||[Jun. 12th, 2006|08:21 pm]
The Plunkett Award -- Class Issues in SF/F
I got the following email (slightly edited) from John Joseph Adams, at SCI FI Wire:|
>I'd like to interview you for a piece for SCI FI Wire (the news service of The SCI FI Channel) about the new Plunkett Award. >Would you mind answering a couple questions for me?
>(1) First, please tell me your affiliation with the award. Are you going to be one of the award administrators? (The LJ post I >read said to contact you for more details; if you're not the right person to ask these questions, please let me know who is. I >need my interview to be with someone strongly affiliated with the award.)
I'm the founder, and currently one of two board members. The award is still in the process of organizing its infrastructure, so we are still looking for interested and skilled volunteers.
>(2) Talk a bit about the award--what do you hope it will accomplish, and how will the nominated works be judged?
Our hope is to encourage people to think about issues of class, both economic and social, in the works of speculative fiction that they read, and in the works of speculative fiction that they write. I have heard people talking about writing something that could win the Tiptree, or the Kindred, and whether or not they're right, it's making them think about issues of gender, or race, or, in the Plunkett's case, class, more than they otherwise would.
>(3) Please talk about the judging process. Will it be a juried award, like the Tiptree? Do you know yet who will be on the first >jury?
We do not know who'll be on the first jury, but the model we are planning on is very much like that of the Tiptree, aiming for a diverse collection of jurors.
>(4) Why focus on SF/fantasy? Why is it important for this sort of award to be given in the genre (as opposed to the >mainstream)?
Well, first of all, because the framework is already present within the genre -- the Plunkett was directly inspired by the Tiptree and the Carl Brandon Society's Kindred award.
Secondly, because speculative fiction has tremendous flexibility to explore these issues, just as it does with gender. Works like China Mieville's "The Iron Council" or Samuel R. Delany's Neveryon series depend upon their speculative-fiction environment to function.
>(5) Why call the award the Plunkett, rather than the Dunsany?
For many years, I have been wearing James Tiptree Jr. T-shirts around the San Francisco Bay Area, and I get asked over and over again 'Who's this Tiptree, and why is there an award?" It gives me an opening to give the 45-second version of the Tiptree legend, working in the words "ineluctable masculine thrust" and ending with the revelation that her name was Alice Sheldon.
I hope to be able to do the same with the Plunkett, though without quite the same rhetorical punch. People will ask who this "Plunkett" person was, and I will inform them it's Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett. Which, for some people, will elicit a knowing smile, and from others, a confused look. In the United States, in particular, people often don't get the distinction between name and title -- that Lord Dunsany's name was Plunkett. When I explain who he was, people get the idea -- and that moment of cognitive disjunction helps reinforce the idea of the award.
>(6) What are some existing works of fiction that meet the criteria of the Plunkett? In other words, if you were to retroactively >give out a few Plunketts, give me five or so works that truly exemplify the sort of story the award aims to honor.
(Here's where I really need people's help: I've got a couple above, in the answer to question #4. I would love more suggestions, since these are some of what I have:
Ken McLeod, The Fall Revolution series
Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination
Samuel R. Delany, Nova
Mary Gentle, Grunts
Thomas M. Disch (I need to find the short story in which he discusses quadrennial slavery)
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Ursula K. LeGuin, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"
-- I know there's some Russ that fits, that I am forgetting, and any more that people can help with, or comments on these, I would appreciate.)