BLOG: The Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award – and Recs!

Yesterday Gollancz, the oldest SFF publisher in the UK, and Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Rivers of London series, announced the launch of the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award, in partnership with National Novel Writing Month and The Good Literary Agency. This is a huge and very exciting deal. Gollancz is full of great editors, and their list is incredible. The opportunity to work alongside them would be a dream come true.

BAME-AWARD-LOGO

The issue of a lack of diversity in publishing is something which has been discussed at length, but in SFF it perhaps seems particularly stark. Less than 1% of the books in the genre come from BAME authors, and in 2018 in the UK, figures showed that of 4,589 sci-fi and fantasy books published, only five were by British writers of BAME background. While other publishers such as Knights Of and Dialogue Books have been actively working to create inclusive lists, this is the first initiative I have seen to make publishing more accessible to British BAME authors specifically within SFF.

I have been trying to make a conscious effort to read more books by BAME authors, so I wanted to include some recommendations of BAME SFF here to mark the announcement of the award.

Rosewater – Tade Thompson

A fantastic work of Afro-futurism set in Nigeria, with incredible aliens and such wonderful, rich language. Every part of this book felt like a physical sensation, and it went on the win the Arthur C. Clarke Award this year, to add to winning best novel at the inaugural Nommo Awards. The sequel, The Rosewater Insurrection, came out earlier this year, while the final book in the trilogy, The Rosewater Redemption, is due for release in October 2019.

Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan

Based on the cultures of the Asian continent, this dark fantasy novel is inspired by the authors Chinese-Malaysian heritage and deals with psychological elements as well as fantasy. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but I thought it was something quite special. The sequel, Girls of Storm and Shadow, comes out in November 2019.

The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang

Based on Chinese history, but with added fantasy, this book completely blew me away last year. It weaves a rich story around real life historical events, adding incredible fantasy while never letting the practicalities or the human cost of anything be forgotten. The sequel, The Dragon Republic, came out earlier this year.

Flame in the Mist – Renée Ahdieh

Inspired by Japanese history and mythology, this book and its sequel, Smoke in the Sun, have a very subtle fantasy world woven around a story of a girl trapped by society’s expectations and her desire to be able to think for herself and explore her own needs. It’s a political, brutal love story.

Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

Another novel inspired by Japanese mythology, this novel hides a love story inside a political assassination thriller, and a Hunger Games style contest of life and death. It deals with caste systems, trauma, pre-destined lives, and the need to set your own path and find your own beliefs.

The Belles – Dhonielle Clayton

A fantastic, lush story set within a magical fantasy world, this book and its sequel, The Everlasting Rose, look at the idea of individuality, the price of fashion, and the homogeneity it brings to society when everyone looks the same. It is an easy read, but can get very brutal in places.

The Psychology of Time Travel – Kate Mascarenhas

This book approached time travel in a way I have never seen before, looking at – surprise, surprise – the psychological aspects of it, the impacts it can have on a person, and the potential damage it can wreak on relationships and individuals alike.

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