The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family

Thank you, all, very much for the love. The buzz this story’s generated is incredible, especially since it appeared in a print anthology first and sometimes those doesn’t get as much exposure as online venues do.

Neil Gaiman and Saladin Ahmed tweeted it. Desi Writers Lounge called it “a brilliant short story”. Tor.com reviewer Mahvesh Murad (in an unofficial Tweet) called it “a great story about love in the time of drones in Pakistan.” Shirley Jackson Award winner and author of North American Lake Monsters Nathan Ballingrud called it “a powerful story from an exciting new writer. One to keep an eye on.” 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.”

And here’s what the excellent Ken Liu (Winner of the Nebula, the Hugo, and the World Fantasy Awards, and nominee for the Locus and Ted Sturgeon) said:

“A searing, powerful story that uses the language of science to articulate the enduring struggle for justice. The ending, especially, is at once inevitable and heartbreaking. Reminiscent of some of Ted Chiang’s earlier work in structure and tone, but with an overall vision that is unique to this author.”

Editor Michael Bailey has kindly given me permission to post the story online.

Go take a look and lemme know what you think. And if you like it, consider spreading the word about the story and the anthology Qualia Nous.

Cheers

(p.s. thank you Vince Haig whose incredible rendition of the story on Medium makes it far more readable and pleasing to the eye than the .pdf  I had uploaded. Vince is a tremendous writer and graphic designer whose services have been sought by, among other, Chizine Publications. If you need someone to do graphic designing for you, I can’t recommend him enough.)

 

Takes a Country to Raise Some Stories

If you’re here, by now you probably know I sold my novella The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn to the incredible Ellen Datlow at Tor.com.

Like many milestones, though, this couldn’t have happened without the help, guidance, and critique of several people. My teachers at Clarion West (John Clute, Elizabeth Hand, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Samuel R Delany, Margo Lanagan, and Ellen)–all taught me several important lessons about what I was trying to do and who I was. John sparked the idea that eventually would become the axle for the story and Chip’s emphasis on setting and the potency it brings to fiction really made the novella memorable for readers who liked it. However, the fact that the story exists really owes a lot to Ted Chiang, his work, and what he talked to us about at Clarion West.

Ted is a marvel. One of the greatest SF writers of all time, Ted has changed the way many in the field think about SF, its operative values, and the limits to which story and ideas can be pushed. During his talk he gave us in Seattle he said certain things which cemented my idea of what kind of writer I wanted to be. I will leave that post for another day, but suffice it to say that were it not for him, it is likely I wouldn’t be writing SF at all. So thank you, Ted. (For purposes of this discussion, I’m keeping New Weird and Horror apart from SF).

Onto the wonderful critters. A massive thank you to the fantastic Shannon Peavey who made me enter the 2013 Codex Novella contest (where I got tons of feedback), read the novella and provided me with incredible feedback and encouragement. The Codex Writers group’s critique was vital in fixing major loopholes in the novella (especially Trina Marie Phillips who gave me extensive line notes and suggestions for trimming).

I’m grateful to E. Lily Yu whose offhand comment led to the realization of some major imagery in the story. The ever helpful and uber-intelligent Vince Haig gently nudged me in the right direction any time I lost my way. Nicole Idar, Hugo Xiong, and Henry Lien aided me in cutting much of the chaff out of the story  and my critique partners Erinn Kemper, Sheila Cail, Hasnain Akram, Noorulain Noor, Peter Hannah and Mari Mitchell were awesome, kind, and insightful with their critique as always (esp. on days that I was down). Noor and Peter’s extensive edits and encouragement came in handy when I was about to throw the first draft away.

Thank you, Mary Moira, for helping me with a lot of research and fact-checking. Thank you, Diana Pho, for asking to look at the novella and offering valuable suggestions re: the character’s drive.

Last, a heartfelt thank you to Ellen who was gentle and kind with her edits and didn’t give up on the story when I wanted to. Here’s to hoping I don’t disappoint her with the final product and that her faith in the novella is vindicated.

Tentative date of publication for The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn at Tor.com is April 22nd, 2015. See you guys then!

 

 

New Story in Qualia Nous!

Qualia Nous

 

It’s out! The story I workshopped with Neil Gaiman and Samuel R. Delany hits the stands today in a sparkling new anthology called Qualia Nous edited by Written Backward‘s Michael Bailey. I’ve appeared in Michael’s anthos before (“Blood Women” that got an Honorable Mention by Ellen Datlow in Best Horror of the Year Six appeared in Michael’s anthology Chiral Mad 2), but “Vaporization” is closer to my heart for a variety of reasons, some of which I enumerate below.

Fun facts about this story:

  • It was the first science fiction story I wrote.
  • The idea for the story came to me when I was in an airplane en route to attend the six-week long Clarion West Writers Workshop, an experience that changed my life. Subsequently it became the first publishable story i wrote at the workshop.
  • I discussed the idea with our week one instructor Elizabeth Hand who was intrigued and said she’d never read a story with this peculiar usage of enthalpy/thermodynamics. It boosted my confidence about the viability of the idea. Thanks, Liz!
  • The story was written for Neil Gaiman’s week. Lemme tell you getting critiqued by eighteen people in front of Neil was quite something, but we all managed to stay sane, thoughtful, and constructive.
  • First draft was written in 48 hours (compare that to my last story “Ishq”–due to appear in the fantastic horror magazine Black Static–that I wrote in a month).
  • “Vaporization” was also workshopped with Chip Delany who praised it and said the ending made him weep. Chip’s kind words would later be my solace in moments of darkness and despair.
  • This is the first time I’ve shared a Table of Contents with my childhood writing idol Stephen King who contributed “The Jaunt”.
  • My story follows King’s! Secretly, I’m hoping that when he receives his contributor copy, Uncle Stevie will turn the page and settle down to read my story as well. With a cup of coffee in his hand.
  • My fellow authors in Qualia Nous apparently love the title to death. 🙂

There! Now you have a bit of background about the story. It has quite a lineup including luminaries such as Gary Braunbeck, Lucy Snyder, William F. Nolan, Gene O’Neill, John R Little, Thomas Monteleone, and several others. Well worth your money.

Go buy the antho now.

Resurrection Points

My story “Resurrection Points” workshopped with Joe Hill and Ellen Datlow at the Clarion West Writers Workshop went up at Strange Horizons in the first week of August.

I am, of course, thrilled about the reception. Excellent folks such as Jeffrey Ford, Richard Bowes, Elizabeth Hand, Sunny Moraine, Fran Wilde, and Ellen Datlow praised the story. In addition, the story got favorable reviews in Tangent Online and Locus Online (Lois Tilton).

Fun story facts:

1. It was the second full length story I wrote at Clarion and apparently was my most successful effort as per most instructors and my classmates.

2. The first line of the story and the trigger came from a discussion I had with my friend E. Lily Yu about my college days. I said something to the effect of “I was eighteen when I dissected my first corpse” and Lily immediately pointed at me and said, “Write a story with that first line and I’ll read the hell out of it.” I obliged.

3. I riffed off the legend of the great Pakistani philanthropist, social activist and humanitarian Edhi sahib who began doing his charitable work in the seventies by picking up corpses off the violence-torn streets of Karachi and giving them proper burial. Now the Edhi Foundation runs the largest free ambulance service in Pakistan.

4. The story’s core is a rewrite/commentary on the sectarian feuds that break out in Pakistan every other year or so. The major tragedy here was the March 2013 burning of the (predominantly Christian) Joseph Colony by a Muslim mob in Lahore, Pakistan.

5. As far as I know, it is the first horror story set in Pakistan by an indigenous writer to appear in a major English language speculative fiction magazine. That by itself makes me quite happy.

Go read it now if you like.

 

On having a website

Well, here it is.

Years of toiling and morose musings lead to this: a website.

Worth it? Who can tell. But people tell me they need to get in touch with me sometimes or they need to message me or read my work or share it with friends.

And, well.

Here it is.

I will post once in a while, but I’m not a heavy blogger. In my student days, maybe, but not so much these days.

Although, I do think I will share some of the process I undergo as I write stories or do research or brainstorm. Some should even be interesting.

Also, the Latin post below this: an incantation to raise some quite unsavory beings. Read at your own peril.

Lorem Ipsum

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