Tag Archives: auction

Tiptree @ WisCon 41

Levi Sable
SF3 Communications Committee

WisCon will once again be hosting the Tiptree Award and Tiptree Auction. This year marks the 26th annual Tiptree Award!  We are delighted to welcome back our Tiptree friends and to host the Award ceremonies and (one of) their annual Auction(s).

The Award

A sneak preview of possible auction items — custom Coke bottles, a Wonder Woman doll, and a copy of Octavia Butler’s “Dawn.”

This year’s Tiptree Award goes to Anna-Marie McLemore for her novel When the Moon was Ours.  Anna-Marie will be at WisCon, receiving her Tiptree crown at Opening Ceremonies on Friday night.  Keep an eye out to congratulate the fantastic individual in the Tiptree crown!

Want to learn more about what goes into choosing a Tiptree winner?   On Saturday, 10-11:15am, stop by Room 605 for “Judging the Tiptree.”  Current Tiptree jury members will discuss the process of judging and selecting the Tiptree Award winners.

The Auction

We’ll be previewing the Tiptree Auction items at the Gathering on Friday afternoon. Items this year include specially labeled bottles of Coke; a Wonder Woman doll; a signed, first edition copy of Octavia Butler’s book Dawn; an enamel pin which says “Write Hard, Die Free;” a first edition, boxed set of the 4-volume history Chicago by Mary Hastings Bradley (Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr.’s mother); a Space Babe Blaster; and much, much more.

Sumana Harihareswara will be Tiptree’s trusty auctioneer again this year — we are so happy to have her back. The Tiptree Auction happens on Saturday night at 7pm until late.  We recommend arriving early and to grab a spot for a fun-filled evening!

The Tiptree folks are still collection donations of books, original art, jewelry, Space Babe memorabilia, and other odd items that fit in with the Tiptree spirit. If you’d like to donate a book, please let them know by filling out their auction Google form ASAP. The sooner they know what things are coming their way, the better the auction will be.

Tiptree = Resistance

And something brand new!  This year the Tiptree Motherboard worked with our Workshops coordinators to develop “Reading Tiptree Winners as Models for Resistance”:

Resistance is so vital to our survival right now. Join this session to participate in a discussion of how stories—specifically, Tiptree-winning stories—can serve as a lens for how to enact resistance. Let’s keep each other alive.

Sound interesting but you missed the Workshops’ sign-up period?  The facilitator has confirmed that they’ll take walk-ups as long as space permits!  And you can follow along with the discussion via the #TiptreeAsResistance hashtag.

Tiptree t-shirts

The 2017 Tiptree t-shirt design, by Freddie Baer.

Another way to help support the Tiptree Award is by purchasing a t-shirt.  Tiptree has a new design annually, so they’re worth collecting!  You can pick one up from the Tiptree table in our Art Show.

Tiptree auction seeking donations

Megan Condis
SF3 Communications Committee

An image of items found at Tiptree Auctions -- books, a tentacle
A sampling of Tiptree Auction items — don’t worry, it gets even stranger and more delightful than this. Tentacles are just the tip of the … iceberg?

Just a reminder that the Tiptree Auction is still seeking weird, wild, and fabulous donations.

The Tiptree Auction is one of the premiere annual events for the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award — and it’s certainly the highlight of any convention that hosts it. WisCon has been proud to host the Tiptree Auction time and again over the years, and we’re delighted to welcome the auction back again this year.

An image of items found at Tiptree Auctions -- a Space Babe, zap gun, Wonder Woman
Tiptree Auction items range from Space Babe and zap guns to Wonder Woman.

Follow the links for forms to donate books or to donate other items, from jewelry to art to memorabilia.  The sooner we know what wonderful things are coming our way, the better the auction will be!

We’d really love it if you could send donations ahead of time, but if you can’t, we’ll have a donation station at the con on Thursday and Friday.

We are also on the lookout for Auction volunteers.  Contact us here if you are interested in helping out.

Remember: every single dollar from the Auction goes to supporting the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award.

For more information, check out the Auction FAQ here.

a woman scowls at the camera while displaying blasters
Fans of the Tiptree Award will have the opportunity to bid on a genuine blaster that was once the sidearm of Space Babe, a legendary feminist superhero. (Blaster is modeled here by a Space Babe cosplayer.)

Otherwise Auction

  • contact: auction@wiscon.net

The Otherwise Auction is one of the premiere annual events for the Otherwise Literary Award — and it’s certainly one of the highlights of any convention that hosts it. WisCon has been proud to host the Otherwise Award Auction time and again over the years, and we’re delighted to welcome the auction back again this year.

WisCon members will be able to preview and submit bids for auction items at the Gathering on Friday. On Saturday night, the fun begins as the auction holds center stage right after the dinner break.

Otherwise Award Auction

This isn’t your everyday fundraiser. For more than twenty years, the Otherwise Award has offered you the rare, the beautiful, and the just plain weird. Books annotated by Alice Sheldon? Check. Chapbooks handmade by Ursula K. LeGuin? Check. Kangaroo scrotum? Check.

What will be on offer this year? Come and find out Saturday night and welcome Otherwise auctioneer Sumana Harihareswara for the perfect blend of laughs, rare items, and feminism.

How can I donate?

We would love donations of books, original art, jewelry, Space Babe memorabilia, and odd items that fit in with the Otherwise spirit. Please let us know what you are donating before the con, just fill out this form to do so. The sooner we know what wonderful things are coming our way, the better the auction will be.

We’d really love it if you could send donations ahead.  But if you can’t, we’ll have a donation station at the con on Thursday and Friday. We want to have all donations in hand by the Gathering, where prospective bidders get to see what’s what this year.

See the Auction FAQ at the Otherwise website for more details.

What can I do to help?

We need volunteers to lend a hand.If you’re interested, please email auction@otherwiseaward.org.

We need people to help catalog donations and put them into the auction database, to help out at the Gathering and at the Auction itself, and to help move items before and after the Gathering, and before and after the auction.

Of course, you can also help by bidding on items at the Gathering on Friday. Items without any bids may not make the cut for Saturday night’s live auction. (Only so many minutes in a programming slot…)

Otherwise Award Exhibit

The Otherwise auction items will be on display in the Gathering on Friday afternoon. Subsequently, items that are available for Direct Sale will be on display in the Art Show. Every dollar from Direct Sale and the Auction goes to supporting the Otherwise Award.

Ellen Klages and the Tiptree Auction

Ellen Klages

Ah, dear friends. This is a hard blog to post, but….

After twenty years of having the honor and pleasure of being the emcee for the Tiptree Auction at Wiscon, I am retiring.

I’m sad, but it’s the right decision. I am no longer a spry young thing. Young at heart, always, but the body is different now, and less able to caper and cavort for hours at a time. Plus, I injured my back in 2014, which has limited my mobility and flexibility, not to mention the ease of traveling. Add to that a general WisConian sense of transition, transformation, and change — and it’s time.

It feels like the end of an era. But what an era it was.

In 1994, on the weekend of my 40th birthday, I was in Worcester, Massachusetts, for Readercon, the guest of my friend, Pat Murphy. Ursula LeGuin was the Guest of Honor, and Nicola Griffith was the winner of the Tiptree Award. I knew nothing much about all that, just that the prize was given by an organization that Pat had founded.

One of the committee members in charge of the evening’s banquet and awards ceremony told Pat that some generous people had donated a few items — t-shirts, a handful of books — to benefit the Award, and asked if Pat was willing to auction them off.

Pat was already emceeing the awards and interviewing Ursula, so she said, “No, but I bet my friend Ellen will do it.”

“Sure,” I said. What the heck? It sounded like fun.

And so it was that, at the end of a very long evening, I got up on stage in a hotel ballroom for an impromptu performance, convincing an audience to buy random objects for startling sums of money. Forty-five minutes later, the Tiptree coffers had a thousand dollars, and I was suddenly, accidentally, notorious.

A man asked Spike, “Who is she?”

A total stranger came up to me. “Where else in Worcester are you performing?”

It was a heady experience.

In 1995, I came to WisCon for the first time. More generous people had donated items, and I did another auction during a Friday afternoon programming slot. It was small, but the Tiptree people were happy, and the audience seemed to have a good time.

The next year, the audience was a little larger. More stuff was donated. The Tiptree Auction was becoming a Thing, and I found myself, a newbie to WisCon, an odd sort of celebrity.

Stuff kept happening. I joined the Tiptree Motherboard, the organization thrived with the support of the community, and the auction and I somehow became an Institution.

In the beginning, I felt like my class-clown, childhood self was finally vindicated. Every May, I got to get up on stage — with a microphone — in front of a huge audience — and make people laugh. I also got to spend time on eBay and at garage sales, looking for items that would tickle the Madison fancy. Old space toys, bottles of Lysol, copies of Alice in Elephantland. I spent June through April trying to find things to delight you.

Which is cool enough. But somehow, it just kept getting better. You all started playing right back. I’ll let you in on the secret to the auction’s success: the audience is the real star.

When it works, it’s an energy exchange. I say something funny — you laugh. That makes me feel good, and relaxed, and funnier, and you laugh more and it grows and grows. After a while, you didn’t come just to watch, but to actively participate in the fun.

I don’t know any better way to build community than by shared laughter.

Backed by a shared mythology.

Space Babe.

She started out as email shorthand for one of the designs that Jeanne Gomoll and I were considering for a temporary tattoo. Another little fundraiser. The female space pirate with a blasting ray-gun was just “the space babe.”

She became so much more.

Growing up as science-fiction readers and proto-feminists, those of us of a certain age had to piggyback our imaginations onto whatever the men who controlled popular culture doled out to us. But from the get-go, Space Babe was ours.

I ran with her, shamelessly, and with a huge grin on my face. I made decades-old souvenirs of a popular culture icon that had not actually existed. A back-story with no narrative, just imaginary collectibles. If I leave behind a legacy from my auction years, I hope it’s her. I found that I love making art as much as I love performing.

See, my Dad was a painter, and a photographer, and a craftsman. And when I was a kid, I kept overhearing my mother say to her friends, “Oh, the girls all take after me, I’m afraid. Jack is the only artist in the family.” I cringed, hearing that, because I liked making things. But I knew — because I was told — that I wasn’t very good at it. I couldn’t draw — still can’t — and my art projects in school were judged as colorful, but inferior, lumps. Never the ones picked to be displayed on the bulletin board.

The first time I dared to make something for the auction, I was terrified no one would want it. But you did. You gave me permission to make art. And those are some of my favorite memories — being down in my basement for hours at a time, messing about with paints and glue (and Photoshop), turning up in Madison with boxes of things that I made myself, and that amused other people.

My mother is long dead, so she’ll never know that today my art is in private collections in Vienna and London and New York. But I do. And I thank you for opening a part of me that I hadn’t even let myself dream might exist.

Performer, artist, author. I would be none of these today without your support. I have loved the applause, the acclaim, the “celebrity, ” and am forever grateful for how that contributed to my recognition as a writer, especially early in my career.

Like most people, I have many personas. The auctioneer is loud, fearless, funny. The words that come out of my mouth on stage are spontaneous, stream-of-thought, in-the-moment, and ephemeral. Your acceptance of her gave me the courage to allow a much smaller, quieter voice to emerge. My writing is planned and thoughtful. The words you see in print are honed and carefully chosen.

So thank you for allowing me the space for both voices to be heard. For reading my fiction, and for applauding when I got up on stage and put on my chicken suit or shaved my head or did The Happy Dance. I don’t know any other performer who has gotten the chance — even once — to and do a three-hour, one-woman show.

Well, sort of. It has never really been a one-woman show at all. Although I’ve been the public face of the auction, I’ve always have had a team behind me doing the hard work — sorting, preparation, and logistics. And other folks collecting the money and doing the math.

Jeanne Gomoll — a national treasure — was, for a long time, the person accepting donations, setting up the display of items, and making sure the trains ran on time. Scott Custis hauled boxes down from their attic every year. Jim Hudson, a mensch if there ever was one, handled the accounting, a most important part of any fundraiser. In recent years, Nevenah Smith streamlined the process and added her own flair to the event.

It’s been twenty years. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of people who have supported the auction, the Tiptree Award, and/or WisCon whose hard work, technical expertise, and enthusiasm made me look good up there.

To them, and to all of you — I enjoyed every minute.

Thanks for a great run.

— Ellen


PS-1: Fundraising for the Tiptree Award will go on. We will continue to offer you choice items in return for your support. There will be future auctions, some live, perhaps some online. I may even participate in them, but not as a solo act.


PS-2: The auction was one of the centers of my life for a very long time. But because each of them was one long improvisation, happening as fast as I could talk, I honestly don’t remember much about individual moments. I’m hoping that you do, and that you’ll use the Comments to share your memories with me.

WisCon 39 hosts the Tiptree Auction in 2015

The Tiptree Motherboard
Karen Joy Fowler (ex officio), Jeanne Gomoll, Ellen Klages, Alexis Lothian, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin, Jeffrey D. Smith

Given the recent changes in WisCon leadership, the Tiptree Award motherboard has been asked if our relationship to WisCon will change. The relationship between the two organizations, whose passions and intentions are so strongly aligned, remains vibrant.

The Tiptree Award owes so much about its existence and success to WisCon that people sometimes get confused about where the award leaves off and WisCon begins. So let’s clarify.

The Tiptree Award was originally announced at WisCon in 1991, at founding mother Pat Murphy’s guest of honor speech (Pat cooked up the idea with Karen Joy Fowler). Pat was instantly surrounded by WisCon attendees who wanted to help, and who spent most of the next year fund-raising and generating ideas. The award is named for James Tiptree, Jr., a pseudonym and persona of Alice Sheldon for many years, and it recognizes works of speculative fiction which explore and expand gender roles.

Pat Murphy holding check of seed money for the Tiptree Award
Pat Murphy holding $1800.

In 1992, the first winners (Eleanor Arnason’s A Woman of the Iron People and Gwyneth Jones’s The White Queen) were announced at WisCon. The award ceremony included a marvelous skit in which WisCon founder Diane Martin, in the role of Alice Sheldon, put on a mustache and an overcoat and slyly provided Sheldon’s work to publishers without revealing Sheldon’s gender. SF3 (WisCon’s parent organization) presented a generous $1800 in award seed money, in the form of a three-foot long check.

Over the ensuing years, the Tiptree Award became more formal, and stopped being run out of Pat’s private checking account. As a registered 501(c)(3) corporation with its own “motherboard,” the Tiptree Award does not have any official relationship to WisCon or SF3, although over the years many people have worked on, volunteered for, and been in the leadership of both organizations, either at the same time or sequentially.

The motherboard has arranged in the past and may arrange in the future to host award ceremonies at conventions other than WisCon; however, WisCon is uniquely situated in the center of the country, at a perfect time of year, and with a very supportive audience, so we anticipate coming back frequently even if not annually.

The Tiptree Award auction has been a feature of WisCon’s Saturday night entertainment for many years, although the first auction was not at a WisCon, but at a Readercon. Ellen Klages, our hilariously engaging auctioneer, has been a WisCon guest of honor, and is a Tiptree Award motherboard member. Some of the proceeds of the auction flow through WisCon’s treasury to the Tiptree Award, while others go directly into Tiptree accounts. All proceeds are used for travel and monetary awards for the winners, plus other Tiptree Award projects.

In the past, we have also donated auction proceeds as “seed money” for other WisCon daughter organizations (Broad Universe and The Carl Brandon Society are two examples), and used funds to help members of the Tiptree community who are in need.  The volunteers of the WisCon art show graciously supervise and manage Tiptree Award auction items for viewing on Saturday, and handle sale of t-shirts, cookbooks and Space Babe tattoos throughout the weekend; that money also flows through WisCon to the Tiptree Award accounts.

We are all looking forward to the 2015 auction. Coincidentally, 2015 is the 100th birthday of Alice Sheldon; the motherboard will work with WisCon’s programming team to include appropriate recognitions and celebrations of this milestone in WisCon programming.

SAVE THE AUCTIONEER! (A Message from SpaceBabe)

Ellen has been doing the Tiptree Auction for 17 years. She is older than when she started, but the auction keeps getting longer and longer, and she gets tired after a few hours.

How can you help?

  1. Come to The Gathering. Look at auction items. When you see something you can’t live without — Bid. Bid sheets will say:
    • TO AUCTION (those will be on stage Saturday night, no matter what) or
    • (enough bids by 5 pm Sat., it goes to the stage; not enough, the last bidder has bought it) or
    • BUY IT NOW (Fixed price. See it, want it, have it!)
  2. Come to the Art Show on Saturday between 10 am and 5 pm. Look at auction stuff. Covet it. Buy or Bid.
  3. Pay for your items at the auction, or at the Art Show Sunday morning. Please don’t make us track you down…

The auction starts at 7:30 pm on Saturday night, and will go until the auctioneer cannot stand anymore, or when the laughs stop (whichever comes first).

Any items that go to auction WILL be sold. At the very end, when the auctioneer is tired and most of the audience has left to go to parties, we’ll take a break, and there will be 10 minutes of lightning-fast, last-ditch paper bidding. The highest written bid when the bell rings will be the winner.

Proceeds from the auction, and Buy-It-Now sales all go to support the Tiptree Award. The money you spend supports a worthy cause, and is also tax-deductible (for any $$ over fair market value).

The Tiptree is also supported by t-shirts, temporary tattoos, and cookbooks, all available in the Art Show. They are way cool.

Thanks for all your help and support!

— Space Babe

“Con or Bust” Auction to benefit the WisCon FOC Assistance Project Now Open

A Reminder…

The Wiscon FOC Assistance Program (Fight Derailing), organized by Kate Nepveu, has opened its fundraising effort, “Con or Bust,”, a fandom auction to support the program’s sponsorships for fans of color attending WisCon in 2009.

Visit now to view the auction and place bids on the many wonderful items there (if you’re not a LiveJournal member, you may need to create an account to participate – and make sure to view all the posts to insure that you see all items on offer!) The auction runs through Monday, April 13, 2009.

Auction items are still needed. Fanfic offers, editing and beta assistance are encouraged along with tangible items. All donations of funds or auction items, no matter how small, are accepted. Those who wish to do fixed-donation offers are also invited to participate. If you have an item to donate, please visit the project’s LJ community for details on posting your auction item.

The Wiscon FOC Assistance Program seeks to meet the needs of fans of color who would like to attend WisCon33, but are unable to do so without some form of assistance. Assistance offered includes, bus not limited to, money for travel, a con membership, and/or lodging space. You can find more information about the project by visiting the LiveJournal community, Fight Derailing.