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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.

Dear Friends,

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 sciencefiction_india(at)

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 this session.

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, and others.

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 Temper".

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) - 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:; "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 Feminist Dystopia."

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)
General Secretary,
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



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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.

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