The SFRA Innovative Research Award

The SFRA Innovative Research Award is given to the writer or writers of the year’s best critical essay-length work.

Formerly known as the Pioneer Award, the SFRA Innovative Research Award was renamed in 2019 following lengthy discussions and a community vote.

[*Each award is keyed to the calendar year preceding the conference at which it was presented.]

Award Committee

John Rieder (chair)

Sümeyra Buran

Ciarán Kavanagh



Rebekah Sheldon, “Generativity without Reserve: Sterility Apocalypses and the Enclosure of Life-Itself,” Science Fiction Film and Television 16.3 (2023): 277-299.


Pawel Frelik, “Power Games: Towards the Rhetoric of Energy in Speculative Video Games,” Er(r)go. Teoria – Literatura – Kultura 44 (2022): 75-94.

Honorable Mention: Nora Castle, “In Vitro Meat: Contemporary Narratives of Cultured Flesh,”Extrapolation 63.2 (2022): 149-179.


Amy Butt, “The Present as Past: Science Fiction and the Museum,” Open Library of Humanities 7.1 (2021): 1-18.

Honorable Mention: Katherine Buse, “Genesis Effects: Growing Planets in 1980s Computer Graphics,” Configurations 29 (2021): 201-230.


Jesse S. Cohn, “The Fantastic from Counterpublic to Public Imaginary: The Darkest Timeline?”, Science Fiction Studies 47.3 (2020): 448-463.

Honorable Mention: Adriana Knouf, “Xenological Temporalities in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Lovecraft, and Transgender Experiences,” Studies in the Fantastic 9 (2020): 23-43.


Susan Ang, “Triangulating the Dyad: Seen (Orciny) Unseen,” Foundation 48.132 (2019): 5-21.

Honorable Mention: Raino Isto, “‘I Will Speak in Their Own Language’: Yugoslav Socialist Monuments and Science Fiction,” Extrapolation 60.3 (2019): 299-324.


Jed Mayer, “The Weird Ecologies of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” Science Fiction Studies 45.2 (2018): 229-43


Thomas Strychacz, “The Political Economy of Potato Farming in Andy Weir’s The Martian,” Science Fiction Studies 44.1 (March 2017): 1-20.


Lindsay Thomas, “Forms of Duration: Preparedness, the Mars Trilogy, and the Management of Climate Change,” American Literature 88.1 (March 2016): 159-184.


Scott Selisker, “‘Shutter-Stop Flash-Bulb Strange’: GMOs and the Aesthetics of Scale in Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl,” Science Fiction Studies 42.3 (November 2015): 500-18.


Graeme MacDonald, “Improbability Drives: The Energy of SF,” Paradoxa 26: “SF Now” (2015): 111-144.


Jaak Tomberg, “On the Double Vision of Realism and SF Estrangement in Gibson’s Bigend Trilogy,” Science Fiction Studies 40.2 (July 2013): 263-85.


Lysa Rivera, “Future Histories and Cyborg Labor: Reading Borderlands Science Fiction after NAFTA,” Science Fiction Studies 39.3 (November 2012): 415-36.

Honorable Mention: Hugh C. O’Connell, “Mutating toward the Future: The Convergence of Utopianism, Postcolonial SF, and the Postcontemporary Longing for Form in Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome,” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 58.4 (Winter 2012): 773-95.


David M. Higgins, “Towards a Cosmopolitan Science Fiction,” American Literature 83.2 (June 2011): 331-54.


John Rieder, “On Defining SF, or Not,” Science Fiction Studies 37.2 (July 2010): 191-201.


Allison de Fren, “The Anatomical Gaze in Tomorrow’s Eve,” Science Fiction Studies 36.2 (July 2009): 235-65


Neil Easterbrook, “Giving an Account of Oneself: Ethics, Alterity, Air,”Extrapolation 49.2 (Summer 2008): 240-60.


Sherryl Vint, “Speciesism and Species Being in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Mosaic 40.1 (March 2007): 111-26.


Amy J. Ransom, “Oppositional Postcolonialism in Québécois Science Fiction,”Science Fiction Studies 33.2 (July 2006): 111-26.


Maria DeRose “Redefining Women’s Power through Feminist Science Fiction,”Extrapolation 46.1 (Spring 2005): 66-89.


Lisa Yaszek, “The Women History Doesn’t See: Recoverying Midcentury Women’s SF as a Literature of Social Critique,” Extrapolation 45.1 (Spring 2004): 34-51.


Andrew M. Butler “Thirteen Ways of Looking at the British Boom,” Science Fiction Studies 30.3 (November 2003): 374-93.


Lance Olsen, “Omniphage: Rock’n’Roll and Avant Pop Science Fiction,” in Edging into the Future. Ed. Veronica Hollinger and Joan Gordon. Philadelphia: U of Philadelphia P, 2002. 30-56.


Judith Berman, “Science Fiction without the Future,” New York Review of Science Fiction 13.9 (May 2001): 1, 6-8.


De Witt Douglas Kilgore, “Changing Regimes: Vonda N. McIntyre’s Parodic Astrofuturism,” Science Fiction Studies 27.2 (July 2000): 256-77. [full text]


Wendy Pearson, “Alien Cryptographies: The View from Queer,” Science Fiction Studies 26.1 (March 1999): 1-22. [full text]


Carl Freedman, “Kubrick’s 2001 and the Possibility of a Science-Fiction Cinema,” Science Fiction Studies 25.2 (July 1998): 300-19.


I. F. Clarke, “Future-War Fiction: The First Main Phase, 1871–1900,” Science Fiction Studies 24.3 (November 1997): 387-412. [full text]


John Moore, “Shifting Frontiers: Cyberpunk and the American South,”Foundation 66 (Spring 1996): 59-68.


Brian Stableford, “How Should a Science Fiction Story End?” New York Review of Science Fiction 7.6 (February 1995): 1, 8-15.


Roger Luckhurst, “The Many Deaths of Science Fiction: A Polemic,” Science Fiction Studies 21.1 (March 1994): 35-50.


Larry McCaffrey and Takayuki Tatsumi, “Towards the Theoretical Frontiers of Fiction: From Metafiction and Cyberpunk through Avant-Pop,” SF Eye 12 (Summer 1993).


No award


Istvan Csiscery-Ronay Jr., “The SF of Theory: Baudrillard and Haraway,” Science Fiction Studies 18.3 (November 1991): 347-404. [full text]


H. Bruce Franklin, “The Vietnam War as American Science Fiction and Fantasy,”Science Fiction Studies 17.3 (November 1990): 341-59.


Veronica Hollinger, “The Vampire and the Alien: Variations on the Outsider,”Science Fiction Studies 16.2 (July 1989): 145-60.

Join fellow scholars, educators, librarians, editors, authors, publishers, archivists, and artists from across the globe in the SFRA.