Announcing the 2015 James Tiptree Jr. Award Honors

The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council has just announced the 2015 winners 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 2015 James Tiptree Jr. Award goes to “The New Mother” by Eugene Fischer and Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz. More on this year’s winners, and the complete honor list, below the fold.

2015 Tiptree Award Winners:

“The New Mother” by Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s Science Fiction, April/May 2015)

James Tiptree Jr. Award 2015 The New Mother Eugene FischerWhile single-gender worlds are not new in science fiction, this novella is a rare consideration of the start of such a transformation, this time by way of a sexually transmitted disease that renders the infected person’s gametes diploid. For men, the result is infertility. For women, the result is the capacity to reproduce asexually: spontaneous pregnancies (unless they take a hormonal contraceptive) of genetically identical clones. As the story guides readers through the initial outbreak via journalistic and personal lenses, a range of reactions is highlighted: legislative action, scientific study, religious outrage, and burgeoning panic. This is a timely story, given the current political climate in the United States (where the story is set) with increasingly invasive attempts to police bodies across gender lines.

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick, 2015)

Lizard Radio Pat Schmatz James Tiptree Jr. Award 2015Kivali, the novel’s main character, gives voice to the frustration often felt by children and young adults who do not “fit” as either male or female. In this dystopian society, children are given gender tests at an early age and then trained to live as the gender they tested for. Aspects of this world—for example, post-decision gender training—speak of the lived experience of many trans people forced to earn their transition by acting as female/male as possible. The book also points out the pitfalls of a codified, binary, externally-decided approach to transgender lives, when there are always people who fall outside of these expectations. Some of the mysteries of this world remain unexplained to the reader just as they are unanswered for Kivali, who finds her independence when a sudden upheaval in her life leads to a choice of conforming or forging her own path.

Honor List:

  • Susan Jane Bigelow, “Sarah’s Child” (Strange Horizons, 19 May 2014)
  • Nino Cipri, “The Shape of My Name” (Tor.com, 2015)
  • Carola Dibbell, The Only Ones (Two Dollar Radio, 2015)
  • Matt Fraction (writer) and Christian Ward (artist), ODY-C, Vol. 1: Off to Far Ithicaa (Image, 2015)
  • Alex Marshall, A Crown for Cold Silver (Orbit, 2015)
  • Seanan McGuire, “Each to Each” (Lightspeed, June 2014, Women Destroy Science Fiction!)
  • A Merc Rustad, “How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps” (Scigentasy, March 2014)
  • Ian Sales, All That Outer Space Allows (Whippleshield, 2015)
  • Taneka Stotts and Sfé Monster, editors, Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Comic Anthology (Beyond Press, 2015)
  • Rebecca Sugar (creator and executive producer), Steven Universe (Cartoon Network, 2013-15)
  • Catherynne M. Valente, Radiance (Tor, 2015)

“2015 was a particularly good year for gender exploration in science fiction and fantasy,” the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council said in a press release. “In addition to the honor list, this year’s jury also compiled a long list of more than thirty other works they found worthy of attention.” Read the long list here.

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