Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vandana Singh on spec-fic and other things

Blogging time is very limited these days and it's easier to link to stuff I’ve been reading. Author Vandana Singh guest-blogged on Jeff Vandermeer's site for a few days recently and wrote a series of fine posts covering such topics as science fiction and the end of the world, women writing in India (a conversation with Urvashi Butalia and Anita Roy), and books that change the way we look at the world. A piece I thought especially moving and eloquent was The Creatures we don't See: Thoughts on the Animal Other, about the self-absorption of our species and the banishing of other life-forms from our consciousness.

"...it seemed as though humans were so intensely obsessed with their own concerns that they didn’t “see” other life-forms, let alone recognize their significance. I have come across this oddly blinkered view in other circumstances. For instance in almost every TV science fiction show I’ve seen, the ship that travels across space is a sterile, hospital-like environment where you rarely see a plant or animal. Yet we know that each living organism is an ecosystem — as attested by anyone who’s suffered a disturbance in the balance of their intestinal flora due to sickness or antibiotics. (Part of it is that we have this modern icky attitude toward germs, as though all germs are “the enemy” and health is a state of being germ-free — tell that to the mitochondrion).

...just as being blind to the oppression of women creates conditions where this oppression continues unchecked, being unable to “see” other creatures allows us to go about blindly and stupidly destroying the ecosystems on which we depend...To not recognise the connection between us and other species, to see nothing outside of the box in which we’ve placed ourselves, is to suffer from a sort of mass autism."

Also read the thoughtful discussion about Indian and Western sci-fi on this post (and its comments), a conversation with Anil Menon. I loved Singh’s two Younguncle books for children, but I haven't read much of her work in speculative fiction/science-fiction; am looking forward to The Woman Who Thought She was a Planet, which is being published later this month.

And on a related note, I’ll soon be posting about an excellent new novel from the genre, Manjula Padmanabhan’s Escape, which I’ve just finished.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.geocities.com/ifihhome/articles/kkp001.html
    This article by Dr Kapil Kapoor is a far richer exploration of the theme of engaging with nature and other animals.That,and a few other things.