24 August 2015

Review: The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh

Another five months, another review of a Big Finish trilogy an unreasonably long amount of time after it came out released at Unreality SF. Check out my take on the return of Peri after the events of The Trial of a Time Lord in The Widow's Assassin, Masters of Earth, and The Rani Elite. Rereading it, I can't believe I didn't mention that really, Peri should have just stayed dead in that one! Or that Mindwarp is Colin Baker's best television story.

Trade paperback, 206 pages
Published 2013 (contents: 2002-08)
Borrowed from the library
Read June 2015
The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh

Seeing that I was presenting on short Indian science fiction at the Science Fiction Research Association, it seemed I ought to read the short Indian science fiction written by the conference's guest of honor. I was glad I did-- Vandana Singh is a very different writer to Manjula Padmanabhan (one might glibly say that Padamanabhan's work is all about getting out of India, while Singh's is about getting back), but also a very good one. This volume collects all Singh's published short sf as of 2008, most of which I would classify as falling on the literary end of things, some even being more stories about science fiction than actual science fiction. Anyway, it's thoughtful, inventive stuff: the title story, for example, sees a man's wife transform into a planet, to the extent that her residents colonize him!

I particularly liked "Infinities," about an obsessed mathematician; "Hunger," about a dinner party gone bad through the small cruelties all of us commit every day in our need to get by; and "Three Tales from Sky River," an inventive set of folklore from another planet in another time. My favorite story in the book, though, was "The Tetrahedron," where a giant tetrahedron just appears in a city street one day, and its protagonist must try to figure out what it's doing and why it captivates her so much. No one else understands her interest, and I felt this sentence not only summed up the story, but also the book as a whole, and was just a lesson worth remembering: "outer space, inner space, both had unknown topologies. You couldn't overlook one at the expense of the other."

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