I knew vaguely that Samit Basu had published a novel in India, but didn't know much about it.
It turns out, The Simoqin Prophecies has been released here in the U.S. I found my copy (purchased yesterday) at a Borders on Long Island. It's a $7.99 paperback, so Sci-Fi fans and Indian literature fans really have no excuse for not picking it up!
I'm sure everyone is saying this, and it might well annoy Samit to say this, but I think the simplest publishing tag-line/blurb for this might be the "Desi Harry Potter." Here's a snippet from an early chapter (I'm just starting the book):
History tells us that some things never change. One of these things is: history bores a lot of people. And when young spellbinders at Enki University, Kol, were bored, they tended to do something about it.
'Put that thing away, Borphi,' said Chancellor Ombwiri, his eyes never leaving the blackboard.
The Boy Genius put the inkatapult away. How did Ombwiri do it? But then again, he was the Chancellor of Enki University, the most famous centre of magical studies in Kol, and, indeed, the world, and so he was someone whom you'd expect would have a few tricks up his sleeve. The Chancellor, however, was not using magic on this particular occasion. He was using another potent force -- habit.
See the parallels? For the record, it really, truly, doesn't bother me at all. And I have a feeling, from the chapters I've read, that the novel (and indeed, the series), is going to go off in its own very interesting directions, with humor and irreverence.
I fervently hope this book succeeds, and finds lots of readers in the U.S. (Expect another post once I've finished the book.)
A little more in the teacherly vein, since next week I'm back in the classroom:
Ombwiri's classes were always full. This was because he never stuck to his subject, and he used a large number of thrilling and usually dangerous spells in all his lectures. Explosions, injuries, love potions--all of these were standard ingredients in an Ombwiri classroom. The Chancellor never had to take attendance.
Hm, interesting. I really think that's what's been lacking in my teaching performance in recent years. Not enough large and dangerous spellcasting!
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--Also some discussion of Samit Basu and Indian science fiction at this forum.
--And Samit posts a link to a review in the U.S. SF magazine Locus.
--Nilanjana S. Roy has been mentioning both Samit Basu and Ashok Banker as writers to watch for several months. Here's an example, at Rediff, from back in January. And here from her blog.
--I had also earlier posted on Indian speculative fiction writer Vandana Singh.