News and Reviews
winner of the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for biography,
a Locus, a Hugo, a Washington State Book Award, and a special Tiptree Award.
one of three finalists for the National Award for Arts Writing.
one of Salon's five best nonfiction books of 2006. They also did an interview.
in Entertainment Weekly's top 20 and The Village Voice's top 25.
one of The New York Times's,
the Kansas City Starís, the Seattle Times's,
the Washington Post's,
and the Times Literary Supplement's
best books of 2006.
a BookSense Picks highlight of the year.
"riveting in its illumination of the psychological conflicts and contradictions of modern female authorship. Phillips's insightful treatment of a 'writer who—like many women writers—concealed herself in order to tell the truth' makes this a thought-provoking and paradigmatic book."
—Elaine Showalter, TLS
"possibly the best biography I have ever read. In elegant prose and with consummate understanding, Phillips shows us a life that was full, rich and deeply contradictory...The complexity and brilliance of Phillips' treatment of Sheldon's gender and sexuality is this biography's most stunning achievement."
—Bethany Schneider, Newsday
"the best book I have read this year. Phillipsís sympathetic understanding of Tiptree and the worlds she inhabited—and imagined—seems almost miraculous, her narrative as compelling as a novel."
—Lisa Tuttle, The Times
"(amazingly) about as good as everyone says it is."
—Niall Harrison, Torque Control
"Ms. Phillips does a fine, perceptive job of piecing together the patchwork of her subject's personality. She spent a decade on this book, and that gives her a keen understanding of exactly how the Tiptree identity served Alice's purposes."
—Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Phillips has the gifts of a natural-born storyteller."
—Paul Di Filippo, Asimovís
"In this engrossing and endlessly revelatory biography, the woman behind
the alias is at last allowed to step into the spotlight."
—Dave Itzkoff, New York Times Book Review
"The achievement of this biography is that it takes an extraordinary person and makes her emblematic of 20th-century women and their struggles. Phillips is at Claire Tomalin level, and this book is only her debut."
—Lucy Sussex, Melbourne Age
"A page-turning biography of a life that is more spell-binding than most any fictional characterís."
—Kathi Wolfe, Washington Blade
"A fantastically incisive study...Julie Phillips does great justice to this meta-sexual visionary in her page-turner biography."
—Joanne McNeil, Bookslut
"The most compelling book I've read all year."
—Scott Edelman, Sci Fi Weekly
"Perceptive and richly detailed...complex and moving."
—Michael Saler, Times Literary Supplement
"Iíll be thinking about what Phillips has to say about women and writing for a long time to come."
—Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune
"From the opening montage of contradictory scenes in her subject's amazing life, to its copious citations of sources, Julie Phillips' biography of science fiction's trickster genius is a wonder. ... an accurate portrait of a writer who refused to be simply one thing."
—Nisi Shawl, Seattle Times
"James Tiptree, Jr. may be the finest literary biography I've ever encountered."
—John Clute, Sci Fi Weekly
"Sheldon/Tiptree's life...would be so easy to get wrong, in so many different ways, and...U.S. journalist Julie Phillips has got it impressively right."
—Maggie Helwig, Toronto Globe and Mail
"The story Julie Phillips tells in the brilliant James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon starts with cannibals, ends in a murder-suicide and thrills all the way through."
"This account of a heroically inventive and highly peculiar quest for
personal and creative fulfillment may make you rethink your ideas about
what it means to be male or female--or, for that matter, human."
—Francine Prose, O Magazine
"Julie Phillips skillfully elucidates the relationship between Sheldon—her fascinating life and complex psyche—and Tiptree, the man who didn't exist but nonetheless charmed dozens of correspondents and thousands of readers. While each of these parallel biographies is presented in meticulous detail, most compelling is Phillips's probing of why this intelligent, accomplished woman required a male persona to give voice to things she herself could not say."
—Carter Scholz, Bookforum
"Journalist Phillips has achieved a wonder: an evenhanded, scrupulously documented, objective yet sympathetic portrait of a deliberately elusive personality...Phillips steadfastly and elegantly allows [Sheldon's] star to gleam."
—Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"Finely detailed biography...Phillips's superb depiction of Alice B. Sheldon (1915-87) as the woman behind the persona of science fiction writer James Tiptree is an extraordinary achievement...A compelling portrait of a conflicted feminist."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This may be the rare case when a biography actually exceeds what I expect from a novel.... I hope everyone reads this book."
"An incredible life, done elegant justice."
"The meticulous, emotionally intelligent biography of an extraordinary writer."
"A fascinating subject, an engrossing read. This is a biography written with equal parts sympathy, respect, research, and honesty. And a real page-turner, too."
—Karen Joy Fowler
"An exemplary biography of a fascinating life...Never oversimplifying, never overinterpreting, Julie Phillips illuminates a formidably complex psyche without invading it."
—Ursula K. Le Guin
"'Why can't a woman be more like a man?' Professor Henry Higgins famously asks in My Fair Lady. In this deeply thoughtful, rivetingly readable biography of James Tiptree Jr. Julie Phillips traces the life and work of a woman whose self-presentation in her writing made her seem so much 'like a man' that she confounded our culture's myths of gender and genre, convincing even the most sophisticated readers that 'Tiptree' was and had to be 'really' a man. This is a fascinating investigation of a fantastic literary career."
—Sandra M. Gilbert
"A first-rate biography, important and rewarding to everyone interested in science fiction or Tiptree's work or women's writing or Alli herself."