Tiptree 2016 Symposium Honors Ursula K. Le Guin

The second Tiptree Symposium was held this past weekend in Eugene, Oregon, where the University of Oregon houses one of the best feminist science fiction archives imaginable, including the papers of Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., Suzy McKee Charnas, and more. Last year, the symposium honored James Tiptree, Jr.; this year, the focus was Ursula K. Le Guin.


The Symposium was a fine celebration of Le Guin’s life and work.

The day before the Symposium started, Alexis Lothian, professor at the University of Maryland and Tiptree Award Motherboard member gave a Sally Miller Gearhart lecture in Lesbian Studies:  “Queer Longings in Straight Futures”in which she talked about three novels from the 1920s and 1930s, both how they are problematic and how they express coded queer/Lesbian desires.

Day 1 of the symposium featured a panel of (mostly) authors talking about Le Guin and Feminist Science Fiction. Participants were Vonda N. McIntyre (previous Award juror), Molly Gloss (previous winner and juror), Karen Joy Fowler (founding mother), Debbie Notkin (Motherboard member) and Suzy McKee Charnas (previous winner and juror). The panel was moderated by Julie Phillips, author of James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. Ursula Le Guin was in the audience for the first day, and participated occasionally. The panel was largely a love poem to Le Guin and how her work and awareness and willingness to change have shaped us all, and so many others.

In the afternoon, four students (two graduate, two undergraduate) from Professor Edmond Chang’s class read passages that struck them from Le Guin’s The Word for World Is Forest, and discussed those passages, the book, and their relationships to science fiction and feminist science fiction. A dazzling array of posters from the class were also provided for Symposium attendees to look at.

Karen Joy Fowler gave a lyrical keynote speech in which she made strong connections between Ursula’s work and ways to look at the current political situation, ending with a call for how to think about plot in ways that are not hero-driven and war-focused.

At the end of the day, film-maker Arwen Curry treated us to the trailer for her forthcoming documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, which is in the editing phase and will have limited availability in 2017 and more general availability (quite possibly including theatrical release) in 2018.

Symposium participants walked over to the Knight Library, where an exhibit of materials from Le Guin’s papers was on display, including exchanges of letters with editors, Le Guin’s original drawings, family photographs, and more.

Read the Twitter Storify of Day 1.

Then the Tiptree Award hosted a party in a nearby hotel, where we had the pleasure of announcing our 2016 Fellowship winners: Mia Sereno and Porpentine Charity Heartscape, to thunderous applause.

The second day of programming was very exhilaratingly different from Day 1. The first panel, organized by Alexis Lothian, featured three transgender artists and scholars exploring their reactions to The Left Hand of Darkness, a novel Le Guin wrote to explore what would happen on a world largely without gender. The panelists, Tuesday Smillie, Aren Aizura, and micha cárdenas also explored some of Le Guin’s later examinations of her own 1969 novel, and did a remarkable job of appreciating the book while calling out its limitations and blind spots from their perspective. This may well be the first time that a group of trans and/or gender-fluid people have had a public forum to discuss this crucial work.

Immediately following that experience, we moved into a panel (curated by Joan Haran), in which Grace Dillon,of the Inishinaabe people, and adrienne maree brown, a Detroit activist and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood (with Walidah Imarisha) explored Le Guin’s The Dispossessed as a starting point to think about activism. In inspiring presentations, Dillon and brown both continued Karen Joy Fowler’s theme of decentering the individual and honoring group action.

In the afternoon, Kelly Sue DeConnick, who brought Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers into the 21st century and now creates Bitch Planet with Valentine deLandro, talked about her work in a context of her admiration for Le Guin. Then Brian Attebery(former juror) gave a stand-out keynote address on “The James Tiptree Book Club, or a Mitochondrial Theory of Literature” in which he drew great connections between many of the authors we know and love, He’s looking for a home for that speech, and we’ll let you know when it’s published.

The only disappointment was that Ursula Le Guin could only attend one day, and thus was not there to hear the Day 2 presentations, which might well have been more fresh and original to her than Day 1.

Read the Twitter Storify of Day 2.

When the University posts the audio transcripts of the panel, we’ll give you the links. We would be remiss if we didn’t thank the organizers, especially Linda Long of the University of Oregon libraries, and also Professor Carol Stabile, who was the mistress of ceremonies and also led us in an exploration of “what’s next” after Dr. Attebery’s speech.

2016 Fellowship Winners Announced

We are pleased to announce the selection of two Tiptree Fellows: Mia Sereno and Porpentine Charity Heartscape.

Sereno is a visual artist and poet who uses her art to explore the weight of her heritage as a queer Filipino which in her words means being “heir to a history of struggle and revolution, colonization and war; descendant of women who spoke and fought, built and taught, and were as unflinching in their pursuit of their goals as they were whole hearted in love.” She describes her work as arising at “the point where women and monsters wear the same face,” where she can celebrate “the act of throwing off conceptions of women and femininity that were imposed on us by colonizers.” The support of the Tiptree Fellowship will help Sereno bring her project, a series of illustrations tentatively named The Magnificent Ones, to fruition. The series reimagines Filipina woman as near-mythological figures of fantastic grandeur.


Porpentine makes stories and games that draw on the powerful world building potential of science fiction and fantasy to experiment with gender, femininity, and/or non-normative mental states in new ways. She describes her work as being “about the visceral body, a body that sweats and dissociates and aches and desires and above all fights for itself until the day it dies.” In addition to making her own work, much of which is available for free online, she has popularized accessible tools for working with electronic literature, running workshops and helping people online. She will use the fellowship to pay for rent and healthcare to ensure that she can focus on her current projects – feminine-centered work that innovates both technology and socially, often in collaboration with other disenfranchised women.


The Fellowship Committee also decided to award honorable mentions to writers Emily Coon, Marianne Kirby, and K. Tempest Bradford.  We will let you know more about their work later this month.

The Tiptree Fellowship program, created in 2015, is designed to provide support and recognition for the new voices who are making visible the forces that are changing our view of gender today. Each Fellow will receive $500. The work produced as a result of this support will be recognized and promoted by the Tiptree Award.

We intend to continue to provide Fellowships in future years. Over time, the Fellowship program will create a network of Fellows who can build connections, provide mutual support, and find opportunities for collaboration. This effort will complement the on-going work of the Award — that is, the celebration of speculative fiction that expands and explores gender roles in thought-provoking, imaginative, and occasionally infuriating ways. The Tiptree Award is intended to reward those writers who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society.

The selection committee for this year’s Tiptree Fellowships was made up of the 2015 Tiptree Fellows, Elizabeth LaPensée and Walidah Imarisha; Tiptree Award winner Nike Sulway; and Tiptree Motherboard member Alexis Lothian.

If you would like to donate to the fund for future Tiptree Fellowships, you can do so here. Let us know if you would like your donation to support the Fellowships program specifically.

Ellen Klages Steps Down from Motherboard

After the two Founding Mothers, perhaps no one has been more important to the success and identity of the Tiptree Award than Ellen Klages, whose legendary auctions gave the Award much of its visibility, character, and flair (not to mention raising enough money to keep us going as a stable organization for over 20 years).

Ellen Klages at SRK Headshot Day
Ellen Klages at SRK Headshot Day

Ellen retired from her auctioneer role in 2015. Now she is taking an open-ended leave of absence from the Tiptree Motherboard.

If you only know Ellen as our take-no-prisoners fundraiser, you’re missing out on some great writing, including her award-winning story “Basement Magic” and her wonderful middle-grade historical novel, The Green Glass Sea. We can’t be too sad about losing Ellen from the Motherboard, since her plan is to concentrate on her own career. That includes a new novella, Passing Strange (tor.com, January 2017), a collection of her recent short fiction, Wicked Wonders (Tachyon, May 2017), and a novel-in-progress. We can’t wait.

Ellen says:

The Tiptree Award changed my life, and brought me friends and a community that I will cherish forever. Don’t think of this as goodbye; I’m not moving on, just shifting a little sideways to focus on my own work. I will continue to offer advice and opinions to the Motherboard, if called upon; to add Tiptree winners to my teetering to-read pile; and even manage to make a few magic objects for the auction!

Ellen, we’ll miss you, but we’re glad you’ll still be around!

Space Babe Gear Now Available!

Space Babe is thrilled to announce that you can now show your support for the Tiptree Award in the latest of fashion style. Or with your morning coffee! Space Babe t-shirts, hoodies and coffee mugs available through Teespring. Get your SpaceBabe style on!


Everything is available in light color (pictured above) and black. Shirts are $23-$26, hoodies $38-$46, mugs $15.All proceeds go to the Tiptree Award.

Look great, feel great!

Tiptree Award Scavenger Hunt!

Find and send us photos (good quality resolution preferred) taken at any of these Tiptree Award ceremonies, or of these missing items, and Space Babe will send you a personal thank you card via email or snailmail, your choice.


We are looking for photos from Tiptree Award ceremonies that did not take place at WisCon, specifically these conventions:

Readercon 7, Worcester, MA, 1994: Photos of the Tiptree ceremony, especially of winner, Nicola Griffith. We already have excellent images of the art award, but we would love to have photos of the Tiptree auction — since it was the historic, first auction featuring Ellen Klages as auctioneer. We’d also want a photo of Nicola being serenaded by the Tiptree Chorus.

  • Potlatch 4, Oakland, CA, 1995: Photos of the Tiptree ceremony, especially of winner, Nancy Springer and the art award she received — a feathered mask created by Michaela Roessner.
  • Readercon 10, Westborough, MA, 1998: Photos of the Tiptree ceremony, especially of winners, Candas Jane Dorsey and Kelly Link and the art awards they received — a painted silk scarf with images from Black Wine (Candas), and a snowglobe (Kelly). Both art awards were created by Ellen Klages. We’d also love a photo of the winners being serenaded by the Tiptree chorus.
  • International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) 20, Ft. Lauderdale FL, 1999. Photos of the Tiptree ceremony, especially of winner, Raphael Carter and the art award Raphael received — an intersex doll created by Melissa M. O’Grady. We have no record as to whether Raphael was serenaded by the Tiptree Chorus, but if that did happen, we would love to have some visual evidence.
  • Readercon 14, Boston, MA, 2001. Photos of the Tiptree ceremony, especially of winner, Hiromi Goto, including any of Hiromi being serenaded by the Tiptree chorus. (We already have excellent images of the art award.)
  • Gaylaxicon, Boston, MA. Photos of the Tiptree ceremony, especially of winners, Johanna Sinisalo and Joe Haldeman, including any of the winners being serenaded by the Tiptree chorus. (We already have excellent images of the art awards.)

Thank you!

Sheri S. Tepper: 1929-2016


Sheri S. Tepper died over this past weekend,  She was an incredibly prolific SF author, with more than 25 novels to her credit. She also wrote as E. E. Horlak, B. J. Oliphant, and A. J. Orde.

Her books appeared on the Tiptree Award Honor List twice:

  • 2007 for The Margarets
  • 2001 for The Fresco

and on the Long list four times:

  • 1999 for Singer from the Sea
  • 1998 for Six Moon Dance
  • 1994 for Shadow’s End
  • 1993 for A Plague of Angels 

She was also a guest of honor at WisCon 22, where she delivered a fiery, radical speech on the subject of birth control, women’s health and population, drawing upon her 1970s activism and work with Planned Parenthood. She will be remembered for the feminist and ecological themes of her work.


More Information on Le Guin Symposium

Interested in coming to the “Tiptree symposium” celebrating the work of Ursula K. Le Guin? (Ms. Le Guin’s birthday was October 21. Happiest of birthdays, Ursula!)

We wrote about the symposium here, and now we know more.

Copyright (c) 2003 by Joyce Scrivner

The University Libraries haven’t published a final schedule yet; they have been moving some items around since we last posted. Both the Le Guin and Feminist Science Fiction panel, featuring several Tiptree Award winners and motherboard members, and Tiptree Award founding mother Karen Joy Fowler’s keynote will be on Friday, December 2. We recommend coming a day early for motherboard member Alexis Lothian’s presentation “Queer Longings in Straight Futures” and, of course, staying through Saturday for the second day of the symposium.

The University has reserved a block of rooms at the Phoenix Inn, very easy walking distance from the symposium events. The Tiptree Award will host an open party at the Phoenix Inn on Friday night, December 2, exact time to be determined. To reserve your room, email reservations704@phoenixinn.com or call 800) 344-0131. Be sure to tell them you’re coming for the Tiptree Symposium.

We hope to see you there!


2016 “Tiptree Symposium” Celebrates Ursula K. Le Guin


Clockwise from left: Ursula K. Le Guin, Karen Joy Fowler, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Brian Attebery

This year’s 2016 James Tiptree Jr. symposium is a celebration of Ursula K. Le Guin. Last year’s inaugural symposium featured James Tiptree, Jr., and was such a success that the University of Oregon (at Eugene) has made it an annual event.  It will be held December 2 and 3 on the Eugene campus. The Tiptree Award will almost certainly host a party; watch this space for details.

Tentative keynote speakers are Brian Attebery, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Karen Joy Fowler.

Along with the tentative keynoters, here’s a peek at the tentative schedule.

At 3:00 on Thursday afternoon, December 1 (before the symposium starts), Dr. Alexis Lothian will give the Sally Miller Gearhart Lesbian Lecture, “Queer Longings in Straight Futures: Notes Toward a Prehistory for Lesbian Speculation.”

On December 2, festivities start at 10:00 a.m. and end at 7:00 p.m. Joan Haran will moderate a panel on The Dispossessed, and another panel will feature Dr. Carol Stabile’s feminist SF students discussing The Lathe of Heaven. That day’s keynote (and question and answer session) will be by Karen Joy Fowler.

On December 3, the schedule runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5;00 p.m. Alexis Lothian will chair the panel on The Left Hand of Darkness, and Karen Ford will moderate a panel on  Ursula Le Guin and the Field of Feminist Science Fiction. The two keynotes that day will be: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Ben Saunders having a conversation about Le Guin’s influence; and Brian Attebery.

We couldn’t resist counting: the speakers include: one Tiptree Award founding mother, three award winners , two Motherboard members, at least six previous jurors, and our inaugural Tiptree Award Fellow. Ursula Le Guin, who has won twice and been on the jury twice, may also attend. We’ll be well represented. And for the fun of it, also several past WisCon guests of honor and one upcoming one.

Will you be there?

2016 Fellowships Deadline Extended!

We have excellent applications for this year’s Tiptree Fellowships — but we still have time for a few more.

The Tiptree Fellows can 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.

Fellowship winners receive $500 grants. If you were wishing you had time to apply but missed yesterday’s cut-off, now is your chance. Applications will be open until September 15, 2016.

MidAmericon Auction Report plus Tiptree/Sheldon Birthday Links

The Tiptree Award Auction at MidAmericon II was a smashing success, thanks to so many people!


Worldcon gave us the space. Motherboard members Jeanne Gomoll and Pat Murphy (shown above on the Soap box, and also modeling the Spacebabe hoodie) did a lot of planning. Jeanne, Scott Custis, Jim Hudson, and Diane Martin transported Stuff from Madison to Kansas City. Jim also handled the sales. Many others provided essential help. And auctioneer Sumana Harihareswara cajoled almost $1500 out of the audience!

The prize item, unsurprisingly, was the signed copy of Octavia Butler’s Kindred, her most famous novel and one of her finest.

A great time was had by all!


We were pleased to see these birthday tributes to Alice Sheldon:

Leah Schnelbach talks about “What James Tiptree Jr. Can Teach Us about the Power of the SF Community” at tor. com . Schnelbach’s excellent long essay recaps Sheldon/Tiptree’s history. The piece ends with this:

I think it’s worth pointing out, though, and repeating, and underlining, and emphasizing, that Alice Sheldon, a person who felt out of joint for most of her life, found in SF a community that didn’t just tolerate her weirdness, but celebrated it. And that celebration helped her to create some of the greatest work the genre ever saw.

Tachyon Press also gives Tiptree a birthday shout-out here:

Alice adopted her “James Tiptree, Jr.” persona to protect her academic reputation. As Tiptree, she garnered immense praise for her numerous tales that often stretched the boundaries of the genre by challenging the perceptions of gender. Her many awards include two Hugo (1974 novella, “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”; 1977 novella, “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?”), three Nebula (1973 short story, “Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death”; 1976 novella, “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?”; 1977 novelette, “The Screwfly Solution”), and a 1987 World Fantasy for the collection TALES OF THE QUINTANA ROO.

Both articles are also kind enough to namecheck the Tiptree Award as part of her legacy.