Event: Curious tidbits from "Science Fiction: Past, Present, & Future", Benaras, India - 10-14 November 2008
All from the event report by Professor Sagarmal Gupta [via Arvind Mishra]:
- "a puppet show on SF story of Zeashan H Zaidy was presented by Arshad Umar, a puppeteer from Lucknow." Updated 20 November 2008: Based on Zeashan's drama "बुड्ढा फ्यूचर" (tr "Aged Future").
Now that would be an Indian twist. I still have vivid memories of the only one puppet show I ever saw live - an open air performance by a street performer who set up shop for an evening near my home when I was still a child. They are, of course, not uncommon on TV in India, & are supposed to be popular in rural areas. So here's a handle on taking science fiction to rural audiences!
I don't recall having seen any other mentions of a puppet show based on science fiction stories. Is a video of the show available?
- 'Dr. Arvind Dubey, a pediatrician by profession and sf buff, ... rejected the view that Mary Shelley 's "Frankenstein" is the first SF in English. According to him Lucian's "True Story" (2nd Century A.D.) and Kepler's "Somnium" (1634) are the best contenders to be first S.F.'
I'd heard of Lucian's story but not Kepler's; may be it's time to read them. Former was easy to locate online. I suppose later one would be online too, but its text didn't appear among the first few entries returned by google.
- "Amit Sarwal emphasized the need for curriculum development in SF in the literature classroom at undergraduate level by the UGC and hoped for grants to publish critical books on SF in order to equip teachers to teach this new subject."
I was fortunate enough to never have to study in a university where UGC's centrally designed courses are mandatory, & actually have a low opinion of things central. But this view that center has experts to design things & the folks at local level can only follow is probably not uncommon through much of India; one of the cords we need to cut to up the level of many a university. Not likely anytime soon though, unless there is an education liberalization like the economic one.
"grants to publish critical books on SF in order to equip teachers to teach this new subject.": Taxpayer's grants for this kind of activities is another thing that makes me see red. But its probably common throughout the world, & not just in India. May be I would see things differently if I were an academic stuck in some funless university...
In any case, I think we probably want more writers & readers at grassroots level. University courses on the subject are probably less important. But that's a non-academic speaking.
- "Tom Stoppard's Hapgood and Arcadia": I'd never heard of this. Google search shows they're two plays rather than one story (my initial impression!) - "Arcadia" (1993) & "Hapgood". Because they're recent, neither seem to be available online.