Future Worlds Prize Announces 2023 Judges, Extends Submission Deadline

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour today announced its judging panel for the 2023 prize. Also, the submission deadline has been extended to February 20.

This year’s judges are:

  • Syima Aslam – founder of Bradford Literature Festival
  • Ben Bailey Smith – actor, author, comedian and rapper
  • Aliette de Bodard – author and winner of three Nebula Awards, an Ignyte Award, a Locus Award, a British Fantasy Award and five British Science Fiction Association Awards
  • Nikita Gill – poet and author of seven volumes of poetry and one novel in verse
  • Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson – inaugural winner of Future Worlds Prize.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour aims to find new talent based in the UK writing in the SFF space, from magical realism and space operas to dystopia and more. The winner will receive a prize of £4,000, the runner-up £2,000 and up to six additional shortlisted authors will each receive £800. All shortlisted writers, the runner-up and the winner will also receive mentoring from one of the prize’s publishing partners. The prize is in its third year, and is funded by author Ben Aaronovitch and Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. 

The prize has extended its submission window to Monday February 20 at 23:59 GMT.

Sylma Aslam, founder and artistic director of the Bradford Literature Festival (BLF), which she established in 2014, said: “Platforming early-career writers of colour is a vital step to ensuring all voices are included in the national conversation and that they are heard. As the founder of the UK’s most diverse and inclusive literary festival, I am delighted to join the judging panel for this year’s Future Worlds Prize.”

Ben Bailey Smith, rapper, TV and film actor, stand up, screen writer and children’s books author, said: “Hyped to be a part of the judging panel for the Future Worlds Prize, not just because I’m a judgey guy, but more because to see writers of colour tackling science fiction is incredibly exciting to a brown sci-fi nerd like me. Can’t wait to see what the prize has up its sleeve this year, if prizes can have sleeves.”

Aliette De Bodard said: “Having once been a young writer of colour in the industry, I’m very keenly aware of how important visibility and support are early on, and how fortunate I was to benefit from both. I’m thrilled to be part of Future Worlds Prize, and to be able to pay it forward.”

Nikita Gill, an Irish-Indian writer and illustrator, said: “Stories are the lifeblood of the universe, they give us a place to find hope, challenges and fortitude. The Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction will bring us the very brightest and best of storytelling, and I look forward to reading the entries and escaping into the worlds invented by brilliant minds, the stranger, the better!”

Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson, co-founder of Impact of Omission, a campaign to make Black history a compulsory part of the national curriculum, said: “I cannot wait to read this year’s wonderful submissions for the Future Worlds Prize – a truly phenomenal initiative that takes concrete, meaningful steps to address the inequality present in SFF publishing, by supporting and championing incredible writers with beautiful stories to tell. Good luck everyone!”

The 2021 prize was won by M. H. Ayinde, for her story “A Shadow in Chains.” The runner-up was Salma Ibrahim for her story “Frankincense”.

For submission details and more on the prize, visit its online presence at website, Twitter, or Instagram.

[Based on a press release.]

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