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

James Tiptree, Jr. Award 2006 Winners

Winners Honor List Jurors

Half Life
Shelley Jackson
, Harper Collins 2006

“A spectacular book. Jackson uses the science fictional conceit – conjoined twins born in large numbers after the A-Bomb testing in the 1950s – to explore both sympathetically and satirically all the negotiations in the women’s movement, in gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender movements, in other rights movements – separatist, solidarity, identity, integration, etc.” –Joan Gordon

“A remarkable novel, blending a surreal post-apocalyptic landscape with the symbolism of women’s fairy tales, the modern obsession with self-help books, and the quest for identity. Two girls, conjoined in one body, re-interpret “Donkeyskin,” a tale of violence and sexual awakening, while the world struggles to redefine what it means to be human in the long, penitential shadow of ground zero. Jackson’s vision is mythic, written in the body, and damn funny at times.” –Midori Snyder

“Jackson’s speculation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki makes the novel more philosophical, inviting us to meditate on what will happen to sexuality and ethnicity in the post-nuclear future.” — Takayuki Tatsumi

The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden
Catherynne M. Valente
, Spectra Books 2006

“The structure … is brilliant, stories within stories, looping around and following through one another. On the surface it’s a girl telling fairy tales a la 1001 nights, but the tales are influenced by worldwide story-telling traditions, and the roles of men, women, heroes, villains, animals, mythic beings, gods, etc., are constantly being subverted, upended, tweaked, so that gender and sexuality are more liquid than solid.” — Joan Gordon

“At first I balked at reading a work that, on the surface, seemed to be a fairy tale wannabe, but within a few pages Catherynne Valente’s amazing vision literally took my breath away. Within three chapters, I was intrigued and thoroughly entertained. Within 70 pages, I was stunned at Valente’s ability to subvert the conventions of the fairy tale. Nothing is simple in this amazing collage of interconnected tales. No villain is two dimensional and no hero is pure or even necessarily engaged in good works. I don’t read fairy tales for fun, yet these characters are flesh-and-blood people who engaged me. “Gender is examined, held up to the light, peered at, taken apart and examined again as characters literally change shape and sometimes gender. For me, though, what makes Orphan’s Tales such an outstanding Tiptree winner is Valente’s ruthless exploration of the fairy tale. We not only see each story from the point of view of the hero, but also from the villain’s point of view, and the “fair” maiden’s point of view and the viewpoint of many other characters. Each character’s story leads to another’s story as the reader falls through layer after layer of understanding until she hits bottom and learns that all the myths of all the fairy tales are flat-out wrong. For example, what Valente does with the classic tale of a noble prince on a quest to rescue a fair maiden is alternately hilarious, tragic and deeply moving.” –Diane Silver

“Valente has proven herself a prodigious successor to that other heroic storyteller, Shah’razad. This gorgeous novel of intricately interwoven stories delights and enchants with its innovation and seemingly-endless source of imagination. The orphan, the novel’s primary storyteller, is feral child who lives in the lush palace gardens. Her smudged eyes are ringed with miniscule tattooed words, the “printed” source of her tales. A young prince provides a rapt audience of one, captivated, terrified, and thrilled (just as we are) by the force of the girl’s stories. Valente gives us familiar tales from around the world, but twists them into new, unexpected shapes that challenge what we assume about heroes and heroines, about rites of passage, and about women and men.” –Midori Snyder

“Jackson’s speculation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki makes the novel more philosophical, inviting us to meditate on what will happen to sexuality and ethnicity in the post-nuclear future.” –Takayuki Tatsumi

“I loved the central conceit of this book, the girl with stories written so thickly and blackly around her eyes that it masked her and marked her and banished her. I loved the way the characters in the interweaving tales – male and female both – acted according to their own nature, which may or may not have been in accordance with the expected roles within their vast and varied cultures. The storytelling allowed both explicit examination of the roles and their responses to them and nearly invisible implicit revelations. I am going to the bookstore to pre-order the next in the series.” –Laurel Winter

James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon
Julie Philips
, St. Martin’s 2006

The jury also gave an additional special recognition award for of Julie Philips’ work of nonfiction James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. (St. Martin’s 2006) This kind of special award is unusual for the Tiptree Award, which focuses on fiction. But the jury could not ignore Phillips’ fine work and excellent scholarship, detailing the remarkable life of the remarkable woman for whom the award is named.

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