considered by the 1994 jury, this draws elements of Romeo and Juliet, not to mentionGuess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and The Crying Game, into the service of defusing hostility to gender difference. (SJS)

“Forgiveness Day”
Ursula K. Le Guin, ,

Anthology Link This story is in Flying Cups and Saucers.

Like “Young Woman in a Garden,” this novella explores the undermining of the assumptions about class, culture, and gender, dearly held by each protagonist, with immense compassion for both-and, by extension, all the rest of us. I loved the choice of “asset” to describe the slaves/bondspeople; it neatly extends the concept of unfreedom into the so-called free marketplace. (SJS)

A Fisherman of the Inland Sea
Ursula K. Le Guin, Harper 1994

The title story interacts intriguingly with “The Matter of Seggri.” The world of O could not be more different in its sexual arrangements from the strict separation of Seggri. A marriage on O requires two women and two men, each interacting sexually with two of the others-but not with the partner of the same moiety. That would be immoral. This is a story about having it both ways: not only heterosexual and homosexual but also living two different lives, thanks to the paradoxes of Churten physics. (BA)

Just about my favorite part of this collection was the Introduction, “On Not Reading Science Fiction,” in which, with her usual quiet panache, Le Guin nails the use and purpose and intent of science fiction for even the meanest intelligence to perceive. (EK)

Though I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection, I recommend it for the shortlist because of one story in particular: “Another Story.” Le Guin is second to none in imagining interesting cultures. The culture in “Another Story” has marriage customs that, quietly and matter-of- factly, stand our assumptions on their ear. (PM)

“Another Story, or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea,” the only 1994 story in this collection, “only” redefines family and provides a scenario whereby one really can, in certain circumstances, go home again. Clearly a shortlist contender in its own right, it’s ably amplified by its impressive company here. Read, or reread, “Newton’s Sleep,” in which what one doesn’t see refuses to go away”; “The Rock That Changed Things”; and especially “Dancing to Ganam.” Reality, said Lily Tomlin’s Trudy, is “nothing but a collective hunch;” Ursula Le Guin shows how it works. (SJS)

Temporary Agency
Rachel Pollack, St. Martin’s 1994

I liked about this book for its matter-of-fact use of demons and magic in an otherwise contemporary world. As for the book’s gender-bending credentials-Ellen, the main character, is a strong-minded, capable, heroic young woman (she’s a teenager at the start and an adult by the end), she ends up in a relationship with another woman; a group of transgender hackers assists her in her work. And (here’s the big one for me) in the end, Ellen and her lover, using limited resources and their wits, save the world. I’m always so happy when women save the world. (PM)

Unconquered Countries
Geoff Ryman, St. Martin’s 1994

There is virtually nothing Geoff Ryman writes that does not explore gender or sexuality; his hand is so steady on that wheel that he can steer the vessel off in completely other directions, and still have more to say on gender than do many stories that use it as their focal point. While other writers struggle with questions of, “Gosh, can women be strong and nontraditional, and men complex and conflicted, and how can I show it …?” Ryman’s assumption is that they not only can be but already are; he begins there, and takes the work where he wants it to go. This collection is notable for his 1994 story “A Fall of Angels, or On the Possibility of Life under Extreme Conditions.” (EK)

I’d recommend this for the shortlist because “O Happy Day!,” one of the four novellas it includes, is a powerful examination of the consequences of gender and power and violence. In this world run by women, a group of gay men are the cleanup crew in a concentration camp where heterosexual men are exterminated. The story takes place in a concentration camp It’s a powerful and gripping story, one that I find impossible to ignore. (PM)

Trouble and Her Friends
Melissa Scott, Tor 1994

Wild grrls invade the cyberpunk boys’ club. Trouble and her friends are virtual amazons, at home inside the virtual world and outside the law. The story includes a lot of weird hardware, an on-line cross-dressing seducer, and a genuine love story between prickly Trouble and independent Cerise. (BA)

Lesbian relationships in F/SF, still lamentably scarce, tend to take place either on the peripheries of the main story or in societies-like those of last year’s winner, Ammonite-where there are no men. Had Melissa Scott done no more than put Trouble and Cerise front and center in a near-future U.S., this novel would be worth celebrating. But Scott goes much further, exploring the challenges to and implications of unconventional relationships in a vivid social context. She uses the gender ambiguity of the virtual world to play an erotic joke on one of her protagonists, and to have fun with a U.S. mythos that generally excludes women: the Wild Wild Western. Perhaps most important, she examines with compassion and insight the slow recovery of a partnership from desertion and betrayal. (SJS)

“Young Woman in a Garden”
Delia Sherman, Xanadu, Tor 1994

Anthology Link This story is in Flying Cups and Saucers.

Delia Sherman delicately undercuts assumptions about gender and art with this time fantasy about an artist, a lover, a model, and a scholar, none of whom are exactly the person one expects. (BA)

A lovely, haunting story that puts gender considerations in an intriguing historic perspective. (PM)

A young American graduate student finds more than a dissertation topic in this beautifully written story. True to its central imagery, the tale is about learning how to see what lies in plain sight, and here the “what” has much to do with assumptions about gender and sexuality, not to mention the complex relationship of artist/scholar and subject. (SJS)

Genetic Soldier
George Turner, Morrow 1994

In the future Earth of this book, social roles are predestined by genes and enforced by pheromones. Some are mothers, some are soldiers. Turner combines social and biological extrapolation to produce a very strange world that is at the same time a mirror of our own. (BA)

The influence of pheronomes on sex roles has been explored recently in SF, but seldom with the narrative edge of Turner. A fascinating exploration that rewrites the theme of star-crossed lovers most nastily and inventively. If anything, this is a metaphysical thriller, with gender ultimately transcended. (LS)

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