As an avid science fiction reader, I was delighted to see that The South Asian Science Fiction Gollancz Book Vol. 2 (Hachette India) was published at the end of last week. Edited by Tarun K. Saint (who also edited Volume 1, published in 2019), the anthology presents another intriguing selection of writers young and old. Fans of the genre will know names like Manjula Padmanabhan, the Indian playwright, journalist, comic artist and children’s book author (who also wrote the afterword) and the famous Indian astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar – and will also be able to discover new ones. voice like Tashan Mehta (The Liar’s Weave) and Gautam Bhatia (The wall). Together, these two volumes present an incisive history of the sci-fi genre in Southeast Asia, offering us creative and inventive slices of what the world might look like in the future.
More than anything, sparse anthologies like these underscore the poor health of the sci-fi genre in India. While internationally, Douglas Adams and Isaac Asimov Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Foundation have always enjoyed mass appeal, many fans of the genre back home complain that science fiction sections in libraries almost never stock Indian titles. To add to this, the genre itself is seen as somewhat unconventional in India, with readers passing it more for novels, action, drama, philosophy, and crime thrillers. For many, the reluctance to read science fiction also stems from having to visualize imaginary and futuristic concepts that may seem insignificant compared to poring over books that tackle relevant sociopolitical topics or transport them into contexts. idyllic realms.
But if you really think about it, haven’t you over the past nineteen months felt like playing a character in a dystopian sci-fi novel, struggling to stay alive as a deadly mutated virus? constantly to enter your body? That should be enough proof to prove that the genre isn’t that strange, and that a lot of sci-fi storylines are just prophecies biding their time. Creepy aside aside, here are five Indian writers you should add to your reading list, all of whom are very different from each other and continue to write top notch science fiction.