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Barnes & Noble Announces the Salam Award for Pakistani Science Fiction

by Mahrukh Sarwar

Barnes & Noble, the largest retail bookseller in the United States, has announced the “The Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction” to promote science fiction writing in Pakistan.

The award is named after Mohammad Abdus Salam, a Pakistani theoretical physicist and the first nobel laureate of the country. All Pakistani science fiction writers will be eligible for the award, regardless of their sexual orientation, creed, or caste, says a blogpost by Barnes & Noble.

The award will be judged by a three member panel of speculative fiction professionals. Jeff Vandermeer (The Southern Reach Trilogy, Borne), Mahvesh Murad, and Usman Malik will be the judges for the 2017 award year.

The three finalists for the award will get an agent and editorial review of their manuscripts and the first prize winner will also receive $500 as prize money. Ann Vandermeer, co-editor of “The Big Book of Science Fiction”, will be the Editor reviewer for the 2017 award year and Seth Fishman of The Gernert Company will be the Agent reviewer.

Read more: Remembering Salam – the Man and the Physicist

The website of the Salam award says “Since inception Pakistan, as a nation, has struggled with conformity as a result of mass repression and suppression. Entrepreneurship, art, literature and innovation have all suffered from provincialism and orthodoxy. Challenging the boundaries of traditional thinking and ideologies is, we believe, one of the core competencies of any progressive society. The Salam Award is a small effort by a few concerned individuals to change that and encourage our populace to be more imaginative.”

The award is due to the efforts of two Pakistani speculative fiction authors, Tehseen Bewaja and Usman Malik. Malik is the award winning author of the book “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn.”

The announcement of The Salam Award follows recent moves to recognize the contributions made by Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate in science. Recently, Quaid-i-Azam University’s National Centre for Physics was also renamed as the “Professor Abdus Salam Center for Physics” to honor the theoretical physicist.


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