The Bone Ships wins 2020 British Fantasy Award

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The British Fantasy Society announced the winners of the 2020 British Fantasy Awards yesterday, and RJ Barker’s The Bone Ships was selected as the best fantasy novel of the year.

The Bone Ships is one of the most delightful and refreshing fantasy reads I have ever picked up,” wrote Megan Leigh in her review of the book. “Kicking off a new planned trilogy, The Bone Ships swaps the traditional land-locked fantasy tale for the harsh mistress that is the sea. We follow the story of Joron, a man condemned to a life on the Black Ships among criminals and no-hopers.”

“Barker’s world-building is so accomplished you don’t realise how much new information you’ve soaked in until you are drowning in it,” she added. “The society in The Bone Ships is as inventive as it is well-developed. Barker builds a matriarchy, focusing on the pure power exhibited by women and their ability to give birth. Small, seemingly-throwaway cultural details – such as referring to ships in the masculine – layer to build a rich world full of nuance and depth.”

Here are all the other winners of this year’s British Fantasy Awards:

Best Anthology: New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction for People of Color,
Best Newcomer: Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Water Dancer
Best Novella: Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma
Best Horror Novel: The Reddening by Adam Nevill
Best Collection: Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro

Full List

The Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer – Ta-Nehisi Coates, for The Water Dancer (Penguin) @TaNehisiCoats, @PenguinUKBooks

Best Film/Television Production award – Us – written and directed by Jordan Peele (Monkeypaw Productions et al.) @JordanPeele

Best Non-Fiction – The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games, by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (New York University Press) @Ebonyteach

Best Artist – Ben Baldwin

Best Comic/Graphic Novel – DIE, by Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans (Image) @kierongillen & @HansStephanie (published by @ImageComics)

Best Magazine/Periodical – Fiyah edited by DaVaun Sanders @fiyahlitmag @davaunsanders

Best Independent Press – Rebellion Publishing @RebellionPub

Best Audio award – PodCastle @PodCastle_org, edited by @jenralbert & @C_L_Clark.

Best Anthology – New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction for People of Color, edited by Nisi Shawl @NisiShawl (published by Solaris)

Best Short Fiction – The Pain-Eater’s Daughter, by Laura Mauro @LauraNMauro (published by @UndertowPubs)

Best Collection – Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro @LauraNMauro (published by Undertow @UndertowPubs)

This year the Karl Edward Wagner special award goes to Craig Lockley for his long, long service to the British Fantasy Society

Best Novella – Ormeshadow, by Priya Sharma (published by Tordotcom @TorDotComPub)

The Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel – The Bone Ships by RJ Barker, @dedbutdrmng, published by Orbit @orbitbooks

The August Derleth Award for Best Horror novel – The Reddening, by Adam Nevill @AdamLGNevill published by Ritual Limited

Watch the award ceremony video below:

YouTube player


MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and check out her latest videos on the Maria Korolov YouTube channel. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.