Well, those of you who still have me on your friends list out of slavish habit might be surprised to see an update. I’ve been accepted to the Clarion Writing Workshop (a six-week residency…or summer camp for those of us in the younger set, who are interested in writing science fiction and fantasy). In any case, a whole ton of clarion folks are busily web-stalking me, so I thought I’d give them more grist for the mill right here.
For those of you whose acquaintance with me stretches no further than a few days. I am twenty years old (and still not the youngest person at Clarion. That honor belongs to Jemma Everyhope). I’m a sophomore at Stanford University, majoring in Economics.. And every single hit you get when you google “Rahul Kanakia” is me, including “Profiles of a Diasporic Community”. The latter arose when I was learning Stata programming two summers ago. I did the statistical analysis for an article whose primary author was my mother. Around half of my hits come from a Baldur’s Gate II mod I made that was actually quite well recieved. It’s sort of ridiculous actually. I spent maybe three days programming it and it ended up horribly flawed, but the standard of writing for mods is so poor that people were perhaps willing to overlook that.
My publications to date are quite sparse. I had a good run of Dungeons and Dragons publications, including one in Dragon Magazine. My only print fiction pub is in Fictitious Force, it should be coming out right around now. I also have stuff in AlienSkin, Fifth Di…, and Aiofe’s Kiss (upcoming). Other than that, yea…not too too much.
Recently my reading has expanded beyond science fiction and fantasy and I’ve found myself returning to all the crap I was forced to read in HS (and hated at the time). Currently on tap are the “The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald”, “The Great Gatsby”, “Catcher In The Rye”, and “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Marquez. I’m nearly done with “This Side of Paradise” by Fitzgerald, which I have found to be one of the most sublimely perfect college novels I’ve ever read. This guy really seems to get what college is about (at least for me). His Amory Blaine, while being a huge git, is also struggling with the same questions I am. I’m also reading “Interpreter of Maladies”, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pullitzer Prize winning story collection. Normally I detest immigrant narratives (and I was no huge fan of Lahiri’s “The Namesake”) but this one is amazing. For one thing, alot of the stories are not concerned totally, or even mostly, with the immigrant experience. They simply have Indian-Americans as the main characters. But she also portrays human relationships, particularly marriages, in a way I’ve never encountered. And I cannot help but attribute this to her Indian background (arranged marriages are common both in her stories and in our culture). Her stories are heartrendingly sad, even when the endings are happy. I love them.
As for our Clarion instructors, I have not yet tackled the insurmountable obstacle that is Dhalgren, but I have read Aye and Gomorrah, Nova, Babel 17/Empire Star, most of Joe Haldeman’s stuff, most of Nancy Kress’ books (I think I am going to buy Beaker’s Dozen, one of her short story collections), and Magic For Beginners and Stranger Things Happen. I still need to buy Gardner Dozois short story collections (can you believe that he won two nebulas for short fiction before becoming an editor?) and one of Holly Black’s books. In particular I loved Sam Delany’s early works. In Star Pit (a novella in Aye and Gomorrah) and in Empire Star he does amazing things with the standard sci-fi tropes. He breaks all kinds of rules. He introduces irrelevant conflicts. He introduces characters very late in the story who turn out to matter alot. In each of these novellas I kept thinking to myself, “He’s not allowed to do that!”, but he did. And it worked! It is quite simply amazing how he can start out a story with such a normal-seeming construct and have it turn out to be completely different. And I’m going to need an entire ‘nother post to discuss the greatness of his short stories “Time Considered As A Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”, “Omegahelm”, and “We, In Some Strange Power’s Employ”.