Even as futuristic tech, post-apocalyptic scenarios and alternate histories are gaining more mainstream cred in U.S. publishing, Indian science fiction authors still struggle in obscurity. Science fiction accounts for only about 2 percent of publishing in India, according to a new article, and authors complain of being marginalized. (One big problem? They all write in English to try and gain international acceptance, which limits their local readership.) Still, their novels take SF themes and make them uniquely Indian.
One big difference between Indian SF and that of other countries: There always has to be a happy ending. Says writer Arvind Mishra:
See, science fiction is a literary genre and unlike (Aldous) Huxley, writing about a bleak, dystopian future doesn’t really go down well with audiences. It’s much better to have a bleak situation and then some twist in the end that saves the day and keeps everybody happy.
Also, Indian SF has to appeal to Indian values. Short story author and retired chemistry professor Y.H. Deshpande wrote a story in the 1980s about a widow who has the chance to use her father-in-law's frozen sperm to conceive a baby. She ends up saying no, because using dad-in-law's sperm wouldn't go over with Indian audiences. And the science is seldom explained in Indian SF stories. The most intriguing Indian authors sound like Nellai Muthu, an actual space scientist who worked on India's Chandrayaan moon probe and writes about interstellar contact. And Dishnuprasad Chaturvedi, who wrote a detective novel about "a thief who swapped his brain." [LiveMint]