The following report on the Indian National Science Fiction Conference in Vellore is reprinted with the kind permission of the author, Dr. M.H. Srinarahari. It quickly sketches the wide-ranging intellectual interests of Indian writers and academics.
October 17, 2003
Subject: Report on the National Science Fiction Conference held at Vellore (Tamil Nadu) on 11th & 12th of this month.
Perhaps no one might have witnessed an occasion as this where there
was a culmination of Science Fiction (in print) and Sci-fi (visual
media). It was made possible by the Indian Association for Science
Fiction Studies by organizing the V National Conference at Vellore
Institute of Technology, Vellore on 11th and 12th of this month.
The aim of the conference was to bring together all the Science
Fiction aspirants in the country, to popularize science and
technology, to give a tribute to Kalpana Chawla, and in turn to
provide a platform for the SF scholars, writers, and the students to
discuss about the 'Women in Science Fiction'.
Inaugurating the conference, A.M.S. Ramaswamy, a futurologist from
Pondichery University, highlighted how the dreams of yesterday have
been realized today. Elaborating the point, he cited the dreams of
the poet Subramanya Bharathi and saint Thiruvalluvar are becoming
true today. Similarly, the scholarly speech also referred to Alvin
Toffler's Future Shock and The Third Wave, which signal the changes
anticipated in the days to come.
Making a power point presentation, Mr. Ananda Parthasarathy a
consulting IT editor of The Hindu, highlighted the thematic concern
of the visual media during the past seven decades. The title of his
presentation was "Cinema and Science Fiction: Seventy Years of
Synergy -1926 to 2003". He could substantiate the argument by the
display of a few video clippings of a few films and television
serials, which form milestones in the history of the visual forms of
science fiction. Interpreting the attempts made by the progress in
visual media, he also highlighted the contributions of the film
directors like Stanley Kubrick and others. He pointed out that though
sci-fi from Metropolis (1926) to The Men in Black (2002) had attempted to present a number of issues and their plausible solution, none of them have gained an Oscar award. The expert also traced the evolution in field of characterization, techniques, direction, theme, and points of view.
Dr. M.H.Srinarahari, the General Secretary of IASFS, presented an
annual report in which he enlisted the SF works produced in different
languages in different parts of the country. He highlighted how DSERT
Bangalore [Department of State Educational Research & Training, Bangalore] took up a project of conducting SF writing workshop for the
children of the age group 13-15 throughout the state, focusing on the
girl child coming from rural government institutions. The event is
acknowledged as the pioneer attempt in the world. Dr. Srinarahari, who
has a Ph.D in Science Fiction, and Prof. Rajashekhara Bhoosanurmutt,
who is a SF writer since 1960's, conducted these workshops. The
workshop product, which is edited by them, is expected publication
shortly. Also, he informed that opening up of a website of the
association is underway. Any SF enthusiast can seek membership, whose
biodata with photo will find a place on the website. They may contact
the General Secretary of the association over 0821-2302124 or mail to
Dr.K.S.Purushothaman, the President of the association, in his
presidential address, informed how SF was speculative and was
accurate in its future predictions. He clarified how the association
will help the scholars, writers, students, and enthusiasts to
derive the benefits of sharing the material and explained how the
association will provide a common platform for mutual interaction.
Speaking on the relevance of the theme of the conference, he spoke
about Kalpana Chawla, who is the icon for the youngsters to follow her
spirit. Likewise, he also spoke about the women characters and women
writers of SF who have been the guiding spirit for the future
generation. The Registrar of the Deemed University of Vellore
Institute of Technology showed his great concern for the development
of science, technology, and the genre science fiction in the country.
He also suggested that introducing SF in the curriculum at different
levels could popularize the genre.
Mr. KRK Mohan, a prominent Telugu SF writer and the Vice President of
the association, welcomed the gathering. Dr. Palanivel, an SF
supervisor and Professor of English at the Madras Open University,
Chennai, proposed the vote of thanks.
Later in the day, Professor Rajashekhara Bhoosanurmutt addressed the
participants, describing the method of conducting SF workshops, and
gave a few tips for writing SF stories. During his lecture, he
highlighted how the tips given for writing SF short stories by Mark
Twain are relevant in the present day situation.
In addition to the reading of papers on Kalpana Chowla, a few
participants recited the poems composed by them as a tribute to the
departed great soul. Dr.Shamala Rathnakar, Dr.Harsimran Preet Sidhu,
Dr.Celline, Vijayakumar.J, Umashankar.S, Subhashini.K, Dr.
Jayakumar.J and S.Chandrashekaran presented papers highlighting the
gifts of the machine culture.
Dr.Srinarahari, Dr.Usha Kalyani, Mr. Sathyanarayana, and Prof.Manuel
viewed Science Fiction in the feministic perspective by making a
scholarly study of the works produced by SF writers of the UK, the
USA, and India. Similarly, Professor Ramaswamy.S of Bangalore has
sent a paper on "Women in Science Fiction." He could not attend the
conference this time.
Y.H.Deshponde, KRK Mohan, and Dinesh Goswamy presented papers on the
history of Science Fiction through the ages in Marathi, Telugu, and
Assamese respectively. A number of papers on a variety of topics in
the field of Science Fiction were presented during these sessions. A
few participants read the stories written by them. R.Vijayachandran,
J.Thenmozhi, KRK Mohan, Y.H.Deshponde, Geetha.B, Dr.Mahalaxmamma,
Dr.S.Sharada, Dr.J.Manuel, D.Amudha, Jayakeerthana and others were in
These sessions were chaired by Dr.Palanivel, Professor of English,
Chennai; Professor R.Bhosanurmutt, eminent Kannada SF Writer;
Dr.Panneer Selvam, Professor in English, Chennai; KRK Mohan, an eminent
Telugu SF writer; Dr. Purushothaman, Professor of English, Vellore TN,
The conference was attended by students, SF writers, scholars,
critics, scientists, professors in the department of English, and SF
aspirants from different parts of the country.
Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies
Papers presented at the V National Science Fiction Conference held on
11th and 12th of this month at Vellore Institute of Technology,
Vellore, Tamil Nadu.
Theme I :: A Tribute to Kalpana Chawla.
1. Jayakumar.J., Dr., Senior Lecturer, Periyar EVR College, Tirupathi;
"Space Lost by Kalpana Chawala Regained by Lost Galaxies: A study of
Nancy Robison's A Space Shuttle Trip."
2. Shamala Rathnakar, Dr., Karnataka University, Dharwar, read a poem
composed by her, "Tribute to Kalpana."
3. Vijayakumar.J. Mphil, English Literature, Jamal Mohamed College,
Tiruchy- 20; "The Adventures of a Little Girl in the Space: A Study
of Nancy L Robison's A Space Shuttle Trip."
Theme II :: Papers on Science and Technology.
1.Chandrasekaran.S, Scientist, 17-1-391/27A, Hyderabad 560 059;Power
Point Presentation on various aspects of Science and Science Fiction.
2.Shamala M.Rathnakar, Dr., Dept of English, Karnataka University,
Dharwar, Karnataka state; "Science, the Scientist and Scientific
3.Subhashini.K., Auxilium College, Gandhinagar, Vellore -632 006;
"Advancement of Science and Technology -E-Books."
4.Umashankar.S., II M.A. English, Jamal Mohamed College, Trichy -20;
"Science Versus Superstition: A study of Ruth Tabrah's "the Old Man
and the Astronauts."
5. Valarmathi J., Project Fellow, Dept of Tamil, SVU, Tirupathi; "The
Role of Women in Communication."
Theme III :: History of Indian Science Fiction
1.Deshponde.Y.H., A-5 , Green Park, Kranthi Chowk, Aurangabad -431
005. Phone: 0240 -2333034; "History of Marathi Science Fiction."
2.Goswamy DC, Dr. Regional Research Laboratory, Jorhat, Assam,
"History of Assamese Science Fiction."
3. Mohan KRK, Science Fiction Columnist and Freelance SF Writer, Plot
no: Kanchi Residency, Hno. 11-19, P&T Colony, Hyderabad 500 060.
Phone mobile: 31019358; " A Brief History of Telugu Science Fiction."
Theme IV :: Science Fiction Short Stories :: Reading Session
1. Cattmanchi Mahalaxmi, Dr., Dept of Studies in Telugu, SVU, Tirupathi -517502; "A Child Saved by the Artificial Blood."
2. Deshponde. Y.H, read a story: "Suma's Question."
3. Jassal Arjun, story
4. Jemina Farrar.M., Auxilium College, Xuxilicen Hostel (Cesira
Block), Gandhinagar, Katpadi, Vellore -6; Wonderchip(at)futureworld.com
- an sf shortstory
5. Jha Abhaya, Story.
6. Mary Gabriel, MA English I Year, Auxilium College, Gandhinagar,
Katpadi. No.103/28-A, Ambedkarnagar,Tiruvannamalai -606601;
phone-04175 -251779; Read a story, "Dolly," which bagged the first prize at the conference.
7. Sodem Sarada, Ph.D., Scholar, Dept of Telugu, SVU, Tirupathi -2.
AP; "Artificial Eye Fixation."
Theme V :: Science Fiction: A Critical Study
1. Celine.E. Dr, Dept of English, St.Teresa's College, Ernakulam;
"The Moon in Science Fiction and Fantasy."
2. Bhoosanurmutt, R., SF Writer, 'Badaku', Kalaghatagi Road, Dharwar;
"SF Writing Workshop."
3. Geetha B., Language Group, BITS Pilani, Pilani, Rajasthan. Phone:
01596 - 242157 email: firstname.lastname@example.org; "Space Exploration in
Odyssey Series; Arthur C Clarke's Search of the Universe and
Humanity's Place in It."
4. Harsimran Preet, Dr, Head, Dept of English, G.N.G.College, Ludhiana -141 002.Punjab State; "Paradoxical Humanistic concerns in Robin Cooks' Coma."
5. Jayakeerthana JA, II BA, Auxilium College, Vellore.; "Asimov's The
End of Eternity: A Review."
6. Thnmozhi. J, Lecturer in English, Sri Sharada College for Women,
Salem -16; "A Critical Study on Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four- as a Science Fiction."
7. Vijayachandran R, I MSc Computer Science, Periyar EVR College,
Trichy -23; The Prophesy in Isaac Asimov's "The Fun They Had."
Theme VI :: Women in Science Fiction: a study of women characters/ authors
1. Kandaswamy A, II MA English Literature, National College, Trichy -1; "A Critical Study of Joanna Russ's When it Changed."
2. Manuel.J, Dr., Associate Professor, Dept of Tamil, SVU, Tirupathi;
"The Role of Women in Kommuri Venugopal Rao's Scientific Fiction."
3. Ramaswamy S, Professor of English Bangalore; "Women in Science Fiction."
4. Srinarahari MH, Dr., 3293, 21A Main, II Stage, Vijayanagar, Mysore
-570 017; "A Kaleidoscopic View of Women in Asimov's Robotic Works."
5. Usha Kalyani S, Dr., Reader in English, Bharathi women's College,
Chennai -600 108; "Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale as a
During the business session, the following office bearers of the
association were elected:
1. Dr.Purushothaman, Vellore - President.
2. Dr. Srinarahari M.H., Mysore - General Secretary.
3. Dr. Pitchai, Gandhigram - Joint Secretary.
4. Mr. Kandaswamy, TN - Treasurer.
5. Mr. KRK Mohan, Hyderabad - Vice President for North India.
6. Prof. R' Bhoosanurmutt, Dharwar - Vice President for South India.
7. Dr. Dinesh Goswamy, Jorhat, Assam - Secretary for East Zone.
8. Dr. Anand Babu, Ludhiana - Secretary for North Zone.
9. Dr. Panneer Selvam, Chennai - Secretary for South Zone.
10. Mr. Yeshwant H Deshponde, Aurangabad, - Secretary for West Zone.
11. Ms. Geetha Bits, Pilani, Member of the Exe.Committee.
12. Ms. Vinitha, Kerala, Member of the Exe.Committee.
13. Dr. Palanivel, Chennai, Member of the Exe.Committee.
14. will be announced later
15. will be announced later
Report prepared by Dr. M.H.Srinarahari. M.A. Ph.D. (English Literature-Science Fiction)
Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies,
# 3293, 'Harithsa', 21A Main, II Stage,
Vijayanagar, Mysore -570 017
Dr M.H. Srinarahari has been called the Thomas Clareson of Indian Science Fiction, for bringing together all the scholars, writers, readers of SF in India, as Dr. Clareson did in founding the Science Fiction Research Association.
My thanks to Dr. Srinarahari, for permission to reprint his report, and to Dr. Farah Mendlesohn, Editor, Foundation, for calling it to my attention.
Eileen Gunn is the editor and publisher of The Infinite Matrix, and Chairman of the Board of the Clarion West Writer's Workshop. She also writes short stories, two of which have been nominated for the Hugo award. Her cryptic and hard-to-navigate personal site, Imaginary Friends, was a Cool Site of the Day way back in 1997.