Tiptree Name Will Be Removed from Award

The Tiptree Award Motherboard today tweeted its intention to change the name of the award:

This reverses the decision they announced at the start of the month and had explained in-depth in “Alice Sheldon and the name of the Tiptree Award”.

The change comes in response to recent requests to drop the name because in her last acts the author shot her invalid husband before killing herself. The discussion included tweets by Carrie Cuinn (‘no one’s whole life excuses killing a disabled person in their care. It can’t, or what does that say about the value of my life, my son’s, any disabled person’s?”), Kelly Robson (“This [Twitter] is just not the place for a nuanced conversation. But Tiptree isn’t sacred to me. I’m tapping out. To be very clear: she was a murderer and murder is never excusable.”) and Natalie Luhrs (“She murdered her husband while he slept and then killed herself. And yet there’s a SFF award named after her. I am deeply conflicted about this.”)

Those involved in the conversation at File 770 have ranged from many fans with disabilities, to Tiptree’s literary executor Jeff Smith, who knew the author well.

Although there are fans who wanted to keep the Tiptree Award name, those who administer the award have always regarded their work as something of a movement, and they are showing that they plan to listen to people who have always been the source of their support.

[Thanks to Lenore Jean Jones and James Davis Nicoll for the story.]

68 thoughts on “Tiptree Name Will Be Removed from Award

  1. I do think this is the right decision. I may say that my feelings on this were turned around completely by the thoughtful opinions expressed here. Thank you.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this, but in the end, if the best you can hope for is people having mixed feelings about your award because of who it’s named for, that’s not good. It’s the right move.

  3. Absolutely their call, and I have no irons in that fire.

    But stories like this is why I support the Death With Dignity movement. A person should be able to decide to end their life when there is no hope of recovery.

  4. DWD is a fine organization. I’m hoping that everyone will be allowed to make end of life choices for themself.

  5. Not supportive, but it’s their ball.
    The most important right anyone has is the right to die, yet it is the right most opposed by society in general, and so we get this. Oh well.

  6. I highly object to the dismissal of Sheldon as a murderer and unworthy of our consideration or respect. Once upon a time, in a horrific spiral of depression and anxiety, I made a definite and concrete plan to kill my husband and myself. It seemed the only reasonable thing to do to end the pain and loneliness. So I have a real understanding of and compassion for what she must have been thinking and feeling. Depression and anxiety are disabling conditions and our society really sucks at dealing with them and with people who suffer from them. The cavalier dismissal of her pain is abhorrent. Her actions constitute an indictment of just how poorly our society helps people who need help. This has made me furious and broken-hearted at the same time. This sort of misunderstanding and callous disregard for the very real pain of people suffering from depression are some of the things creating the stigma that means people don’t take mental illness seriously and make people too ashamed to access what pitifully little help is available. That make people feel alone and hopeless. I am appalled you would quote it in a seemingly approving manner.

    (For the the morbidly curious, who want to know what happened in my case. It was the wee hours of the morning when I hit that place. I fell asleep while waiting for the gun store to open. (We didn’t have a gun because, hey, 2 depressive people lived in that house.)When I woke up I had gone past that pain into the numbness and exhaustion where even ending it takes more than you have. My husband came home and dragged me to the psych. Sheldon wasn’t as lucky as I was.)

  7. Very angry about this. The PC wave advancing to 1984 and us persons and new speak. SFF used to be about looking beyond the mundane and acceptable. Now it wishes to conform, and not offend by remembering a author who ended their life in desperation,,and made a horrible choice. Not unknown with creative people. Are they all to become un persons?

  8. @Mary Kay Kare
    I hear you and your pain. I got that bad myself, and what kept me from doing anything was that it couldn’t be explained to the cat that owned me. And having friends who got an appointment with a doctor. (For me, the first SSRI we tried worked. I haven’t been that deep since, but, having been there, the possibility never goes away, either.) I can see Sheldon’s position from here.

  9. Great, dismiss a beloved author and her lifetime of work because of her last desperate act of despair. And for all we know her husband may well have wanted to die and their final act was not at all murder. Let’s take Washington’s name off of monuments and the dollar bill since he owned slaves, and Jefferson too. Columbus should be out and so many others. And take away any accolades from other persons who did something bad that we in our enlightenment perceive as bad. Never praise them for whatever good they did, never name anything after them. Forget them and be politically correct. Name things after yourselves and someday someone will unname you too. Throw those stones, but watch out for reflections in that glass.

  10. Wow. Have you all not read the painful words of disabled people feeling extremely vulnerable and distressed by the dismissal of Sheldon’s act, here and on Twitter? No one is erasing Sheldon or disrespecting her work, any more than Campbell is being erased. This is not about the right to die, because we have no evidence that Huntington Sheldon consented on that night. This is not political correctness. Nor is it a demonizing of mental illness. This is about the number of dependent disabled people who are killed by caregivers annually. This is about the defense of those caregivers we see everywhere. This is about not considering disabled people to be of no value to the world. This is a matter of awards no longer being given in Tiptree’s name, or Campbell’s, because some of their actions gave pain to real people, many also members of our community. Please go read their words.

  11. Lenore Jones: Wow. Have you all not read the painful words of disabled people feeling extremely vulnerable and distressed by the dismissal of Sheldon’s act, here and on Twitter?

    Doesn’t sound like they read any of the discussion that went on here for a week. I’m really at a loss for words now.

  12. Here to back up Lenore Jones, because good grief you people are cold. “This is why I support the death with dignity movement”? What the {explitive deleted} is dignified about being murdered by your caretaker?

    And peace on all of the “but she was depressed! You don’t know what it’s like!” business. This isn’t a situation that demands exclusive ors. You can believe that depression is a real, serious illness that needs way more attention than it is currently getting and STILL think that murdering a disabled person in your care is a bad thing.

    File 770 has an excellent tagging system. I suggest that some of you folks use it to read up on the recent discussions on this issue.

  13. Mary Kay Kare on September 11, 2019 at 5:38 pm said:
    I highly object to the dismissal of Sheldon as a murderer and unworthy of our consideration or respect. Once upon a time, in a horrific spiral of depression and anxiety, I made a definite and concrete plan to kill my husband and myself. It seemed the only reasonable thing to do to end the pain and loneliness. So I have a real understanding of and compassion for what she must have been thinking and feeling. Depression and anxiety are disabling conditions and our society really sucks at dealing with them and with people who suffer from them. The cavalier dismissal of her pain is abhorrent. Her actions constitute an indictment of just how poorly our society helps people who need help. This has made me furious and broken-hearted at the same time. This sort of misunderstanding and callous disregard for the very real pain of people suffering from depression are some of the things creating the stigma that means people don’t take mental illness seriously and make people too ashamed to access what pitifully little help is available. That make people feel alone and hopeless. I am appalled you would quote it in a seemingly approving manner.

    I have to say that I, too, feel a lot like this, with the difference that I don’t think removing the name is done as a way of condemning Tiptree, but of condemning the act that concluded her life. Despite or because I have been there too, I think suicide (let alone murder, no matter how consensual) is a desperately irrational act in most cases.

    Mind you, I think people have the absolute right of deciding about their life, including taking the decision to end it. The problem is that such right is very seldom exercised when people are in a calm, rational, realistic state of mind. In this day and age there are very few cases when pain is intractable and unendurable, thankfully. But they do exist. From what I know of her life, and from reading her stories, Tiptree lived in such pain most of her life. I don’t think her case is a simple case of caretaker suicide. She didn’t kill her husband because he was an invalid or because she judged that his life was unendurable; she killed him because she felt that her life in particular and life in general was unendurable, and that letting him survive her would have been an act of cowardice. I think she was wrong, and no, we have no idea if Ting agreed.

    I think it’s up to the award to decide how to call themselves. My affection and respect and compassion for Alice Sheldon are not diminished in any way, partly because unlike people who apparently discovered the circumstances of her death recently, I was already active in fandom when it happened. I thought it desperately sad and horrible then, and I think it is desperately sad and horrible now. Just as I think that her stories are some of the greatest science fiction stories ever written, and also some of the most desperately sad and harrowing.

  14. Nancy Sauer on September 11, 2019 at 7:01 pm said:
    Here to back up Lenore Jones, because good grief you people are cold. “This is why I support the death with dignity movement”? What the {explitive deleted} is dignified about being murdered by your caretaker?

    You seem to think that feeling pity and compassion for Tiptree is the same as approving what she did. It’s not.

  15. @Anna Feruglio:

    Not at all, hence my second paragraph. What you quote is my reaction to Douglas Berry’s odd reference to the Death With Dignity movement. I haven’t seen anyone call for the award to be renamed because Sheldon committed suicide, so why is that even relevant here?

  16. “This is why I support the death with dignity movement”? What the {explitive deleted} is dignified about being murdered by your caretaker?

    Absolutely nothing about a murder-suicide is dignified. It’s why I advocate for options for the end of life that are in control of the patient.

    For the record, In 1995 I was treated for Stage IV-B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. At the time, my wife was told that assuming I made it past the first few years, I could expect to live for twenty years. At that point, people like me start dying at increased rates.

    That was 24 years ago, six years ago I had a stroke. I am disabled, and this subject is very close to my life. So yes, stories like this make me wish we had a national death with dignity act so people wouldn’t be pushed to extremes.

    As for previous discussions on File 770, I’ll admit to being a casual filer. I don’t read every article, and I tend to lose track of long discussion threads due to stroke damage. Sue me for not remembering every thread on this subject.

    But as I said, not my award, not my problem. I do worry about erasing history in the pursuit of moral purity, but that’s for award administrators to worry about.

  17. Changing the name of an award is not erasing history. The history, and the womderful stories, remain.

  18. If I made a pact with you five years ago that we will die together, and you kill me today, that’s murder plain and simple.
    In discussions like this, I like to bring up the idea of consent, just because you consented to an act previously that doesn’t mean that it’s permissible for a person to do it again without your permission the next time round.
    Suffering with a physical disability myself, a lot of people imagine that my life must be awful and not really worth living because if it happened to them, they feel that they would want to kill themselves but I was born with this condition and I’m used to it now honestly, I’m okay.
    It’s chilling to think someone could end my life and be praised for it afterwards on the basis that I agreed.

  19. Mary Kay Kare is absolutely right about the general disregard and lack of compassion expressed here for Sheldon and her very real disability.

    She was taking advantage of the treatment options available at the time, but those treatment options were mostly crap. Their effectiveness was low compared to what we have today, and their side effects significantly worse. “But there were treatment options!” Yes, and “better than absolutely nothing” doesn’t mean they effectively corrected some of the major symptoms of serious clinical depression: the deep sense of personal worthlessness, the belief the world will be better off without you, and the belief, in the face sometimes of very considerable evidence, that no one will help with even your most important] practical concerns.

    This tends to result in really crappy decision-making.

    The eagerness to label her as a murderer really does seem like a rejection of the fact that she was disabled too, and needed compassion and help, too, and that depression was even more disregard then than it is now–and it’s still pretty bad.

    I’m not arguing that the award name shouldn’t be changed. I’ve gone back and forth on that myself a few times, and I think that in itself weighs in favor of changing it. Keeping the name will clearly cause too much real distress to real people still around to feel it, while it hurts Sheldon not at all. But the willful denial that that awful last act was a symptom of her own very real disability and insisting on calling her a murderer, is also hurting real people around today.

  20. Sometimes, reading comments about this, I get the impression that many people saying that Sheldon was mentally ill, seem to assume she wasn’t, in their conclusions about what happened and what should be done.

    Depression fucks with your thinking in a very basic way, so that suicide seems to be logical, and killing people you love is too. (The news in my area was reporting this evening three people dead in a murder-suicide; one was a deputy DA.) It’s not a physical disability: you can’t see depression, and people with it aren’t going to be “sad” in any noticeable way. It’s the “slough of despond”, it’s the “noontide demon”, it’s pushing rocks up hill all night every night, and being tired all day every day. It. Doesn’t. End.

  21. It’s been a while since I’ve commented, but speaking as someone who has struggled with suicidal depression for decades… I have made arrangements to have dangerous tools (firearms and prescription medications) removed from where I had access to them.

    I have never, ever contemplated killing another human being. Whether because of my suffering or what I may have perceived as theirs.

    Most of the disabled people who’ve been speaking up about this seem to be condemning it. We can have sympathy for what Sheldon experienced while saying firmly that murder is bad.

  22. To be honest, I find this discussion insulting for people who suffer with a mental illness as well.
    For years, non-neuro typical people have had to suffer the stigma that their mental illness means that they’re inherently more violent, even when it’s pointed out that they are usually the ones who suffer violence at the hands of others.
    Millions of people across the world suffer with depression and have impaired decision-making abilities, but very few of them take another’s life, and there is a big difference between thoughts and action.

  23. Myself, I would have treated James Tiptree and Alice Sheldon as two separate entities but that probably wouldn’t have satisfied anyone determined to remove her name totally. According to those closest to them, they had a pact. End of story.
    It did bring up that while I’d heard of the Tiptree Award, I didn’t actually know if I’d read any of the awarded works. By checking the list, I’m not sure I’ve read just about any of them–a couple of names were vaguely familiar but the only one I could say for sure was Maureen McHugh’s “China Mountain Zhang” which is a favorite but I couldn’t tell you off-hand just why it was given this award.

  24. Kelly Starks:

    “The PC wave advancing to 1984 and us persons and new speak. SFF used to be about looking beyond the mundane and acceptable. Now it wishes to conform, and not offend by remembering a author who ended their life in desperation,,and made a horrible choice. Not unknown with creative people. Are they all to become un persons?

    It would be so much easier if you tried so speak without pulling out every slogan and cliche you could find. What “unpersons” are you talking about? What is it you think is new speak? In what way has handing out SF awards been about looking beyond the acceptable with regards to actions of real people? In what regard is it relevant if other creative people also are known to have murdered people?

  25. I didn’t just think about it. I had a concrete, fully visualized plan. The only thing which saved me was the decision we had made not to have a gun in the house. Because I had to wait for the store to open I slipped past the place where action was possible. Such that when my husband finally got home I was lying in bed staring at the ceiling unable to form a coherent thought or…
    Explaining this to someone hasn’t experienced it is probably futile. There’s no way you can understand how that mind works. In that state, you’re literally physically incapable of thinking straight. Loneliness, despair, isolation, pain, self-loathing. They are all real and it’s a nearly unstoppable spiral down down and further down when it gets that bad. There are different degrees of disability. Your depression has never been that bad? Don’t judge someone whose was. Thank your goddam lucky stars and leave us the fuck alone if you can’t understand.
    But hey, being literally unable to think rationally is no excuse for bad decisions. Or so people seem to suggest. All I can tell you is that depression is real, it has both psychological and physical causes and it is disabling. Did she shoot her disabled husband against his wishes? Possibly. We’ll never know. I just wish all you goddam mentally healthy people would understand: she was disabled too. And had no support or help or hope. If you haven’t experienced that or can’t summon up the empathy to try to imagine it just shut the fuck up and stop hurting those of us for whom it is all too real.

  26. If Alice (age 71) had not loved her husband Huntingdon (age 84), they would not likely have been found holding hands. So, you wish to posthumously call her a murderer? I don’t think she would object to it, even if she could. So, go ahead and change the name of the award, if it makes you feel good about yourselves. And while you’re at it, put me on your politically incorrect blacklist as well, because I admire her strength, courage and resolve in the final moment. As a railway man, I’ve been responsible to get the traffic back flowing after suicides. You always lay a burden on someone else when you wish to die and are unable to do it yourself. Apart from the innocent driver, there are also the fire-fighters who come with buckets to pick up the remaining pieces of he or she who was ran over. At least the pieces have stopped twitching when they arrive. And the victims had no hand to hold. Aren’t we all so great at considering what is best for ourselves?

  27. [Off-topic ad hominem attack deleted, but I’ve retained the rest of this comment as relevant. — Mike]

    We knew all of this already (the circumstances surrounding Sheldon’s demise). I knew about it before I made the decision to start reading Tiptree. Did it make me pause a sec? Sure. Did it somehow change the stories? No. Does it have any relation to an award inaugurated after her death? No. And frankly, does the exploration of fictional depictions of sex and gender have anything to do with disabilities, necessarily?

  28. I will quote a part of the Wiki article about the composer Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa, dealing with his actions when he found his wife Donna Maria in bed with her lover:

    “He smashed down Donna Maria’s bedroom door to discover the two lovers in flagrante in bed. Gesualdo then slaughtered them both on the spot. Afterwards, the bodies of his wife and lover, both mutilated and naked, were dragged outside, in front of the palace to be exposed for everyone to see.”

    This absolutely barbaric deed in no way detracts from the ethereally beautiful works for a cappella voices Gesualdo composed.

    One could argue that the music of Gesualdo should not be performed since he was a senseless murderer according to the standards of not only our but his own time (1566 – 1613). To do so would be totally inane and downright hostile to culture.

    Alice Sheldon – “James Tiptree jr.” – had a suicide pact with her dying husband Huntington. One may certainly harbour moral opinions about such suicide pacts, although I persdonally think that this was up to them and frankly no one else’s business. However, the suicide pact and the fact that Alice Sheldon killed her husband Huntington is not what was being honoured by naming an award after her.

    What was being honoured was her work as an author in the field of science fiction. Alice Sheldon’s acts in private life, and her morals and opinions, are in this context totally irrelevant.

    If we are to focus on the morals and opinions of the great men and women in world history and thus condemn these men and women as uncouth and in many cases far worse, and thus unacceptable, instead of honouring what they accomplished – in the arts, in the sciences, in philosophy, in whatever – there will not be many left who can be mentioned in polite company, much less have awards named after them.

    One has to make the important distinction between the never flawless human being and what they accomplished.

  29. Wolf, did you write that only to feel good about yourself or is it something you only accuse others of? It is possible to argue without insult people, you know, even if some people seem to have forgotten this in the age of internet.

    You can put me on the incorrect blacklist for thinking it would be nice for once with an internet argument where people can respect others opinions – even those they don’t agree with.

  30. I have my own issues with depression, which fortunately are mostly mild and treated with one drug. I have what I call my “dark days” where it is hard to get out of bed, and hard to accomplish anything if I do. I read Mary Kay’s story with horror, because I did have one day like that, and I’m so thankful it was only one day. I found an imperfection on the wall, and stared at it, I don’t know for how long, but it was at least eight hours, maybe ten, maybe eighteen. I thought about if I had a gun, it would probably be kept on the top shelf of my bedroom closet. It would probably be behind the photo albums, so I’d have to move those to get at it. Would I keep the bullets there, too, or would they be somewhere else? I imagined all the places they might be, and what I might have to do to get at them. If I could get out of bed…

    I can’t imagine what living a life where those thoughts would recur would be like.

    Alli Sheldon was my friend. I’ve written here before about how painful it is to hear her labeled as “murderer.” She died over thirty years ago, and in all that time, people were sad about the way her life and Ting’s ended, but it was felt that their lives ended the way they wanted them to. Now, the narrative has changed to “we don’t know that he consented that night, therefore it’s murder.” We don’t know that he didn’t consent, either. But somehow the burden of proof has shifted. Instead of “prove her guilt,” it’s “prove her innocence.” I understand the optics, but it still hurts. When you call someone a murderer, that becomes the definition of their life. She had a whole, long, incredible life that ended tragically. You can’t look at her life and say, here are all the horrible things she did that led up to this moment.

    When I lie awake at night (and I’ve gotten very little sleep since this all started — or can you tell, because I’m just rambling; I’m trying to be coherent, but who knows), I just see people popping up to disparage her for the rest of time. Her books are being reprinted? Don’t buy them, she’s a murderer. A movie is made from one of her stories? Don’t see it, she’s a murderer. Or worse, don’t make it, she’s a murderer. These may not be rational thoughts, but they’re what I worry about, anyway.

  31. I haven’t had the motivation to jump into the discussion about various cancel/de-naming projects.

    Briefly, I’m opposed.

    They were honored for their tremendous additions to the genre. Not for their personal shortcomings/failures.

    The better response is addition rather than subtraction. Keep the Tiptree name and add an educational effort for depression/mental illness. Keep the Campbell awards and add efforts to expand the range of published authors beyond what was expected 50 years ago.

    Use the fact that they made the genre better to make the world better.

    Regards,
    Dann
    There is no substitute for a militant freedom. The only alternative is submission and slavery. -Calvin Coolidge

  32. I agree with Lis that though my feelings are mixed, I think changing the name is warranted due to the baggage attached to it.

    @Lenore Jones:

    No one is erasing Sheldon or disrespecting her work, any more than Campbell is being erased. This is not about the right to die, because we have no evidence that Huntington Sheldon consented on that night. This is not political correctness. Nor is it a demonizing of mental illness. This is about the number of dependent disabled people who are killed by caregivers annually. This is about the defense of those caregivers we see everywhere. This is about not considering disabled people to be of no value to the world.

    I believe you are sincere about not demonizing mental illness. But I brought up Sheldon’s mental illness when the topic recently popped up again. My position was that while I agreed the award might need to be renamed, I wasn’t comfortable with writing off Sheldon as a cold-blooded murderer, given that with her history of mental illness, we couldn’t know if she’d been in a state of diminished responsibility due to severe depression that night. I got hit with a lot of anger:

    Nothing mitigates this. Practice saying “Alice Sheldon murdered her disabled spouse” without also tagging on some kind of circumstance to “clarify” or mitigate. She murdered him. She knew he didn’t want to die and she murdered him.

    If I hear about her mental health issues one more time I will start screaming. Stop trying to make this less bad than what it was: she murdered her disabled spouse. It happens to us a lot and abled people always want to find something mitigating.

    I know that that anger is sincere as well, that it comes from the horror of true personal experience and realistic fear of something that has happened multiple times to disabled people. But I also see mental illness being written off as nothing but an invariably bad-faith excuse for the inexcusable.

    It’s the same attitude that I see the people with mental illness that I work with have to deal with from their families, the government, society in general: Take up your duties, mental illness is not a REAL disability. It’s a malingering, malicious excuse, and you are a bad person for trying to resort to it.

    It’s that attitude that keeps people with mental illness from getting vitally needed support to keep functioning. And when – as in the case of Andrea Yates, and maybe even Sheldon herself – when mental illness causes a breakdown, it is also that attitude that gets the person with mental illness perfunctorily written off as nothing more than a murderer, no need for further analysis – much less help.

    Sheldon and Ting are beyond help now. But there are many mentally ill people who still need it, and that attitude writes them off. So by all means rename the award, but let’s not just write Sheldon off as no more than the last day of her and her husband’s life. I agree with Jeff Smith in that (@Jeff, thank you for the above.)

  33. Now when the name change has been decided, the big question is how Tiptree can be honoured in different ways. I’m thinking of a fund to give money to research about depression. That would be a memorial leading to something positive, an acknowledgement that society at the time couldn’t help bear the burden and that we should strive to do better.

    An award might not be the way to honour Tiptree’s legacy. That doesn’t mean that we should balk at finding other ways.

  34. @Hampus Eckerman–

    Now when the name change has been decided, the big question is how Tiptree can be honoured in different ways. I’m thinking of a fund to give money to research about depression. That would be a memorial leading to something positive, an acknowledgement that society at the time couldn’t help bear the burden and that we should strive to do better.

    I like that suggestion, a great deal.

  35. @Hampus, I think that’s an excellent way to honor Tiptree in a meaningful fashion, without ignoring the tragedy and horror of the end of her story.

  36. I only wish it weren’t possible for all these things to be simultaneously true:

    • Alice and Ting had a suicide pact.
    • This seems to have been known to people whom Ting would have had a chance to speak with alone and who could have intervened if he gave an indication he was not in fact party to this pact.
    • Alice and Ting’s suicide pact seems to predate his disability, though it is important that they did not follow through earlier not least because Alice felt ready many times while being aware Ting was not.
    • Alice was mentally unwell in a way that made her much more likely to go through with the pact than otherwise, and more likely to perceive doing so as the “right thing” without ascertaining current consent.
    • The resources at the time, which she was accessing, were likely inadequate to handle a genuine mental illness.
    • Her mental illness also definitely makes her much less culpable as a murderer, and much more genuinely tragical. (I think the same of Vincent Li, who survived to be treated.)
    • If she had survived, we would know if her mental state was so far gone she did not understand – it is reasonable to assume it was, but she was also capable of talking to police to the point of satisfying them that all was well. We genuinely cannot know.
    • Nobody knows for sure if Ting wanted to go through with things at the time they happened.
    • Prior consent is definitely not the same as in the moment consent.
    • Partners as intimate as these two seemed to be can often correctly deduce consent in situations which would be undeniably wrong with strangers. At least when in a sound mental state.
    • Murder of the disabled (physically or mentally) by caregivers is a major issue.
    • Many such murders have no excuse and no extenuating circumstance.
    • Many such murders get treated as if being caregiver to a person with a disability is in fact a mitigating circumstance all by itself. (It absolutely is not.)
    • This leaves many disabled very wary of seeing another caregiver murder appearing to be excused.
    • And yet, see above, Alice’s mental illness and the possible pact both MIGHT BE genuine aspects that changes this from the “standard” caregiver murder to a more complex case.
    • Saying this does not disrespect the disabled, or the issue of murder by caregivers. Individual cases are still allowed nuance.
    • People directly in danger of harm because of the excusing of cases like this are fully in their rights to feel this case is too like those cases for them to look at with anything but distress.
    • Doing so is not disrespecting the lived experience of people with mental illness. There is nuance in how far a mental illness can be seen to pardon the otherwise unpardonable, especially in cases where a mental state cannot be proven.
    • People with mental illnesses are fully within their rights to feel worried and hurt when they see Alice called a murderer with no interest in exploring that nuance.
    • Alice killed herself and her partner. And ultimately, what other facts related to this we consider important can only be based on our own lived experience.
    • Having someone who can be perceived to have committed murder, or suicide, as an award name, can be rightly seen as problematic and controversial, and a distraction from the acclaim we wish to give to the authors we are hoping to celebrate. For that reason, regardless of personal opinion on the facts of the last day of her life and Ting’s, the award name is better off changed.
    • Changing the award name does not disrespect history, erase stories, or unperson anyone.
    • Tiptree’s stories are important to the history of the SF field and its views on gender, and will be discussed in SF criticism and history for decades to come.
    • They’re also really good stories, and will be read and republished and likely accessible for a long time to come.
    • Tiptree is not the only possible murderer who has written SF which is still read. Anne Perry has written fantasy as well as her better known mysteries. Anne Perry’s continued publication strongly suggests the Tiptree stories will not vanish.

    (Dammit. I had point form formatting and spacing which made this easier to read and seems to persistently be vanishing.)

  37. @Hampus Eckerman:

    Now when the name change has been decided, the big question is how Tiptree can be honoured in different ways. I’m thinking of a fund to give money to research about depression. That would be a memorial leading to something positive, an acknowledgement that society at the time couldn’t help bear the burden and that we should strive to do better.

    An award might not be the way to honour Tiptree’s legacy. That doesn’t mean that we should balk at finding other ways.

    This strikes me as an excellent idea. Tiptree’s stories remain powerful, harrowing, brilliant and sad. Something like this could be a legacy that would do some good for people who suffer as she did, without causing unnecessary distress to the disabled in our community.

  38. @Lenora Rose:

    (Dammit. I had point form formatting and spacing which made this easier to read and seems to persistently be vanishing.)

    I feel your pain. If it helps any, I read your list and mentally separated each item.

    I found that particular bug out last week when I tried to post a numbered list here. The numbers vanished and all the spaces between the items too.

    After some frantic editing watching that timer tick down I discovered that by leaving out the numbers, putting LOTS of spaces between lines and double checking the preview at the bottom of the reply box, I could just get some items listed.

  39. @Hampus, who has been insulted and what was the insult? He or she to whom what I wrote does not apply has no cause to take offence.

  40. Lenore Jones wrote: “Changing the name of an award is not erasing history. The history, and the wonderful stories, remain.”

    I certainly hope so. But authors fade away, their work goes out of print and out of memory, and their legacy is lost.

    So I do deplore this name change. “James Tiptree, jr” was a pen name, the name under which all those wonderful stories appeared. As long as writers receive the award given in that name, their readers will have a chance of discovering the work they have been compared to, and the richness of what “Tiptree” gave to science fiction.

    Alice Sheldon was a living person, beset by her own demons. She was also married to the man she killed, perhaps as both of them wished, perhaps not. But the award is not named for her, and so her actions as an individual should not be viewed as part of what the award is intended to celebrate: it celebrates only her writing, nothing else, since “James Tiptree” was never a part of any other aspect of her life than her writing.

  41. I also like Hampus’ suggestion.

    If people could stop making sweeping assumptions about the mental health histories of those they disagree with, that would be wonderful, thank you.

    Alice Sheldon corresponded extensively with friends under the Tiptree pseudonym and persona, so even if we decided that her stories and her own self were fully separate and that the twain shall never meet (which personally I find a bit silly), she did not solely and only publish stories under the Tiptree name. Is anyone on the modern internet really going to attempt to convincingly argue that your pseudonym isn’t really you? I doubt they’d get far.

    I think it might be possible to plausibly argue that she wasn’t a murderer, but it’s an awful lot harder to argue that it wasn’t a murder, or at least that it definitely wasn’t a murder, based on what we know. And saying it was a murder, that Ting was murdered, that he was murdered by Alice – doesn’t deny her depression, or the distorted thinking it caused, or that it was a tragedy that may not have happened without her own mental disability. But it does refrain from cutting a murder victim out of their own story. Tragedy, yes, but still a murder, and just as much a murder.

    Some distorted thinking is quite clearly shaped by societal forces outside the individual, whether it’s the belief that a partner should not be allowed to leave, or that disabled people are better off dead, or Andrea Yates’ religious beliefs about damnation. It has been painfully clear throughout this debate that many people found Alice Sheldon’s actions understandable not because they empathised with her depression, but because they genuinely had sympathy with what she did. They understood why someone might murder disabled loved ones who rely on their care. They thought and think that his pain, his eyesight, and his care needs made it less than murder, more of a mercy killing, even if he didn’t consent.

    Given that sympathy towards not just Alice Sheldon’s final act but also for many others who murder their disabled loved ones, documented concerns about whether he would receive adequate care without her, and her own fears about physical disability coming with age, prejudice against those with physical disabilities and physical disability itself must be acknowledged as a factor. Of course, it has been clear – if very upsetting – that many people think that there’s really nothing wrong with that, and that the prejudice is so justified that it’s not prejudice at all. Many people still think that disabled lives are worth less. That, more than anything to do with what an award is or is not named, has been a terrible thing to have driven home. The whole discussion over the past weeks has been upsetting.

    Alice Sheldon was valuable as a human being and an artist, and will long be remembered for her life and her work. She is not remembered and will not be remembered because her pseudonym was on an award. Neither she nor Campbell will be forgotten because of these changes.

  42. I find the argument that you can separate a person from the stuff they did under a different name kind of bizarre. Or rather, the same person did both those things, the writing and the killing, and the question of when and whether you can separate the two doesn’t seem to me to have anything to do with what names they used at the time.

  43. Wolf:

    I do think it is insulting to imply that others here write to feel good about themselves and after that imply that they would “put you on a politically incorrect blacklist”.

    It might not have been the impression you wanted to make, but it is certainly the one I read from your comment.

  44. David Howarth: Presumably this is the point in the drama when…

    Thanks for self-identifying as someone whose opinion has no credibility. This subject is fraught enough without people like you jumping in to make off-topic ad hominem attacks.

    Get your head on straight if you’re going to comment here. Because this was totally out-of-line. 😐

  45. Anders Bellis: If we are to focus on the morals and opinions of the great men and women in world history and thus condemn these men and women as uncouth and in many cases far worse, and thus unacceptable, instead of honouring what they accomplished

    This isn’t an either-or situation. It’s entirely possible to do both. And it isn’t necessary to have someone’s name on an award to admire and honor their work.

    I’ll note that there is no Gesualdo Award or Venosa Award. And yet he is still “best known for writing intensely expressive madrigals and pieces of sacred music that use a chromatic language not heard again until the late 19th century.”

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