The Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction, announced this week, seeks to encourage the pursuit of science fiction and imaginative writing in Pakistan. Organized by Pakistani speculative fiction authors Tehseen Baweja and Usman T. Malik (The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn), the award is named for Pakistan’s only Nobel Prize winner, theoretical physicist Dr. Abdus Salam; it will be given to aspiring speculative fiction writers of Pakistani origin, regardless of sexual orientation, creed, or caste.
The annual short fiction award is open to original, unpublished short stories (less than 10,000 words) by writers who currently reside in Pakistan or who are of Pakistani birth/descent. The rules page further outlines the short fiction content parameters:
The scope is broad. Anything from alien invasions to fantasy universes, and comic science fiction to dark fantasies is valid. The aim is to encourage imaginative fiction so anything that falls under the broad category of science fiction and fantasy, will be accepted.
What’s not acceptable though is religiously-oriented stories of good versus evil, stories that target a particular group/community, or stories that contain hate speech.
Submissions will be judged by a rotating panel of three SF professionals. This year’s judges are Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy; Mahvesh Murad, editor of The Apex Book of World SF 4 and The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories; and Malik. Three finalists will each receive an editorial review and an agent review of their work by (respectively) Tor.com acquiring editor Ann VanderMeer and Seth Fishman of The Gernert Company. The winning story will receive, in addition to the above, a $500 award. The editor and agent reviewers for 2018 are Diana Pho (Tor) and Jennie Goloboy (Red Sofa Literary), respectively; the 2018 judges will be announced later this year.
Baweja explained the impetus for the award in a recent piece:
As an avid-reader of science fiction, I always tried to find local writers in this genre but could never find more than a couple of names. I strongly believe that there is no dearth of people who can write really well in this genre, but as a society, we have taught ourselves to curb our imagination rather than let it run wild. Hence, nothing has ever existed in Pakistan before to encourage people in this direction. I am hopeful though, that if incentivized and encouraged appropriately, we can gradually change this.
All submissions are due by July 31; the winner will be announced on or before August 31. Learn more about The Salam Award.