The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council is pleased to announce that the 2010 Tiptree Award is being given to Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, by Dubravka Ugresic (Canongate, 2010).
Baba Yaga Laid an Egg impressed with its power and its grace. Tiptree juror Jessa Crispin explains that the beginning of the book “does not scream science fiction or fantasy. It starts quietly, with a meditation on the author’s aging mother, and the invisibility of the older woman…. But things shift wholly in the second act, with a surreal little tale of three old ladies, newly moneyed, who check into an Eastern European health spa. There’s another revolution in the third act, where what looks like a scholarly examination of the Russian fairy tale hag erupts into a rallying cry for mistreated and invisible women everywhere.”
Crispin notes that the fairy tale figure Baba Yaga is the witch, the hag, the inappropriate wild woman, the marginalized and the despised. She represents inappropriateness, wilderness, and confusion. “She’s appropriate material for Ugresic, who was forced into exile from Croatia for her political beliefs. The jurors feel Baba Yaga Laid an Egg is a splendid representation of this type of woman, so cut out of today’s culture.”
HONOR LISTThe Honor List is a strong part of the award’s identity and is used by many readers as a recommended reading list for the rest of the year. This year’s Honor List is:
The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum (Orbit 2010) — noted for a deliciously complicated plot that challenges 21st century Earth attitudes toward transfolk. One juror noted that this book came closest among the honor list to meeting her Tiptree ideal by including a character that not only embodies a challenge to prescribed roles, but also creates a crack in or addition to the structure that carries forward to future generations.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit 2010) — set in a matriarchal society where the privilege and expectations between the sexes are reversed, while the gender roles are different but recognizable (and believable).
“Diana Comet and the Disappearing Lover” by Sandra McDonald (published as “Diana Comet,” Strange Horizons, March 2 & March 9, 2009) — a (true) love story, in which the author does something simple but radical with the identity issues at play.
“Drag Queen Astronaut” by Sandra McDonald (Crossed Genres issue 24, November 2010) — a wonderful exploration (and ultimately an affirmation) of a gender presentation that tends to be ignored or ridiculed.
The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick (Aqueduct Press 2009) — an academic look at the history of early feminism in science fiction, science fiction criticism, and fandom that provides a valuable documentation of our beginnings
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW 2010) —A strong female lead character breaks out of restrictive gender roles to change her life, perhaps changing history as a result. A well-written perspective on prejudice and discrimination and the lessons needed to overcome their bonds on our identities and imaginations.
Living with Ghosts by Kari Sperring (DAW 2009) — an unusual perspective in a main character —a feminized man who makes much of his living as an escort/high-class sex worker who sees ghosts when he is not expecting — or expected — to be able to do so. An excellent read.
The Colony by Jillian Weise (Soft Skull Press 2010) — Takes on the idea that pervades our culture that women have to be perfect in order to have sex with men. One juror notes: “I’ve never read a book that made a woman with one leg so sexually normal.” Smart and well written with subtle gender politics.
In addition to the honor list, this year’s jury also compiled the following long list of other works they found worthy of attention:
* Beth Bernobich, Passion Play (Tor 2010)
* Stevie Carroll, “The Monitors” (Echoes of Possibilities, edited by Aleksandr Volnov, Noble Romance Publishing 2010)
* Roxane Gay, “Things I Know About Fairy Tales” (Necessary Fiction, May 13, 2009)
* Frances Hardinge, Gullstruck Island (MacMillan 2009)
* Julia Holmes, Meeks (Small Beer Press 2010)
* Malinda Lo, Ash (Little, Brown 2009)
* Alissa Nutting, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls (Starcherone Books 2010)
* Helen Oyeyemi, White Is for Witching (Doubleday 2009)
* Rachel Swirsky, “Eros, Philia, Agape” (Tor.com, March 3, 2009)
This year’s jurors were Penny Hill (chair), Euan Bear, Jessa Crispin, Alice Sola Kim, and Lawrence Schimel.