The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council has just announced the winner and honor list. The Tiptree Award “is presented annually to a work of science fiction or fantasy that explores and expands gender roles. The award seeks out work that is thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating. It 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 James Tiptree Award goes to Rupetta by N. A. Sulway.
N. A. Sulway’s imaginative and highly original novel tells the story of Rupetta, an artificial intelligence created 400 years ago from cloth, leather, and metal, brought to life by the touch of her creator’s hand on her clockwork heart. Although Rupetta is a constructed being, she is not a robot. Her consciousness is neither digital nor mechanical. Nor is she an android, a creature that is, etymologically, male. (The word is not “gyndroid”). Rupetta’s power does not come from her brain, but from her heart. Sulway has placed her construct not in the future, but the past, and made her female, created with traditionally feminine technology: sewing and weaving. Rupetta is a woman, made by a woman in the image of a woman, and the world changes to accommodate her existence.
A deft blend of fantasy, science fiction, romance, and even gothic horror, this beautifully written story challenges the reader’s expectations about gender and of a gendering society. It examines power and what makes an object of power, relationships and love, sexuality and identity, and how culture is shaped and history is made.
In addition to selecting the winner, the jury chooses a Tiptree Award Honor List. The 2013 honorees:
- Eleanor Arnason, Big Mama Stories
- Aliette de Bodard, “Heaven Under Earth”
- Nicola Griffith, Hild
- Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince
- Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice
- Bennet Madison, September Girls
- Sarah McCarry, All our Pretty Songs
- Janelle Monae, Electric Lady
- Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni
- S. M. Wheeler, Sea Change
N. A Sulway will be honored during Memorial Day weekend at WisCon in Madison, Wisconsin and will receive $1000 in prize money.
The 2013 jurors were Ellen Klages (chair), Christopher Barzak, Jayna Brown, Nene Ormes, and Gretchen Treu.