The James Tiptree Jr. literary prize for science fiction or fantasy published during 2014 that expands or explores our understanding of gender was announced over the Easter weekend.
The aim of the award is not to look for work that falls into some narrow definition of political correctness, but rather to seek out work that is thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating. The Tiptree Award is intended to reward those women and men who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society.
Taking pride of place on the tiptree.org front page:
The 2014 Tiptree Award winners, honor list, and long list have been selected. Our congratulations to Monica Byrne and Jo Walton, this year’s winners!
Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road is a painful, challenging, glorious novel about murder, quests, self-delusion, and a stunning science-fictional big idea: What would it be like to walk the length of a few-meter-wide wave generator stretching across the open sea from India to Africa, with only what you can carry on your back? With profound compassion and insight, the novel tackles relationships between gender and culture and between gender and violence. It provides a nuanced portrait of violence against women, in a variety of forms, and violence perpetrated by women. Through the eyes of two narrators linked by a single act of violence, the reader is brought to confront shifting ideas of gender, class, and human agency and dignity.
Jo Walton’s My Real Children is a richly textured examination of two lives lived by the same woman. This moving, thought-provoking novel deals with how differing global and personal circumstances change our view of sexuality and gender. The person herself changes, along with her society. Those changes influence and are influenced by her opportunities in life and how she is treated by intimate partners, family members, and society at large. The alternate universe trope allows Walton to demonstrate that changes in perceptions regarding gender and sexuality aren’t inevitable or determined by a gradual enlightenment of the species, but must be struggled for. My Real Children is important for the way it demonstrates how things could have been otherwise — and might still be.
Each winner will receive $1000 in prize money, a specially commissioned piece of original artwork, and (as always) chocolate.
There are 10 more works on the 2014 Tiptree Honor List, including Australians Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, for their editing of the Young Adult anthology Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press 2014). Then there is the Jury Long List of nine further works the jury recommends as “worthy of attention”.
The authors and works selected as prizewinners, honors list recommendations and long list recommendations will be celebrated at this year’s WisCon held over Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25, 2015) in Madison, Wisconsin.