About Salik Shah

Salik Shah is the founding editor and publisher of Mithila Review, a quarterly journal of international science fiction and fantasy. His poetry, fiction and nonfiction has appeared in leading publications including Open Democracy, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Juggernaut, etc. He grew up in Kathmandu, and lives in New Delhi. You can find him on Twitter: @salik.

Poetry: “A Personal Index of Our Times” (Strange Horizons, January 2022)

My poem “A Personal Index of Our Times” is up here on Strange Horizons (January 2022).

Salik Shah offers an abcedarium of the jinn for our global village in ‘A Personal Index of Our Times.'” — Strange Horizons 

Many thanks to Bogi Takács (eir bio reads: Lamda + Hugo winner) for a glowing review:

Vijayalakshmi Harish (bio: author of Strange Times and Co-Editor, Write in Power: An Anthology of the Personal & the Political (2021)) writes in a private Twitter thread:

“‘A Personal Index of Our Times,’ by @salik, is an inventive poem, that uses both form and content, to challenge the reader, and invites us to look for meaning beyond the words, and in the spaces between them.”

You can read the poem here on Strange Horizons.

By |2022-01-18T05:13:11+00:00January 12th, 2022|Poetry, Writing Life|0 Comments

Notes from Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by David Gerrold

So I finally managed to get through David Gerrold’s short but excellent guide to writing science fiction and fantasy: Worlds of Wonders (Writers Digest Books, 2001) / Amazon. The whole book is bookmark-worthy. Here are three excerpts:

Focus on clarity. Concentrate on precision. 

The single most important lesson of effective communication is this: Focus on clarity. Concentrate on precision. Don’t worry about constructing beautiful sentences. Beauty comes from meaning, not language. Accuracy is the most effective style of all. Of course, you won’t really understand this until after you’ve written your first million words—until after you’ve discovered this for yourself. You have to make a lot of mistakes, so you can recognize them when you make them the second, third, fourth, and twentieth time. […]

Learn your tools well and you can create the voices you need. The ultimate skill of the effective stylist is to remember that style is only voice, not content. Style is the pretense you put on for each and every story—and who you pretend to be is who you become.

Discipline not only serves success—it deserves success.

Discipline works. Of course, it helps if you live in New York. Why? Because then you can open your window in the morning and listen to the city growl at you: “If you don’t write today, I will kill you. I will crush you, I will grind your bones, I will drink your blood and destroy you. Oh, maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow—but if you don’t write today, in a month you’ll be broke . . . and then I’ll get you!” There are few better incentives than the threat of starvation. (Fear is almost as good as rage to fuel your writing engine.) Today, more than ever, I remain a firm believer in a strict writing discipline. Instead of counting pages, though, I count words. I set myself a target of 1,000-3,000 words a day, depending on the type of project I’m writing.  […] You train by doing. And you have to enjoy the doing. […] Discipline not only serves success—it deserves success.

What kind of difference do you want to make? 

As a human being, you make a difference. Simply by existing, simply by being in the room, you make a difference. The question that I had to ask myself was this—what kind of difference do I want to make? That was the most important lesson. And now I pass it on to you. Before you sit down at your keyboard, ask yourself: What kind of difference do you want to make? What you write has an effect on the people who read it. Words have meaning. Ideas have consequences. Your book, your story, your script—whatever you write—that’s your way of challenging the world. What do you want to say to the rest of your species?


You can find the book here on Amazon.

By |2022-01-11T05:53:26+00:00January 11th, 2022|Writing Life|0 Comments

Writerly Grace – News & Updates, January 2022

Writerly Grace: A good start for the new year with full-hearted gratitude to the universe!

Poetry News

I’ve just signed the contract for my poem “A Personal Index of Our Times.” It will appear on Strange Horizons maybe next week or so. I wrote the first version of the poem two years ago, and then took a long break from most things writing and publishing. Mad-stupid? Yeah! I know.

The good news is that I’ve started to write again. I wrote and sold a new poem “The Valley of Kings” to Star*Line in December. The work will appear in one of the next two issues.

Fiction News

I have a story coming out this year: “The Architecture of Loss” in Kalicalypse: an Anthology of Science Fiction from the Subcontinent from Future Fiction, Italy (2022).

I wrote three short stories in the past two-three months; one of which is a chapter for a historical novel. Writing gets better with writing, that’s for sure; the last story was the best writing I have done in a long time.

Also, I developed the outline for a trilogy of novels, but I have decided to put it on hold to write a shorter standalone novel first.

Editing/Publishing News

Mithila Review (and “India 2049”) is on hiatus until further notice. I will bring it back when funds/time permits.

By |2022-01-06T06:17:43+00:00January 6th, 2022|Writing Life|0 Comments

Interview: “Shambhala,” Tibet, and Mithila Review

Photograph: My workstation around 2015 at the time of writing “Shambhala.”

Here is my interview with Juggernaut Books, which published “Shambhala” as part of a science fiction series edited by Indrapramit Das in 2016:

Do you write everyday? Where and when do you write?

Writing is thinking through small and hard problems for me; being aware of one’s surroundings and emotions. In a way, I’m always in this meditative zone. After I’ve thought through a problem or an emotion or a set of them, the physical act of recording these thoughts, the outpouring of words occur in feverish bursts that last days, weeks even.

Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist at the moment?

Yes. These days I’m listening to the best of French songs, and the official soundtrack of the wonderful Persian-American vampire movie, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Director. Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014).

What is your go-to-site for distracting yourself? Or do you refuse to browse the net while writing?

I read books or watch movies from around the world to distract myself. I use the Internet mostly for work—it took me years of practice to reach a state where I’m conscious, hence more or less in control of choices that I make while I’m online.

Your story “Shambhala” is replete with imagery from Tibet – what is it about the land that inspires you?

“Shambhala” is a story of Tibet, a story of a people who have had to abandon their homeland. It’s also my story, story of my love for Tibetan myths, Chinese philosophy and poetry, which started early in my teens. I went to school in Kathmandu—the other home of Tibetan refugees. As an ethnic Indian boy who grew up in a Khas-Newar city, the sense of wonder, displacement and alienation depicted in the story is as much mine as it is Tenzin’s or Niu Jian’s.

When I was 18, I took refuge in Dhamma. Over the years, I have attended short and long Vipassana meditation courses, and have begun to combine it with Samatha practice recently. “Shambhala” is a result of these experiences, and a deep yearning for reconciliation and understanding between the opposing classes of people. The meditation technique, which Tenzin practices to heal the self and history, comes from the master Thich Nhat Hanh. And it’s extremely effective for those looking for a way to vanquish persistent ghosts of the past from their body and psyche. To become one with peace and understanding through speculation and poetry.

South Asian speculative writing is increasingly being identified with mythological retelling. Why do you think this is happening?

South Asia’s evolution from idyllic small-towns like RK Narayan’s Malgudi into the urban sprawl that it is today wasn’t so organic. Science and technology are products of mindsets, generations of rigorous thinking. We’re a people who haven’t really inhabited this kind of mindset of Western scientific rationality. Even though we are grappling to make sense of the world around us with its high technology and low life.

The rise of mythological retellings is the result of our trying to come to terms with our own historical modes of narration in order to understand the nature of self and the world. The best of these retellings should and can make the modern self and the world accessible, understandable in a tradition familiar yet new to the people. A good story, original and retold, leaves you a new person, provides a worthwhile escape. However, there is a real danger that these mythological retellings end up either serving our superstition or providing little function other than entertainment.

You also run a literary magazine called Mithila Review. Can you tell us how it came to be? Why did you choose to focus on speculative fiction?

Speculative fiction is a literature of ideas and emotions, and Mithila Review is our attempt to tear down the wall of borders, and bring some of the greatest minds working in the field of literature together on a global platform. Mithila Review grew out of a personal response to Canadian grand master Geoff Ryman’s fantastic novelette, “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter.” It’s a lovely story about love, forgiveness and reconciliation between “enemy classes,” which I can’t recommend enough.

Mithila Review was in the making by late 2015. At the time, we were deeply troubled by the violence and bloodshed in the Southern Terai region of Nepal bordering India, and the hate campaigns that had seized the Indian subcontinent during Bihar elections—these great plains form the historic Mithila region. The Jawaharlal Nehru University controversy also fueled its birth as along with my colleague Ajapa Sharma, who is a scholar at the university, we began to think about the fluid languages of protest. We chose Mithila—a very unconventional name for a new kind of magazine—because it had become a referent, a symbol which could “speak to the times when we have felt that we don’t quite belong.” We wanted it to speak to the times when we liberated our anger and pain in ways that have fed the creative river (her words) within us.

There was an acute need for a responsive market and a nurturing platform for readers and writers of such an exciting form of literature in Asia. We’re hopeful that Mithila Review can fill some of this void. The terrific response we have received from within the diverse, global SF community has been a blessing, beautiful joy.

Thank you to Juggernaut and my editor Indrapramit Das for having me here. Cheers!

PS. “Shambhala” appears in the second volume of The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction  (Hachette India, 2021). You can order the print edition here on Amazon India. The Kindle edition (US) is available here. Happy reading!

By |2021-10-03T11:54:08+00:00October 3rd, 2021|Interviews, Writing Life|0 Comments

“Shambhala” – The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction Volume 2 (Hachette, 2021)

A childhood dream comes true: my fiction debut in print!
I am so excited and humbled to announce that my short story, “Shambhala,” appears in The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction Volume 2 now available from Amazon and leading Indian book stores.

You can order the print edition here on Amazon (India).

The Kindle edition (US) is available here.
Many thanks to the anthology editor Tarun K Saint, and Poulomi Chatterjee, the Hachette India editor-in-chief and publisher for her careful feedback/edits, and the entire team that made this wonderful series possible on behalf of all the readers and authors!
I share the TOC with writers whom I truly admire and have had the good fortune to work with at Mithila Review. Some of the works here first appeared or were featured in Mithila Review.
“Shambhala” originally appeared on Juggernaut Books, edited by award-winning author and editor Indrapramit Das. My eternal thanks to Indra, Juggernaut Books publisher Chiki Sarkar and team.

Happy reading!

PS. You can boost the signal to spread the word on Twitter, Facebook & Linkedin. Thank you!

By |2021-10-01T09:52:31+00:00October 1st, 2021|Fiction, Press, Writing Life|0 Comments

Indian Science Fiction: Patterns, History and Hybridity (New Dimensions in Science Fiction) – University of Wales Press, 2021

I am thrilled and humbled to see this first of significant books to come on Indian Science Fiction, which mentions the work of Mithila Review and Kalpabiswa, among others, and also cites my article on the Indian SF: Indian Science Fiction: Patterns, History and Hybridity (New Dimensions in Science Fiction) by Suparno Banerjee – University of Wales Press, 2021.

You can find / re/tweet the publication announcement here on Twitter.

By |2021-10-01T09:49:35+00:00April 18th, 2021|Book Reviews, Writing Life|0 Comments

The Ingredients of a Breakthrough Story – The Flights of Foundry

 

Flights of Foundry is a virtual convention for speculative creators and fans. The writers, the artists, the game makers and podcasters. The dreamers, thinkers, and doers.

 

 

 

The Ingredients of a Breakthrough Story
Moderators: Coral Moore
Speakers: Eliana González Ugarte, Andy Dudak, Salik Shah, Valerie Valdes

Editors and authors talk about how they shape ideas, what they look for, how they edit, experimental narratives they’ve tried, what works and what doesn’t. Join this session for insights into how professionals craft and recognize exceptional short stories.

 

By |2021-10-01T09:54:53+00:00April 18th, 2021|Interviews|0 Comments

Plural Worlds, Plural Futures: South Asian Speculative Fiction

A discussion with four South Asian science fiction and fantasy writers on imagining new worlds and futures: https://youtu.be/fsy1ps3av_c


ABOUT

TSAL, along with Plurality University Network, presents a discussion with four South Asian science fiction and fantasy writers on imagining new worlds and futures.

Speculative fiction – a broad category that includes science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more – has long been a space for writers to envision alternatives to our world and our circumstances, whether in outer space, magical realms, or right here in (a reimagined) Earth. TSAL, in partnership with the Plurality University Network, is thrilled to host a conversation with Mary Anne Mohanraj, Mimi Mondal, Salik Shah, and Iona Datt Sharma about what those new worlds and futures look like in their writing and work.

By |2021-04-18T08:32:23+00:00October 26th, 2020|Others|0 Comments

FIYAHCON – Fringe Programming

FIYAHCON is a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction. Hosted by FIYAH Literary Magazine. The inaugural event will take place on October 17-18, 2020 and will host a variety of entertaining and educational content surrounding the business, craft, and community of speculative literature.

Thank you to FIYACON, Vida Cruz and Iora Kusano for inviting me to be a panelist on these two panels:

Running A Genre Magazine – Friday 10/16 10:00pm EDT with Eliana González Ugarte • Terrie Hashimoto • Salik Shah • Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Moderator)

To many writers, the inner workings of magazines are utterly opaque. Our panel of editors can give you insight into what things look like on their side of the desk: financial legal considerations, unexpected challenges, how to best promote authors’ work. This panel is great for any author who wants to see how a magazine is made, especially if they’re considering starting a magazine of their own!

Finding and Getting Involved in Your Local SFF Scene – Friday 10/16 11:00pm EDT with Kate Osias • Yasser Bahjatt • Gabriela Lee • Ted Mahsun • Salik Shah

When you live outside the Anglosphere, it can be hard to find your local markets—if they exist at all. Panelists from the Middle East Southeast Asia will share how they connected with their communities, offer suggestions for finding building community wherever you are.

By |2021-04-18T08:52:52+00:00October 17th, 2020|Others|0 Comments
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