Review: The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction

The whole purpose of Fresh Pulp Magazine is to find SFF voices, not only in communities of color, but from the perspective of those communities. Recent years have seen a proliferation of anthologies and curations of these voices which we’re glad of. When we encounter these works, we feel excited to share them with our readers. There is also a level of anticipation I feel about the authors whose work may appear in such anthologies. I’ve been a fan of the work of such SFF authors as Vajra Chandrasekara, who has appeared regularly in Strange Horizons, and who I first encountered in Clarkesworld’s July 2013 issue with his short piece “Pocket Full of Stones”.

There is also Harris Durrani who has been making the rounds discussing “Dune” discourse this year and has compiled a very impressive collection of essays on the subject on his medium page which can be found here. I first happened upon Durrani through his John W. Campbell nominated short story “Tethered” in Analog SF (July-Aug 2013) . (You can still read that story and dozens of others in the “Campbellian Anthology”. Available here.)  His piece “Champollion’s Foot” is everything I’ve come to expect from him as an author and an academic. Though I’ve always found him to be an excellent writer, it’s been a pleasure to watch him evolve and deepen his work over the last six or so years. I was also pleased to see Senaa Ahmad appear in this anthology. Her story “Glow-In-The-Dark Girls” from the January 2018 issue of Strange Horizons was and absolutely beautiful piece of SFF prose. The last one I will name here (because I can’t possibly name them all), is S.B. Divya whose book “Machinehood” I read last year and enjoyed immensely for its worldbuilding. All of these writers whom I hope to see more of in the future and will be on the lookout for.

Though I love seeing the works of authors that I have come to admire and enjoy, love seeing works from authors I had never heard of before, this is where the real power of anthologies such as “The Gollancz Book of Sout Asian Science Fiction” lays. As a lover of SciFi, a writer of it, and more recently, a curator, I have developed a process by which I consume these works. I always read first, entirely for enjoyment. I do make a note of those stories which have stood out in my mind for a particular reason. I then go back and do searches of those authors online to see if I can find any of their other work.

Once I’ve completed that first round of searches and made notes of where to acquire other things they’ve written, I do similar searches for everyone else in the book. More often than not, despite some of those authors not having stood out for me in the initial reading, I will encounter other works of theirs in other publications that did.  Can I just say how much I enjoy nerding out while looking up the works of a newly discovered author?

As I continue to read through this anthology I will put out some short reviews. One such work is already on my radar. A book called “Clone” by Priya Sarukkai Chabra. Based on the synopsis alone this looks right up my alley. It takes place in 24th century India, which holds the promise of science fiction that is distinctly Indian. I am interested to see how this particular author has imagined future Indian society.

Finally, it should be noted that when ordering this book, I accidentally ordered the first volume instead of the one being reviewed here. It was a happy accident because I didn’t know there was a volume one until this happened.  Though the first volume is not the subject of this review, I did take the time to read it and I will include a link to it here. I can say that the first volume is no less impressive. Both are worth having in your collection. You can purchase both books here.

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