Vandana Singh’s The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories

Photo on 2009-10-17 at 15.18

Professor Masood Raja lent me his signed copy of Vandana Singh’s The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories (2008) a few months ago. Mrs. Singh is an Indian science fiction and fantasy author, who also holds a PhD in theoretical particle physics. You may read some of her work and learn more about her on her official website here.

Due to my PhD reading lists and an enormous amount of other work, I have only just now got around to reading the short story for which the collection got its name, and I can only say, wow, it’s a really great story. “The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet” is a whimsical answer to the more paranoid invasion stories of Philip K. Dick or the alarming nanotech transformations of Greg Bear. Her writing style reminds me of the fleshiness and texture found in the works of Ted Chiang and Ian McDonald. The “aliens” of this story are not from out there, but from the woman herself. She creates them, and they in turn care for the planet that gave them birth. Her creations, which she is trying to learn how to understand, and her changed behavior as a planet among human beings challenges the relationships of husband-wife/male-female while turning issues of class and face on their heads.

You should check out Mrs. Singh’s collection on the basis of this one story, and if you have the time, let me know what you think of the other stories.