• kjoannerixon

The Smokecense of Pluvistan


"The Smokecense of Pluvistan" by Nihal Ijaz Khan is the 2020 winner of the Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction, which honors speculative fiction out of Pakistan. The story summary on the award site is: "In Pluvistan, the city where it always rains, a father and daughter struggle at the end of all life to find her mother’s faith and the tree that will reunite them with her in heaven."


That's...kind of, more or less, some of the content of the story. The experience of reading this story, though, is like getting high very early on a late summer morning when the sun is evaporating the dew off the blades of grass. In places, it's like a 5 AM when the rising sun shines through a haze of wildfire smoke, turning everything red-orange and brown and mystical. Other times, there is glowing rain.

Emotionally, this is a very complicated story. There's a dog: it both dies and doesn't die. Ditto the mother. In a way, it feels like a Scripture from a religion that doesn't exist in this timeline.


I'm not entirely sure the wordcount, but I'm guessing it's a novelette. I read it while text banking to elect not-Republicans on the opposite coast, which I recommend.

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