The Cosmic Codex
The Cosmic Codex
Mysterious mutations, and the Californian Faust

Mysterious mutations, and the Californian Faust

The current Otherwise Award winners
“The future is change”, by Brian S. Pauls; Digital illustration created using Midjourney
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Club Codex is reading and discussing “The Kaiju Preservation Society” by John Scalzi in September. Please join us!

In 1991, authors Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler created the Otherwise Award. Then known as the James Tiptree Jr. Award, they named it for a pseudonym of fellow sf author Alice B. Sheldon. Writing from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, Sheldon found her stories easier to publish using a man’s name. About the Tiptree alias, she said:

“A male name seemed like good camouflage. I had the feeling that a man would slip by less observed.”

Gender and feminism are major elements in Sheldon’s work. Murphy and Fowler created the award in her name to celebrate “…works of science fiction and fantasy that expanded and explored our understanding of gender.”

In 2019, the "Motherboard", which administers the award, renamed it the “Otherwise Award”. The reason was uncertainty about the 1987 deaths of Sheldon and her disabled husband, Huntington D. Sheldon. Evidence indicates their deaths were the culmination of a suicide pact. But it’s possible Sheldon killed her husband without his consent, then killed herself. The Motherboard changed the name out of consideration for the disabled community.

Here are the Otherwise Awards presented earlier this year:

Sorrowland, by Rivers Soloman

Rivers Soloman is a native of the United States and currently lives in Great Britain. They have written two novels, two chapbooks, and several short stories.

The Macmillan website says the following about their latest novel:

“Vern—seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised—flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

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But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future—outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.”

Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki

Ryka Aoki is the daughter of Japanese American parents. She’s a judo black belt and holds an MFA from Cornell University. Aoki teaches English at Santa Monica College in California.

Macmillan describes Light From Uncommon Stars in this way:

“Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.”

Club Codex will feature Rivers Soloman's Sorrowland as our discussion selection in October.

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The Cosmic Codex
The Cosmic Codex
Living in a science fiction universe...