The 2021 Future Worlds Prize is underway! The prize aims to discover new voices writing in the science fiction and fantasy space. Find out more about the shortlist and this year's judges below.
About the shortlisted authors and work
A Shadow in Chains by M H Ayinde
M H Ayinde is a SSF writer, screen time enthusiast, and chai drinker from London’s East End. Her short fiction has been published in FIYAH Literary Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and elsewhere.
In the Nine Lands, 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 Sawling by Jordan Collins
Jordan Collins is a transplant from the United States, having traveled to England seven years ago to earn an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter, and is passionate about using her writing to improve upon BIPOC representation in fiction, particularly in the science fiction and fantasy genre. Her hope is to help make it possible for young people of colour to see themselves and their stories in the fiction they read.
When a bomb destroys her family's dragon farm, May must travel across the war-torn Trecian countryside in search of her mother, bringing with her the sole survivor of the explosion: a newborn dragon. After forging an unlikely friendship with a fellow traveller, May begins to explore her own identity outside of the context of her family home and the confines of her complicated relationships with her mother - even as she struggles to keep herself and the sawling alive long enough to track down the matriarch.
Frankincense by Salma Ibrahim
Salma Ibrahim is a 26 year old South Londoner who works in marketing at a global NGO. Growing up around the Somali tradition of poetry and stories, Salma seeks to explore her community’s experiences through literature beyond realism.
Whilst on her way to work on a London bus, Sirad Ali 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.
In the City of Villages by Franchesca Liauw
Franchesca Liauw is a creative writing PhD candidate at Brunel University, working on a memoir chronicling her grandparents' experiences during the Japanese Occupation of Indonesia. She is also a freelance illustrator, video game enthusiast, and hobby baker.
Five years have passed since the incident and Mercy now roams the kingdoms as a wanderer, having forsaken both magic and identity she is not prepared when a simple bounty brings her face to face with the darkness she's tried so hard to escape. Piecing together the fragmented memories of her past Mercy must remember the events that led to the destruction of her home in order to prevent it from happening once again.
Margot, Who Is Beautiful Now by Bea Pantoja
Bea Pantoja grew up in the Philippines and Indonesia, and moved to the UK in 2014 to complete an MA in Creative Writing & Publishing at City, University of London. She works in publishing operations and lives in London.
In the biggest break of his career, journalist Noah Laverty scores an exclusive story with Margot Ocampo, a teenager whose body has been taken over by an extraterrestrial being with the power to annihilate people at whim. So when Margot grows increasingly frustrated with Noah’s fixation on her beauty, it goes about as well as you’d expect — until Noah finally discovers what Margot has been imploring him to see all along.
The Warden by Madeehah Reza
Madeehah Reza is a British Bangladeshi writer from London who moonlights as a pharmacist. She writes speculative short stories and creative essays and dreams of publishing her first book.
Dahlia is the young warden of the planet X56T-I and is tasked by the enigmatic Hub to research the planet as a potential new home for humanity. But when the Hub abandons their plans and leaves Dahlia the sole occupant of a violent planet, how will she escape the gnawing reality of loneliness?
Contracts Made in Gold by Aqeelah Seedat
Aqeelah Seedat is a Mancunian, born and bred. She graduated from law a million years ago, and the only thing she can claim now is to be an unintentional-turned-intentional collector of umbrellas.
After her mother’s selfish bargain, Setareh Talal has two choices; kill the Goblin King who has laid claim to her, or find a way to outsmart the King of Deals himself.
Actor and author Shobna Gulati, who has just been in the 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.”