Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Interesting Questionnaire on Science and Fiction !

Peggy Kolm puts a list of questions on her blog ' Biology in Science Fiction ' which are to be answered by sf writers and bloggers as a preparatory exercise to moderate a session on sf in ScienceOnline09 which is an annual rendezvous of science bloggers.

I have answered the questions as per my little understanding of the subject and genre.The questions and answers are as follows-
What is your relationship to science fiction? Do you read it? Watch it? What/who do you like and why?

I am very fond of reading and watching sf .I like the stories particularly with optimistic note and happy endings. This may be due to the deep sacraments through which an Indian undergoes since his childhood. As a matter of fact most of the Indian stories have happy endings and a positive thought towards human life -Vivekanand( (January 12, 1863July 4, 1902) ,the great Indian spiritual leader who visited USA also once said .."See ,if you have lost every thing, future still remains." So we have born and brought up in a milieu like this.My all time favorite sf writer has been Issac Asimov who still has many of his admirers in India.His many stories have social implications and is appreciated by Indian audience.

· What do you see as science fiction's role in promoting science, if any? Can it do more than make people excited about science? Can it harm the cause of science?

· At least in India sf could play a pivotal role in popularizing sf but for this we have to look for many new innovative formats and procedures ...one is already in practice and has been brought to your notice earlieir and finnds a mention on your blog -BIOLOGY IN SCIENCE FICTION -This could be depicting/ showing of sf in dynamic models, .tableux during the religious occasions at times when there is a great assemblage of common people like the one called KUMBH –the largest fair of the world organized every 12 years for a duration of more than a month on the cofluence of river Yamuna and Ganges in Allahabad,India. An ingenious mix of mythology and sf could also be tried to attract the common masses. This experiment has yielded encouraging results during last Kumbh .If you rationally mix something very familiar like myths of a country with something very unfamiliar like sf ,things get going very well to carry and communicate the intended message to masses.No ,there seems to be no damage to the science itself ,instaed it serves the very purpose of sci communication. Its helpful to bring out the science out of our iron walled laboratories to the public.


· Have you used science fiction as a starting point to talk about science? Is it easier to talk about people doing it right or getting it wrong?

· Quite often ,To begin a lecture on science or technology stories act as attracting contrivances /devices for the audience and thus could be used in various medium of imparting knowledge from class room to open theater as par the need and demand. But yes such story tellers/trainers or teachers must be trained by the experts in the field ,otherwise there is a possibility of promoting pseudo science in the name of sf -mythology mix or any such ingenious combo.

· Are there any specific science or science fiction blogs you would recommend to interested readers or writers?

· Biology in sf is my favorite , sf signal is another one and there are many more depending on the choices by the people of specific geographical areas and interests.

· Questions for Science Fiction Writer.

* Why are you writing science fiction in particular? What does the science add?
* Writing to me at least is for my own satisfaction first and a very strong motivation to share the gained knowledge however meager that may be to fellow beings who need that knowledge. Sf writing serves to satiate my innermost desire.
* What is your relationship to science? Have you studied or worked in it, or do you just find it cool? Do you have a favorite field?
* I am a PhD in fish genetics from the Oxford of the East –Alahabad university ,India –so have a penchant for scientific contents especially genetics ,behavior and so on.

* How important is it to you that the science be right? What kind of resources do you use for accuracy?
* Science must not only be right it should be rightly put forth also .Otherwise there are chances that it may transgress the limits of sensibility/rationality and may plunge into the realms of pseudo science.
* Are there any specific science or science fiction blogs you would recommend to interested readers or writers?
* Already mentioned.


  1. Very interesting replies. I found the idea of using sf at places like Kumbh really wonderful. You mention that it has been tried...can you share the details with me?

  2. I think it's an interesting idea to mix SF with mythology. Here in the US there is often such a rigid division between science and Christianity, I can't imagine being able to mix in SF at Christian religious events.

    Thanks for an interesting addition to the discussion!

  3. Reema
    I have sent you certain relevant links by email.
    What I perceive mythology and religion may appear to be very close to each other apparently but they are quite distinct forms of human creativity.At the same time mythological narrations share some points of similarity with sf contents like the sense of wonderment ,exaggerations of/in characterizations and descriptions of the background or the environment depicted in the story and above all the unfamiliarity of many of scenes and characters with that of the audience.The literary characteristics like those make the mythology (at least the Indian mythology to which I am familiar)similar to some extent with sf in content and style.Hinduism or Christianity both are religions in their own might and I also do not find any relationship whatsoever in between those great religions of the world and sf.Mixing science and /or sf with religion have the pseudo scientific connotations which I dislike.
    Thanks for the comment.

  4. Peggy,
    I don't think SF and Christian mythology are rigidly divided at all. I would go as far as to say that American SF depends entirely on a Christian worldview. The whole notion of a "Saviour" is at the heart of all the superheroes, especially cult figures like Superman and Spiderman.

  5. Reema, I don't actually disagree with that. The European Christian worldview does strongly influence our pop culture. However, most American SF is not explicitly Christian - the characters often don't seem to have any religion at all. Add to that a vocal minority that sees any science at at as inherently anti-Christian, and I don't think SF - which also is coming from a science world view - at a religious gathering would go over well at all.

  6. Arvind: I think that's an interesting point about mixing science with religion and getting out pseudoscience. That would definitely not be a good outcome.

  7. You're quite right, Peggy, and anyway, SF characters with too much religion won't go down well with SF fans just as SF would be a little out of the place at a religious gathering. However, the 2 can be brought together when the religious gathering hasn't really gathered to discuss religion and religion is more of a backdrop. Kumbh Mela, for instance, has rural trade at its heart.

  8. Peggy,
    When I say mythology I do not necessarily mean religion though myths have their own role in propogating religious beleifs and (con)texts.I usually get impressed with the imagery of mythical sories and you shall appreciate that sf sories too have an imagery of a special kind. In order to woo the gullible , the illetarate people towards science on occasions like Kumbh mela a judicious mix of the imagery of very familiar mythical stories of the region (like creation myth and there are many more !)with contemporary world view on the same or even some relevant sf aspects could be tried with an aim to communicate science.To sum up ,it is perhaps not out of the context to quote here Ursula Leguin who once stated that "Sf is a contemporary myth"! Reema's thesis of exploiting such events to the benefit of science communication is quite ineliigible.

  9. Oh,the word was misspelt -What I meant was intelligible. Regrets.

  10. बहुत ही बढ़िया संवाद आपके और पैगी जी के बीच रहा। विज्ञान से मिथ का रब्त का पहलू रोचकता के साथ उकेर दिया आपने। आभार इसके लिए बहुत बहुत।

  11. Thanks a lot. This is an interesting recipe. At last I have found something interesting and unique to serve to my guests during the holidays. I am sure that they'll love this Kumbh. thank you for shearing your post.

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