Thursday, May 29, 2008

Proceedings of ‘Eighth national conference for science fiction writers '

The proceedings of ‘Eighth national conference for science fiction writers' held in Aurangabad in November, 2006, Maharastra, India is now available. Thanks to the efforts of Marathi Vidyan Parshad team that the initiatives of IASFS [INDAIN ASSOCIATION OF SCIENCE FICTION STUDIES] people to popularize science through sf is now bearing fruit. I have finished reading of the above mentioned proceedings sent to me by Marathi Vidhyan Parishad-[courtesy:Shri Anant Deshpande]about a month ago. I have already discussed it on my Yahoo Forum on sf. Below is some excerpts from there only.

The way I feel about the literary compilation is expressed in the following lines. You may call it a review [for all practical purposes] if you so wish .Shri Devendra Mewari , a noted Hindi sf writer observes that the present scenario of Hindi sf writing can not be stated to be an exiting and productive activity. Although I do not fully agree to the statement I submit that there are really certain conflicts and constraints which are of course hampering the natural development of the genre in India. Being a multilingual country with almost two dozen languages India stands divided in its efforts towards the enrichment of sf at the global level. Our whole energy seems to be exhausted in promoting and boasting our own regional achievements all the time -scattered and sporadic efforts like that may be a cause why Indian sf is not coming up to terms with contemporary world sf .We have perhaps not identified ourselves as one and unified entity / force so far in focusing our attention to promote the Indian brand sf at global levels. Still divided in factions our contributions do not seem to be perceptible

.In an another scholarly write-up entitled , 'sf in Kannad '[the state language of KARNATAKA state] an eminent sf writer Mr.Rajshekhar Bhoosnurmath has rightly stated that he does not like the idea of branding and highlighting Indian sf categorized and compartmentalized in many languages. He clarifies that he has never isolated /identified himself as a Kannad writer only. The central thought behind this blog also echoes the stand of Mr.Bhooshnurmath that we are Indian sf writer first and then whatever else .There must be a unified approach to promote Indian sf and the beginning has already been made.

The proceedings in question cover a scholarly article by Dr.Devendra Pal Singh on the status of Punjabi sf . Punjabi being an Indo-Aryan language is spoken by the Punjabi people in India as well as abroad.
Dr.Singh admits that sf in Punjabi is a recent phenomenon though with its beginning sometime in second half of the last century. Presently about a dozen writers are actively contributing to the genre on themes related to interstellar travels ,alien life ,AI, space opera etc.
The author of the article strongly feels that there is a dire need of more writers and publishers who could enrich the genre and Panjabi language as well.
A few names who have gained prominence so far include Amandeep Singh,Suresh Rattan ,Jasbir Bhullar,Sukhwant Kaur Maan ,Hardev Chauhan,Vidwan Singh Soni,Ajmer Sidhu and of course Devendr Pal Singh the author himself.
I did not know myself the status of Panjabi sf writing and by the account given by the author in proceedings I feel now that the status of Pnjabi sf is quite’s already on the take off stage like any other prominent Indian languages.

I have often wondered if sf has some sort of regionalism/cultural factions incorporated in its nature in addition to its universal common elements familiar to most of us.
And I was impressed by the discussion on the topic in between Prof. James Gunn,USA and Dr.Bal Phondke,Prof.Yashvant Deshpande and Shri A.P.Deshpande all Indian sf luminaries, published in the said proceedings.
When asked whether sf writers could be classified as Indian sf writers,American sf writers ,European sf writers,James Gunn replied that categorizations like these seemed justifiable as culture also plays an important role in shaping the ideas of sf writers.He said ,"...every writer is a composite of kind of genetic inheritance that he/she gets from the parents and grand parents modified by the kind of culture that teaches him what is important in life....... I certainly noticed cultural differences in the stories of the authors while selecting the stories from 15 countries for 6th volume of 'the road to sf’..There were commonality but in certain countries authors were far more influenced by fantasy elements....".I quite agree to Prof.Gunn and often notice that Indian sf too incorporates relatively more fantasy elements and comparatively large number of sf writers are tempted to include fantasy in their works.
But the point which worries me is the tendency of relegation of sf literature further down to even the levels of small geographical and cultural entities like states and vernaculars.
If this goes unabated I am afraid sf may loose its universal identity and may plunge into the state of an 'identity crisis ' as a genre.
Can’t it be recommended that authors of sf worldwide must adhere to certain features of sf by which it is easily recognizable internationally?
And what are these features?....any true sf buff is already familiar with but in case there remains some doubts the same could be addressed in meetings ,gatherings on sf and even on forums like this one from time to time. This is in fact a continuing process and not like something akin to any dogmas and fatwas of religious world-once established never changed.
To be concluded.....