21 April 2011

Science fiction's new world

I love the show dearly, but one thing that has always bothered me about Star Trek is why the Federation is so American. If it's set in the future, wouldn't it make more sense for it to be overwhelmingly Chinese? Of course this reflects how much of a tight grip Hollywood has on our cultural visions of the future... but it looks as though that's already changing. Jonathan Wright has written an eye-opening piece for The Independent today about how an increasing number of science fiction novels are being based in emerging nations, including Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (South Africa) and The Dervish House (Turkey) by Ian McDonald.

Jonathan included an interview with me for the story, partly because Geek Nation looks at the future of Indian science but also because some of the technologies I describe in the book are particularly weird and occasionally dystopian (in other words, potential science fiction fodder). There are, for example, Hindu scholars trying to prove that interplanetary flying machines existed thousands of years ago, a private company building a city of the future in the remote Western Ghats, and a renegade engineer who claims to have built a truth machine.

Interestingly, while on tour last week I did notice that science fiction and fantasy by Indian authors seems to be attracting more readers than ever. New novel, The Immortals of Melhua by Amish Tripathi, is a bestseller, and Samit Basu's recent book about technological superheroes, Turbulence, was also a hit. Graphic novels are already so popular that India is hosting its second annual Comic Con next February (by the way, if the organisers are reading this, I would love an invite). Maybe one day we may even see a movie with an Asian woman at the helm of a starship... Bollywood, can you hear me?

(The picture above is of Indian superstar Rajinikanth in last year's hit Tamil sci-fi film, The Robot)


obssesor said...

Hi Angela,
This is Mallik from WOW! Magazine. We met at The Park in Hyderabad. I just wanted to tell you that I just finished reading your book loved everything about it. I generally dont read non fiction but your book was appealing from the start.
Looking forward to read your next.

Angela Saini said...

Hi Mallik, thanks, that's really kind of you!