Bengali science fiction
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Science fiction in the Bengali language is known as "kalpabigyan" .
Bengali writers wrote various science fiction works in the 19th and early 20th centuries during the British Raj, before the partition of India. Isaac Asimov’s assertion that "true science fiction could not really exist until people understood the rationalism of science and began to use it with respect in their stories" is true for the earliest science fiction written in the Bengali language.
The earliest notable Bengali science fiction was Jagadananda Roy's Shukra Bhraman (Travels to Venus), published in 1879. This story is of particular interest to literary historians, as it described a journey to another planet; its description of the alien creatures that are seen in Uranus used an evolutionary theory similar to the origins of man: "They resembled our apes to a large extent. Their bodies were covered with dense black fur. Their heads were larger in comparison with their bodies, limbs sported long nails and they were completely naked." This story was published a decade before H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898) in which Wells describes the aliens from Mars.
Some specialists credit Hemlal Dutta as one of the earliest Bengali science fiction writers for his Rohosso (The Mystery). This story was published in two installments in 1882 in the pictorial magazine Bigyan Dorpon (Mirror of Science).
Jagadish Chandra Bose, now considered as the father of Bengali science fiction, wrote Niruddesher Kahini in 1896. This tale of weather control, one of the first Bengali science fiction works, features getting rid of a cyclone using a little bottle of hair oil (Kuntol Keshori). Later, he included the story with changes in the collection of essays titled Abyakto' (1921) ' as Palatak Tufan (Runaway Cyclone). Both versions of the story have been translated into English by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay.
Roquia Sakhawat Hussain (Begum Rokeya), an early Islamic feminist, wrote Sultana's Dream, one of the earliest examples of feminist science fiction in any language. It depicts a feminist utopia of role reversal, in which men are locked away in seclusion, in a manner corresponding to the traditional Muslim practice of purdah for women. The short story, written in English, was first published in the Madras-based Indian Ladies Magazine in 1905, and three years later appeared as a book.
Science fiction in Bangladesh
After Qazi Abdul Halim's Mohasunner Kanna (Tears of the Cosmos), Humayun Ahmed wrote the first modern Bengali SF novel, Tomader Jonno Valobasa (Love For You All). It was published in 1973. This book is treated as the first full-fledged Bangladeshi science fiction novel. Then he wrote Tara Tinjon (They were Three), Irina, Anonto Nakshatra Bithi (Endless Galaxy), Fiha Somikoron (Fiha Equation) etc.
But Bengali science fiction leaves its cocoon phase holding the hands of Muhammed Zafar Iqbal. Mr. Iqbal wrote a story named Copotronic Sukh Dukho when he was a student of Dhaka University. This story was later included in a compilation of Iqbal's work in a book by the same name. Muktodhara, a famous publishing house of Dhaka was the publisher of this book. This collection of science fiction stories gained huge popularity and the new trend of science fiction emerged among Bengali writers and readers. After his first collection, Mr. Iqbal transformed his own science fiction cartoon strip Mohakashe Mohatrash (Terror in the Cosmos) into a novel. All told, Muhammed Zafar Iqbal has written the greatest number of science fiction works in Bengali science fiction.
Following the footsteps of the ancestors, more and more writers, especially young writers started writing science fiction and a new era started in Bengali literature.
Moulik, the first and longest-running Bangladeshi science fiction magazine, was first published in 1997, with famous cartoonist Ahsan Habib as the editor. This monthly magazine played an important role in the development of Bengali science fiction in Bangladesh. A number of new and very promising science fiction writers including Rabiul Hasan Avi, Anik Khan, Asrar Masud, Sajjad Kabir, Russel Ahmed and Mizanur Rahman Kallol came of age while working with the magazine. Recently Nasim Sahnic is a promising young science fiction writer in Bangladesh. His latest science fiction books like Genetic code, Robopsychologist, Sundarbone Truti, Coxsbazarer Cossop are very famous to young generation.
Other writers of Bangladesh
Other notable writers in the genre include: Nipun Alam, Ali Imam, Qazi Anwar Hussain,Altamas Pasha, Abdul Ahad, Anirudha Alam, Ahsanul Habib, Kamal Arsalan, Dr. Ahmed Mujibar Rahman, Moinul Ahsan Saber, Swapan Kumar Gayen, Mostafa Tanim, Vobdesh Ray, Jubaida Gulshan Ara Hena, Amirul Islam, Touhidur Rahman, Zakaria Swapan and Qazi Shahnur Hussain.
Writers from West Bengal
A number of writers from West Bengal, India have written science fiction, as well. But almost all of the writers of West Bengal (excepting Premendra Mitra) actually wrote science fantasy rather than science fiction.
Adrish Bardhan is one of the most notable names among West Bengal's sci-fi writers. Under the pen name of Akash Sen, Bardhan was also the editor of Ashchorjo, the first Bengali science fiction magazine. After a six year run, this magazine ceased publishing. Later, Mr. Bardhan became editor of the magazine Fantastic, but it did not last long. Another Sci-Fi magazine, Vismoy Science Fiction, was edited by Sujit Dhar and Ranen Ghosh but was only published for two years.
A short story known as The Alien written by Satyajit Ray about an alien named "Mr. Ang" gained popularity among Bengalis in the early 1960s. Ray is attributed with virtually pioneering the genre of Indian Science Fiction. It is alleged that the script for Steven Spielberg’s film E.T. was based on a script for The Alien that Ray had sent to the film's producers in the late 1960s.
Other notable science fiction writers of West Bengal include: Lila Majumdar,Premendra Mitra, Sunil Ganguly, Shirshendu Mukherjee, Said Mustafa Siraj, Samarjit Kar, Anish Deb, Siddhartha Ghosh, Rajesh Basu, Biswajit Ganguly and Abhijnan Roychowdhury.
Portrayal of characters
Most Bengali science fiction authors use different characters for different stories, building them up in different forms according to the theme of the story. The stories by Muhammed Zafar Iqbal sometimes repeat names but have never used the same character in more than one story.
Qazi Shahnur Hussain, the elderst son of Qazi Anwar Hussain and grandson of Qazi Motahar Hussain, wrote a science fiction series named Chotomama Series. These are the adventures of a young Bangladeshi scientist Rumi Chotomama and his nephew.
Satyajit Ray wrote most of his science fiction works with the participation of the fictional character Professor Shanku or Trilokeshwar Shanku. Shanku is portrayed as an aged man with proficiency in 72 different languages who has created a number of innovative inventions. In Shanku's stories, he was regularly accompanied by other characters including scientists Jeremy Saunders and Hermann Krol, his neighbour Mr. Abinash, his servant Prahlad and his beloved cat, Newton.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2012)|
- Science Fiction: Ek Osadharan Jagat.
- Preface of Science Fiction Collection edited by Ali Imam and Anirudho Alam.
- Some different issues of Rohosso Potrika
- Entry on Bangla science fiction by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay in The Science Fiction Encyclopedia
- An Interview with Hasan Khurshid Rumi
- Sadhanbabu’s Friends Science Fiction in Bengal from 1882-1961 Debjani Sengupta