Who is James Tiptree, Jr.?
For more than a decade, this question intrigued science fiction fans, writers, and editors.
Winner of three Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards be-tween 1973 and 1976, Tiptree shot into science fiction fame with a writing voice unlike any other—intense, knowing, authoritative, urgent.
He developed penpal friendships with fellow writers Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, and Joanna Russ, among others. Tiptree’s frank, funny, intimate letters dropped hints about his childhood in Chicago, his travels in colonial Africa, his service during the Second World War “in a Pentagon sub-basement,” and his work with the Central Intelligence Agency. But for ten years, no one had personally seen or spoken to Tiptree.
Then in 1976, he told a few close friends of his mother’s death. After checking the Chicago obituaries, his friends discovered that Tiptree could only be Alice Bradley Sheldon, the surviving daughter.