My Year in Review
2014 was a decent year for me. I wrote a couple stories, a novelette, & a novella, and sold them all to decent markets. I did a reading with the wonderful Jeff Vandermeer as part of Burrow Press’s Functionally Literate Reading Series in Orlando. I also ran Pakistan’s first Scifi, Fantasy, and Horror workshop “The Rising Dust” in Lahore in conjunction with Man Asia Literary Prize nominee Musharraf Ali Farooqi and Desi Writers Lounge. The event was covered by Pakistan Television and Radio.
I made two Best of the Year anthologies. Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Volume 9 and Kathe Koja & Michael Kelly’s Year’s Best Weird Fiction 2. It is an absolute honor for me to share those TOCs with the best writers in the field. I also made the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction. I understand the final ballot will be announced in a couple months or so.
My biggest sale was a 21K beast called “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” to the excellent Ellen Datlow, which will appear at Tor.com in April 2015. I’m looking forward to its release — I spent more than a year working on it and it tackles some interesting ontological and metaphysical themes explored in the great Sufi master Ibn Arabi’s masterpiece “The Meccan Revelations.”
This was a bit of a pleasant surprise: Clarion West‘s former director Leslie Howle emailed me a couple months back that at the 2014 World Fantasy Convention’s Best of the Year panel Paula Guran and Ellen Datlow gave me a shout out. I’m told they predicted that “he is going to be hot” and will be “a name to watch out for”.
I am honored and humbled by their kindness. I hope that in coming years I will do justice to their faith in me.
Award Eligible Work
Before I move on to my award-eligible stories, I’d like to point out that I am eligible (in my second year) for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I will also point out that several excellent writers have emerged on the SF/ Horror scene in the last two years: Kai Ashante Wilson, Sam J. Miller, Alyssa Wong, JY Yang, Kelly Sandoval, Shannon Peavey, Isabel Yap, Henry Lien, Carmen Maria Machado, and Lara Elena Donnelly. Their work is important & impressive and I recommend that you explore all their available stories before nominating your favorite candidate (s).
I had 4 stories published in 2014. Between them, they’re eligible for the Hugo, Nebula, Ted Sturgeon, World Fantasy, Shirley Jackson, and Bram Stoker Awards.
“Ishq” and “Laal andhi” are in print journals/anthos. If you’d like a pdf copy for review, please email me at email@example.com
1. The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family (Qualia Nous, August 2014).
- Will be reprinted in Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 9.
- Made the Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction.
- Made several Best of the Year lists included Tor.com’s Favorite Short Scifi/Fantasy of 2014.
- Ken Liu said it was “a searing vision of endurance and the struggle for justice — belongs to that genre of SFF close to my heart in which a metaphor is literalized and re-presented in the language of science. The ending, especially, is indelible. Based on what I’ve read, Malik would be an amazing nominee for the Campbell.”
- SFWA Grandmaster and Paris Review Interviewee Samuel R. Delany, when he first read it, said it was “an extraordinary story. It blew me away. I was crying like a baby at the end and I was very happy to be crying.”
- Neil Gaiman and Saladin Ahmed tweeted about it. Shirley Jackson Award winner and author of North American Lake Monsters Nathan Ballingrud said it was “a powerful story from an exciting new writer. One to keep an eye on.” Maria Dahvana Headley said it was “gorgeous, painful story.” Desi Writers Lounge called it “a brilliant short story”. And Tor.com reviewer Mahvesh Murad called it “a great story about love in the time of drones in Pakistan.”
- Was acquired by Tor.com for Mahvesh Murad’s newly launched podcast Midnight in Karachi for audio narration. Listen here.
2. Resurrection Points (Strange Horizons, August 2014).
- Will be reprinted in The Year’s Best Weird Fiction 2 edited by Kathe Koja & Michael Kelly (series editor). Out in October, 2015 from Undertow Publications (imprint of Chizine)
- Voted one of the top 5 stories of the year in the Strange Horizons 2014 Readers’ Poll.
- Ken Liu called it “a powerful story about faith, love, and remaining moral in a time of evil.” Ellen Datlow called it a “terrific story”. Elizabeth Hand said it was “a gorgeous, chilling new story. . . if you don’t yet know Usman’s work, you will — he’s one of the best and most original voices in weird fiction in many years.”
- Tangent Online said it “is a powerful story about self-discovery, disillusion, retribution and the unholy power of faith. . . . A compelling tale and definitely recommended.” The story also made their 2014 Recommended Reading List with two stars. The story was also reviewed favorably by Lois Tilton and The Drunken Odyssey. The latter said the story “handles its examination of both the regenerative and destructive abilities of faith with a supernatural edge, foggy genre lines, and a literary finesse that is a thrill to read.”
- Several writers I admire including Joe Hill, Saladin Ahmad, Jeffrey Ford, Henry Lien, Vandana Singh, Sam J. Miller, Scott Nicolay, Damien Angelica Walters, Richard Bowes, Livia Llewellyn, Sunny Moraine, and Fran Wilde liked it and shared it on their social media.
3. Ishq (Black Static 43, November 2014)
- Reviewed favorably by the excellent critic Des Lewis: “Blown away . . . by this exquisitely heart-wrenching confabulation of disease, sexual and/or sororal betrayal — love unrequited for the living, but requited for the dead . . . the poetic traction of language blending, in its special way, nightmare and reality, as well as the deepest emotions possible . . .”
- Dread Central said it was “a solemn ghost story, steeped in the tradition, history and superstition of Pakistan. . . with a coating of mysticism and emotion. The descriptive prose is very strong, right down to the mouth-watering sweet potato treats offered by the young street vendor and the realisation of the physical setting.”
- Writer Simon Bestwick called it “one of my favorite stories this year”. Andrew Hook said it was “one of my favourite stories this issue. Richly evocative.” Ross Warren said, “My favourite story of the issue. A fully immersive setting and an unsettling premise combined to great effect.”
- Writer James Everington included “Ishq” in his Favorite Short Stories of 2014.
4. “Laal Andhi” (Truth or Dare, October 2014)
- To be podcast at Pseudopod in 2015.
Thanks for reading and have a great 2015.