South Asian New Wave of Science Fiction and Fantasy

A range of tastes and concerns can be seen in South Asian SFF, which has recently experienced a mini-renaissance. This overview aims to introduce some of the established and upcoming sounds that have emerged in the subcontinental SFF new wave since the 1990s.

As we shall see, in the best of these futuristic novels there is a keen awareness of the major transformations taking place in the postcolonial world and a scathing critique of uneven development and modern technological dystopias. Inevitably, such current visions of decolonization tend to deal with the aftermath of colonial rule in a different way than Anglo-American sci-fi, focusing on the task of emerging from the shadow of colonial masquerading as modernity.

Vandana Singh is a physicist and SFF author who grew up in Delhi, India, but now teaches and researches in the US. In addition to the social consequences of unfair development, her speculative fiction is characterized by a clever blend of themes related to science and the environment, most recently climate change.her first series The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories (2009) included a speculative manifesto setting the parameters for her own SFF hybrid, which incorporated references to premodern cultural narratives and epics as well as cutting-edge scientific research. The Ambiguity Machine and Other Stories (2018) brings together stories that further redefine genre boundaries, retaining a sense of wonder while emphasizing the importance of discovery and intellectual breakthroughs in the story form, with which Singh’s work is aligned. For example, “Indra’s Web” synthesizes ancient wisdom and The protagonist, Mahua, attempts to decipher the forest’s secret language, “myconet,” while she designs an energy network, Suryanet, that enables displaced refugees from flooded Bangladeshi villages to transform a slum called Ashapur into a viable life nearby. space future. Since then, poignant stories in the climate-fiction mode such as “Widdam” and “Reunion” have been included in the best anthologies of the year, and Singh was recently selected as a Climate Imagination Fellow at Arizona State University.

pune writer Anil Menon While working as a software engineer in the US, started writing hard sci-fi and cyberpunk style stories for various international magazines.he recently donned the editor’s hat bombay literary journal. His Young Adult Novels nine billion footed beast was published in 2009, and his speculative novel half of what i said Released in 2015.During this time, Anil Menon and Vandana Singh co-edited Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana In 2012, a groundbreaking series focused on creative re-inscriptions of Indian epics launched the writing careers of SFF writers like Indrapramit Das. Menon’s hard sci-fi “Paley’s Watch” has been included in Locus’s 2021 recommended reading list. In this tale of the discovery of a mysterious artifact, Menon stretches the analogy between scientific speculation and literary narrative.

manjurapadmanabhan Has been a pioneer in the Indian science fiction scene and is a renowned graphic artist and playwright.her sci-fi drama harvest Winner of the 1997 Onassis Drama Award. The show’s innovative premise involves harvesting organs from third world “donors” for first world recipients.her dystopian novel to escape (2008) and island of lost girls (2015) depicts the perils of Meiji, a young girl living in a clone-based futuristic society where girl children have become extremely rare, and her eventual escape to an island ruled by women, the Has its own power hierarchy. The asymmetrical power relations and uneven gender relations depicted here make this projected trilogy a fascinating meditation on identity and difference.

Permanent in the United States SB Divia is an engineer by training and has written speculative fiction grounded in contemporary scientific research.Her YA Novella runIncluded in her collection Contingency Planning for Doomsday and Other Possible SituationsNominated for Nebula Award in 2016.Recently, her novel Machinery (2021) charted the tensions raised by the advent of augmented humans and sentient robots, broadening the debate on the ethical issues behind the development of artificial intelligence that began in EM Forster’s “The Stopping of the Machines” (1909 ) has been intense, here is the context of the gig economy.

delhi resident Sami Basu Publishing various genres such as fantasy, science fiction and graphic novels since 2004.More recently, his dystopian novel spirit of choice Released in India in 2020, now in the US inner city, a Tordotcom publication. In this post-cyberpunk narrative set in India, the role of social media influencers is examined a decade later in Delhi through the experiences of Bijoyini ‘Joey’ Roy, pararealist controller in Flow, is a recent hybrid of social media and projection trends. Basu refers to events such as the protest movement of Delhi’s Muslim minority in Shaheen Bagh (2019-20) as events that exist only in memory, evidence of the recent rapid removal of activist meddling from the public sphere.

Usman T. Malik is a trained rheumatologist and author of speculative fiction from Pakistan. His award-winning work spans horror, fantasy and science fiction, while he often draws on the fantasy and fictional traditions of the Middle East.Malik’s Short Stories Midnight’s Gate: A Fable from Pakistan (2021) recently won a Crawford Award for “Resurrection Point”. This powerful first-person story depicts the vulnerability of a minority of the Christian community through the depiction of the narrator’s ability to raise the dead, a young boy using resurrection points at the direction of his father (who has the misfortune of falling into sectarian violence).

Binasha is a media professional and writer from Karachi, Pakistan. She has written five novels and two collections of short stories.Feminist Dystopian Fiction before she sleeps (2018) are known for their descriptions of Middle Eastern countries where the virus has largely killed women. As a result, women were forced to give birth by the authorities. The rebel group Panah caters to an elite clientele, where women lull men to sleep through their presence, a form of emotional compensation, but at a cost.As Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale, this novel, which is set after the India-Pakistan nuclear exchange, retains its particularity and strangeness. A sequel is coming.

Harris Durrani is an American mystery writer with a Pakistani-Dominican background. Harris’ debut novel, self technology, a fusion of Latin and Islamic elements, won the 2015 Driftless Novella Award. He brings his dual heritage into play, making numerous references to ciguapas (shape-shape creatures of Dominican lore) and jinns (magic creatures of Middle Eastern lore), and paying careful attention to the origins of these creatures, as in his story ‘Champollion’ . This story of the history of genocide (the attempt to exterminate a species) and the obliteration of the “other” restates some of the themes in Octavia Butler’s work in an innovative and original way.

Vajra Chandra Color is a writer and editor from Colombo, Sri Lanka. To date, he has published more than fifty articles in various magazines.his debut Mingmen sage To be published by Tordotcom Publishing in 2023. In his story “The Makers of Monuments,” Vajra recounts the historical trauma of the Sri Lankan Civil War. In this story, augmented humans are assigned to build monuments to those who fell the moment they died on the battlefield. This anti-war story dismisses the idea of ​​a monument to a heroic martyr, perhaps as a nod to Wilfred Owen’s World War I poem “Dulce et Decorum Est.” The irony of such images of battlefield glory is underscored by references to the Department of History, tasked with rewriting the past according to the whim of those in power.

Based in Dhaka Saad Hussain Writes fantasy and speculative fiction grounded in satirical satire and dark humor. His first book was an anti-war satire, Escape Baghdad! Published in 2015, followed by Fantasy Djinn City 2017 and hybrid sci-fi/fantasy gurkhas and the lord of tuesday 2019. cyber magethe sequel Djinn Cityjust appeared in 2021, while kundo wake up Released earlier this month alongside Tordotcom. His story, “Bring Your Own Spoon,” about an unemployed elf in future Bangladesh who rallies for an uprising of poverty on the fringes, helps build a community kitchen with quintessential subcontinent flavor. The future society pictured here is not without its dangers, as benevolent nanobots protect wealthy individuals living in bubbles from various diseases in the water and air. The tragicomic tone of the story is a hallmark of Hussain’s style, as he straddles the permeable boundaries between genres with aplomb.


As we have seen, South Asian science fiction and fantasy is as much talked about for the variety of flavors and metaphors it offers, as it is for the variety of culinary offerings offered in different corners of the subcontinent. On another level, we can see serious ethical engagement with pressing sociopolitical and ecological issues in the best recent writings, even as these differentiated collectives negotiate postcolonial history and civilized memory in this geographical and cultural space. challenge to renew towards a just and inclusive future.

Tarun K. Saint, independent scholar and writer, was born in Kenya and lived in India since 1972. His research interests include carve-up literature and science fiction.he is Witness Partitions: Memory, History, Fiction, based on his PhD thesis.he edited Scarred Memories: Community Violence and Writingr and co-editor (with Ravikant) translation partition. He also co-edits Looking Back: India’s Partition, 70 Years, with Rakhshanda Jalil and Debjani Sengupta.he edited The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction. Bilingual (Indo-Italian) Science Fiction Anthology Avatar: Indian Science Fiction Co-edited with Francesco Verso Published January 2020.

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