If you are looking for original, brave science fiction the Tiptree Award is there for you.
Given out annually to science fiction or fantasy works that expand or explore our understanding of gender, the Tiptree has been called “the single most subversive award in science fiction.” Tiptree winners are nearly always superlatively well-written, and always investigate the cultural constructions and biological realities of gender with insight and inventiveness.
The award also serves to publicize often neglected works — novels that were not reviewed in major publications or distributed widely find eager readers after they receive the Tiptree.
Two of my all-time favorite novels, China Mountain Zhang (post) and The Sparrow, are Tiptree winners. I am currently reading Ammonite by Nicola Griffith, which won the Tiptree in 1993. It is about a human colony on a planet far from Earth where the men were all killed by a virus generations ago. I have not yet discovered how the generations have been possible, but I am discovering a beautiful, harsh, and believable alien landscape.
The Tiptree is named in honor of Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote as James Tiptree, Jr. and was both a talented science fiction writer and a fascinating person. It is given out annually at WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention. Read more about it at tiptree.org.