Hey there!

We made it to summer! (Okay maybe not quite but it feels close enough.) I hope you've been able to get out into the beautiful late-spring weather wherever you are. My girlfriend, Laura, and I went to Harper's Ferry recently to explore the history, the quaint town, and of course the A.T. and many hikes in the area. We love getting out into nature! It recharges my creative energy to be out in the wild.
- Nalin

Writing Update: The Lost Idea Pile

Recent writing time has been focused primarily on sorting through the "idea pile" of archived story seeds in my old writing folder. I've yet to decide if I want to take one of these older ideas and try to make something of it, or wipe the slate clean and start something entirely new. For now, until I gain some definite momentum on a specific project, I'm using my morning writing time to dabble in anything that piques my interest.

Examples of what's I've found in the idea pile:
  • four aborted drafts of the sequel to Red Soil Through Our Fingers, which was my debut novel published in 2016; the sequel is/was tentatively titled "When the Ground Beneath Us Shifted" and was mostly focused on Charles Kenton trying to walk a fine line to keep the Hellas Dao colony from erupting in violence in the midst of a rapidly devolving political situation awash in disinformation and hidden agendas... I dunno, maybe it just got too real these last few years?
  • a few rough notes on what I had in mind for the third book of the Red Soil series, tentatively titled "Far from the Sun that Warms Us"... intriguingly far more interesting to me than any of the four drafts of book two; themes seem to include recovering lost idealism and finding the will to keep fighting for what you believe in when the world keeps beating you down;part of me is tempted to just skip book two and go straight to this!
  • about 35,000 words of first draft of a near-future scifi novel (series?) called "Vihara", about the discovery of a "Causality Phase Drive" that enables our first faster-than-light travel, the subsequent settling of the Epsilon Eridani star system about 11 light years away from Earth, and the associated social and political consequences of the particular way the drive works; it also apparently had a whole sketched out set of layers about how the Buddhist sangha would maintain and practice the religion in a space-faring society, as well as how they would deal with the cosmological implications of the phase drive; it also also has a lot going on about cosmology and physics in general... with all this, I suspect it floundered in over-ambition
  • a fantasy/sci-fi world that imagines the "sun" as an line (or river of hot plasma in the sky) above a flat planar world, instead of either body being a sphere; the world included several fantasy races/species and some sketches of cultural systems that might have developed in response to this world setup, and technology tree built on metal, magnetism, and optics... the working title is "Iron and Glass"
  • the first two chapters of a novel (about 8500 words), tentatively called "Rassam's Eye", that was exploring what a space-opera-scale interplanetary war would look like from the perspective of a backwater planet that, despite just wanting to stay out of the way of surrounding greater powers, has the dubious fortune of having a lot of something very valuable; there's a thread in there about layered cultural identities, and coming back to a home you no longer recognize as yours; also a nice layer of a pretty cool religious system I was developing for the backwater planet which turns out to be.... ah, but that would be a Spoiler! I really like this one actually...
  • six or seven short story ideas in various states of completion, from the proverbial back-of-the-napkin scribble up to a couple thousand words
Do any of these stand out to you? What would you like to see me work on first? Ultimately, I think I'll have to work on what feels right (or I'll just get stuck again), so no promises; but the idea that someone somewhere will be interested in something is a great motivator to explore it more!

Feel free to email me if you have Thoughts.

Interweb Findings: South Asian Speculative Fiction

It's pretty rare that I come across other authors of South Asian descent writing science fiction or fantasy. (I'm sure thousands if not millions exist -- I just don't happen to run into any or their work very often.)

I was pleased to encounter not one, not two, but three speculative fiction works by SA authors in the last month. Two are short stories and can be found in the latest issue of Clarkesworld magazine: A Home for Mrs. Biswas, by Amal Singh, and Dancing with Ereshkigal, by Sameem Siddiqui. Interestingly, both take place on Mars, which I thought was a great connection to Red Soil.

My third South Asian SFF encounter in the last month was finding the debut novel by Indra Das, The Devourers. The novel is not new (it was published in 2015), though it was new to me. It's on the longer end (600+ pages), and it's told with a startling contrast between the prose (which is lovely) and the subject matter (which is uh... very primal). So, if you can stand some gore (and, we'll call it, "strong sexual themes"), the novel explores how myths about shapechangers (primarily werewolves) connect through different cultures and eras. I'm finding it thrilling, beautiful, and more than a bit disturbing. If I had to classify it, I'd call it dark fantasy layered with horror, set against the backdrop of centuries of Indian history and culture (particularly Kolkata and the Sundarbans, but they journey around a bit). Read it if that sounds like your thing, and I'd love to chat about it when you're finished! I'll probably post a full review to the blog eventually.

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