On Saturday, September 17th FIYAH literary magazine held its third annual Ignyte Awards. Established in 2020, the awards recognize outstanding work in speculative fiction by people of color, with winners receiving stunning medallions. This year’s medallion features a design by 2020 winner Grace P. Fong. Writer and editor Brent Lambert (also FIJA Social Media Manager) started this year’s awards and FIJA Founder LD Lewis took over the last two awards of the evening.
Most of the nominees in some of the categories will probably look familiar to anyone reading the various genres (horror, sci-fi, and fantasy) that make up the big screen of speculative fiction. Many of these authors were also happy to appear in our series Our books or shelves(monthly) The Mary Sue Book Club, and the Christmas gift guide. Creative Works Awards are presented annually in the following categories:
- Best Novel – Adult, A master of the jinnFr. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)
- Best Novel – YES, A snake falls to the groundDarcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
- best in middle school, root magicEden Royce (Walden pond)
- best novella, And that’s how you stay aliveShingai Njeri Kagunda (neon hemlock)
- best novella, The library of the futurePeng Shepherd (Tor.com)
- best short story, If the Martians have magicFr. Djèlí Clark (Creepy)
- Best in speculative poetry, Evaluation of the psyche after the massacreAbu Bakr Sadiq (Creepy)
- Critics’ Award, Alex Brown
- Best Fiction Podcast, khōréō
- Best Artist, Morgan Madeline
- Best Comic Team, Nubia: ReallyLL McKinney & Robyn Smith
- Best Anthology/Collected Works, We are here: The best queer speculative fiction of 2020CL Clark & Charles Payseur, eds.
- Best in Creative Nonfiction, We are the mountain: A look at the inactive protagonistVida Cruz (fantasy)
About half of the winners had pre-recorded or live thanksgiving, and those who missed it often shared their excitement online. One of the best acceptance speeches (though all were great) came from critic and librarian Alex Brown. They began with “I am very grateful to Tor.com for giving me a chance back when I was just a casual commentator with many opinions on Doctor Who” and ended with an important call to action.
Outside of the work for which she received awards, Brown is a librarian who often speaks out about book bans and censorship by librarians and educators. Rather than pointing to the American Librarian Association as a tool, Brown advocates bottom-up organization, particularly in light of the more violent turn censorship has taken.
The community awards
When it came to the Community Awards, Lambert turned the hosting duties over to Lewis. Before announcing the winner, she spoke about how judging works and the history of the awards. Additionally, Lewis noted that she will be retiring in late 2023 and after seven years of service as creative director FIJA.
She started with the Ember Award. The Ember Award goes to “Unsung Contributions to the Genre” and was presented to editor Tananarive Due. Runners-up were Sheree Renée Thomas, Julia Rios, Malinda Lo and Maurice Broaddus. In her acceptance speech, Due stated:
If you can just get that ember to work, that’s enough to survive. I love this notion that I wasn’t the first when I started publishing black horror speculation in 1995. There were a few other people out there. Linda Addison […] Octavia Butler […] Samuel R Delany […] So many people who have been marginalized now have an opportunity to tell their stories, help grow the industry, and truly help everyone’s imaginations catch fire.
The second prize is actually called The Community Award and goes to “outstanding efforts in the service of inclusion and fair practice in the genre”. David Steffen, Anthony W. Sullivan and Andrew Rucker Jones’ The Submission Grinder won this year’s award. Runners-up include We Need Diverse Books, Khōréō, Dave Ring and Anathema. Steffen gave this important piece of advice when accepting the award.
For anyone who looks out at the world and sees all the problems everywhere, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and say, “I can’t do everything better.” No, you can’t, but you can do something better . You might think it’s too small to matter, but this helps build a community block by block. And you might be surprised to see your efforts evaporate when other people see what you’re doing and volunteer to help. let them help
At the end of the awards ceremony, Lewis once again congratulated everyone, noting that winners will not be eligible for future awards but will be invited to help select next year’s books. If you want to see all the acceptance speeches and awards ceremonies, FIJA made the awards available on YouTube. For some lists of our most anticipated categories and more, check out our coverage since the shortlist was announced.
(Selected image: FIYAH Lit Magazine.)
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