The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family • 2014 • Usman T. Malik

★★★★

Meta: isfdb. This weird SF short story appeared 2014 in the anthology Qualia Nos and re-published in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Nine. It is nominated for the Nebula Award. Freely available.

Synopsis: At the intersection of Pakistani religion and modernity, a brother wants to take revenge, a sister leaves her home to educate herself only to find out that suicidal terrorists threaten the city. She confronts the monster of her home – Annunaki, an old Mesoptamian god.

Review:  The story’s topic is justice and violence within the Pakistani culture. It is richly filled with literalized metaphors, phrase turns and a beautiful prose. Each chapter starts with a physics background about the state of matter reflecting what happens to the main protagonist. The weirdness circles around hard truths like a family’s dissolving or terroristic suicides and a physics. I loved the story’s structure and characterizations. An early Ted Chiang glimpses through. Malik tries to find his narration style and he is an author I’ll watch out for – if you’re in need of a second Malik story, read Resurrection Points online.

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