Narlikar, Jayant Vishnu; Subir Roy (ill.); Bal Phondke (ed.);
It Happened Tomorrow
National Book Trust, 1993, 270 pages
ISBN 8123706197, 9788123706191
topics: | science-fiction-short | india | anthology
19 selected science fiction stories from Marathi, Bangla, Hindi, etc.
1. Jayant V. Narlikar : The ice age cometh 2. Bal Phondke : The imposter 3. Laxman Londhe : Einstein the second 4. Subodh Jawadekar : A journey into darkness 5. Niranjan S. Ghate : The man 6. Arun Mande : Ruby 7. Shubhada Gogate : Birthright 8. Anish Deb : Catastrophe in blue 9. Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay : Time 10. Niranjan Sinha : The elevation 11. Sujatha : Dilemma 12. Rajashekar Bhoosnurmath : Venus is watching 13. Sanjay Havanur : The lift 14. Debabrata Dash : An encounter with God 15. Mukul Sharma : Twice upto a time 16. R.N. Sharma : The second coming 17. Kenneth Doyle : Rain 18. Devendra Mewari : Goodbye, Mr. Khanna 19. Arvind Mishra : The adopted son
Article on Indian Science Fiction by R. Krishna, DNA Apr 2008 A couple belonging to a higher caste go in for artificial insemination. However, the sperm donor belongs to a lower caste. To what caste will the child born belong? This question is raised in one of Bal Phondke's recent science fiction stories. The interesting thing is that this science fiction story, is written in Marathi. From Mumbai to Sangli, science fiction in Marathi has many fans. And thanks to the a growing interest in science among the youngsters, the fan-base is expanding. Apart from books, hundreds of sci-fi stories are printed in the special annual Diwali magazine of Marathi publishing houses. Marathi sci-fi stories started appearing regularly during the 1950s -- most of them adaptations of classics by Jules Verne and HG Wells. The genre took off in the seventies. According to Bal Phondke, former director of National Institute of Science Communication and a popular science fiction writer, there were two reasons behind this "meteoric rise": Marathi Vidnyan Parishad (MVP) and Jayant Narlikar. In 1970, the MVP, a body that promotes science among the masses in Maharashtra, started a science fiction writing competition, which was kept open to participants of all ages. AP Deshpande, secretary, MVP, informed that the idea then was to present science in a palatable form to the masses. Most of the leading exponents of Marathi science fiction today had never attempted to write a science fiction story until they decided to participate in this competition, which is held every year to this day. "I used to write family-based fiction until then. When I won the competition, it gave me the boost to write science fiction," said Laxman Londhe, whose story, Einstien the Second, was the lone Indian entry in The Road to Science Fiction -- Around the World, a collection of sci-fi stories written all over the world. Londhe was a lawyer by profession. The 63-year-old was always interested in science. "I took up law after my graduation only to fulfil familial responsibilities. However, I kept in touch with science and followed all scientific developments keenly. When I heard of MVP's competition, I decided to try my hand at science fiction," he said. In 1974, MVP received an entry by Narayan Vinayak Jagtap, who won the competition that year. It turned out that Jagtap, in fact, was Jayant Narlikar, who wrote under a pseudo name since he didn't want to influence the judges' decision in his favour (he was famous then already as the co-developer of the Hoyle-Narlikar theory on cosmology. Sir Fred Hoyle, Narlikar's mentor at Cambridge University, and a science fiction writer himself, encouraged his student to try his hand at the genre. Narlikar, however, wanted to write in his own language. He finally started work on his first story after returning to India, during a conference in Ahmedabad. "The lecture was really boring. I took a piece of paper and started writing my story -- I completed about one-thirds of it during the lecture," said Narlikar. The story was mentioned by Durga Bhagwat, president of the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (Marathi Literary Meet) in 1974 during her special address where she said that it looked like a new beginning in science fiction. It was indeed a new beginning because it was from that point on, that Marathi publications started carrying sci-fi stories in larger numbers. While Narlikar downplays his role in popularising the genre, his work continues to attract more Maharashtrians to science fiction -- especially the youth. "I just happened to see a book by Narlikar, who I knew was a renowned scientist. Out of curiosity I picked up this book called Virus and found it really good. So I started reading his other books," said Aditya Panse, a 22-year-old CA from Pune, who is now a fan of Marathi sci-fi. "The tastes of our readers have been changing since the last 10 years. Apart from science fiction we are publishing many science columns, which too are growing in popularity," said Vilas Adhyapak, chief coordinator, supplements of Belgaum-based newspaper Tarun Bharat. "Formulas and theories are unattractive and even frightening, but in the story medium you convey the essence in an agreeable form," said Narlikar. Moreover, as Londhe puts it, "Man's life is moulded by science. Questions like 'What is life?' and 'Who am I?' are no longer purely philosophical, but also scientific." Science fiction may not provide the answers, but it can sure make us think about science in an entirely different firstname.lastname@example.org