Gollancz and Ben Aaronovitch are delighted to announce the first, second, and runners up places for the inaugural Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award, in partnership with National Novel Writing Month:


First place awarded to: The Principle of Moments by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson


Second place awarded to:The Reeves’ Guild by Kyla Jardine


Runners up:

Blood of the Wolf by Jaya Martin

Kali’s Call by Dolly Garland

Nowhere more Changeable than the Mortal Heart by Ewan Ma

Seeds of Heaven by Victor Organa

The Scent of Cloves by Dan Buchanan

The Shape of the World by Amy Borg


The first and second place synopses are provided below.


The shortlist of 8 were chosen from 220 overall entries. The 8 shortlisted entries were judged by actress Adjoa Andoh, New York Times bestselling author Dhonielle Clayton, founder of Illumicrate subscription box Daphne Tonge, Gollancz’s senior commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom and Abi Fellows, literary agent at The Good Agency.


Ben Aaronovitch says: “I have been truly staggered by the range and quality of all the submissions. Choosing a shortlist was not easy and I’m looking forward to what happens to the winners and runners up alike. This was never planned as one off and are already laying plans for 2021.”


Nielsen’s results for science fiction and fantasy published in 2019 show almost double the amount of BAME British authors published in this genre but as the numbers were so small to start with, this only increases the authors represented from five to nine. These include authors such as: Tade Thompson, whose book ROSEWATER won 2019’s Clarke Award; physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili with SUNFALL, his first foray into sci-fi; and the second book from Zen Cho, who has won both the British Fantasy Award and a Hugo Award. Even with this increase, BAME authors are still less than 3% of British authors published in sci-fi and fantasy, lagging far behind the representation of authors of colour in the American market.


THE GOLLANCZ AND RIVERS OF LONDON BAME SFF AWARD was launched in October 2019 when Gollancz, the UK’s oldest science fiction and fantasy imprint, teamed up with Sunday Times bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch, who founded and funded the award.


For more information please head to: https://pages.hachette.co.uk/gollancz-bame-sff-award/




FIRST PLACE: The Principle of Moments by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson

In self-deified Emperor Thracin’s brave new galaxy, Humans are not citizens. Instead, they are laborers indentured to the empire, working to repay the billions in debt they unwittingly incurred when they settled on Gahraan—a planet already owned by someone else.


Asha Akindele has lived her whole life on Gahraan, eking out an existence between factory assembly lines and constant terror—studying stolen aeronautics manuals in the dead of night and trying not to get herself killed for mouthing off to a guard. Then she discovers she has a sister imprisoned by the Emperor, and is forced to make a choice: stay enslaved, but relatively safe, or escape and risk everything in the name of family.


Obi Amadi is a time-traveller, sick with a legendary disease. Armed only with his prosthetic arm, his ever-constant melancholy, and the humour he uses to mask it, he has spent years travelling through time and space in search of a cure for the sickness currently unmaking him limb by limb. His mandate: Find the cure, go home. And maybe figure out along the way if the prince he thinks sometimes he might love could be that home.


When Obi saves Asha’s life, they make a pact: both will do all they can to get the other to the Emperor’s stronghold unscathed. With the reluctant aid of Xavior, a mouthy deckhand with a mysterious past, Asha and Obi attempt to navigate a galaxy that hates them to find the things they both believe will make them whole.


But a prophecy has started that has other plans, and not only is Asha forced to make a terrible choice, she must soon reckon with the legacy of an ancient religion and its heroes, who may be awakening, reincarnated in ways beyond her comprehension.


SECOND PLACE: The Reeves’ Guild by Kyla Jardine

Leif is a Special Intelligence Officer in MI5, working for a nearly forgotten and under-resourced unit called The Reeves’ Guild. Their remit is the protection of domestic national security against supernatural threats. But with magical crimes at an all-time low in the 21st century, Leif’s dreams of action and adventure disappear into a life of humdrum administration and policing petty misdemeanours.


When Leif is ordered to investigate the brutal murder of an elite occultist, he jumps at the chance to work a real case and show his boss that he can solve the crime quickly and quietly, finally proving he’s true Secret Service material. Navigating a problematic working relationship with the Metropolitan Police, the investigation proves to be a tricky one… possibly the first case of murder by magic The Reeves’ Guild has encountered in centuries. But how can Leif defend against an enemy using magic when Reeves are forbidden from using it? And, why has the Director General of MI5 taken a sudden interest in both him and the case?


As more of London’s magical community fall victim to the murderer, two women’s lives are turned upside down when they are caught up in the case… and with disturbing consequences. As the investigation deepens, it isn’t long before Leif uncovers a threat to Crown and country; one that is closer than the Reeves ever imagined.


View all shortlisted synopsis here.


Congratulate the winners on social media using the hashtag #GollanczRiversAward.