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  1. #1

    Hinduism in SciFi

    Hi all,
    I'm currently a religion/classical studies major at Pacific Lutheran University. Recently I decided to do my final research paper on Orientalism as it is present in Science Fiction (primarily in books). I was just wondering if anybody would be able to point me in the direction of a Science Fiction book that has any amount of Hinduism present in it. Right now I have Shiva 3000, and Lord of Light.

    Si vales valeo,
    NC

  2. #2
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Lord of Light is one of my all time favorites. it managed very well to blend in specific atributes of the Hindu Pantheon into human characters, found a good explanation for reincarnation and it is written in an archaic / heroic style that seems particularly appropriate.

    I've had on my to-read pile River of Gods by Ian McDonald for quite a long time, but other books keep coming before it. This one is closer in style to the cyber-punk of the 80's - a modern, dystopic approach more focused on technology than ancient myths.

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    Are there popular Sci-fi writers from the Asian sub-continent? Until recently I didn't realize wealth of international Sci-Fi writers from Russia and Japan so why not? It might be a place to start looking.
    I'm afraid that my poor experience can only yield up Lord of Light and that's on your list already.
    Arthur C Clarke spent the end of his career living in Sri Lanka, maybe some of his books might reflect something about Sri Lanka's rather large neighbor's religious culture. Unfortunately his Rama series relevance to the Indian God starts and ends with the title.

  4. #4
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    In Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise, the prime location for the space elevator his hero seeks to build is to be on the top of a sacred religious site. The story explores the site and the monks that lived there, in the past and in the story's present, to reveal whether the elevator will be built there or elsewhere.

  5. #5
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Yup. The island in The Fountains of Paradise is actually Sri Lanka itself, but renamed and moved a few hundred miles south to straddle the equator (thus making it a more useful location for a space elevator). He also uses Hindu names in both Rendezvous with Rama and The Hammer of God, but little more than that.

    Noted SF writer Dan Simmons has a novel set in India, Song of Kali, though apparently that is horror rather than SF.

    Ashok Banker is a reasonably well-regarded Indian writer of fantasy and crime fiction, but has not yet written SF (as far as I know).

    As well as River of Gods, Ian McDonald has a further collection of SF short stories set in India, Cyberabad Days, that might be worth a look.

  6. #6
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    The film director Satyajit Ray also writes science fiction, especially known are stories about the character Professor Shonku. I'm not sure on whether they touch on Hinduism or not. Kim Stanley Robinson wrote Escape from Kathmandu which is set in Nepal, but it's mostly about ex-patriates on a climbing expedition, but you could take a look.

    Samit Basu has written mostly fantasy, but he might have a fuller view of what's happening in the Indian SFF scene. Indian writers are more interested in SF than they were before.

  7. #7
    Thanks so much for all the help! I've always been more of a fantasy person myself, and I kept on drawing blanks on Sci Fi with Hindu aspects. I'm really excited about this paper, and these all look good. If you think of anything else, please pass it on.

    Si vales valeo,
    NC

  8. #8
    Thanks for those. Unfortunately I can't use them for my paper, since I am trying to critique Western perceptions/misperceptions of Hinduism, but I will be adding Samit Basu to my reading list!

  9. #9
    Registered User odo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werthead View Post
    As well as River of Gods, Ian McDonald has a further collection of SF short stories set in India, Cyberabad Days, that might be worth a look.
    Yes, that's a very good one.

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    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicrosby View Post
    Thanks for those. Unfortunately I can't use them for my paper, since I am trying to critique Western perceptions/misperceptions of Hinduism, but I will be adding Samit Basu to my reading list!
    In that case, Escape from Kathmandu might be useful as it's dealing with Europeans in Nepal who may not have the best views of Hinduism.

  11. #11
    A chuffing heffalump Chuffalump's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    In that case, Escape from Kathmandu might be useful as it's dealing with Europeans in Nepal who may not have the best views of Hinduism.
    It's a fun book but I think it was mostly dealing with Buddhism/Tibetan mysticism rather than Hinduism if I remember correctly.... it was a long time ago but there was certainly one story involving Tibetan mystic powers.

    Although there is an interesting crossover where Hindus believe Buddha was an incarnation of.....Vishnu (I think).

  12. #12
    I second River of Gods, although I didn't find it that good, it definitely has some good understanding of Hinduism and India in general.

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    Registered User Marigwen's Avatar
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    I noticed that you said you were interested primarily in books but not exclusively. Don't forget Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I'm sure it will be great for the wince-factor.

  14. #14
    Would anyone be able to comment as to whether MA Barker's works would qualify? The Man of Gold, Flamesong, then 3 more he wrote many years later are set in a polytheistic world, and I have read he spent some time in the indian sub-continent area and that it was a very large influence on his work and role-playing game universe.

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