Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Contemporary Indian Speculative Fiction
Samit Basu has put together a wonderful series of essays and interviews on the subject of contemporary Indian speculative fiction. It’s really a small encyclopedia rather than a blog post, so here are a couple of pointers on where to start. First and foremost, go here to read about the question of Indian speculative fiction in the context of the recent flourishing of “literary” Indian Writing in English. And here Basu deals with the question of “authentic” Indian superheroes (as opposed to the bad, but familiar, ripoffs of western superheroes). Both are highly recommended links. Basu also gets into some questions about the publishing industry and the current dominance of diasporic writers over writers based in India itself here; the publishing and marketing questions are less intrinsically interesting to me than the nature of the form, but in the case of this particular genre it’s hard to get around them.
As a teaser, one of the gleanings from Samit’s discussion of India-related superheroes is a baddie called “Commcast,” who is defined on Wikipedia as follows:
Garabed Bashur, a native of India, is a cyberpath who possesses the mutant ability to psychically retrieve, interpret and store data from any form of electronic media (essentially a highly potent electronic form of telepathy). He was trained in this ability by Professor Charles Xavier, but Xavier rejected Bashur upon learning of his criminal tendencies. (link)
In an era of outsourcing and the explosion of Indian high tech, it’s not at all surprising to see Marvel Comics go this route. I think it’s funny that they’ve given him a name ("Commcast") that essentially rhymes with the name of my current Cable/Internet company ("Comcast"); and actually, it’s a pretty good name for a villain. (At least they didn’t give him the name “Teevo”...)