19 June 2019

Indian science fiction that is not rehashed mythology (part 3 of 5)

Science Fiction | The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction | Tarun K Saint (editor)

Continuing the ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (I really liked it) review... This is part 3 of a post broken up so that I can tag all the authors in a story-by-story review. You can read part 2 here.

Mirror-Rorrim by Clark Prasad

I imagine readers from other countries would skip some of the references in some of the stories here, not finding a context they know about, and that’s what I did with the Star Trek references in this story. As Tarun K Saint said in the intro, the irony is that these references need no explanation with most English speaking sci fi readers, while other Indian references that people like me know already get (what is to Indian readers) unnecessary exposition. Having got that gripe out of the way, this is a nice time travel/alternate universe story, well plotted and executed, with nods to both European/American/Australian readers and Indian ones. I really liked this one, too.

Flexi-Time by Manjula Padmanabhan

Nooooo, Manjula Padmanabhan, I expected better from you. Indians have an altered sense of time?? How twee and exotic. That rattling sound you hear is my eyeballs rolling at high rpm.

The Other Side by Payal Dhar

Another gem. This story evokes the Bangladesh refugees of 1970, and the modern dystopia of capitalism, with Corporations owning governments, and propaganda reprogramming human compassion, with casteism in new forms and old shapes. A tense, suspenseful story, with all the ends tied neatly. And the irony of refugee camps across the border in Nepal.

15004 by Sami Ahmad Khan

This is India’s answer to Train to Busan, but more terrifying, more gory, more horrific. Thank goodness for the tiny little ray of hope in the very last 100 words. I would have suffered trauma without that. Really.

Why the War Ended by Premendra Mitra (translation)

Alternative history about the real reason WWII ended. There was a passage in the story reminiscent of The Kraken Wakes (John Wyndham), but the aliens of that book were nothing in front of this story’s alien horror. The quaint League of Nations and other references help to damp it down as something that happened in the middle of the last century. Place it today, and we’d have been creeped out for a long time.

Were it Not For by Arjun Rajendran

This is such a sarcastic gem of poetic satire that I’m including a screen shot. Just for this, I will buy copies of this book and distribute them.

And on this brilliant note, I once again press Pause, and and start a fresh post for the rest of the stories in this collection.

...End of Part 3...

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