Edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin & Jeffrey D. Smith

Tachyon Press


303pp/$15.95/January 2005


The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1
Cover by Larry Ivie

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

For a variety of reasons, the James Tiptree Award is one of the most subversive awards presented in the science fiction field.  Named for Alice Sheldon, who managed to keep her identity as a woman secret for several years, the awards "honor fiction which explores and expands gender."  Just as Sheldon/Tiptree wasn't what she appeared, neither is the award of the first Tiptree anthology.

The majority of award anthologies contain a selection of the award's winners for either a specific year or a variety of years.  The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 confounds such pedestrian expectations by reprinted a variety of stories which did not ultimately receive the award, perhaps giving credence to the oft stated maxim "It is an honor just to be nominated."  In fact, of the ten stories included, only two of them actually won the award, Matt Ruff's novel Set This House in Order, which is represented by an excerpt, and Kelly Link's "Travels with the Snow Queen."  Seven of the stories were on various years' short lists and the final story is the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Snow Queen."

The anthology also includes introductions by Karen Joy Fowler and Pat Murphy, both of whom have been involved in the award since its earliest days, and four non-fiction essays.  The first of these "essays" is actually a letter from Alice Sheldon to anthology co-editor Jeffrey Smith that was originally published after Sheldon's identity as Tiptree was outed in the 1970s.  The others provide context, both historical and literary for Tiptree and the award.

The knowledge that the Tiptree is named for a woman who published under a masculine pseudonym might cause readers to think the stories are not only feminist but anti-men, but such a a conclusion couldn't be further from the truth.  The Tiptree is presented for stories which explore gender roles.  Those roles can be female, male, hetero-, homo-, or asexual.  And all are represented within the pages of the anthology.  Similarly men and women have been considered for the award and authorial gender has no bearing on who receives the award.

The majority of the stories included in The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 are from the 2003 award season, comprising all the nominated stories and excerpts from the winning novel.  By electing to focus on a specific year (although including two stories from earlier years and the Andersen piece), the editors of the anthology permit future anthologies to continue to focus on years, whether past or future.  The choice to focus on the most recent year provides exposure for newer stories which haven't had the opportunity for frequent reprinting that earlier tales have had.  Furthermore because gender issues do change rapidly, in perception if not in substance, these newer tales are the most timely.

If The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 does nothing more than bring a higher profile to this award and the types of stories and novels which garner the judges' attention, it will have served its purpose.  However, the stories and essays within the book have been selected by both the award jury and the editors for their ability to make the reader consider gender roles and mores in ways which are all too often ignored. 

Geoff Ryman Birth Days
James Tiptree, Jr. Everything But the Signature Is Me Non-Fiction
Sandra McDonald The Ghost Girls of Rumney Mill
Carol Emshwiller Boys
Ursula K. Le Guin Genre:  A Word Only the French Could Love Non-Fiction
Matt Ruff Set This House in Order (excerpt)
Suzy McKee Charnas Judging the Tiptree Non-Fiction
Richard Calder The Catgirl Manifesto:  An Introduction
Ruth Nestvold Looking Through Lace
Joanna Russ "Tiptree" and History  Non-Fiction
Karen Joy Fowler What I Didn't See
Hans Christian Andersen The Snow Queen
Kara Dalkey The Lady of the Ice Garden
Kelly Link Travels with the Snow Queen

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