Snippets

I’ve lately been so busy and exhausted that I feel as though I’ve been run over by a succession of trucks — but of course, that is just Life. Since I have neither the brain power nor the energy at the moment to write a properly thought-out and coherent blog post, I’m going to, instead, commit a few disjointed paragraphs to the screen. They mostly have to do with the thoughts jostling about in my head and are by construction somewhat random. For which I ask the forgiveness of discerning readers.

International Day of Climate Action is October 24

That’s not far away. There are already a bunch of events planned worldwide and I’m trying to come up with something I can do in this little corner of the globe. October 24 is absolutely crucial because we need to put pressure on governments to act before the December Climate meeting in Copenhagen. A livable Earth for our kids and the other species, or the hellish destruction of the biosphere (already begun). The choice is ours! Check out 350.org and then please spread the word, through blogs or twitter or facebook or drumbeats, or, preferably, all of the above.

There’s Water on the Moon! (And on Mars)

Check it out from NASA Science news!   What is also cool is that there was already prior indirect evidence of hydrogen on the moon through an amazing device called a neutron spectrometer. I love the neutron spectrometer because the idea behind it is so elegant. On a flyby around the moon, it detected a greater proportion of “cold” neutrons from the polar regions, which would make sense if there were hydrogen molecules in the ice, since protons (being hydrogen nuclei) and neutrons are about the same mass and a neutron could lose much of its energy impacting a proton, and thus become “cold.”. And now they’ve confirmed that the hydrogen comes in part from water molecules.

Where does the water come from? How much is there? (Not very much, they think). What consequences will this discovery have?

And here’s the link to Martian water.

All this is making me thirsty.

New Scientist goes “Sci-Fi!”

My favorite science news magazine has a special on science fiction. In the next issue they plan to ask Terry Pratchett some reader questions.  I think I’ve read nearly every Pratchett book written so I might marshall a few remaining neurons to see if I can come up with something.

This could have been be a pedantic blog post expounding on science and science fiction but since I’m missing those neurons, I shall desist. (Thank goodness!)

Story News

I sent out two short stories this year, which is pathetic even for me. Much to my gratification they were both accepted. However they will most likely appear in 2010, so that 2009 will be my second year with no story credits (the other one was 2006 I think).

One is about an Indian poet from the 11th century and his cosmic journeys, with some physics thrown in (in disguise), and the other is about a young man in a horrifically messed-up world who still manages to be a dreamer, with interesting consequences.

I was supposed to be working on the third Younguncle book (got 8 chapters done) and an other-worldly novella with some absolutely freaky biology that is also a coming-of-age story, that might have become a novel (the less said the better regarding progress on that one), and at least one other short story and novella. Oh well. Life gets in the way.

An Essay on Hindi SF

Almost lastly but not leastly, I’ve been planning a post on non-English SF in India for ages but haven’t had the time. In the meantime, however, I want to point out this article on Hindi SF by Arvind Mishra whose own book of short fiction I hope to get to read soon. Many thanks to Arvind.

Non-English Indian SF has a long history that people outside those language-cultures are mostly unaware of. Language politics that privileges English over other tongues is also partly the culprit. I myself only speak, read and write English and Hindi, and even so there seems to be some degree of snobbery in Hindi Lit with regard to SF, if I can extrapolate from one example (family friend who is a great, award winning Hindi writer, is dismissive of SF in any language). What are needed are good translations — without the translation from Bengali I would never have read Premendra Mitra and have my mind blown away.

My obsession with Delhi 6

In a previous blog post I pointed out that a song from the movie Delhi 6 was running around in my head. Now all the songs are doing the rounds in what is left of my brain. This is partly because this past summer I saw the movie. It is a great mixture of good old bollywood masala and goofy modern takes on the tradition-bound island of culture that is old Delhi, and pretty serious stuff on communal violence.

The songs, evidently representing the eclecticism of Delhi (and India), range from a gorgeous Sufi qawali to a Hindu bhajan that is tranquility itself; from French-Hindi rap-inspired stuff (like the title song) to the folk song genda phool, to a rich classical piece that is a sort of conversation between a recording of the late great Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and a young woman of the present day, to deeply felt love songs (like rehna tu and dil gira dafatan), one of them sung by the legendary A.R. Rahman himself. I’ve already learned genda phool and most of the qawali. My training is in the ancient vocal tradition of North India (Hindustani) and although I haven’t had a lesson in the past four or five years, I am thinking it is time to go back. In my copious spare time, of course.

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4 Responses to “Snippets”

  1. Kurt Says:

    Hey Vandana, can you recommend a Mitra collection (in English)?

  2. Vandana Singh Says:

    Kurt,

    There’s Mosquito and Other Stories, published by Penguin India. I think there is another translation that is very recent but I don’t know who did that.

    You might be able to order from the Penguin India site, else I can get you a copy on my next visit.

    Cheers,

    Vandana

  3. Kurt Says:

    Thanks, I found that site, but would rather not purchase w/out a knowledgeable ref–our library does not have him, so I will probably buy a copy from Penguin India. I recently read a short story of his–online reprint in an English language Indian newspaper, don’t remember the paper or translator–it reminded me of a trip into faerie (if faerie had been an abandoned war zone) where the protagonist falls in love and returns several times, promising to marry on his next trip, but circumstances change and he never returns. The writing shifts (like clouds clearing) and while we watch our “hero” rationalize his change, we aren’t sure if the only magic was in the circumstances–that in reality, he had just visited an impoverished isolated town in the moonlight. Beautiful story (kicking myself gently for not remembering the title), appropriate ambiguity.

  4. YetiStomper Says:

    Hi Vandana,

    I was trying to get in touch with you via e-mail regarding an interview request. It would be part of a 21-author series.

    You can find details here (http://yetistomper.blogspot.com/2009/07/interview-series-keeping-eye-on.html)

    If you are interested in participating, please e-mail me at YetiStomper@gmail.com. Thanks!

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