Gollancz Announces BAME SFF Award Shortlist

Gollancz and Ben Aaronovitch announced the eight shortlisted titles for the inaugural Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award on May 7.

The award was launched in October 2019 when Gollancz, the UK’s oldest sff imprint, teamed up with bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, who founded and funded the award, to champion under-represented voices in science fiction, fantasy and horror after stats showed less than 1% of the genres’ books come from British BAME authors. (BAME is used in the UK to refer to black, Asian and minority ethnic people.)

The shortlisted stories are:

  • “Blood of the Wolf” by Jaya Martin
  • “Kali’s Call” by Dolly Garland
  • “Nowhere more Changeable than the Mortal Heart” by Ewen Ma
  • “Seeds of Heaven” by Victor Ogana
  • “The Principles of Moments” by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson
  • “The Reeves’ Guild” by Kyla Jardine
  • “The Scent of Cloves” by Dan Buchanan
  • “The Shape of the World” by Amy Borg

There were 220 entries for the prize. The shortlist will be judged by actress Adjoa Andoh, New York Times bestselling author Dhonielle Clayton, founder of Illumicrate subscription box Daphne Tonge, Gollancz’s senior commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom and Abi Fellows, literary agent at The Good Agency.

The prizes include:

  • £4,000 for the overall winner alongside a critique and year-long mentoring programme with Gollancz commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom.
  • Second place: £2,000 and a critique of their work
  • Five runners-up will receive £800 and a Gollancz goodie bag.

Nielsen’s results for science fiction and fantasy published in 2019 show almost double the amount of BAME British authors published in this genre but as the numbers were so small to start with, this only increases the authors represented from five to nine. These include authors such as: Tade Thompson, whose book Rosewater won 2019’s Clarke Award; physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili with Sunfall, his first foray into sci-fi; and the second book from Zen Cho, who has won both the British Fantasy Award and a Hugo Award. Even with this increase, BAME authors are still less than 3% of British authors published in sci-fi and fantasy, lagging far behind the representation of authors of colour in the American market.

The winner and runners up will be announced at a ceremony in July, details to be confirmed.

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