Ignyte Award 2020: Finalists

FIYAHCON have announced their finalists for the first Ignyte Awards and there are some interesting choices. You can read the announcement here https://theconvention.fiyahlitmag.com/2020/08/17/the-2020-ignyte-awards-ballot/ and File 770 has coverage here http://file770.com/2020-ignyte-awards-finalists/

It is an interesting mix of names seen on other awards and names that may be less familiar. See above for full categories. I’m going to skip over YA and Middle Grade categories plus some others (sorry Pod Cast) for brevity.

Best Novel – Adult

for novel-length (40k+ words) works intended for the adult audience

  • The Dragon Republic – R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager)
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
  • Jade War – Fonda Lee (Orbit)
  • Storm of Locusts – Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga Press)
  • Kingdom of Copper – S. A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)

Mainly books on my to-be-read pile rather than books I’ve already read. The deadline for voting is September 11, so probably not enough time to read them all before the deadline.

Best Novella

for speculative works ranging from 17,500-39,999 words

  • The Deep – Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes (Gallery/Saga Press)
  • The Survival of Molly Southbourne – Tade Thompson (Tor/Forge (Tor.com))
  • The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday – Saad Z. Hossain (Tor/Forge (Tor.com))
  • This is How You Lose the Time War – Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar (Gallery/Saga Press)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015 – P. Djèlí Clark (Tor/Forge (Tor.com))

I’ve read four out of five (haven’t reviewed one of them). Like other awards, the field of publishers for novellas is looking very small here — only Tor and Gallery/Saga.

Best Novelette

for speculative works ranging from 7,500-17,499 words

  • Emergency Skin – N K Jemisin for the Amazon Forward Collection
  • While Dragons Claim the Sky – Jen Brown for FIYAH Literary Magazine
  • Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy – JY Neon Yang for Tor.com
  • The Archronology of Love – Caroline M. Yoachim for Lightspeed
  • Omphalos – Ted Chiang for Exhalation: Stories

I’ve read three out of five and this looks like an interesting category.

Best Short Story

for speculative works ranging from 2,000-7,499 words

  • Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island – Nibedita Sen for Nightmare Magazine
  • Dune Song – Suyi Davies Okungbowa for Apex Magazine
  • And Now His Lordship is Laughing – Shiv Ramdas for Strange Horizons
  • Canst Thou Draw Out the Leviathan – Christopher Caldwell for Uncanny Magazine
  • A Brief Lesson in Native American Astronomy – Rebecca Roanhorse for Mythic Dream

I’ve already read two out of five. So, I’ll definitely do some reviews of the other three before voting. The range of magazines being drawn from is very similar to Hugos an Nebulas, although that’s not surprising.

Best in Speculative Poetry

  • Heaven is Expensive – Ruben Reyes, Jr. for Strange Horizons
  • Elegy for the Self as Villeneuve’s Beast – Brandon O’Brien for Uncanny Magazine
  • A Conversation Between the Embalmed Heads of Lampião and Maria Bonita on Public Display at the Baiano State Forensic Institute, Circa Mid-20th Century – Woody Dismukes for Strange Horizons
  • Those Who Tell the Stories – Davian Aw for Strange Horizons
  • goddess in forced repose – Tamara Jerée for Uncanny Magazine

I can’t say I read much poetry but I might have a look. All Uncanny or Strange Horizons.

Critics Award

for reviews and analysis of the field of speculative literature

  • Jesse – Bowties & Books
  • Charles Payseur – Quick Sip Reviews
  • Maria Haskins
  • Alex Brown – Tor.com
  • Liz Bourke

A solid and also eclectic mix of reviewers in what looks like an interesting category that includes different styles and medium of reviews. There’s overlap with the Fan Writer and Fanzine category of the Hugos but this category has a tighter focus.

Best in Creative Nonfiction

for works related to the field of speculative fiction

  • AfroSurrealism: The African Diaspora’s Surrealist Fiction – Rochelle Spencer (Routledge)
  • The Dark Fantastic – Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (NYU Press)
  • Black Horror Rising – Tananarive Due (Uncanny Magazine)
  • Our Opinions are Correct – Charlie Jane Anders & Annalee Newitz
  • Tongue-Tied: A Catalog of Losses – Layla Al-Bedawi (Fireside Fiction)

A category that has some similarity to the Hugo’s Best Related Work in nature but with a clearer emphasis on nonfiction. Like BRW, the category has a mix of mediums (podcasts, columns, books).

The Ember Award

for unsung contributions to genre

  • Tananarive Due
  • LeVar Burton
  • Keidra Chaney
  • Nisi Shawl
  • Malon Edwards

The first of the two community awards recognising people’s work in general.

The Community Award

for Outstanding Efforts in Service of Inclusion and Equitable Practice in Genre

  • Beth Phelan
  • Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Diana M. Pho
  • Writing The Other – Nisi Shawl + K Tempest Bradford
  • Strange Horizons – Gautam Bhatia, Vajra Chandrasekera, Joyce Chng, Kate Cowan, Tahlia Day, William Ellwood, Rebecca Evans, Ciro Faienza, Lila Garrott, Dan Hartland, Amanda Jean, Lulu Kadhim, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Catherine Krahe, Anaea Lay, Dante Luiz, Heather McDougal, AJ Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin, Clark Seanor, Romie Stott, Aishwarya Subramanian, Fred G. Yost, and the SH copyediting team and first readers

I’m not sure I’ll vote in either of these categories. It’s great to celebrate people but it can be hard (and can feel weird) to pick between them.


19 responses to “Ignyte Award 2020: Finalists”

  1. I wonder how they decided their picks for the “unsung contributions.” Three make news often. One name is new to me — and who, after Googling, I see I should have heard of before. The last name I recognize from Speculative Literature Foundation.


    • It’s hard to see LeVar Burton as ‘unsung’ and I think if I was going to vote I’d get in a muddle about comparing the size of the contribution to the degree to which it is unsung. I like the intent of the category but I’m not sure it is a good match for a popular vote, as that will tend to favour the least unsung of the finalists.

      However, “just being a finalist is an honour” works really well with this category. It’s an effective signal boost for the less famous names.

      Liked by 2 people

      • LeVar is probably mostly for overall contributions to reading in general, especially for introducing people to authors and stories they might not otherwise have known about or read; as opposed to the more SFF-focused activities that these sorts of awards often acknowledge.

        Lots of people in SFF know of him because of TNG, but there’s likely many more that didn’t have TNG as their first exposure to him.


        • Andy: Lots of people in SFF know of him because of TNG, but there’s likely many more that didn’t have TNG as their first exposure to him.

          I don’t think anyone thinks he’s on the list because of TNG. My interpretation of Cam’s comment is that Levar Burton is very widely-known for Reading Rainbow and Levar Burton Reads, and that’s why he is hardly “unsung”.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve read all the novels except for Jade War (but I’ve read Jade City). They all seem to be decent choices.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a very intriguing list indeed. There are only a couple of categories I’d be able to vote in due to the less than one month deadline, but as a spur to further reading it’s excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Definitely an interesting list!

    The Dragon Republic – R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager)
    — IMHO not as good as book 1, which is one reason why she wasn’t at the top of my Astounding ballot.

    Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
    — Culturally very interesting, but somehow it didn’t totally engage me. Perhaps it would hit me better on a reread.

    Storm of Locusts – Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga Press)
    — Another IMHO not as good as book 1.

    Kingdom of Copper – S. A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)
    — Very good series, complex plotting and worldbuilding, interesting characters. I’m looking forward to book 3.

    Liked by 2 people

        • And Kingdom of Copper deals with issues of race – albeit amongst djinn and mortals. At least, the first one did, and I assume the trilogy continues to.


      • @Laura, the series does continue to, especially the 2nd book. The 3rd book sort of removes a bunch of the ethical conflicts resulting from race/tribe/whatever so that the plot can have a happy resolution in the end, but it’s still there a little.


  5. Haven’t read any of the novels, but they are all ones near the top of my TBR. I’ve read most of the short fiction so I’ll probably vote on those. I’m excited to see how this goes!


  6. I nominated Gods of Jade and Shadow for the Hugo and was disappointed it didn’t make it. (I also bought a bunch of copies of it and gave them away at Christmas… so I really liked it).

    Looking forward to reading the nominated stories I haven’t already read!


  7. robmatic1: I have to admit I was surprised to see a novel by a non-BIPOC on the list.

    She is married to a BIPOC and converted to Islam, so presumably it is felt that she has a BIPOC perspective.

    As far as I’m aware, neither Charles Payseur, Liz Bourke, Charlie Jane Anders, nor Annalee Newitz are BIPOC, either (nor, very obviously, is Mary Robinette Kowal). My perception is that these awards are also recognizing people who have tried to center BIPOC and/or LGBTQ perspectives.


    • I think the idea is that a selection by a jury of BIPOC will results in a more diverse selection, not necessarily that the books in question have to be centering BIPOC perspectives. It may very well do the latter, but I don’t think for the best work (novel, novella, whatever) awards at least they’re only going for that in their choices.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Kind of surprised that Daniel Jose Older isn’t on the Community Award list. He’s done a ton of inclusion work in schools with kids and reading and writing, and he is the one who led the charge to change the World Fantasy Award from a bust of Lovecraft. He wrote an article back in 2014 on the problem in publishing — “Diversity is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing” that became a major piece in campaigns and media discussions on making publishing staff more diverse.

    Liked by 3 people

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