Science fiction is often hailed as the “literature of ideas or change.” It is a narrative genre, which creates fiction speculatively and rationally. Speculative in the way it takes real situations, or technologies, and imagines how they may evolve. However, this imaginary take mostly stays rational. This is why much of the genre contains elements of real-world history.
When anything is possible, the scope widens with a variety of futuristic concepts and unbridled imagination. One of the best things about science fiction is that we get to take the world as we see it, then expand on it. We may decide to tell the premonitory tale or the exciting, thrilling account of what could happen, should we follow a certain path. Regardless of the setting, concept, and characters, this genre is complex, often contains nuanced details, and explores larger themes and commentary about society beneath the surface.
The genre has existed for long. A True Story, written by the Syrian satirist Lucian in the second century, explored other universes and extraterrestrial lifeforms. Literary historians regard this as the first sci-fi story ever. Modern science developed during the Age of Enlightenment and writers reacted to scientific and technological advancements with a wave of sci-fi stories like New Atlantis by Francis Bacon (1627), Somnium by Johannes Kepler (1634), and Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon by Cyrano de Bergerac (1657). Since then the genre expanded and flourished in content, form, and reader’s patronage.
Today Science fiction has truly moved into the mainstream, reaching a wider audience, and evolving to accommodate that audience. It has widened its scope through speculative poetry as well as non-realistic fictional forms like slipstream fiction to name a few of the variations in form. We tend to see a lot of writing right now about concepts that are trending in news cycles, like genetic manipulation or climate change. We also find many fictions about authoritarian governments and economic inequity. Those kinds of stories were always there, but there is a certain urgency now.
This prompted The Antonym to take a closer look at contemporary science fiction, slipstream fiction , speculative poetry and bring to its readers some diverse yet engrossing output of this genre.
This month’s issue also intends to take a deep dive specifically into Indian Science Fiction, its past, evolution, and contribution to the genre in a global sense. Our interview of Dr. Suparno Banerjee looking at the history and political underpinning of Indian Science Fiction sets the stage for a panel discussion on contemporary Indian science fiction with few exponents of the genre.
We hope our readers will enjoy the content coming out over the next four weeks. While we may only be able to scratch the surface, we sure are going to whet your appetite for more.
Scence Fiction issue, April 2021
Ocean Zero – Andrew Joron
In Hamlet’s Question -Ritwik Bhattacharjee
Heiko H. Caimi
Panel Discussion on Indian Science Fiction
Subodh Jawdekar, Dipen Bhattacharya, TG Shenoy
Kazio Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun
Soham Ghosh (Bengali)
Carlos Kohn (Spanish)
Baret Magarian’s The Fabrications