Science Fiction Writing Workshop At IIT Kanpur

(JUNE 15 – JULY 3, 2009)

Download announcement.
Download application form.


We invite applications from interested people, both students and non-students, who would like to participate in a 3-week Science Fiction (SF) writing workshop at IIT Kanpur. The workshop offers an intense, immersive, content-rich experience that is a good first-step in training the next generation of Indian SF writers.

Goal & Plan: The workshop will help new Indian authors develop their skills and encourage SF with a south-Asian focus. Specifically, the students will read and critique some of the best SF writing in the field, both classic and modern. Second, the daily writing exercises and group-critiques of the weekly story submissions will reveal individual strengths and weaknesses. Finally, we will attempt to show how the subcontinent offers unparalleled story-telling possibilities, especially for SF.

Instructors: The workshop will be conducted primarily by two US-based Indian SF writers – Anil Menon and Vandana Singh, and one IIT Kanpur-based literary scholar in the field of SF – Suchitra Mathur. (short bios of the three instructors are included below for your information). In addition, there will be guest lectures by other Indian SF writers as well as some IIT Kanpur faculty who will share with us the brave new worlds opened up by cutting-edge innovations in science and their relationship with the world we live in.

Application Process: This pioneering 3-week Science Fiction writing workshop is being offered at the cost of Rs. 3000 (Three Thousand Rupees) per head, which includes boarding and lodging for 3 weeks in IIT Kanpur, as well as the costs of all instructional hand-outs given to you during the workshop.

To apply for this workshop, please send us the following documents latest by April 30, 2009:

1) A sample of your creative writing, NOT exceeding 5000 words (this does not necessarily have to be in the genre of Science Fiction, though that would be preferable)
2) A filled out copy of the enclosed application form

The documents may be sent to us electronically via email to: or

Or you can mail hard copies to: Suchitra Mathur
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
IIT Kanpur
Kanpur – 208016
Phone no.: 0512-259-7836/8234

Applications received after April 30, 2009 will NOT be considered. You will be informed by May 15, 2009 about your selection for this workshop. To confirm your attendance of this workshop, you will need to send us a demand draft for Rs. 3000 at the above address within a week of receiving our acceptance notification (latest by May 22, 2009).

Soft copies of the Application Form for this 3-week SF writing workshop may also be downloaded from

The Instructors

Anil Menon worked for about nine years in software R&D in the US, worrying about things like secure distributed databases and evolutionary computation. Then he shifted to a different kind of fiction. In his stories, he has been a kid who finds everything funny ("Standard Deviation"), an island chain ("Archipelago"), and discovered new physics ("A Sky Full Of Constants"). His stories have been published in magazines such as InterZone, New Genre, Strange Horizons, etc. “Standard Deviation" won an Honorable Mention in the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (2005) and "Archipelago" was nominated for the 2006 Carl Brandon Society's Parallax Prize. His novel The Beast With Nine Billion Feet (Zubaan) is scheduled to appear in 2009.

As a kid, a chance encounter with Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" led Anil to other great stories in Science Fiction. However, it soon became clear that western SF was based on an unwritten assumption, namely, that all the really cool adventures-- inventing crazy devices, meeting aliens, time-traveling, saving the world from comets, etc. -- were mostly reserved for Caucasians. The future is assumed not to be of ‘our’ making. This workshop will challenge this assumption by training a new generation of Indian writers to rethink and re-imagine speculative fiction.

Vandana Singh is an Indian writer living in the U.S., where she also teaches physics at a small college. Some of her science fiction and fantasy stories have been shortlisted for awards and have appeared in Year's Best anthologies. A number of them are collected in her recent book, The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories, which came out from Zubaan and Penguin India in 2008. She is also the author of the Younguncle series of children's books. Her most recent publications include two novellas, Of Love and Other Monsters and Distances, both from Aqueduct Press, Seattle. While both are journeys of self-discovery for the protagonists, the first is set on Earth and explores the life of a young man who has lost all memory of his past and is on the run from a shadowy figure most like himself. Distances, on the other hand, is set on a far-future planet in another part of the galaxy, and is a story of science, mathematics, art and deception. Vandana enjoys reading and writing fiction that pays attention to language and character as much as to ideas. Her stories attempt to examine the human condition against the backdrop of an infinitely engaging, mysterious and sometimes terrifying physical universe.

Suchitra Mathur comes to SF as a reader and literary critic. Trained in the respectable ‘English Literature’ canon throughout her formal student career, she wasted no time in shrugging of this hoary mantle as soon as she gained the power that comes from occupying the other side of the classroom. As a teacher of literature at IIT Kanpur for the past ten years, she has joyfully plunged into the world of SF, attempting to understand her students’, and the modern world’s, obsession with Science through an exploration of the marvelous speculative worlds created in fiction and film. SF, of course, is not new to her; she grew up as an ardent Star Trek fan, with a healthy diet of Asimov and Clarke to sustain her verbal cravings. These early encounters have now transformed into active voyages to discover strange new possibilities of science, what it means, and how it relates to the worlds we inhabit and envision. She has shared her discoveries with others through courses taught to IITK students on Science Fiction, and articles published on Indian science fiction.


  1. Science fiction is one of the parameter to assess creative potential of a society. My best wishes to the success.

    TePP Open Innovation Network

  2. @ Dr. A. S Rao -- Thank you sir! We would be grateful if you can link to this post and spread the word around!

  3. About time this happened! Good luck with it.

  4. @ Payal - Thanks! But best wishes should go to those folks back in Kanpur. :) I'm just a shameless advertiser! I do wish I could participate though. :(

  5. Nice blog. Only the willingness to debate and respect each other’s views keeps the spirit of democracy and freedom alive. Keep up the good work. Hey, by the way, do you mind taking a look at this new website . It has various interesting sections. You can also participate in the OPINION POLL in this website. There is one OPINION POLL for each section.

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  6. @Vinod: I've become a shameless advertiser too :-) I've also linked to the appication form on your website directly. I hope that's fine.

  7. @ Payal - Yes of course! Thanks!

  8. realy veryy helpfull for Indian writers..

    manoranjan shrivstav

  9. @ Manoranjan - Thanks! It would nice if you can link and spread the word.

  10. Nice to hear about you sci-fi workshop. Very good idea. Is there any age restriction, especially on the older side

  11. @ Sai -- No, there is no age restriction.

  12. Hi!

    Interesting. Wish I could attend this workshop. Unfortunately it clashes with another activity scheduled during the same time frame.... I do hope you will repeat this workshop soon.

    Best of Luck!


  13. @ Roopa - Thanks! This workshop is a first. We certainly hope that it will gain enough traction for us to be able to do it again next year.


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