The 2021 World Fantasy Award winners recognized for their excellence


Fans of fantasy and its sister genres, sci-fi, horror and more were eagerly awaiting, in Montreal or online, the winners of the 2021 World Fantasy Awards (WFA) on Sunday. From the 1970s, the recognition of a WFA is equivalent to a Nebula, Locus or Hugo award in these gender-specific spaces.

The theme for this year’s WFA convention was “Fantasy, Imagination and the Dreams of Youth”. While WFA recognizes work for adults, the theme recognizes subgenres created and work made in young adult fiction that bridges the gap between sci-fi and fantasy for children and SFF for adults. Not only that, but YA is a genre in which some writers first wrote and continue to contribute in addition to their adult work.

Here is the winner of WFA 2021:

See the full list of nominees here.

"Trouble the Saints: a novel" by Alaya Dawn Johnson.  (Image: Books Tor.)

(Image: Books Tor.)

Johnson’s novel is a historical fantasy crime thriller… and more? It’s very difficult to gauge based on how the winner is discussed, but obviously the judges, Tor Books, and many readers were blown away by this book.

Pea is a gifted assassin working for a gangster on the eve of WWII in New York whose plans are even more complicated when she finds love. The story jumps ten years into the future, where she lives a new life and has given up all connection to her previous life and dreams. However, the ghosts of the past won’t let her forget who she is. This story is told from the perspective of Pea, another with a gift, and a third character.

In a review for NPR, prose and comic book writer DannyLore wrote: To trouble the saints tells us how agency doesn’t always mean freedom, and solutions don’t always lead to success, with characters you desperately hope to make the right choice, even when that choice doesn’t exist.

Riot Baby Tochi Onyebuchi.  (Image: Tordotcom.)

(Image: Tordotcom.)

While I have not read Onyebuchi’s book (I read War girls right now), critics I trust have called this sci-fi and fantasy novel a contemporary classic. A reviewer (I think it was Jess from Bow ties and books) stated that they saw this book as a text that future generations will read and discuss in schools.

Riot Baby follows Ella. Faced with the rise of violence and injustice that leads to the incarceration of a family member, she tries to fight against the destructive power she wields in a world designed to break her.

The 2020 Best Novel co-winner Fonda Lee shared Onyebuchi’s enthusiasm. Lie Jade City (the first book in the Green Bone trilogy which ended this month) and Victor LaValle’s horror / fantasy The Changeling tied last year.

If artist Rovina Cai sounds familiar to those who return to TMS, she was mentioned last week for her stunning illustrations in Darcie Little Badger’s Book. Elatsoe. His victory was not for this particular book, but for his work published in 2020-2021. In addition to illustrating books, Cai has worked with Wizards of the Coast for several 2021 Magic: The Gathering sets.

Not even a decade ago, writers of color like Daniel José Older and others successfully campaigned for the price itself to change for this mysterious knotted tree rather than the cartoonish bust of one of the most famous and most racist (anti-Semitic and xenophobic) writers of the 20th century, HP Lovecraft.

Well, the original replacement pick was Afrofuturism Queen Octavia Butler. However, that Tree Road was probably their best bet both because the logistics of portraying another person would be complicated, and the rewards are best without a relationship with a single person, even as cool, talented, and trailblazer as Butler. . Even before knowing the recent history of the new award, I was captivated by the uniqueness and beauty of the current iterations.

With a legacy of nearly 50 years, the inclusion of marginalized voices and non-“Western” writers has been slow, but the past decades of consistent nominations (and winners) from those around the world show that despite the work that has never been done, the WFA and many in the fantasy community continue to recognize the work of under-represented creatives in fantasy.

Hopefully in the years to come the judges will start to reflect the winners, but including those from all over the world rather than mainly the US, UK, Canada and Australia as they did. This year. However, at least this year, even with the limited scope of ethnic / national experiences in the pool of judges, they recognize talent in often overlooked spaces, which is just a strength and a victory for everyone.

(Going through Locus Magazine, image: Tor Books and World Fantasy Awards Administration.)

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