2021 Future Worlds Prize Announced

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour has announced M H Ayinde is the winner of the 2021 prize, for her novel A Shadow in Chains.

The runner up is Salma Ibrahim, with her novel Frankincense.

The winner and runner-up were chosen from a shortlist of eight by judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Lloyd Bradley, Valerie Brandes, Shobna Gulati, Zahra Hankir and Tasha Suri.

Ayinde wins £4,000. Her novel is set in a place called the Nine Lands, where only those of noble blood can summon their ancestors to fight in battle. But when a commoner from the slums accidentally invokes a powerful spirit, she finds it could hold the key to ending a centuries-long war.

The judges said of A Shadow in Chains: “A Shadow in Chains is a cool and confident novel, excellently written, that feels very now. We wanted to be in the world of the novel as we read it, and felt this was a book doing something very exciting in the SFF space.”

Ibrahim wins £2,000. Frankincense follows a character called Sidra Ali, who on her way to work on a London bus finds herself arriving in a parallel universe in modern day Mogadishu, Somalia. There she discovers what life would be like if her family hadn’t left Somalia during the civil war.

The judges said of Frankincense: “This is an evocative and layered novel with great potential. It feels original yet recognisable, and we loved that it centred working class experiences.”

The six runners-up of the prize will each receive £800. They are (in alphabetical order by author surname):

  • The Sawling by Jordan Collins
  • In the City of Villages by Franchesca Liauw
  • Margot, Who Is Beautiful Now by Bea Pantoja
  • The Warden by Madeehah Reza
  • Contracts Made in Gold by Aqeelah Seedat
  • A Box Full of Stories by Fatima Taqvi.

The winner and runner-up were announced at an event held at The London Library on Wednesday, February 16.

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. 

All shortlisted writers, the runner-up and the winner will also receive mentoring from one of the prize’s publishing partners: HarperCollins’ SFF imprint HarperVoyager, Penguin Random House UK’s Del Rey UK, Gollancz, Hachette’s SFF imprints including Orbit, and Pan Macmillan’s Tor. 

Future Worlds Prize, first run in 2020 and founded by bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, was previously called the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award. As part of the prize’s long-term aim of opening science fiction and fantasy publishing to more people, it has been rebranded for its second year. The prize is sponsored by Aaronovitch, with additional financial support from Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. It is administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity.

The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for The Principle of Moments, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released this year.

[Based on a press release.]

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour 2021 Shortlist

The Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour announced its 2021 shortlist on November 18.

The eight stories are (in alphabetical order by author surname):

  • “A Shadow in Chains” by M H Ayinde
  • “The Sawling” by Jordan Collins
  • “Frankincense” by Salma Ibrahim
  • “In the City of Villages” by Franchesca Liauw
  • “Margot, Who Is Beautiful Now” by Bea Pantoja
  • “The Warden” by Madeehah Reza
  • “Contracts Made in Gold” by Aqeelah Seedat
  • “A Box Full of Stories” by Fatima Taqvi

The shortlist was chosen by the prize’s publishing partners who read anonymized versions of the entries.

Sarah Shaffi, project manager for the prize, said: “Our shortlist consists of eight brilliant new voices in the world of SFF. This is a prize looking for originality, for works that enrich the SFF genre and for potential, and our eight shortlisted writers and their work display all that and more. “It is now over to our judges to decide on one winner. I don’t envy them!”

Ben Aaronovitch, founder of the prize, said: “What has stunned me about the response to the Future World Prize is the number of entrants, their quality and their enthusiasm. Even so I believe that we have only sampled the ocean of talent out there and I hope we can build upon this promising beginning to get even more brilliant writing in front of even more readers.”

Actor Adjoa Andoh, who judged the prize in its first year and is providing financial support in its second year, said: “I came on board to support Future Worlds Prize, the brainchild of novelist Ben Aaronovitch, because I, like Ben, want to see more storytellers of colour exploring the possibilities that the speculative and science fiction form offers to reimagine the world and embrace new readerships. I am delighted therefore in the second year of the award that so many writers of colour have stepped up. Long may we grow and flourish as writers and readers. Keep those stories coming!”

The prize will be judged by:

  • Actor and author Shobna Gulati
  • Author Tasha Suri
  • Writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes
  • Journalist Zahra Hankir
  • Cultural commentator Lloyd Bradley
  • Publisher Valerie Brandes.

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’s publishing partners are HarperVoyager, the SFF imprint at HarperCollins, Penguin Random House UK’s Del Rey UK, Gollancz, Hachette’s SFF imprints including Orbit, and Pan Macmillan’s Tor.

Future Worlds Prize, first run in 2020 and founded by bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, was previously called the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award. As part of the prize’s long-term aim of opening science fiction and fantasy publishing to more people, it has been rebranded for its second year. The prize is sponsored by Aaronovitch, with additional financial support from Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. It is administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity.

The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for “The Principle of Moments”, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released in 2022.

More information about the shortlisted authors and works follows the jump.

Continue reading

Future World Prize Judges for 2021 Announced

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour 2021 judging panel members are:

  • Actor and author Shobna Gulati
  • Author Tasha Suri
  • Writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes
  • Journalist Zahra Hankir
  • Cultural commentator Lloyd Bradley
  • Publisher Valerie Brandes.

Sarah Shaffi, project manager for the prize, said: “This year’s judging panel is a dream group of hugely talented individuals who bring with them a wealth of knowledge about storytelling in its many different forms. It’s thrilling to have them all on board.

“I’m also excited that HarperVoyager and Del Rey UK are joining as partners for the prize, cementing how important this prize is to SFF in the UK.”

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour, which closes for submissions at 23:59 p.m. GMT on Friday, June 25, aims to find new talent based in the UK writing in the SFF space. 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

Shobna Gulati, who has just finished filming the role of Ray in the upcoming feature film Everyone’s Talking About Jamie and is the author of the memoir Remember Me? Discovering My Mother As She Lost Her Memory, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be a judge. I have always found a sense of belonging in fantasy and science fiction. To celebrate writers of colour working within this genre…what’s not to love?”

Tasha Suri, author of The Books of Ambha duology, said: “I’m delighted to be judging Future Worlds Prize. There are so many talented SFF writers in the UK who have been overlooked or haven’t had the opportunities they deserve, and this prize feels like a fantastic step towards changing the face of the SFF genre for the better.”

Nii Ayikwei Parkes, author of six books including two collections of poetry, said: “Having spent most of my writing life advocating for literature that reaches beyond the conventional, it’s a huge honour to be a judge for Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour. I think that SFF as a genre already owes so much to writers of colour globally, but we have not seen output in the UK particularly that reflects that. I am very happy to have a chance to contribute to righting that imbalance through this prize.”

Zahra Hankir, a Lebanese journalist who edited the Our Women on the Ground anthology, said: “I’m so excited to be part of this important judging panel and to help elevate and celebrate the work of writers of colour in this fascinating genre, at a time when the publishing industry is still lagging in diversity, despite some strides forward.”

Lloyd Bradley, one of the UK’s foremost Black music experts and a seasoned cultural commentator, said: “Years ago, I remember an African American comedian riffing on the just-released Logan’s Run film from the angle that there were no black people in it (the character Box was an evil robot), the punchline being ‘they’re fixing for us not to be around in the future’. I’ve long felt it’s been a bit like this with the writing of it too, so a competition for fantasy and sci-fi writers of colour is a doubly exciting prospect and I’m so looking forward to taking a trip to the worlds their imaginations will create. Future Worlds Prize is one of the most thrilling and necessary developments in British publishing and I feel privileged to be part of it.”

Valerie Brandes, founder of Jacaranda Books, said: “I am particularly excited to be part of the judging panel for this award because, besides the importance of fantasy and science fiction writing in continuing to reflect and create past, present and future worlds that de-centre eurocentric narratives, this prize is open to debut writers. Supporting new voices and relocating the canon to include them in all their brilliance is central to the work that I do and therefore I am looking forward to what we will uncover through the submission process.”

HarperVoyager, the SFF imprint at HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House UK’s Del Rey UK are partnering with the prize this year, alongside the already announced Gollancz, Hachette’s SFF imprints including Orbit, and Pan Macmillan’s Tor.

Future Worlds Prize, first run in 2020 and founded by bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, was previously called the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award. As part of the prize’s long-term aim of opening science fiction and fantasy publishing to more people, it has been rebranded for its second year. The prize is sponsored by Aaronovitch, with additional financial support from Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. It is administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity.

The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for The Principle of Moments, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released in 2022.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour closes for submissions at 23:59 GMT on Friday, June 25 2021.

For submission details and more on the prize, visit http://www.futureworldsprize.co.uk/, https://twitter.com/FutureWorldsPrz, or https://www.instagram.com/futureworldsprize/.

[Based on a press release.]

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour Taking Entries

The Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour is now open for submissions.

The prize, which first ran in 2020 and is founded by bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, was previously called the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award. As part of the prize’s long-term aim of opening science fiction and fantasy publishing to more people, it has been rebranded for its second year and will be working with publishers from across the industry.

The prize is sponsored by Aaronovitch, with additional financial support from Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. It is administered by Cityread, a registered literature charity, and project managed by Sarah Shaffi.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour aims to find new talent 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.

Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson

The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for The Principle of Moments, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released in 2022.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour opens for submissions from unpublished writers of colour based in the UK at 09:00 on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 and closes at 23:59 GMT on Friday, June 25, 2021.

Ben Aaronovitch, founder of the prize and author of the Rivers of London books, said:

It was really great to have been introduced to so many talented people in the initial award; so many brilliant writers of colour, writing such a dazzling variety of incredible stories. My only regret was that we couldn’t have a great big awards ceremony just so I could meet them in person. We’ll have to do something about that.

I’m extremely excited that this year we’re expanding our reach by working with more UK publishers, agents, bookshops, librarians and anyone else we think can help spread the word and share their expertise with these upcoming writers. I’d always hoped that the award would widen its scope but the speed with which this has happened has been gratifying.

Last year’s winner, Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson, has got a well-deserved publishing deal, and we are determined to build on that to ensure that the breadth of talent revealed amongst the runners up will make their own impact on the publishing world.

There’s still a long way to go before UK publishing is the meritocracy it aspires to be but I’m hoping that Future Worlds Prize can be a small step in the right direction.”

Adjoa Andoh said:

As a black actor and award-winning audiobook narrator of sci fi and speculative fiction, it has been my great joy to see more and more authors of colour follow in the mighty footsteps of Octavia Butler, diving into other worlds to reflect on this world, drawing their readers into adventure, danger and mystery to spectacular effect. 

With Future Worlds Prize our hope is to further increase the pool of writers of colour choosing to work in this genre, by encouraging those on the journey to first publication to bring their work to us, to apply for this prize, receive expert support and advice and flourish in their chosen field to the great benefit of all of the readership.

Sarah Shaffi said: “As a lover of science fiction and fantasy books, I’ve always craved more stories told by a richer variety of voices. I’m excited to see the breadth and depth of work we’ll receive, and I encourage authors of colour writing in this area to not be shy, and to get their novels and short stories in to us.”

The prize is continuing its partnership with Gollancz, and is also this year working with all Hachette’s SFF imprints including Orbit, and Pan Macmillan’s Tor for the first time, with more publishing partners to be announced in due course.

Marcus Gipps, publisher at Gollancz said: “As a founding partner in the inaugural prize, Gollancz was thrilled to be part of such an important and vital initiative. We are excited to work with SFF publishers across the market to continue to break down barriers to access and make this the biggest possible prize with the broadest reach. We look forward to many years of collaboration.”

Anna Jackson, publisher at Orbit, said: “We’re proud to be the UK publisher of some of SFF’s most popular and award-winning writers of colour, but we’re very aware that there’s still a significant need for progress to be made in terms of representation within the genre. That’s why we’re delighted to be able to support this fantastic award which aims to discover and champion more underrepresented voices within SFF.”

Bella Pagan from Tor said: “On behalf of Pan Macmillan and Tor, I am absolutely delighted to be involved in this important and relevant award. I hope this will lead to real opportunities for authors from more diverse backgrounds.”

Get full submission details at http://www.futureworldsprize.co.uk/.

Follow the award on social media:

About Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch was a screenwriter for Doctor Who and a bookseller at Waterstones. He now writes full time, and every book in his Rivers of London series has been a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller. He is published in 14 languages and has sold more than 2 million copies around the world. Aaronovitch is also a trustee on the board of Cityread London and is a long-time supporter of Nigeria’s premiere arts and cultural festival, The Aké Festival. He still lives in London, the city he likes to refer to as ‘the capital of the world’.

About Cityread

Cityread is a registered charity that promotes reading for pleasure and supports public libraries. Previous Cityread initiatives include Cityread London, an annual month-long literature festival delivered in partnership with library services in all 32 London boroughs plus Luton, Reading and. Launched in 2012, it ran for eight years and featured books including Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, and Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik.

[Based on a press release.]