Thursday, March 1, 2012

India and Science-Fiction – Like Two Peas in an Escape Pod!

and Science-Fiction – Like Two Peas in an Escape Pod!

India is no stranger to the instincts which lie behind science-fiction. Ancient mythologies talk of flying machines for example.

Evidence of science fiction in India can be found as far back as 1500 BC in the ancient Vedic literature. In these texts, there are many descriptions of unidentified flying objects referred to as “vimanas.” These “vimanas” can be of two types: “manmade crafts that resemble airplanes and fly with the aid of birdlike wings or un-streamlined structures that fly in a mysterious manner and are generally not made by human beings”.

The impulse to describe what other worlds might be like and how mankind could fashion new devices and manners of behaving is surely common to many cultures – in this, Indian culture is no different. 

Why India needs science-fiction like never before

India is a powerful emerging player on the world's technological stages. Just one example can illustrate this point: from a base of 6800 IT-related knowledge workers in the mid-1980s, the population expanded exponentially to as many as 522,000 in the early 2000s. What's more, by 2015 this number will have increased to 3.5 million workers – outdoing even the USA itself. Yet compare the mainly US tradition of science-fiction during the Golden Age with that of its Indian equivalent. Whilst the integrity and historical precedents of the Indian example are not in doubt, in quantity and level of output, if nothing else, the US clearly surpasses anything India has produced.

The US has, of course, had a much longer and deeper relationship with technology. Its earlier manifestations of a rather “hard sci-fi” – where narratives and character development played a secondary role to that of imagining new environments, gadgets and beings – certainly fed off this fascination and practice with new technology and scientific progress in the real world. But it wasn't a parasitical relationship as such. If anything, it would be better described as symbiotic. Yes, cars  were invented and manufactured by the Henry Fords of this world before many science-fiction writers imagined them flying – but, equally, TV programmes like “Star Trek” in the 1960s appeared to have imagined the iPad long before it was thrust, just a few years ago, on an unsuspecting world.

After all, you can't create a new world without imagining it first. 

Which is where, if you're need a reason to put India and science-fiction together, you will surely find the evidence you're looking for. There are bound to be Indian writers who have both the imagination and the forethought to be able to create their own dystopian sci-fi worlds without the need to jump on a cruise ship and experience the US sci-fi experience. 

A new literature, a new way of seeing the world

In the light of the US experience, then, isn't it clear where India needs to head? With a mushrooming population of technology-savvy workers able to create, reprogram, hack into and profoundly understand almost every new device and technological advance, the potential market for science-related content is ripe for a new literature – a literature which builds on India's honourable legacy and yet, at the same time, manages to free it from the past.

In a country as profoundly complex as India, science-fiction is perfectly positioned to devise those alternative and parallel universes of thought – universes which have already allowed very many other cultures to examine themselves not only intelligently but also safely; not only from a distance but also with perspicacity.

Imagineers of our societies

If science-fiction can offer a nation like India anything, it is the freedom to imagine its future. In a world which is now changing so quickly, the future is too important to be left in the hands of just the politicians, scientists or educators. For writers – perhaps the first group of knowledge workers which ever existed – also have their noble place.

Without technology, these days most writers would be lost. But without writers – imagineers, if you like, of the very tapestry of our societies – so would everyone else.

In science-fiction, technology and the writerly arts are bound as one.

And India will need both – if she is to advance with any wisdom into the brave new world which surely awaits.

 This article is written by Katie Corder who has introduced himself as a professional copy writer for science fiction in India ..looks interesting! Isn't it? 

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