An Evolving Arc(x)

Anjali Alappat

Last night, we hosted a City Scripts panel discussion on Indian sci-fi, fantasy and speculative fiction in collaboration with IIHS, Bangalore. It felt like the culmination of season one of Arcx, the podcast mini-series we published earlier this year. We will share a recording of the session soon, and hopefully you will enjoy it as much as we did.

For those of you who are new to Dark ‘n’ Light, The Subverse and Arcx—you’re in for a treat— we have a host of wonderful, zany and eclectic conversations for you to catch up on. Arcx is a subsidiary of the Dark ‘n’ Light podcast, The Subverse, and began as a sort of literary wish-fulfilment fever dream. I asked our team if we could create a podcast which centred around South Asian science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction authors and their creative influences. We decided on a six episode mini-series to test the waters. And I think it’s safe to say Arcx has surpassed all our expectations.

From the beginning, we’ve been beneficiaries of extraordinary kindnesses. From the wonderful authors who agreed to talk to us, to the enthusiastic listeners and fellow readers who have been so supportive and encouraging—the entire process has been wonderful, overwhelming and a little bit scary. Naturally, we can’t wait to do it again. We’re so excited to announce that Arcx will have a season 2. We’re going to continue talking to some of the brightest minds in South Asian literature and exploring what made them want to change the world, one story at a time.

In this season, our conversations spanned worlds and myths, delving into everything from Tolkien to immortality and killer clowns. There’s so much to admire in these carefully crafted universes, created in ink and set aflame by our minds. I’ve learnt so much from each conversation and hope that our progress will show in season 2. We want our proverbial story arc to be dynamic and ever evolving.

We thought it would be fun (and useful) to round up all the recommendations we’ve received during the course of researching, creating and editing Arcx. Maybe you need some inspiration for Christmas presents. Or perhaps, like me, you’re a veritable book dragon, hoarding unread books like Smaug until they inevitably topple over onto your head and send you into a book coma. That’s like a regular coma but more literary, of course. We’re also including links to short stories that we love because we are shameless maximalists.

From Arcx authors:

  • Domechild by Shiv Ramdas
  • The Trolley Solution by Shiv Ramdas
  • Bhatia P.I by Shiv Ramdas
  • Analog/Virtual and Other Simulations of Your Future by Lavanya Lakshminarayan
  • Samsāra in a Teacup by Lavanya Lakshminarayan
  • The Gameworld Trilogy by Samit Basu
  • Turbulence by Samit Basu
  • Chosen Spirits or The City Inside by Samit Basu
  • Machinehood by S.B. Divya
  • Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse by S.B. Divya
  • Two Hands, Wrapped in Gold by S.B. Divya
  • Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some Of Them Have Wings by Kuzhali Manickavel
  • Eating Sugar, Telling Lies by Kuzhali Manickavel
  • Things We Found During the Autopsy by Kuzhali Manickavel
  • The Devourers by Indra Das
  • The Song Between Worlds by Indra Das
  • Of all the New Yorks in all the Worlds by Indra Das

Books Recommended on Arcx:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien
  • The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
  • The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
  • The Discworld series by Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh
  • It by Stephen King
  • Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Other books we recommend:

  • Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana
  • The Commonwealth Empire series by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
  • Midnight Doorways by Usman Malik
  • The Black Dwarves of the Good Little Bay by Varun Thomas Mathew
  • Babel by R. F Kuang
  • The World We Make by N. K Jemisin
  • Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Thank you for joining us on this adventure, and I hope that you’ll stick with us as we continue to explore brave new worlds alongside the people who created them.