Recommend

Recommendations are open for the 2014 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award.

James Tiptree, Jr. Award 1999 Short List

Winners Short List Long List Jurors

If I Told You Once
Judy Budnitz, Picador USA/St. Martin’s 1999

A thoughtful and rich chronicle of women and children through a number of generations, beginning in the Old World and crossing to the New, the novel recalls The Painted Bird’s landscape though with less dreadful consequences as the women involved confront old battles in new territory. (BC)

Strikingly imaginative magic realism, subtle and complicated, often Angela Carteresque, that tells the story of several generations of women in a family that moves from the Old World to the New, focusing on “the pattern repeating. An endless procession of women following a single set of footprints in the snow.” (LTD)

A novel about mothers and daughters, and sisters and brothers. The New World, like the Old World, is full of magic and strangeness, wolves, unobtainable heart’s desires and curses. The narrative which begins in Ilana’s voice, breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, spoken by her daughter and so on: the end shows us how the Ilana, the mother contains all of their stories within her own story, like an egg. (KL)

More showing than telling, the gender exploration is not overt, but it flows throughout the whole book, telling the story of a family of strong women. (DM)

“In the Second Person”
Sally Caves, ,

A love story literally in the second person, about she, he and IT (Identity Transfer) in which minds, bodies, brain, and gender become inextricably tangled and changed. The details are telling– simultaneously claustrophobic and liberating. (KL)

An illuminating gender-bending story that illustrates how significantly the body mediates consciousness (something that should be obvious to everyone, since the brain is a biological organ, but as the film Being John Malkovitch demonstrates, is not). (LTD)

Very much in the spirit of the Tiptree award. The writing is not always the smoothest, but the exploration of gender is most thorough, taking a clear and broad look at sex and gender roles. (DM)

“Pinkland”
Graham Joyce, Crossing the Border, Indigo 1998

A story about the flesh-mind disjunct of cyberspace that does not write off the flesh as something to be escaped and denigrated, in which the in-the-flesh gender identities of the two Internet lovers, the obsessive focus for most of the narrative, turn out to be far less important than other differences that open between them when they meet off-line. (LTD)

Most of this story has the texture of a dream, in which two lovers settle down and construct a house and a life online together, and then one day decide to meet. A series of meetings ensue online and then finally, in a bar, face to face. Layers of identity and gender have been assumed and peeled away and turned upside down and finally cast off. At the end, the physical world has taken on a nightmarish, unreal fixed quality– fluid, abandoned Pinkland was Paradise. (KL)

Uses the Internet as a venue to explore gender, sex, and communication. Unsettling, this story twists and turns in a series of switchbacks until you hardly know what is ‘real’. (DM)

The Woman with the Flying Head: And Other Stories (Japanese Woman Writers in Translation)
Yumiko Kurahashi, M.E. Sharpe 1998

Offering a remarkable array of perspectives, sometimes provocative at others humorous, the collection moves in many and always satisfying directions. (BC)

A collection of strange and powerful stories that use Noh dramas and masks to explore how subjectivity operates through the ordinary, conventional, and sometimes extreme roles (all of which are, of course, gendered) that people assume in their relationships, roles depicted as aspects of the individual that shift according to circumstance. (LTD)

A series of stories in which: a sister and brother achieve space travel by climbing between an alien’s legs and into its vagina; faces are put on like masks, cats behave like women and vice versa; women’s heads fly chastely to their lovers, while their bodies remain vulnerable, at home in bed. The borders between sexes, the commonplace and otherworldly, human and animal, taboo and familiar (familial) are trafficked and transgressed. (KL)

A continuing metaphor of masks links these stories, as does a skillful ordering by the translator. Male/female, mortal/supernatural, parents/children, animals/humans, things are not always what they seem. (DM)

“5001 Nights”
Penelope Lively, The Five Thousands and One Nights (European Short Stories, No. 4), Fjord Pres, c/o Partners West 1997

A delightful and delicious tale exploring the gendered character of literary conventions and gendered (and competitive) ways in which men and women read and write fiction. (LTD)

Satisfying in so many ways: the bloodthirsty Sultan has been “tamed by narrative,” and this is the “happy ever after” math. Marriage has a structure, Lively suggests, like fiction, and Scheherazade has moved on from genies to Mansfield Park and the strange tale of Mrs. Dalloway. In self-defense, the Sultan becomes a storyteller too: Westerns, SF, Hemingway. In the end, we’ve circled back to the old good stories about fishermen and genies, and the children have climbed up onto the bed to listen. (KL)

A retelling of The Arabian Nights with keenly described and hilarious gender role-reversal. (DM)

The Iron Bridge
David E. Morse, Harcourt Brace 1998

An interesting historical science fiction novel, this story examines the ambivalent consequences of progress and history’s powerful, complex sweep, providing insights into the gender suppression behind magnificent yet potentially destructive creations. (BC)

Offers unusually fine insight into the nature of historical change, showing gender’s work and functions, using the future/past confrontation to illuminate not only gender’s differences, but how gender works as a part of the whole functioning of the social fabric. (LTD)

In which a woman travels backwards, into the past, to save the world from its future. The iron bridge, the thing that links the two places, past and future, (which she has come back to bring down before it is even built) is beautifully described, and seems to take on gender as it is drawn, considered, constructed. Persons, historical artifacts, society, history itself seem to be unexpectedly gendered. (KL)

This is ‘big picture’ gender exploration, showing the intertwined effect of history, culture, and gender. A woman is sent back in time to change history. We see how she makes a difference, though not in the way she intended, and how doing so changes her as well as history. (DM)

“Sexual Dimorphism”
Kim Stanley Robinson, ,

This well developed hard-science fiction tale offers a disturbing slant on the scientific method; the narrator’s warped perspective demonstrates the power of persuasion to undermine analysis and to perpetuate myths concerning the biologically determined basis for gender differences. (BC)

A brilliant and subtle demonstration of how the theory Charnas delineates in The Conqueror’s Child would work in practice, in which the author uses hard SF protocols to show how a reactionary, essentialist ideological agenda that naturalizes gender produces bad science. (LTD)

Personal loss, character, and desire inform a man’s scientific research. As his own life falls away, he begins to find in his work hints of explanations, clues for the puzzle of personal disasters. Unable to find a pattern for his own life, he looks harder for elusive patterns in the junk DNA of dolphins, and as is often the case, finds what he was looking for. He devises a sort of evolutionary take on Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and in the end, gives himself over to the sea, the desired, female, alien element. (KL)

Polished, troubling, the gender stuff is so subtle it’s hard to see at first; it sneaks up on you. The real gender exploration comes out in the differences between the protagonist and the narrator. (DM)

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