Tiptree Award Ceremony

Friday night, we awarded the 14th Annual James Tiptree, Jr. Awards,, for this year’s works of science fiction and fantasy that best explore and expand gender, at Gaylaxicon, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

One of the policies of the Tiptree Award is to announce winners in advance, so no one bites their nails wondering if they’ve won or not. Also, it allows us to fly the winners in to the convention to accept their awards. This year’s winners were Troll: A Love Story (British title, Not Before Sundown, original title Ennen paivanlaskua ei voi) by Johanna Sinisalo, and Camouflage by Joe Haldeman.

The two books make a fascinating pairing: as this year’s jury pointed out, they represent many polarities: author gender, original language, length, fantasy vs. science fiction (though not necessarily), style, and more. However, Joe Haldeman points out that these two wildly disparate books have the same endings. (Read them and see why this is true.)

At any rate, the Tiptree Award ceremony is always a great deal of fun, and this year was no exception. Winners are showered with large and small gifts: from the basic $1000 check through a Tiptree lapel pin, a winner’s certificate, an original piece of art (this year’s were by Charles Vess and Mary Anne Mohanraj) and the canonical chocolate.

Perhaps most important from this blog’s point of view, however, winners are also loaned an elegant tiara to wear for the course of the award weekend. Tiaras are by the talented Elise Matthesen, who has lent the award one tiara on permanent loan and was kind enough to lend us another for this occasion. Since we established the tiara tradition four years ago, the award has (coincidentally) only gone to fairly butch women and to men. It turns out that not only have all of them loved wearing the tiara, many have been more than happy to wear theirs in public with pride. In fact, at least two other award administrators we know of have been harassed by their (male) winners: “Where’s my tiara?” One award went so far as to go out and purchase inexpensive “princess tiaras” in toyshops to placate the winners.

It’s time for the tiara to replace the baseball cap as male attire. You wouldn’t believe how good some of these men look in them!

But seriously, folks. The Tiptree Award is about changing, confusing, undermining, and altering. Body image is not the focus of the award, but gender is; the two are closely related.

Would you wear a tiara? What if it was awarded to you?

One thought on “Tiptree Award Ceremony

  1. Would I wear a tiara? In a heartbeat.

    I think it helped that the first male winner to wear the tiara was Mike Harrison, who looked fantastic in it. I gather John Kessel was a bit aggravated by how much people were going on about how great Mike Harrison looked in the tiara, but when it was Kessel’s turn to wear it he looked just as good, in a different way (a Holbein rather than a medieval woodcut).

    A few years ago, at a Halloween party, a friend of mine looked at a man who had come wearing a velvet cloak and said “I think a little bit of the light went out of the world when men stopped wearing cloaks.”

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