Once upon a Blue Moon by Sukanya DattaIndian Science Fiction has languished under lots of misconceptions, most of which had sprang up due to lies sprouted by certain limelight-seeking fake activists, and ignorance. To remedy the situation, and to restore the focus on science as well as fiction, let me write about a literally wonderful book penned by one of the most senior scientists in India. I had read the book long-long ago. Revisiting the stories brought back some pleasant memories, and a renewed hope about Indian Science Fiction.
‘Once Upon A Blue Moon’ contains 12 stories written by Dr. Sukanya Datta. She has written several informative, lucid, and interesting books on various subjects under the broad category of Popular Science. Unlike a Bengali writer who has developed a cult following thanks to a tendency of dumping emotional junk in place of actual science, she doesn’t try to ‘protect’ the readers from hard science. This honesty and brevity shone through the stories under discussion as well.
But let me go one-by-one.
1. When the Tide Turns: The under-privileged and ostracised are vilified and attacked everywhere, especially in this era of post-truth and Trump. But, what happens when nature tends to ‘get back’ at her abusers? This story reminded me of Nancy Kress’ ‘Beggars in Spain’, but was more humane and relatable, in a way.
2. The Scientist and The Star: Herr Lucky Shome, the literary descendant of Sherlock Holmes and Byomkesh Bakshi, makes entry in this darkly humorous murder mystery. Yes, the criminal was obvious. But the crime… scientific indeed!
3. The Real Princess: If you ever wish to find out a story in the vein of ‘The Case of the Missing Patriarchs’ by Logan Clendening (immortalised in Ellery Queen’s “The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes”), look no further. Herr Luck Shome shines again!
4. Technology Transfer: A maudlin piece, this one relies too much on emotion, perhaps to negate its ‘human’ characters.
5. Well Begun is Half Done: This fable-like story is predictable, but it indeed showcases a nice message.
6. Modern Neelkanths: This story is so realistically apocalyptic, that it should have been picked up for a web-series by now. Seriously!
7. Borrowed Death: Herr Lucky Shome finds the truth about a death, while unearthing the darkness beneath.
8. Full Circle: If you own a greenhouse harbouring various plants and orchids, and if I tend to avoid your invitations, blame it on this story. As a person who had found Ray’s ‘Septopus-er Khide’ charmingly unscientific, this one was a real eye-opener.
9. Death on Command: Long-long ago I had read a Lawrence Block story about a terrorist, and a secret service officer. This one was not THAT unpleasantly pleasant, but it was a solid one, indeed.
10. Completely Catwoman: Once you have read this story, you would never, I mean NEVER look at the models and heroines with the same lust or envy, I guarantee.
11. A Tale Retold: Fable, or truth? It’s a story about science alright, but classification… I leave it to you.
12. Page From The Past: This story is bound to leave you with a shock, as you realise how the pages of history and myth reveal a millennia of injustice, which is going on, and would perhaps go on.
Overall, this collection of stories, sometimes dry, sometimes over-informative, and yet perpetually thought-provoking, are truly and properly what science fiction stands for. Not laser gun, space ships, or time travel, but stories with science embedded into a body of life.
Guy J - Once In A Blue Moon (Original Mix) [Bedrock]
Once upon a Blue Moon
Peter only comes out for a drink once in blue moon now that he has kids. A: "Do you ever eat pork? I prefer beef. See also: blue , moon , once. Jill: Does your husband ever bring you flowers?
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