Gollancz pre-empts Jikiemi-Pearson debut in three-book deal

Gollancz pre-empts Jikiemi-Pearson debut in three-book deal

Gollancz has pre-empted a “stunning” debut novel and two sequels from Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson, winner of the inaugural Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award.

Rachel Winterbottom, senior commissioning editor, acquired world rights in all languages from John Baker at Bell Lomax Morten. First book, The Principle of Moments, will publish in hardback, audio and e-book on 21st July 2022 as a lead title.

The synopsis explains: “Asha Akindele has lived her whole life on Gahraan, just like the rest of humanity, eking out an existence between factory assembly lines and constant terror. Then she discovers she has a sister imprisoned by Emperor Thracin, and is forced to make a choice: remain a slave, or escape and risk everything in the name of family. With the help of hopeless time-traveller Obi, who just wants to return home to London, 1812, and his almost-boyfriend, George IV, Asha must travel through the stars in an attempt to save a sister she’s never met, yet vowed to rescue – and in doing so save worlds.”

Jikiemi-Pearson is a science-fantasy writer, co-founder of the organisation Impact of Omission and an English literature and classical studies student. Winner of the first Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award in 2020, her writing “is invariably about Black people dismantling space empires, travelling through time, and saving the world – often simultaneously”.

She said: “I'm absolutely over the moon that my spacefaring, century-spanning trilogy has found a home at Gollancz. It feels incredibly special to have been on such a journey with this publisher – one that started all the way back in 2019 when I entered the Rivers of London Award, and has now ended with a book deal. The effort they have made toward diversifying SFF is admirable, and I feel insanely lucky to now count myself as one of their authors.’

Author Ben Aaronovitch, a founder of the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award, said: “The Principle of Moments is my favourite kind of grand space opera where anything can happen and usually does at great speed. I’m proud of the small role I may have played in helping Esmie get this opportunity and hope that many more of the fantastic authors we have discovered through the award will go on to well-deserved publishing success.”

Winterbottom added: “Esmie’s writing is absolutely jaw-dropping and her imagination is without boundaries. If you loved V E Schwab’s reimagined London, the exuberance of Gideon the Ninth, and the found family of Becky Chambers, be prepared for your new obsession. Asha is the hero we all need, and I cannot wait for readers to fall head over heels for Obi.”