I grew up reading almost exclusively sci-fi and fantasy books, sometimes one a day during the summers. I was like the main character in Oscar Wao except I wasn’t fat or bad with the ladies (well…I wasn’t fat). To this day, even though I blog for Sepia Mutiny and am surrounded by talented co-bloggers, some of whom are authors, I have never read a single book of desi-fiction. Ever. I have no excuse at all. It just hasn’t happened yet. I read books to escape into worlds that I can never be a part of, or to get smart on something that I want to know more about before I die. Desi-lit, no matter how far removed from my experiences, just seems too close. Every time I pick up a book of desi fiction I tell myself that this time I will read it, this will be the one…only to push it aside once again. Nobody has to tell me, I already know that it is my loss. I have a theory about books. I believe the right book falls into your hands when you are meant to read it. You don’t pick books, they pick you. I haven’t read a science fiction or fantasy book in at least a decade by the way.
The other day while reading Boing Boing I came across a book review that might just become my first desi fiction book. I say “might” because I can’t guarantee it until it happens given my fickle history. The book is titled Cyberabad Days: Return to the India of 2047 and is a collection of science fiction short stories:
Cyberabad Days returns to McDonald’s India of 2047, a balkanized state that we toured in his 2006 novel River of Gods, which was nominated for the best novel Hugo Award. The India of River of Gods has fractured into a handful of warring nations, wracked by water-shortage and poverty, rising on rogue technology, compassion, and the synthesis of the modern and the ancient.
In Cyberabad Days, seven stories (one a Hugo winner, another a Hugo nominee) McDonald performs the quintessential science fictional magic trick: imagining massive technological change and making it intensely personal by telling the stories of real, vividly realized people who leap off the page and into our minds. And he does this with a deft prose that is half-poetic, conjuring up the rhythms and taste and smells of his places and people, so that you are really, truly transported into these unimaginably weird worlds. McDonald’s India research is prodigious, but it’s nothing to the fabulous future he imagines arising from today’s reality. [Link]
p>With only two episodes left of Battlestar Galactica, I know I am going to be jonesing for some tales of human-robot hijinks. The short story mentioned below seems promising:
Vishnu at the Cat Circus: the long, concluding novella in the volume is an account of three siblings: one genetically enhanced to be a neo-Brahmin, one a rogue AI wallah who is at the center of the ascension of humanity’s computers into a godlike state, and one who remains human and bails out the teeming masses who are tossed back and forth by the technological upheaval. A story of character, Vishnu blends spirituality and technology to look at how the street might find its own use for things, when that street is rooted in ancient traditions that are capable of assimilating enormous (but not infinite) change. [Link]
Has anyone already read this? Please share your thoughts.