Category Archives: fantasy

Beast: An urban fantasy reminiscent of a folklore

Namrata looks at Krishna Udayasankar’s new novel set in Mumbai in the backdrop of the dark underbelly of the city amidst the world of Saimhas (werelions)

Publisher: Penguin

Released in : March 2019

An urban fantasy set in the mega city of Mumbai, Beast by Krishna Udayasankar reminds you of the folklore of Lord Narsimha and Prahalad. The description of one being ‘Neither a man, nor an animal’, is the common thread between the two.

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Essay: Hurtling through Space and Time with Books and Films

By Ratnottama Sengupta

So much of sci-fi uses science as a starting point and then uses fiction to fill up the gaps in our present knowledge. We use what we know today to imagine a different tomorrow –- a better tomorrow — for the world. Still, sooner rather than later, sci-fi that looks out-dated as science fiction becomes a scientific fact. Don’t we all know that Sage Valmiki wrote in Ramayana of the Pushpak Vimana ( mythical flying chariots in Hindu lore) and the giant bird Jatayu that clashed in mid-space aeons before the Wright Brothers wrote their names into aviation history or before the Central Science Laboratory in UK estimated that worldwide, the cost of bird-strikes to airlines had soared to US$ 1.2 billion annually!

But why does this possibility of fiction becoming a fact excite me? Admittedly because of my association with Me and I, which my father, well-known author and scriptwriter Nabendu Ghosh, had written for his two grandsons, and was translated by my son Devottam Sengupta for his grandpa’s birth centenary. Published by Hachette India, the novel breaks the barriers of space and time. Let me quote from the synopsis to give readers a glimpse of this. “They all had the same question for Mukul: ‘Why didn’t you recognise us? And why did you look so dark?’ Mukul was perplexed. The day had started as any other Sunday morning would, with him going out to meet his aunt, his friends and his mentor Noni Kaku of the Telescope. But when everyone, including his own parents insisted that he was lying about his whereabouts, Mukul had to look around for this imposter. And he found Lukum, who had travelled light years to meet his intergalactic ‘twin.’ Little did Mukul know that he had set out on the longest Sunday of his life…” Read more

Short story: Here I Am (for P.K. Leung 梁秉鈞 [Ye Si 也斯] in memoriam) by Xu Xi

He was not a zombie. Nor was he a ghoul, mummy, wraith, ambulatory skeleton or operatic phantom. He wasn’t even geong si, a dressed-to-the-nines Qing dynasty vampire that could at least do an approximation of the Lindy Hop, transcending time and culture into the Jazz Age. However, he was clearly dead, or undead if you parsed language to its core.

Jonnie Tang sauntered down the pathway of Southorn Playground, skirted the border of the court, waiting to be seen. His real name was Tang Chun-ying, or CY, but a little over a year ago, he had started going by Jonnie, not wanting to be ragged on for his English initials that were the same as the city’s Chief Executive. At least he used to be Jonnie Tang until 0555 hours. The idiot driver of that Bimmer M3 barrelling East on Hennessy, along the north border of the playground, had run the light and slammed into him. Asshole didn’t even have the balls to stop.

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

The force of impact had flung him into the plate glass window of the second floor hair salon above the Circle K. Shattering glass severed his vocal cords, and a large, jagged, blade-like shard almost decapitated him. Not a desirable angle of repose, to be unrecognisably swathed on a gurney, smeared in blood and faecal matter, like a chicken with its head chopped off. Even the emergency team paled. He was gruesome.

Next thing you knew, Jonnie was the corpse on TVB Jade’s 1830 hours evening news, being too late for the morning news at 0630 hours.

He could imagine his mother tsk-ing away at the radio news report later that morning. Those reckless 有錢 boys and their cars! Hate to death those have-money brats. They should be locked up and forced to clean public toilets as community service! His mother was tsk-ing about something else on the news, until the call came from the police, are you the family of Tang Chun-ying? Ma, he called across what he presumed to be an ethereal, omniscient panorama, I’m here, but his voice box was gone. He couldn’t even say before he disappeared that this wasn’t her fault and that she shouldn’t blame herself as he knew she would.

Except that he hadn’t disappeared, not really.

At Southorn, the gang was all there, waiting for him, calling out his mother’s cunt at his tardiness. It was a little past 0630 hours, their appointed time to shoot hoops each Tuesday morning, a ritual observed for the last five years.

Hey, he yelled at the gang, here I am. King-wah was dribbling the ball in a slow dance. Jonnie tried, but could not step over the painted white line on the ground that bordered the court. What was this weirdness of being, voiceless, invisible, movement-impaired? Uncertain of his new existence, other than the certainty that he was dead, he avoided touching or bumping into solid objects, afraid that he could not pass through them (or was he actually afraid that he could?). Would he disintegrate when the sun rose, assuming it wasn’t another rain-soaked morning? Did weather delay eternity?


Read the complete story in The Best Asian Speculative Fiction 2018. Show your support for contemporary Asian voices. Order your copy now:

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The fictional foods we wish were real

(From Atlas Obscura. Link to the complete post given below)

Sure, you can buy a Wonka Bar at any candy store. You can drink a sugary Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction in Orlando. And you can find a recipe for Lembas Bread on about a million Lord of the Rings fan sites. But none of these initially fictional foods could ever live up to how we imagined they would taste when we first saw or read about them. Fictional dishes invite us to open our mental palates to the possibility of new flavors and experiences. And because they are the product of imagination, they often also carry an emotional weight that real food, no matter how exotic, can rarely bring.

Recently, we asked Atlas Obscura readers to tell us which fictional food had sparked their imaginations more than any other. The results were delicious. You told us about your love for make-believe foods from books, television shows, films, and more. Most importantly, you got super specific about what you think these foods must taste like, including an alien dish that reminds one of you of “raw horse meat or sashimi with a kind of hot spice.”

We’ve collected our favorite responses below. Next time you encounter a mouth-watering food that doesn’t exist, try and decide for yourself what incredible, impossible flavors it might actually have.

Read more at Atlas Obscura link here

After decades of dwarfs and elves, writers of color redefine fantasy

(Courtesy The Christian Science Monitor)

N.K. Jemisin, the first black writer to win the Hugo Award for best novel, packs a powerful idea into a few lines of dialogue in “The Fifth Season,” in which an otherworldly woman’s search for her daughter resonates with the emotions of African-Americans after the Civil War desperate to reunite families ravaged by slavery.

“There’s a hole, a gap,” Ms. Jemisin writes. “In history.”

History suffers when perspectives are left out, Jemisin points out. The same may be said of literature. After decades of dwarves, elves, and other Norse-based mythology, the world of fantasy is changing, incorporating the myths and legends of cultures around the world.

While the field was largely dominated by white men in decades past, today diverse writers are bringing new voices to the conversation, imagining futures based on more inclusive readings of the past, and creating multiethnic worlds that can help people understand their own. Certainly, speculative fiction writers since at least Octavia Butler – the first science-fiction writer to win a MacArthur grant – have looked beyond Europe for inspiration. But no longer can they be dismissed as niche. From the $1 billion-plus box office of “Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler, to this spring’s breakout debut novel, “Children of Blood and Bone,” by Nigerian-American author Tomi Adeyemi, audiences and readers are flocking to well-drawn worlds inspired by African and Asian countries.

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