This year’s World Fantasy Convention was held virtually last weekend. The convention is an annual event that has been running since 1975 to honor excellence in the fantasy genre. This year’s judges were Gwenda Bond, Galen Dara, Michael Kelly, Victor LaValle, and Adam Roberts. Lifetime achievement awards were also presented to author Karen Joy Fowler and artist Rowena Morrill. The winners for the 2020 World Fantasy Awards included a high percentage of women winning across the majority of the categories. Proving once again that the future of Fantasy is female. Let’s take a look at the winners of the 2020 World Fantasy Awards, including a few surprise wins in the genre.
Image via Orbit Books
Kacen Callender has been making waves over the past several years with their epic Caribbean-inspired fantasy series that starts with Queen of the Conquered. The series follows a young woman with magical abilities as she struggles against oppression and to survive in a world that has been colonized. The second book in the Islands of Blood and Storm series – King of the Rising – is also coming out very soon on December 1st.
Queen of the Conquered has been nominated for several other awards this year. But this is the first time that Callender has won the award for best novel. Callender beat out fan favorites Tamsyn Muir and Alix E. Harrow to snag the win. Congratulations to Kacen Callender!
Winner: Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender (Orbit)
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook Books)
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Tordotcom Publishing)
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (translated by Stephen Snyder) (Pantheon)
Image via Tor Forge
Another surprise (for me at least) was the winner in the best novella category. Silver in the Wood is a lovely and haunting story about the power of the Green Man, as well as his loneliness and humanity amidst supernatural mystery. It was also one of the few novellas that I read this year and I really loved it. Congratulations to Emily Tesh!
Winner: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh (Tordotcom Publishing)
“The Butcher’s Table” by Nathan Ballingrud (Wounds: Six Stories From the Border of Hell, Saga Press)
Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney (Tordotcom Publishing)
In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom Publishing)
The Deep by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga Press)
Best Short Fiction
Winner: “Read After Burning” by Maria Dahvana Headley (A People’s Future of the United States)
“For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com, July 10, 2019)
“The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, July-Aug. 2019)
“Blood Is Another Word for Hunger” by Rivers Solomon (Tor.com, July 24, 2019)
“Postlude to the Afternoon of a Faun” by Jerome Stueart (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar./Apr. 2019)
“Everyone Knows That They’re Dead. Do You?” by Genevieve Valentine (The Outcast Hours)
Image via Solaris
The New Suns anthology edited by acclaimed genre author Nisi Shawl continues to dominate in the Best Anthology category. The book also won the Locus award in the same category, and recently picked up the brand new Ignyte award during the first annual FIYACON. The anthology contains original stories written by prominent authors of color working within the genre. Amongst the authors included are Rebecca Roanhorse, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Steven Barnes, and many more.
Winner: New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, edited by Nisi Shawl (Solaris)
Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, edited by Ellen Datlow (Saga Press)
The Outcast Hours, edited by Mahvesh Murad & Jared Shurin (Solaris)
The Mythic Dream, edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe (Saga Press)
The Big Book of Classic Fantasy, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer (Vintage Books)
Image via Hachette Books
Winner: Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)
Homesick by Nino Cipri (Dzanc Books)
Unforeseen by Molly Gloss (Saga Press)
A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs (Harper Voyager)
Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press)
Image via Tor Forge
Although I was rooting for my personal heroine Wendy Froud to win this one, Kathleen Jennings is certainly worthy of taking home the prize. Her paper-cut silhouette and pen and ink art has graced the covers and interiors of many popular fantasy novels including The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Jennings also recently published her own debut novel Flyaway, a gothic horror fantasy set in her home of Australia. So maybe next year we will see Jennings nominated in the author category as well!
Winner: Kathleen Jennings
Special Professional Award
Image via New York University Press
Winner: Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, for The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (New York University Press)
C.C. Finlay, for F&SF editing
Leslie Klinger, for The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham (Liveright)
Ellen Oh, for We Need Diverse Books
Sheree Renée Thomas, for contributions to the genre
Special Non-Professional Award
Winner: Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Laura E. Goodin & Esko Suoranta, for Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research
Michael Kelly, for Undertow Publications and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction series
Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe, for The Coode Street Podcast
Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, for Uncanny Magazine
Terri Windling, for Myth & Moor
2020 might be the worst year of our lives. But at least it has been a banner year for the fantasy genre. If you need something to distract you this week, try checking out one of the books or short stories on the list of nominees and winners. Or check out one of our many top 10 lists of fantasy novels for some escapist entertainment.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.