Something to be excited about… an SF workshop in India!

Quite a while ago the intrepid Anil Menon, along with academic and critic Suchitra Mathur at IIT-Kanpur and yours truly came up with the idea of holding an SF workshop in India.  With the enthusiastic encouragement of our friend Jaya Bhattacharji and others, we got it in shape, with Anil and Suchitra being the key organizers.  Until fairly recently, though, we didn’t know if we were going to have any applicants, but now it is pukka, as we say in India.  Eighteen people have been selected based on their submitted writing samples.  Most are not established writers but all have promise and enthusiasm.  And — amazingly — about 50% are women!  The show starts in mid-June.  So here we go!

I’ve never been to Kanpur but when I was a kid we’d sometimes pass through it by train on our way to visit my grandparents in Patna.  So I’m excited about going to a new place, a place rich with history, and I’m also excited about being on the IIT campus.

I guess I forgot to mention that the three of us: Anil, Suchitra and me, will each be teaching a week of the 3-week workshop.  The cosmologist and SF writer (in English and Marathi) Jayant Narlikar will be stopping by for a session in the middle of my week!  Considering his were among the first SF stories I read when I was a kid, and the fact that he is a physicist (one of the world’s foremost cosmologists) adds to the excitement.

I’ll be spending time in Delhi with my parents, sister and her family, reconnecting with aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, and eating vast quantities of real mangoes.  The Kanpur trip will be by train and I cannot begin to say how much I’ve missed train trips in India.  I’m also looking forward to my first sight of the Ganga in decades.

As for the workshop, what am I expecting from it?  To hone new talent, to bring what I know of the genre to eager new minds, but also to learn from and be influenced by the people, the place, the workshop.  To give back just a little to a place that has given me more than I can say in a few (or many) words.

The downside is that I’ll be leaving my family behind in the U.S. which is not easy to get used to, although they’ll probably be partying the whole time.  I tend to miss people, however.  Ah well.

Summer is scorching in the Gangetic plain.  Already in Delhi the temperature is in the 40’s (degrees Celsius) and that is only the start.  I don’t like extreme heat but I know how to deal with it, so I guess I’ll survive.  I am hoping to be able to post dispatches from the trip here.

But now it is time to mark papers, which lie in fat piles.  This is exam week, which is why I’ve been too busy to post here.  But it will end soon, and I can get back to writing!  Much as I’ve enjoyed teaching this semester, there are two short stories, a novella and a children’s novel beckoning…


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