Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mythological Ideas for SF Story Themes: A Novel Approach of Effective Science Communication among Indian SF Audience

Mythological Ideas for SF Story Themes: A Novel Approach of Effective Science Communication among Indian SF Audience
(Delhi,10 - 12 January 2012) 

Indian mythology as contained in Indian scriptures abounds in imaginative ideas. Carl Sagan was very impressed by these sources of ancient knowledge and once appealed SF writers to delve deep into Indian mythology to get original SF theme ideas. Many of such imaginative dreams of our ancestors are still in queue to be realized in want of appropriate technology though many have already seen the light of the day!

There are extrapolations, imaginative themes, and descriptions of gadgets in contemporary sf and in Indian mythology often quite alike. In Ramayan for example, there is a description of a very special kind of aero plane infused with artificial intelligence and emotions named Puspak Viman (Remember, Rendezvous with Rama by Clarke?) . Puspak Viman also possesses a vacant seat always for any last minute VIP entrant! Sudarshan Chakra (a kind of revolving disc) and specially designed arrows used by Lord Krishna and Lord Rama in war fields return to them immediately after hitting the target (Guided Missiles!). Maya Yuddhaa (A kind of illusory /virtual  war) as described in the epic Ramayan causes no real damage to enemy soldiers but is practiced only to frighten enemies who ultimately surrender in such fearful situations! These stories have been very popular among masses and could very well be used in modern Sf with ingenuity in order to woo Indian SF audience.

A survey was made to find out such imaginative ideas in our scriptures for using them as Sf themes as an approach to attract Indian audience for effective science communication. Findings shall be presented. 

(Reviewer’s comments) The flow of ideas from myths to SF ought to be to increase the scientific temper rather than ‘romaticise’ the past by anachronistic reconstructions of the past using present day scientific knowledge. The mythology ought to provide ideas for new scientific theories and new technologies rather than legitamising the past ‘achievements’ to the extent of dulling the present efforts. Author is advised to keep this key difference in writing this paper.Efforts should be to trace the ‘know-why’ of the mythical objects to (re) construct them in the present rather than ‘know-what’ of these objects.