Ryka Aoki and Rivers Solomon Win the 2021 Otherwise Award

Two novels have won the 2021 Otherwise Award: Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki and Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon. Previously known as the Tiptree Award, the Otherwise Award “celebrates science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of speculative narrative that expand and explore our understanding of gender.”

The jury also named nine honor books. Congratulations to all the authors!

Rebecca J. Holden, Anya Johanna DeNiro, Craig Laurance Gidney, Liz Haas, and Ana Hurtado made up the 2021 Otherwise Award jury. Their statement on the winners reads:

Given the recent literal and legislative attacks on transgender people, it’s no surprise that we the jury were drawn to titles that cut to the heart of what it means to be trans or otherwise-gendered in our world as well as in other pasts or futures. We read stories that focused on what it means to become a fully fledged person in worlds that sometimes do all that they can do to keep their people in tightly constrained boxes as well as stories in which those boxes have been flung open, showing us new ways to be and new ways to imagine relationships between people of all genders. Both winners and each work on our Honor List do so in a way that only speculative fiction can do, illuminating how gender functions in the societies we live in by showing us a world different from our own in big and small ways. At the same time, each of these chosen titles showed us what actual diversity looks like and feels like and sounds like; explorations of gender in this list are not separated from race, sexuality, ethnicity, sexuality, class, or disability. Intersectionality is no buzzword but is brought to life through the characters we meet, whether they are in ancient China, the year 3000, or the Big Donut Shop in today’s LA.

Maybe what grabbed us the most in our winners and honor list titles was the strangeness we encountered in them—a strangeness that entranced, haunted, intrigued, delighted, and stopped us in our tracks—something that good speculative fiction should do.

You can read the jury’s notes about the winning and honor books at the award’s site. The Honor List includes:

  • A Natural History of Transition by Callum Angus
  • Danged Black Thing by Eugen Bacon
  • The Actual Star by Monica Byrne
  • Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
  • Deep and Darkest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Chouette by Claire Oshetsky
  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
  • The Unraveling by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Anyone can nominate work for the Otherwise Award; organizers are currently taking recommendations for the 2023 Award.


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