Science Fiction and Fantasy | An Indian Experience

That’s over! By Dr. M H Srinarahari |
Issue 13

That’s Over! By Dr. M H Srinarahari

Spread the Love of Sci Fi is celebrating its first anniversary! It means that its gestation period is over. The year was the testing time. Any pioneer work is really challenging. The magazine has now gained stability. I presume that it will be a smooth sailing from now.

The study of the history of the SF magazines is a very interesting area. It is traced by a number of authors in a variety of ways in many countries in many forms. Of all these, I found the article, “Adventures in the Pulp Jungle” by Sam J. Lundwall published in Foundation, 34: Autumn 1985 to be very authenticated and straightforward in its narration. Likewise, this special issue has also brought out the progress done in the area in Russia, France, German, Italy, China, and others.

The entire history of SF magazines shows us that it is difficult to run it for a long time. At the turn of the century, I had listed about 650 SF magazines through out the world. Out of which, about four hundred of them were produced in the American continents. For more than a decade I have corresponded with most of them. I have discovered that most of them are fake magazines. Hence, very recently I asked Bruce Sterling to name a few genuine magazines in the USA. Instantaneously, I got a list of a dozen or so. I am mentioning this point not to blame them for cheating the public but to consider the hard truth how difficult it is to run especially a Science Fiction works. Many magazines have folded within a span of a year of their commencement.

The difficulties faced in running a magazine for years are many in number. First of all, to start a magazine one should have a ‘will’ to do it. However, it should not be a one-man show. It is often presumed that there will be a team to work. Often, one supposes that there are so many popular authors who can definitely look after the things at the appropriate time. Later they discover that there is no co-ordination among them. Some of them will be self-centered and hence the center fails to hold them tightly. Often it can be observed that good authors are not the good organizers. Often I have observed that selecting well known personalities to the board also results in miserable failure of the functions of the establishment. But instead, one should separate the executive body from the constitutional body. Next to it, what is required is a thorough funding facility. For which an alternate source of income should be thought of. In that sense, as I have watched closely, the magazines are often associated with certain commercial companies or tied with some of the political parties. This depends upon the ideology of the magazine. Often, the magazines have become the mouthpieces of the political parties. Since, it is being funded by the political party or a politician, the editorial board gradually loses the ‘freedom of expression’. Only solace is that remarkably Science Fiction has no religion, class, caste, region, and the gender bias in general. It advocates universal brotherhood and treats the entire homo sapiens as one great family.

The life of Indian magazines is comparatively very short because, the magazines are surviving either on government advertisement or on subscription. Each day the number of new magazines is increasing on the stand. For most of the Indians, reading is a luxury and not a necessity. The reasons are two folds. One, it takes several months to discover a good magazine because of their number. Second, the family members are all returning from their jobs only at night, some times late night and have realized that there is no substitute for the television programs. Hence, the readership is very poor. The magazines will have to rely on advertisements whether it is government or private companies. In venturing for advertisements, it is practically seen that ‘survival for the fittest’ principle fits in here. Hence, many magazines fold up very soon.

In India, one can notice that there is rush where there is more money. In this regard, we notice less number of fans for Science fiction. Two years back, the Indian SF writer Dr. Sanjay Havanur who is in the States informed me that under the leadership of Dr. Jayanth Narlikar and Professor Rajashekhara Bhoosanurmutt an association namely COFEA was established exclusively for the publication of Science Fiction articles and stories. I do not know why it had to be folded soon. The reason for mentioning these things is to affirm how difficult it is to run the magazine smoothly for years.

We do not know in which form the magazines will be in a decade from now. Technologically speaking, there is no wonder if is cited as a myth or referred as a primitive form of a webzine in the days to come. However, the magazine has had performed superbly in the last twelve months. It has an editorial, story section, provided space for special articles and above all a letters to the editor column. I see a lot of effort of Dinaker (This is how Srinarahari loves to spell Dinker’s name – Editor) behind every work. I imagine him as Raja Vikram who used to carry a corpse over his shoulder, which in turn used to narrate a new story everytime. Each time, the story is half told and the corpse used to ask the king a question and caution him that if he fails to complete the story and fails to give a satisfactory answer it will have the right to shatter his head into thousand pieces. Dinaker is the modern Vikram who is also facing similar problems in one way or the other. The wearer knows where the shoe pinches. Though not anything, I can guess from here that he has to squeeze out his precious time for this kind of a commitment. He need not be afraid of any thing from now. There is the entire country to back him up for this noble cause.

I wish to give him one suggestion on this occasion. Let the magazine devote some more pages for the non-Indian SF writers to write about India and its works. I wish every success.


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—. “The Critical History of Science Fiction”. Science Fiction Studies style=’font-style:normal’> 20  (1993): 157-175.

—. “Hugo Gernsback and his Impact on Modern Science Fiction”. Science Fiction Studies 21 (1994): 273-279.

Cover pic from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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Dr Srinarahari has obtained B.Sc., B.Ed., Diploma in Marathi, MA in English literature. He has been awarded a doctoral degree for “The Robotistic Works of Isaac Asimov: A Study” by Kuvempu University, Karnataka state. After serving for 40 years in Government of Karnataka he has retired as Principal. Now, he is working as Principal of Animaster College of Animation and Designs in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India for the last 5 years. He can be reached over; Dr Srinarahari is the Vice President of the Asian Science Fiction Association. He is the Secretary-General of Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies®, Bangalore, India. He has organized 14 National and 5 International Science Fiction Conferences. He is an SF writer, critic and reports for the number one SF magazine of the world namely Locus. SF Writing Short Story Workshop that he has conducted for the children of the age group 13-15 is acknowledged as a pioneer attempt. Also, he has conducted similar workshops for Scientists, Science Fiction Writers, Women writers, Research scholars, PG and UG students, Senior citizens, Working Women, Housewives as well as for all levels and age groups. The workshop products are published in the form of books. He has been compared to Thomas Clareson of the USA for his effort in bringing together people of all walks of life to be involved in Indian Science Fiction association activities. has several of his articles which reflect the holistic approach to the Indian Science Fiction Studies.