The World Fantasy Convention took place this weekend in Montreal, Canada, with the theme of “Fantasy, Imagination, and the Dreams of Youth.” Winners were announced at the end of the convention on Sunday in the following categories:
Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson
A deeply American saga that plays out against the backdrop of Harlem at the dawn of World War II. Full of dangerous magic and historical exploration that has been compared to Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, Trouble the Saints is a story of love, loss, and reinvention.
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
Riot Baby is another exploration of the Black experience in the United States, centered around Ella and her brother Kev. Ella’s ability to see the future is both empowering and damaging, and Kev tries to protect her as best he can. But Kev’s incarceration makes that difficult, and Ella must make a decision about how to balance her powers with having to watch her brother suffer.
“Glass Bottle Dancer” by Celeste Rita Baker in Lightspeed Magazine, 4/20
The Big Book of Modern Fantasy Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
The fantasy genre has been with humans since we first began telling stories. The VanderMeers have collected stories from the 1960s through the 2010s to create an incredible anthology of modern fantasy, covering everything from stomping giants to soaring dragons to dangerous woods. These 91 stories include authors like Stephen King, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Terry Pratchett. This is a companion volume to The Big Book of Classic Fantasy.
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda
Described as a “witty and exuberant collection of tales,’ Where the Wild Ladies Are is a feminist retelling of traditional Japanese folktales. It is populated by spirited women — both alive and ghostly — whose “feminine” passions are no longer to be feared, but instead celebrated and cultivated. If you’re extra lucky, the mysterious Mr. Tei might recruit you to join his company.
Special Award — Professional
C. C. Finlay for F&SF editing
Special Award — Non-Professional
Brian Attebery for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
The World Fantasy Awards have been awarded since 1975; previous Novel award winners include Ursula K. LeGuin for The Other Wind (2002), Louise Erdrich for The Antelope Wife (1999), and G. Willow Wilson for Alif the Unseen (2013). While the awards are focused exclusively on works either written originally in, or translated into, English, winners are more international and diverse than one might assume. Nnedi Okorafor took the Novel award in 2011 for Who Fears Death, and Haruki Murakami in 2006 for Kafka on the Shore.
The World Fantasy Convention also awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards to Howard Waldorp and Megan Lindholm.
Book awards have been under similar scrutiny as film awards for their tendency to support white, cis-het male authors. In the case of the World Fantasy Awards, this seems to have been addressed earlier, and especially since 2020 the award winners across categories are an interesting cross-section of the fantasy publishing world. You can find a full list of winners here, and nominees here.
Congratulations to all nominees and winners of the 2021 World Fantasy Awards.