Saturday, March 23, 2019

The 2018 Tiptree Award



Congratulations to Gabriela Damián Miravete! Her story, “They Will Dream In the Garden,” translated by Adrian Demopulos and published online by Latin American Literature Today (May 2018), as been named the 2018 Tiptree Award winner.

“They Will Dream In the Garden,” a beautifully written and translated story, uses the future tense to imagine a Mexico in which femicides are already part of history. In a collective attempt by survivors to preserve memory and justice, traces of the minds of the women murdered are encapsulated in interactive holograms “living” in a beautiful garden. The story looks at the economic, social, and racial dimensions of violence against Mexican women today, focusing on indigenous women, poverty, and unemployment, on repression of women’s educational opportunities, and of women’s ability to move about freely. The story hints at positive change as some women decide to fight back through collective action, mutual support, and self-defense, eventually shifting the public perception of gendered violence and improving the actions of the next generation. By offering a possible look into the future, far from giving the sense of a closed chapter, the story itself is a device of memory preservation, a call to action, and a fine example of science fiction as a tool for feminist exploration and social change.

Gabriela Damián Miravete is a writer of narrative and essay, a film and literature journalist, a professor at CENTRO university, and (according to her bio) the imaginary granddaughter of Ursula K. Le Guin. Miravete was part of “The Mexicanx Initiative,” a group of Mexican and Mexican American artists who attended WorldCon 76. With other authors, artists and people from different scientific disciplines, she co-founded Cúmulo de Tesla, a collective that wishes to strengthen the relationships between art, science, and science fiction. She has published short stories in several anthologies in Spanish. You can find her work in English in Three Messages and a Warning, an anthology of contemporary Mexican stories of the fantastic (Small Beer Press, 2010) and in A Larger Reality. Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural margins, an anthology of 14 stories, presented in both Spanish and English.

In addition, the Tiptree Award judges have recognized Adrian Demopulos, the translator of “They Will Dream in the Garden,” with a special honor for her translation.




In addition to selecting the winners, the judges choose a Tiptree Award Honor List. The Honor List is a strong part of the award’s identity and is used by many readers as a recommended reading list. These notes on each work are excerpted and edited from comments by members of this year’s jury. This year’s Honor List is:
A collection of delightful, thought-provoking stories that fulfill the intended purpose of normalizing diverse pronouns as well as suggesting that the binary can be broken or even left behind. Buchanan writes: “In English, the personal pronouns we’re most used to are he and she. Not only do these require the speaker to know the gender of the person they’re talking about, but they only properly cover two genders. Humans don’t always fit in these boxes.” This collection addresses the complaint that people find it hard to learn new pronoun sets. Buchanan writes that the answer is to normalize new pronouns — “in conversation, yes, but also in our stories, in fiction, in all media. In stories about spaceships and about magic, heroism and exploration, families and home.” As an added bonus, the authors and editor make recommendations for other works to read.
This ghost story set in a small depressed Ontario town in the 1990s explores concepts around sexual agency and slutdom with extraordinary doses of humanity, humor, and lyricism. With issues of women’s sexual autonomy being currently (and always) very much under the spotlight, the author presents myriad ways in which the book’s characters’ sexualities clash with (or struggle under) patriarchal power structures and lays them across queerness, whiteness, poverty, religious and moral values, and public opinion. Through the eyes of the protagonist and of the queer ghost who is haunting her, the reader experiences the pains and thrills of inhabiting a gendered, sexualized, queer body in this story full of caustic language and powerful images. WARNING: descriptions of child sexual abuse and adult suicide.
This cerebral, investigative novel presents a future society in which humans have divided into Paxans and Outsiders. Paxans are committed to “a collegial, laterally organized meritocracy.” In this technologically advanced society, Paxans spend only a small portion of their lives in “meatspace” and the majority of their lives in virtual realities, inhabiting and conversing with their secondary and tertiary bodies, which represent selected and isolated aspects of their consciousness. Paxans have been given FTL travel by an alien race they call Delta Pavonians, and some women, cis and trans, are able and willing to undergo body modification and training to be able to communicate with the aliens. The story traces the mystery of a second alien planet, La Femme, and its telepathic inhabitants. The novel is an absorbing exploration of the many ramifications of the notion of gender and the myriad ways in which it is represented and exploited.
  • Meg Elison, “Big Girl” Fantasy and Science Fiction (Nov/Dec 2017)
A story about a common problem in society—fat shaming. This is especially a problem for women, both white and of color, and for teens who lack self-confidence and easily fall prey to ads and movie portrayals. With satirical condemnation of society and media reactions, this story portrays how internalizing the perceived norms of “feminine” leads to low self-esteem.
As the cover promises, so the book delivers: 15 graphic short stories by “seventeen women, demigirls, and bi-gender creators of color.” The rich heart-warming fantasy stories deal with folk tales, fairy tales, disability, immigration, race, grandmothers, baking, depression, romance, and much more magic. This anthology is a good way to find authors you’ll want to read again, and a great display of the dramatic potential and innovative storytelling in contemporary comics today.
An anthology of over 30 short stories and poems. About half were originally published in Glittership Magazine, and all have queer themes and characters. “The Little Dream” by Robin M. Eames (in which a character wears a t-shirt that reads “IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU INSIST THERE ARE ONLY TWO GENDERS”) and “Graveyard Girls on Paper Phoenix Wings” by Andrea Tang are particularly recommended. A wonderful variety of stories and a great way to find authors you want to read more of.
Because of a plague that kills men more frequently than women, one society in this polluted future has mostly women. But men still have more power and women still need to fear sexual assault. The other society is all women — many with special powers, including doublers who have multiple clone births, “starfish” who can grow new body parts, and girls given special treatment so they can help breast feed the multiple babies. The religion is Mother-based. A beautifully written novel.
This album follows the struggles, joys, incarceration, and eventual liberation of a queer, Black woman who is punished by a system that seeks to “cleanse” her of all elements in her life that deviate from the norm. She is sent to a prison in which her memories (each of which is a separate music video and an ode to mutual love in rebellion) will be erased. The workers in charge of the erasure, who sit back and enjoy the memories prior to destruction, serve as a sharp metaphor of the white supremacist, cisheteropatriarchal system that is obsessed with Black bodies and creativity while still remaining profoundly anti-Black. This concept album forms a cohesive science fictional narrative, introducing futuristic elements in a way that is rarely seen so explicitly in the medium, opening up new pathways for the musical exploration of feminist science fiction.
This story portrays a culture in which gender pronouns change depending on a multitude of factors for each individual at any given time. This story shows a character at the beginning of a new life whose sense of identity is affected by this new language with a multitude of unfamiliar pronouns. The story also touches on issues of immigration, poverty, unemployment, romance, and building a new family. The reader is given linguistic issues and endearing characters in a well-done story.
This young adult novel was translated from Swedish. In it, a society of women (in groups acknowledging the Maiden, Mother, and Crone) live apart from a patriarchal world. They populate their society by rescuing women and girls from poverty, evil men, and lack of education. The leader of the Abbey is the First Mother. This story is told in the time of the 32nd First Mother. The women of the Abbey preserve knowledge within a vast library. The novel ends with the narrator, a teenage girl, deciding to go back out into the world to see if she can help change how men and women see themselves and one another.
This visceral story with vivid writing explores in a literalized way the dysphoria that can come with being trans. The monster in the basement works as both a powerful metaphor and a plot device.



In addition to the honor list, this year’s jury also compiled a “long list” of twenty-eight other works they found worthy of attention.



The Tiptree Award winner, along with authors whose works are on the Honor List, will be celebrated at WisCon in Madison, Wisconsin during Memorial Day weekend. The winner will receive $1000 in prize money, a specially commissioned piece of original artwork, and (as always) chocolate.
Each year, a panel of judges selects the Tiptree Award winner. The 2018 judges were Margaret McBride (chair), Marina Berlin, Ritch Calvin, and Arrate Hidalgo.

The 2019 panel of judges will be chaired by Carol Stabile, and reading will begin soon. The Tiptree Award invites everyone to recommend works for the award. Please submit recommendations via the recommendation page. Full information on all the books mentioned above will be in the Tiptree Award database by late April 2018.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Feminist Futures 2019 Storybundle



Cat Rambo has curated another Feminist Futures Story Bundle. This one includes two Aqueduct Press books, Mindscape by Andrea Hairston and Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett. Here's the scoop:




I always enjoy putting together StoryBundles, and particularly Feminist Futures ones for Women's History Month. This bundle brings together some terrific reading that is some of the best offered by independent and small press publishing. It's my attempt to celebrate the excellent work being written by today's female speculative fiction authors.

The first recorded writer is the Akkadian/Sumerian poet and hymn writer Enheduanna (2285 BCE-2250 BCE), a woman whose work influenced a group of others that includes the psalms and prayers of the Bible and Greece's Homeric hymns. Women have always been part of science fiction, whether it was Margaret Cavendish's beating Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs to the center of the Earth in The Blazing World, Mary Shelley's commentary on science, humanity, and the parent/child relationship in Frankenstein, or Charlotte Perkins Gilman writing an alternative — and often appealing — society in Herland.

But somehow women often — perhaps even usually — get erased, overall. A few figures linger, perhaps because their impact is so undeniable that they cannot be obliterated, or perhaps tolerated for some other reason, but many of the female figures — Miriam DeFord, Zenna Henderson, Judith Merrill, Katherine MacLean — fade away. Certainly it's not a phenomenon restricted to one gender — and it's affected by race, sexuality, and similar factors as well — but women seem especially prey to it and one facet of feminism is finding, celebrating, and amplifying those voices so they survive in order to inform and teach the world to come.

Another important facet of feminism — for me — is at least in part about valuing and encouraging inclusivity by reaching out to invite a wide range of voices. This is a nicely diverse bundle, including queer and trans voices, and as such it presents interesting, thought-provoking science fiction that talks about our future and how we'll remain human in it from perspectives that are comic, dramatic, sometimes tragic, but always engaging, imaginative, and compellingly told.

How do we preserve women writers in history? A lot of it is making sure part of the public conversation includes discussion of their work. If you enjoy these voices, let's talk about them! Let me know what you thought, and please spread the word via your social media, so others can join the conversation. I'll be doing some video interviews with authors about their books - look for the hashtag #thefutureisfeminist on social media or subscribe to my Youtube channel or newsletter to make sure you get notified when they appear!

The Feminist Futures bundle runs for three weeks only - pick up yours now! Cat Rambo

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you're feeling generous), you'll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

         Snapshots from a Black Hole and Other Oddities by K.C. Ball
         Sunspot Jungle by Bill Campbell
         Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett
         Queen of Roses by Elizabeth McCoy
          
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus SIX more!

         Albatross by R.A. MacAvoy and Nancy L. Palmer
         Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories by Naomi Kritzer
         The Child Goddess by Louise Marley
         Exile by Lisa M. Bradley
         The Goodall Mutiny by Gretchen Rix
         Mindscape by Andrea Hairston
          
This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

         Get quality reads: We've chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
         Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that's fine! You'll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
         Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there's nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
         Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Girls Write Now!
         Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you'll get the bonus books!




Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Carol Emshwiller (1921-2019)

Carol Emshwiller died on February 2. She was an important voice in the field, author of seven collections (plus two collections of her complete short fiction oeuvre) and six novels (two of which were Westerns).

Her wild yet disciplined creativity produced fiction that ranged from quirky and playful to downright experimental, and made her a delightful partner in conversation. She was best known in our field through her short fiction, which appeared in Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions and, frequently, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but she produced some brilliant novels, too. I suspect it was the very versatility of her talent that made her novels nearly invisible to most readers. Her most powerful novel, in my opinion, was The Mount (2002), which won the Philip K. Dick Award, her most touching novel Ledoyt (1995), and her most playful and wrenching novel Carmen Dog (1988).

I first met Carol in person in 2001, shortly after an essay of mine, engaging with two of her early stories, "Sex and/or Mr. Morrison" and "Peninsula," appeared in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. As we walked side by side down State Street in Madison, heading for lunch with a gaggle of other writers, she said, "I read your essay, you know." I don't exactly recall how my shock expressed itself--with a gasp, or an acceleration of my pulse? "It was interesting," she said. And then she really surprised me by confiding that "Peninsula" is about incest-- which I'd suspected but had been too unsure of to bring into the essay, since if my speculation were wrong, it would likely skew my discussion of it unforgivably.

After that first meeting, we met at each subsequent WisCon she attended, usually at dinner with Tom, whom she liked a great deal; and she often sat with Andrea Hairston and me at the Sign-out held at the end of WisCon, where fans bring books to be signed by attending authors. In one of our earliest meals together, Carol expressed an earnest need to let me know that she wasn't a feminist--because, she said, she liked men. I never did figure out how she reconciled that strange equation of feminism with man-hating to her identification of me as a feminist (even before we met) and our always happy talk-heavy meals with Tom. There was never been any doubt in my own mind, though, that Carol was a feminist through and through.

When in 2005 I asked her to send me an epistolary fantasy, she wrote a "Love Letter to My Character Abiel/Beal Ledoyt," which I published in Talking Back (2006). It begins "I've never loved a character of mine as much as I love you. I know you don't want to hear anything like this or even a little bit like this. It'll embarrass you."

The relationship between an author and her characters is, at base, thoroughly personal, no matter its residence in the author's imagination. "I first saw you," Carol writes of Ledoyt, "and began to think of you as a character at a little, homey rodeo in a small town. No real bleachers, just a few rows of seats--as if for a home-town baseball game. You were a few rows ahead of me with a red-headed three-year-old girl on your lap. But mostly you were surrounded by boys--a whole van load, five or six eight-to-twelve year olds it looked like. They vied for your attention., but you were quiet. I think joking under your breath. The kids laughed, but I couldn't hear. You were a countrified looking man. Thin and bony. The kind of man who could never look dressed up no matter what you had on."

At one point, she confesses, "I almost didn't finish the book when I realized you'd have to die."

Her letter ends with "Though you're of my own making, I'm...Yours always, Carol." 

 I write to her, now: Carol, your strong, vibrant voice will always be with us.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Award Season at Aqueduct Press

For your convenience, we have gathered all the titles that we published in 2018 and are eligible for awards this year. We are very proud of our catalogue and happy to be providing samples for you to read on each link. A bit further below, you will find all the poems and short stories that are original to the 2018 Conversation Pieces and can be considered individually.

Novel


The Breath of the Sun, by Isaac R. Fellman* (2018)
Chercher La Femme, by L. Timmel Duchamp (2018)

Novella


The Adventure of the Dux Bellorum, by Cynthia Ward (2018)


Collection

People Change by Gwynne Garfinkle (2018)
If Not Skin by Toby MacNutt (2018)
Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints by Alex Dally MacFarlane (2018)
Liminal Spaces by Beth Plutchak (2018)
Invocabulary by Gemma Files (2018)

Short fiction


In People Change by Gwynne Garfinkle:


·      “The Paper Doll Golems”


In If Not Skin by Toby MacNutt:


·      “Skin-Changer”


In Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints by Alex Dally MacFarlane:


·      “O Fox Confessor, Your Mouth is as Powdered Turmeric”


In Liminal Spaces by Beth Plutchak:


·      “The Swan Sister”

·      “Skin and Bone”
·      “What She Thought She Knew”
·      “A Matter of Time”

Poems


In People Change by Gwynne Garfinkle:


·      “levitation class”

·      “Irena in the Garden”
·      “Flaxen Mane”
·      “Gojira / Godzilla”
·      “Thirteen Faces of Deathdream”
·      “Mildred’s Villanelle”
·      “shell”
·      “love song from The Blob”
·      “to Steve McQueen”

In If Not Skin by Toby MacNutt:


·      “Heart to Heart”

·      “Relapse”
·      “Grit”
·      “All Sparks”
·      “Running Cold”
·      “Of Burials at Sea”
·      “Journeyman”
·      “Subtle Revels”
·      “Flashpoint”
·      “Planetary Alveolus”
·      “Burning the Candle”
·      “Best Beloved, Flesh of My Flesh”

In Invocabulary by Gemma Files:


·      “Ed Gein at Night

·      “She Who Stops
·      “Minotaur
·      “A Batch of Golems”
·      “Ruach Elohim”
·      “Old Traitor”
·      “Mad Boys Make No Kings”
·      “Clown, Considered as a Memento Mori”
·      “Calving”
·      “Litany of the Family Bean”
·      “The Glass Mask”
·      “La Monadologie”
·      “The White Queen Speaks”
·      “A Container of Ashes”
·      “The Black Telephone”
·      “Metropolis/Babel”
·      “Bits and Pieces”
·      “Sacred”
·      “Build Your Own”
·      “Bad Fathers”
·      “Nobody Sleeps”
·    ·       “Onion Boy”
·   ·        “A Stone in My Mouth”
·      “A Black Thraw


*Initially published as Rachel Fellman