How Sci- fi Seeped through Asian Lore
Did you know the first science fiction with aliens and outer space was written in Greek in the second century, almost two thousand years ago?
The novel, A True Story, was written by Lucian of Samosata, an author of Assyrian descent. He wrote of aliens and outer space and battles between the residents of the sun and moon and also a battle inside the stomach of a whale. It seems like a highly amusing plot from the current day perspective.
British critic, academic and novelist Kinglsey Amis wrote about A True Story in New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction (1960): “I will merely remark that the sprightliness and sophistication of True History make it read like a joke at the expense of nearly all early-modern science fiction, that written between, say, 1910 and 1940.”
The twentieth century had greats like John W Campbell, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke and many more. Science fiction drew from the world of fantasy, reality and speculative to create a rich genre for readers.
Asia had its fair share of sci- fi in non- English languages. Begum Rokeya was a feminist and a sci- fi writer at the turn the twentieth century. Writer and film- maker Satyajit Ray is a legend in this genre. Vandana Singh, Samit Basu, Liu Cixin( of Wandering Earth fame) are a few more names that spring to ones mind when we think of the current century.
An essay in Prism, interestingly traces the genre back to Jagadish Chandra Bose, the well known scientist, Urdu writer Ghalib Lakhnavi and Hindi writer Devaki Nandan Khatri. Read more about how science fiction in Asia evolved by clicking here.
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