“The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories” Review

Rating out of 5:

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Last year, as I was living in India, I was on a quest to discover as much Indian speculative fiction as possible. The limitation being that I could only read in English in a country where so many writers publish in Bengali, in Urdu, in Hindi (and dozens of other languages) without ever being translated to English.

There were still a lot of stories to read. 

One day, I stumbled upon a collection of short stories by Vandana Singh. A beautiful title: The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories… that was enough to mesmerize me. I opened the book and didn’t let go until I was finished with the last page.

She manages to portray in her stories a delicate equilibrium between poetry, audacity and humanism. This represents, to me, the most inspiring speculative fiction one can offer. Orson Scott Card, Robert Charles Wilson and Mike Resnick are other examples of incredible authors capable of working the same magic, though each in a different way.

Scenes of daily life in India merge with utterly uncommon events, such as the mysterious landing of a tetrahedron in the middle of Delhi, or the colonization of a woman by tiny living beings. And always, these phenomenons are softly, subtly described as to not shadow the thoughts of the characters involved.

Vandana Singh holds a Ph.D. in Physics and her fascination for the laws of nature and numbers is visible everywhere in her work, the most striking example being the story Infinities, in which Abdul Karim, a mathematician who saw his life slowly diverge from the path he had imagined for it, suddenly finds himself looking again for infinity while chaos is at his door.

On every page, in every line, I found beauty intertwined with tragedy, fear carried by unanticipated strength, and peacefulness while facing the unknown. A haunting book.

You can learn more about Vandana Singh by visiting her website: http://vandana-writes.com/

-Célia Chalfoun