The Ignyte Awards’ three novel categories are divided by age range. The winner in the adult bracket was Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse’s tale of seafaring adventure and priestly intrigue in a fantasy world; Roanhorse previously won the 2020 Ignyte Award for Best Short Story, making her the only repeat winner across the two years. The young adult category was won by Tracy Deonn’s debut novel Legendborn, about an African-American girl encountering the descendants of King Arthur’s knights; while Claribel A. Ortega’s Ghost Squad – another debut novel, this time about spooky Halloween mishaps – received the middle-grade prize.
The award for Best Novella went to Tochi Onyebuchi’s Riot Baby, a book that has also been a contender for this year’s Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus, Goodreads, and yet-to-be-presented Hugo Awards. This was one of three awards that Onyebuchi won at the 2021 FIYAHCON: he also earned the award for Best in Creative Nonfiction with his essay “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: The Duty of the Black Writer During Times of American Unrest” and, with L. L. McKinney, was joint recipient of the Community Award for launching the #PublishingPaidMe hashtag, which helped to expose racial disparities in the publishing world.
Rounding off the prose fiction categories, “The Inaccessibility of Heaven”, Aliette de Bodard’s urban fantasy story of fallen angels, won Best Novelette; C. L. Clark’s “You Perfect, Broken Thing”, an apocalyptic tale of athletes confronting a deadly disease, was named Best Short Story; and the award for Best Anthology/Collected Works went to A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope, an anthology edited by Patrice Caldwell. Nightlight was named Best Fiction Podcast.
In the categories for other formats, Gabriel Ascencio Morales won Best in Speculative Poetry for his bilingual magical realist verse “The Harrowing | Desgarrador”, and the award for Best Comics Team went to the creators of The Parable of the Sower, Damian Duffy and John Jennings’ adaptation of a novel by the late Octavia Butler. Odera Igbokwe was named Best Artist, while the Critics Award was won by blogger Stitch. Finally, the Ember Award for Unsung Contributions to Genre went to Dhonielle Clayton, Chief Operating Officer of We Need Diverse Books.
With an unusual set of categories, the Ignyte Awards have already earned themselves a unique position in the SF/F awards landscape. FIYAHCON has so far been a virtual event, but it may someday become a physical convention; perhaps we can look forward to the Ignytes similarly growing and developing.