A lively, lengthy discussion ensued on October 7th after guest blogger Vandana Singh interviewed Anil Menon over on Jeff VanderMeer’s blog, Ecstatic Days. While my own comments remind me of a little kid trying to play with the big league, I really want to post the interview and discussion before too many more days go by. It’s all good, even the controversy.
Vandana Singh says:
When I was a kid growing up in India, my first exposure to things science-fictional (sort of) was through a series of fat little books in Hindi that could fit comfortably in my hand. The stories were an indiscriminate mix of earth-bound fairy tales and cosmic voyages, and their flashy covers and melodramatic dialog immediately caught my imagination. I’d already heard the great epics from my mother and grandmother and these little books seemed to be in the same vein. By the time I was eleven, however, I’d discovered Asimov, Clarke and Bradbury, and there seemed to be no real SF written by Indians. In my teens I came across the occasional story published by cosmologist and SF writer Jayant Narlikar, but that was it.
Now, many years later, I know that science fiction in India has had quite a history. But in a country where there are eighteen distinct languages apart from English, and thousands of dialects, it is quite easy to be unaware of traditions in other tongues.
But what are the things that drive Indian SF? What are its themes and concerns? Where does it resemble or differ from the SF tradition in the West? How did it come to be, in the first place?
None of these questions can be answered fully at the moment, especially with the limited data sets available to us. But my friend and fellow SF writer Anil Menon went on some exploratory journeys not too long ago, and below he shares some of what he found, including some fascinating speculations.
And here is Anil Menon with a fascinating look at The Politics of Captain Nemo.