Over a happy dinner sometime ago a childhood friend asked me ” what is the one thing you would change about your life if given the choice?” We are all now in our mid-fifties and these kind of musings are often a part of life and conversations !
I replied, “I would have studied science and become an astronaut.” Around the table laughter and ” talk sense’, “tell us the truth” resounded.
Strangely enough at this stage, for me, this is a truth. In school I used to be frightened out of my wits of physics and math! I remember trying hard to grasp the basic principles and equations to no avail! Maybe they were taught in a manner that did not enthuse or ignite the mind or I was simply dumb. But as a result I left science after grade X and have been floating in the world of economics and finance since then. And my inherent fear of numbers still haunts me!
However, when I look back I avidly read fiction along the way. My favorite genres were science fiction and ‘whodunits’. The beauty and incredible imagination portrayed in the works of Huxley, Asimov and the like stirred me even then. My favourite TV viewing used to be Star Trek, and I think I still try and watch most movies that come with the tag of ‘sci-fi’ !
When I discovered the writing worm in my own creative space, my first foray was rooted in contemporary life. When I had a book release event for the same, someone asked me “what I would be writing next?’, the reply had been spontaneous “Science fiction”. And I was hooked.
Now that my debut science fiction ‘Ascendance’ is out there, I sat down to think why I tried to write science fiction. It is not common among Indian authors and especially not women!
The two words “Science” and “fiction” , when tied together provide a canvas where imagination can be unleashed unfettered.
Science, I feel, is what takes humanity forward – from the discovery of fire to the nano chip – every step of science changes life as we know it. Mingling this life altering process with a writer’s freedom while penning fiction is an exhilarating journey, although also a difficult one.
It is somewhat simpler to write about things that are around, tangible and have been seen and experienced. The challenge of sci-fi is that a new world with all its dimensions has to be imagined. It has to be populated by characters – living or machines – that are distinct, yet remain plausible. Keeping it believable – that is the key.
The new world, once imagined, gives the space to spin stories. More often than not, science fiction brings a perspective on the life we lead today. The landscape being different, it allows the author to present future scenarios based on current realities that could be horrifying, dystopian, possible or simply surprising! Much of what was written as science fiction decades ago is actually mirrored in our lives today!
Simply put, I write science fiction because I enjoy imagining different and alternate ways of existence. I do not approach it with a dystopian lense. These days, ideas about different worlds, multiverses, travelors from different times keep floating in my head, as I try and spin my next book in my head.
Writing speculative fiction nurtured a deep fascination within me for space and the mysteries of the universe. After completing my novel, I have read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief history of Time”, tried earnestly to grasp the magic of Einstein’s time-space continuum, and I follow the endeavors to conquer space that are going on around the world. Maybe that is why I say that being an astronaut is one of the alternate lives I would pursue, if I had the chance.
Travel to Mars or the realms of outer space for me? Always a ‘yes’ to that dream. Sometimes I wonder, if parallel universes exist, maybe its not a dream for me there!
( Image by Thomas Budach from Pixabay)