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FIYAH Literary Magazine Awards Excellence in Speculative Fiction at Third Annual Ignyte Awards

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Ignyte opening screen. Image: FIYAH Magazine.

On Saturday, September 17, FIYAH Literary Magazine held its third annual Ignyte Awards. Created in 2020, the awards recognize outstanding work in speculative fiction by people of color, with the winners receiving stunning medallions. This year’s medallion features a design by the 2020 Best Artist winner Grace P. Fong. Writer and Editor Brent Lambert (also FIYAH Social Media Manager) began this year’s awards, and FIYAH founder L.D. Lewis took over for the final two awards of the night.

Creative Awards

Most of the nominees in some of the categories probably look familiar to anyone reading diversely in genres (horror, sci-fi, and fantasy) that make up the large umbrella that is speculative fiction. Also, many of these writers have appeared in our series like Our Books or Shelves, (monthly) The Mary Sue Book Club, and the holiday gift guides. Creative works awards are given annually in the following categories:

About half of the winners featured pre-recorded or live acceptance speeches, and those who missed this often shared their excitement online. One of the best acceptance speeches (though all were great) came from critic and librarian Alex Brown. They started with “I am extremely grateful to for taking a chance on me back when I was just some random commenter with a lot of opinions on Doctor Who” and ended on an important call to action.

Outside of the work they were awarded for, Brown is a librarian who speaks up frequently about book bans and censorship of librarians and educators. Instead of referring to the American Librarian Association as a tool, Brown advocates for bottom-up organizing, especially in regard to the more violent turn censorship has taken.

The community awards

When it came to the community awards, Lambert passed the hosting duties to Lewis. Before announcing the winner, she talked about how the judging works and the history of the awards. Additionally, Lewis noted that at the end of 2023 and after seven years of services, she’s retiring as creative lead for FIYAH.

She began with The Ember Award. The Ember Award goes to “unsung contributions to genre” and was awarded to editor Tananarive Due. Runners-up included Sheree Renée Thomas, Julia Rios, Malinda Lo, and Maurice Broaddus. In her acceptance speech, Due stated:

If you can just get that ember going, it’s enough to survive. I love this notion that when I started publishing Black horror speculative fiction in 1995, I wasn’t the first. There were a few other people out there. Linda Addison […] Octavia Bulter […] Samuel R. Delany […] So many people who’ve been considend to the margins who now are having an oppurtunity to tell their stories, help grow the industry, and really help everybodu’s imaginations light on fire.

The second award is actually called The Community Award and goes to “outstanding efforts in service of inclusion and equitable practice in genre.” David Steffen, Anthony W. Sullivan, and Andrew Rucker Jones’ The Submission Grinder won this award this year. Runners-up include We Need Diverse Books, khōréō, dave ring, and Anathema. While accepting the award, Steffen offered this important advice.

For anyone that looks out at the world and sees all the problems everywhere, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and say ‘I can’t make everything better.’ No you can’t, but you can make something better. Maybe you think it’s too small to matter, but that helps build a community one block at a time. And you might be suprised to see your efforts snowball as other people see what your’e doing and volunteer to help. Let them help.

At the close of the awards, Lewis congratulated everyone once more and noted that winners will not be eligible for future awards but will be invited to help select books for next year. If you want to watch all the acceptance speeches and the awards, FIYAH made the awards available on YouTube. For some lists of our most anticipated categories and more, check out our coverage from when the shortlist was announced.

(featured image: FIYAH Lit Magazine.)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. Starting as an Online Editor for her college paper in October 2017, Alyssa began writing for the first time within two months of working in the newsroom. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO. Still trying to beat Saxon Farm on RCT 3 (so I can 100% the game.)