Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The James Tiptree Jr. Award

Today in the US, working folk face the deadline for filing personal federal tax returns. It's worth reflecting that this is a tax paid largely by middle-class and poor people that chiefly flows into the pockets of defense and military contractors and those who lend money to the government to finance its economy-busting, never-ending War.

On another front, the 2007 Tiptree jury has announced that Sarah Hall's The Carhullan Army has won the Tiptree Award. The Honor List (which seems to have replaced the short list) has also been announced:

* "Dangerous Space" by Kelley Eskridge, in the author’s collection Dangerous Space (Aqueduct Press, 2007)
* Water Logic by Laurie Marks (Small Beer Press, 2007)
* Empress of Mijak and The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller (HarperCollins, Australia, 2007)
* The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu (Hyperion, 2007)
* Interfictions, edited by Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss (Interstitial Arts Foundation/Small Beer Press, 2007)
* Glasshouse by Charles Stross (Ace, 2006)
* The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper (Harper Collins 2007)
* Y: The Last Man, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Pia Guerra (available in 60 issues or 10 volumes from DC/Vertigo Comics, 2002-2008)
* Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce (Harcourt, 2007)

From the press release, posted on juror Gwenda Bond's blog:

Each year, a panel of five jurors selects the Tiptree Award winners and compiles an Honor List of other works that they find interesting, relevant to the award, and worthy of note. The 2007 jurors were Charlie Anders, Gwenda Bond (chair), Meghan McCarron, Geoff Ryman, and Sheree Renee Thomas.

The Carhullan Army elicited strong praise from the jurors. Gwenda Bond said, “Hall does so many things well in this book – writing female aggression in a believable way, dealing with real bodies in a way that makes sense, and getting right to the heart of the contradictions that violence brings out in people, but particularly in women in ways we still don't see explored that often. I found the writing entrancing and exactly what it needed to be for the story; lean, but well-turned.” Geoff Ryman said, “It faces up to our current grim future (something too few SF novels have done) and seems to go harder and darker into war, violence, and revolution.” Meghan McCarron said, “I found the book to be subtle and ambiguous in terms of its portrayal of the Army, and its utopia….The book became, ultimately, an examination of what it means to attain physical, violent power as defined by a male-dominated world. And it asserted that it could be claimed by anyone, regardless of physical sex, provided they were willing to pay the price.”

The book, which is Hall’s third novel, also won the 2007 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for the best work of literature (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama) from Britain or the Commonwealth written by an author of 35 or under.

Victoria Hoyle's review of this book piqued my interest, but it wasn't available in the US at the time. I gather it will soon (or may even now) be available in the US under a different title, Daughters of the North. Colin Greenland also reviewed it, here.

Of the titles on the short list, I've so far read only three (but will soon, of course, be remedying that):

--The Stross novel is curiously old to be on this list for a mainstream book. My lengthy, comprehensive review of it is still available at Strange Horizons.

--Interfictions is an interesting mixed-bag anthology (that has little to do with gender exploration). My favorite story in it is Vandana Singh's "Hunger," which I highly recommend.

--Much has been written about "Dangerous Space." You can find excerpts of and links to many of the reviews here and purchase it here.

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