Tuesday, July 12, 2016

2016 World Fantasy Award Nominees

Location: World Fantasy Convention, Columbus, Ohio

Comments: Because Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce were nominated for their work on the book, this seems like the right place to talk about Letters to Tiptree. This book is mostly a collection of letters written by contemporary figures in the science fiction community addressed to the late Alice B. Sheldon, who used the pen name James Tiptree, Jr. for most of her career. Most of the letters discuss what Sheldon and Sheldon's writing meant to the letter writer specifically, and the science fiction community in general. Thus far, the book has been honored with a Locus Award and a Ditmar Award, and nominations for the BSFA Award and British Fantasy Award, and now, for a World Fantasy Award. This book is an important part of the conversation concerning the genre, and likely will be for some time to come.

And yet, despite its many other honors, Letters to Tiptree did not receive a place among the Hugo finalists. While no work is ever entitled to become a Hugo finalist in the abstract, this is exactly the sort of book that one would normally expect to receive one. The reason for this lack of Hugo recognition this year is quite obviously the Puppy campaigns, which promoted a collection of Related Works onto the Hugo ballot that range from mediocre and forgettable down to juvenile and puerile. Leaving aside the fact that the finalists pushed by the Puppy campaigns are of such low quality, it seems relatively obvious that, given the Puppy rhetoric on such issues, Letters to Tiptree is exactly the sort of book that they want to push off of the Hugo ballot. After all, it is an explicitly feminist work, with all of the letter writers and most of the other contributors being women discussing a writer whose fiction was loaded with feminist issues. This book would seem to represent, at least in the eyes of many Pups, the recent encroachment of feminism into science fiction.

Except it doesn't. Alice B. Sheldon died twenty-nine years ago. Her best fiction - including Houston Houston, Do You Read?, The Girl Who Was Plugged In, The Women Men Don't See, and The Screwfly Solution - was written between forty and forty-five years ago. For most of the more prominent Puppy advocates, Sheldon's very feminist fiction has been part of the science fiction landscape for longer than they have been alive. Sheldon is not the only woman who was been writing in this vein that long or longer ago: Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Joanna Russ, Suzy McKee Charnas, and so on. Feminism in science fiction isn't new, rather it has been part of the fabric of science fiction for as long as most of the Puppies have been reading, and in many cases, longer than they have been alive. When a Puppy says that feminism is encroaching upon the the science fiction field, they are revealing that they are either ignorant of the history of the genre they claim to love, or they are attempting to rewrite that history and erase the contributions of figures such as Sheldon.

Whether they admit to it or not, the rhetoric of the Puppy campaigns has had the effect of suppressing women's writing, and the exclusion of Letters to Tiptree from the Hugo ballot is just a symptom of that fact. As I've pointed out before, the Puppy campaigns ultimately won't be able to accomplish any of the objectives that their proponents laid out for them in their many manifestos on the subject, mostly because fans will simply move away from the Pups to other awards. Letters to Tiptree isn't on the Hugo Award ballot, but it was on the Locus Award ballot, and it is on the BSFA Award ballot and the World Fantasy Award ballot. It is a remarkable work that will be remembered for years. On the other hand, the only thing that is memorable about the Puppy-driven selections on the Hugo ballot is how poorly they compare to works like Letters to Tiptree.

Best Novel

The Chimes by Anna Smaill

Other Nominees:
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Savages by K.J. Parker
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Best Novella

The Unlicensed Magician by Kelly Barnhill

Other Nominees:
Farewell Blues by Bud Webster
Guignol by Kim Newman
The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik
Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson

Best Short Fiction

Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong

Other Nominees:
The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History by Sam J. Miller
The Neurastheniac by Selena Chambers
Pockets by Amal El-Mohtar

Best Anthology

She Walks in Shadows edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles

Other Nominees:
Aickman's Heirs edited by Simon Strantzas
Black Wings IV edited by S.T. Joshi
Cassilda's Song edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
The Doll Collection edited by Ellen Datlow

Best Collection

Bone Swans by C.S.E. Cooney

Other Nominees:
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
Leena Krohn: The Collected Fiction by Leena Krohn
Reality by Other Means: The Best Short Fiction of James Morrow by James Morrow
Skein and Bone by V.H. Leslie
You Have Never Been Here by Mary Rickert

Lifetime Achievement

David G. Hartwell
Andrzej Sapkowski

Other Nominees:

Best Artist

Galen Dara

Other Nominees:
Richard Anderson
Julie Dillon
Kathleen Jennings
Thomas S. Kuebler

Special Award, Professional

Stephen Jones for The Art of Horror

Other Nominees:
Neil Gaiman, Dave Stewart, and J.H. Williams, III for The Sandman: Overture
Robert Jordan, Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons for The Wheel of Time Companion
Joe Monti
Heather J. Wood for Gods, Memes and Monsters: A 21st Century Bestiary

Special Award, Non-Professional

John O'Neill for Black Gate

Other Nominees:
Scott H. Andrews for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Jedediah Berry and Eben Kling for The Family Arcana: A Story in Cards
Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein for Letters to Tiptree
Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas for Uncanny Magazine
Helen Young for Tales After Tolkien Society

Go to previous year's nominees: 2015
Go to subsequent year's nominees: 2017

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