The Salam Award for Imaginative fiction is a prestigious short story awards that promotes all kinds of science fiction writing in Pakistan. It is named after Dr. Abdus Salam, a pioneer of scientific research in Pakistan and the first Pakistani to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979. The completion recently announced its 4th year winner along with the finalists and honorable mentions. The winner of the award this year is a story titled ‘The Smokesence of Pulvistan” by Nihal Ijaz Khan.
The winning story is a science fiction tale set in the town of Pulvistan where it always rains and chronicles the journey of several intertwined characters. The story is available to ready now on the website. The author is a doctor who loves to write and his story was selected from what the award reports as a record number of submissions: 150. This included submissions from Pakistani writers in the United States, Canada, elsewhere in the Middle East, and in various regions of Pakistan.
The submissions are judged blindly for fair results by a stellar panel of judges. This year’s jury included Ellen Datlow, A.T. Greenblatt and Sami Shah. Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction stories for almost 40 years and has edited over 90 antholigies. A.T Greenbalt is an accomplished writer and Sami Shah is a multi award winning writer and comedian that has been profile in New York Times and BBC, just to name a few. This accomplished jury described “The Smokesense of Pluvistan” as a story full of sadness, longing, and beauty, and detailed that it was “the strangeness and wonder of the setting that first drew them into the story, and the love the characters had for each other kept them reading.” It is high praise coming from a diverse and talented panel.
The recipient of the Award gets their story published on the Award website and also receives a 50,00 Rupees cash prize. Furthermore the winner is entitled to a review by an established literary agent for future guidance and an additional editorial review for potential publication in a multi-award winning science fiction magazine. This sort of mentorship is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring writers and keeps the spirit of science fiction writing alive.
The Finalists for this year were Zunaira Nadeem with her story “Into the Light” and Hira Awais with her story “Door One-Seventy-One”. Meanwhile three honourable mentions were awarded to Zahra Mukhi for her story “Of Sweet Seas and Starlight”, Eman Kamran for “Visions of Host” and Mehak Khan for her story “Jinns”.