Tag Archives: Vandana Singh

MIND MELD: How to Write Science Fiction on a Post-Colonial World?

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

In recent years, the ascension of several former Third World countries to a better economical and geopolitical standing (the best example of which are the like the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) has been slowly but steadily bringing a change of paradigms in the way science fiction sees the world. Could it be that novels like Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Wind-Up Girl, Ian McDonald’s Brasyl and The Dervish House, to name just a few, are some of the harbingers of this change? Or, as their authors are Western in origin and haven’t lived in the countries they portrayed, would they still be focusing on the so-called exotic aspect of foreign countries and therefore failing to see the core of these cultures?

We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: How do you Write Science Fiction on a Post-Colonial World? Do you think belonging to a Non-Western culture is essential to write a really good, convincing story about it? Is being an outsider to the culture you want to write about, an enriching or impoverishing experience (or doesn’t it matter in the end)?

Here’s what they said…

Joyce Chng
Born in Singapore but a global citizen, Joyce Chng writes mainly science fiction (SFF) and YA fiction. She likes steampunk and tales of transformation/transfiguration. Her fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres, Semaphore Magazine, Bards and Sages Quarterly and Everyday Fiction. Her urban fantasy novels Wolf At The Door and Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye (written as J. Damask) are published by Lyrical Press. Her short story “The Sound Of Breaking Glass” is side by side with luminaries in The Apex Book of World SFF vol II. Her blog is found at A Wolf’s Tale. She wrangles kids and promises she is still normal.

I have to disagree, though a writer from a non-Western culture might understand the nuances of being a post-colonial writer better.

A Western writer who wants to write a convincing story has so many opportunities at his or her fingertips. Thanks to globalization, we have access to the Internet, the chance to talk to people living in non-western countries via a plethora of tools and gosh, libraries. Accessing information now is so easy, so simple – many do not even have to step out of their rooms. At the same time, you can ask a friend who is from the said culture(s) you are writing about to vet it. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Research. Let it be an enriching experience. Worldbuilding does not emerge out of the ether nor do you pluck it out of thin air.

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TOC: ‘Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana’ Edited by Anil Menon and Vandana Singh

Lavie Tidhar has posted the table of contents for an upcoming anthology in which he appears, Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana, which is being published by Zubaan Books in India:

  1. “Kalyug Amended” by Molshree Ambastha
  2. “Exile” by Neelanjana Banerjee
  3. “Fragments from The Book of Beauty” by Priya Sarukkai Chabria
  4. “Sita’s Descent” by Indrapramit Das
  5. “The Good King” by Abha Dawesar
  6. “Sita to Vaidehi — Another Journey” by Sucharita Dutta-Asane
  7. “Day of the Deer” by Lavanya Karthik
  8. “Weak Heart” by Tabish Khair
  9. “Regressions” by Swapna Kishore
  10. “The Ramayana as an American Reality Television Show: Internet Activity Following the Mutilation of Surpanakha” by Kuzhali Manickavel
  11. “Petrichor” by Sharanya Manivannan (Tharini Manivannan)
  12. “The Princess in the Forest” by Mary Anne Mohanraj
  13. “Falling into the Earth” by Shweta Narayan
  14. “Vaidehi and her Earth Mother” by Pratap Reddy
  15. “The Mango Grove” by Julia A. Rosenthal
  16. “The Chance” by Pervin Saket
  17. “Oblivion: A Journey” by Vandana Singh
  18. “Game of Asylum Seekers (Women)” by K.Srilata
  19. “Making” by Aishwarya Subramanian
  20. “This, Other World” by Lavie Tidhar
  21. “Machanu Visits The Underworld” by Tori Truslow
  22. “Sarama” by Deepak Unnikrishnan
  23. “Great Disobedience” by Abirami Velliangiri

INTERVIEW: Vandana Singh

[Editor’s Note: A while back, SF Signal published a Mind Meld feature on Tomorrow’s Big Genre Stars. Patrick at Stomping on Yeti has been profiling these writers and has agreed to cross-post them here.]

After what feels like forever, I was finally able to get in touch with one of the first authors I approached in my Keeping An Eye On Series. Out of all of the names on the SF Signal Genre Watchlist, Vandana Singh was one of the authors I knew least about and I wanted to correct that. After doing a little digging and reading a few stories, I realized that Vandana was doing some very interesting writing that stood out as unique against the majority of my reading experience. This inspired me to see what the highly regarded author was currently working on and to learn more about her as an author. Unfortunately, I initially had some trouble getting in touch with Vandana and my interview with the author responsible for such brilliant pieces as “Delhi” and “The Wife” was unfortunately put on hold.

However, after a few months trying to track her down, I’ve finally got some answers…

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