Recommend

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

James Tiptree, Jr. Award 1999 Long List

Winners Short List Long List Jurors

“The Actors”
Eleanor Arnason, , 199912

[One of two] installments of a continuing saga of stories of and about Hwarhath. This is a world where male/female social roles are divided up differently than what we’re used to. A young girl wants to be an actor and a playwright in a world where this is the exclusive purview of men. Because of (or perhaps in spite of) the characters being aliens, the gender differences are not as logically presented as they might be. (DM)

“Dapple”
Eleanor Arnason, , 199909

[One of two] installments of a continuing saga of stories of and about Hwarhath. This is a world where male/female social roles are divided up differently than what we’re used to. A young girl wants to be an actor and a playwright in a world where this is the exclusive purview of men. Because of (or perhaps in spite of) the characters being aliens, the gender differences are not as logically presented as they might be. (DM)

A Civil Campaign
Louis McMaster Bujold, Baen 1999

This novel expanded my understanding of the gendered implications of romance conventions and their relation to both women’s and men’s material lives. Its very title ironizes the overdetermined outcome of its marriage plots. I found it an entertaining read, but oh how fascinating it would have been if Miles had been forced to change to win Ekaterina the way Lord Peter Whimsy had to do to win Harriet Vane. Miles, alas, gets away without even so much as writing a sonnet. (LTD)

The portion of the novel that deals with gender (specifically a sex-change) is relatively minor to the story, but it is done very well, and makes its point effectively. It’s also very, very funny. (DM)

Silver Birch / Blood Moon
Ellen Datlow, Avon 1999

and eds.

This is the penultimate volume of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s six fairy tale anthologies, and as in the earlier books, we are presented with fairy tales (many familiar) that have been turned upside down, shaken, turned inside out, and stitched back together again. There are various amphibians-Tanith Lee’s Frog Prince transformed stands out in particular–and examinations of the ever afters that must follow on happy endings. Gender (as well as all the other elements of these retellings) is given vigorous, thoughtful redress. (KL)

“Remailer”
Debra Doyle, Not of Woman Born, ROC/Penguin

With a film noir/cyberpunk feel, considerable charm, and an innovative flair, this story centers on an oddball genetic detective in an age with three genders and truncated language, but the tale’s signal feature probably involves investigating and expanding genre considerations more than offering gender analysis. (BC)

Essentially a mystery novel, the story takes place in a society where mutation has created a third sex, a go-between male and female. A detective is asked to find a missing person. Difficulties ensue. Would have been much better if more emphasis had been placed on showing how this mutation affected society, relationships, and individuals. More what, less why. (DM)

“Teranesia”
Greg Egan, , HarperPrism

It’s interesting how much of the work we looked at this year was concerned with transformation. In this novel, butterflies, protagonist,–the entire world–is being made new by a sort of genetic plague, the Sao Paolo gene. Even the feminist academic Amita (a caricature, rather than a character) wishes to transform the binary code, switching the vaginal “zeros” with the phallic “ones,” to create the transputer. (KL)

One of those books that didn’t go where I wanted/expected it to go. I really wanted more to happen with the protagonist’s sister, who was conceived and born on the island Teranesia. And, though not central to the plot, Egan’s extrapolation of academia in the mid-21st century was by turns side-splitting and infuriating. (DM)

The Vintner’s Luck
Elizabeth Knox, Farrar Straus Giroux 1998

Perhaps one of the most innovative and well-written works considered this year, this historical SF novel chronicles the often tragic but ultimately wonderful consequences of an individual’s choices as well as describing the rich tapestry human experience can weave. (BC)

A beautifully written book. Each chapter presents an annual meeting between a vintner and an angel, bottling the encounters like vintages of wine. The effect is rich and sensual, and the reader will come away drunk on Knox’s language. (KL)

Skillfully and thoughtfully written, the gender connection is less effective than it might have been, because the angel who visits the (male) protagonist once a year for 40 years is also male. Somehow, though, it’s not the kind of maleness we are used to. (DM)

“Dragonfly”
Ursula K. Le Guin, Legends, Tor

A well-written and magical story about a strong-willed and intelligent young lady who overcomes patristic obstacles and creates her own destiny (BC)

As in Tehanu, this novella is concerned with the workings of different kinds of magic (male and female), closed societies, the opening of things rather than resolutions, transformations. There are interesting parallels between the girl Tehanu and the protagonist of this story, Dragonfly, and of course, Le Guin’s work not only reflects upon the earlier Earthsea books, but on fantasy literature in general, and also on the world we live in. (KL)

Speaking Stones
Stephen Leigh, Avon 1999

Sequel to Dark Water’s Embrace, this novel deals with a mutated human race. A lost colony isolated on a reproductively hostile planet, the settlers only gradually become aware of the tri-sexed natives, and feel threatened when they find themselves falling into the same biological pattern. What’s not clearly defined is why there is so much resistance. (DM)

The Terrorists of Irustan
Louise Marley, Ace 1999

Taking place in a quasi-Muslim society, the heroine deals somewhat uncomfortably with her sexuality and more importantly struggles with issues of gender inequality, attempting to make social change. (DM)

Calling to mind the gender apartheid under which women presently suffer in Afghanistan, Marley’s generally intriguing novel might have gained from following the dictum “less is better,” for in the final analysis the excessive violence erodes the narrative’s plausibility and dulls its otherwise thoughtful message. (BC)

The Fathergod Experiment
L.A. Taylor, Allau Press 1999

The premise, as one might gather from the title, has something to do with gender and genre. But the real pleasure in reading this book is in the characters– especially the sensible, intelligent protagonist Lilz–and in the way L. A. Taylor conflates various genres: mystery, romance, sf, fantasy. There are orphans, villains, poetry, and poisons-something for everyone. A smart, blissful, Young Trollopian novel, which will hopefully find a large and appreciative audience. (KL)

What Kelly said. My absolute favorite of all the books we read, gender stuff not withstanding. A complete and utter delight. I read it cover to cover and then over again, immediately. It is a real shame that this is Taylor’s last work (she died in 1997). (DM)

The Singer from the Sea
Sherri S. Tepper, Avon 1999

Political biology, secret technology, patriarchal oppression. Once again a brave woman saves the world from evil men. What sounds trite and simplistic in summary is nonetheless a heart-felt plea to see our current values as wrong, urging change before we destroy ourselves. (DM)

With an ecofeminist perspective that spans centuries and which will strike readers of Tepper as perhaps overly familiar, this latest effort, while complex and entertaining, resolves the horrors men visit on women but provides a romantic conclusion that will probably disturb many, for here in particular Tepper may well bend gender to an un-satisfying angle. (BC)

In this book, which contracts and diminishes our understanding of gender, biology is destiny with a vengeance. Blood of lactating females=immortality; blood of males= death; and Special Genes enable the heroine to save her world from a long-term male conspiracy of unimaginably evil proportions. (LTD)

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