The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award is an annual award an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender. According to the Award’s website, “he 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 writers and other creative artists who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society.”
The Award is named after author Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym of James Tiptree, Jr., taking on the masculine name in order to have her works published without question. It was not until many years later, after she had also written works with the name of Raccoona Sheldon, that the publishing industry learned that James Tiptree was a woman. “The discovery led to a great deal of discussion of what aspects of writing, if any, are essentially gendered.”
Originally founded by authors Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler, the Award was incorporated as The James Tiptree Literary Award Council, a registered U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation (donations are tax deductible!). The nonprofit is run by a “motherboard” of five or more people who make financial, process, and other practical decisions for the award.
Again this year, the Tiptree Award is looking for reader input! If you’ve read a work of science fiction or fantasy that explores or expands our notions of gender, you are encouraged to tell the motherboard about it by filling out an online recommendation form. (You can fill out multiple forms if you have multiple suggestions.)
The online forms will be accepted until December 1, 2016, so if you know of any works you’ve read that you would like the motherboard to consider, fill out a form now! And if you come across any applicable works this year as you read all the wonderful science fiction and fantasy books out there, fill out another! This is a wonderful opportunity to have a voice in rewarding and celebrating those authors who dare to explore gender in their writing and their worlds.