Read Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana by Anil Menon Vandana Singh Indrapramit Das Abha Dawesar Sucharita Dutta-Asane Lavanya Karthik Swapna Kishore Sharanya Manivannan Online


A long time ago, a young prince, the heir to a great South Asian kingdom, wielded Siva's mighty bow and won the heart of a young princess.The story of what happened next to the married couple, the epic tale of the Ramayana, told and re-told countless times over the centuries, begins where most stories end. The twenty-five stories in Breaking the Bow take a similar courageoA long time ago, a young prince, the heir to a great South Asian kingdom, wielded Siva's mighty bow and won the heart of a young princess.The story of what happened next to the married couple, the epic tale of the Ramayana, told and re-told countless times over the centuries, begins where most stories end. The twenty-five stories in Breaking the Bow take a similar courageous leap into the unknown. Inspired by the Ramayana and its cultural importance, the anthology dares to imagine new worlds. Here you will find magic realist and surreal stories. Robot and cyberpunk stories. Fantasy and science fiction stories. Hard-to-classify stories. Authors include some of the best writers in contemporary South Asian fiction -- including Abha Dawesar, Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Tabish Khair, Kuzhali Manickavel, Mary Anne Mohanraj and Manjula Padmanabhan -- from India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as Holland, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States.Breaking the Bow is a collection of brilliant, original and beautifully told stories, guaranteed to enlighten and entertain....

Title : Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789381017043
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 350 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana Reviews

  • Abhaga
    2019-03-30 21:22

    My pick of stories: "The Ramayana as an American Reality Television Show" by Kuzhali Manickavel for it's accurate portrayal of the online culture. "Sita's Descent" by Indrapramit Das for the breathtaking images it conjures. "Sarama" by Deepak Unnikrishnan for how it made my shudder at certain points. "Falling Into the Earth" by Shweta Narayan for it's intriguing modern interpretation. And "Princess in The Forest" by Mary Anne Mohanraj for one of the most hard hitting last lines.There were many other stories which I enjoyed reading but overall they didn't make an impact. Some stories felt forced and boring. But it is a commendable effort and hope more such efforts come up.I was a little disappointed by the focus of most of the stories on handful of Ramayana characters and on few episodes of the epic. "Machanu Visits the Underworld" takes up a little known episode and little discussed characters and works with them but it didn't work for me. One story mentions Ahalya. But there is no Shabari. No Vibhishan, Sugreev, Bali, Nishadraj, Bharat, Kaushalya, Manthara. No Meghnad, Kumbhakaran. And despite all the reinterpretations, there is no Wicked Sita! :)Ye dil maange more!

  • RustyJ
    2019-03-30 20:17

    A collection of short stories (speculative fiction) inspired by the Ramayana: all original, most of them odd, some of them spectacular. There are elements of sci-fi, fantasy, robots, magic, surrealism in the stories. A unique experiment, left me feeling it could have done better. To the credit of the authors and the editors is the courageous attempt at trying something radically different. Doff the hat for that.The story that I really liked was Test of Fire by Pervin Saket. Consider this paragraph: '... What doomed Manus was the need to seek approval from even the lowest rung. The desire to be respected by those whom he could never have respected back. The act of giving up every scruple he had, every principle he upheld, only to be adored by one more person. The Ideal Man didn't value his own opinions, only those that others had of him.'Hard hitting. Incisive. Just for that one paragraph, it is worth reading the entire book.I'd give the book a 2.5 out of 5. The story by Pervin Saket, I'd give 5 on 5.

  • Shenoy
    2019-04-21 16:27

    As Anil Menon, author and co-editor of Breaking the Bow, writes in his introduction to this anthology, ‘The tradition is to depart from the tradition’. And depart from tradition is what each of the 24 stories in this anthology does, encompassing a wide spectrum of speculative fiction genres using the all-too-familiar characters take off into uncharted territory and make us look at them, and the epic at large, in a new light. In her introduction, author Vandana Singh, co-editor says she believes that Speculative Fiction comes naturally to us Indians, since we have a natural tendency to embroider and prevaricate, to let the imagination run riot, and to argue incessantly. And might I add, to exaggerate and look for the fantastic and the divine (or the demonic) in almost everything. But this anthology doesn’t include just Indian authors, but writers from across the world, and it is to the credit of the adi kavya that it lends itself so well to being rendered as a sci-fi or spec-fic tale.Kicking off the anthology is Kuzhali Manikavel’s absurdly hilarious The Ramayana as an American Reality Television Show: Internet Activity Following the Mutilation of Surpanakha, an accurate portrayal of contemporary online culture right down to the YouTube comments, user names, abusive trolls and The Real Rama’s Twitter updates, which always end with “Hope everyone’s having a great day!”, even if he’s just plugged his new video tutorial on ‘How to Wipe out a Rakshasa Army’. This one’s not for the easily offended. Though that can be said for most – if not all – of the short stories in Breaking the Bow. Surpanakha taking centre-stage continues with Neelanjana Banerjee’s Exile, about a Ramayana cosplayer who role-plays as Surpanakha in a second-tier club called Exile. Set sometime in the not-too-distant future, this story is interesting for its setting. A world where India’s slums have become refugee camps for American and European immigrants looking for a piece of the high-tech Indian Dream, with India’s technology infrastructure having hyperleaped anything going on in the ‘First World’.If there is one person who is the hero of even more stories in this anthology than Surpanakha, that would be Sita. Sita’s Descent by Indrapramit Das reinterprets Sita, Rama and Ravana as AI nanite clouds in outer space, created by the Government of India but ones that still carry the psychological imprint of the people they’re named after, especially their tribulations. Sita the nanite cloud, having dipped through the sun as her agni-pariksha, is hell-bent on crashing into Earth to honour her namesake and right some wrongs. In Pervin Saket’s Test of Fire, Sita is an alien, belonging to an advanced, extra-terrestrial race called the Styonkars who takes the form of a human to test if humanity is worthy of knowing the reason for its existence. (Spoiler alert: Earthlok is found undeserving) Swapna Kishore’s Regressions meanwhile portrays Sita as a time-traveller agent in the time of gender-centred conflict and a resident of Ambapur – a utopian commune of women, by women and for women, which is ever at odds with the patriarchal Navabharata in a futuristic India.Good speculative or science fiction begins with asking the question ‘What if…?’ The story should ideally be born out of this question than become the story itself, as is the case with Kalyug Amended Molshree Ambasta, whose story can be distilled into, ‘What if Sita was a single mother of twins in today’s times, divorced when she was pregnant by her husband who is the current Chief Minister of the state and has just found out he has children who in turn are unaware who their father is?’. That’s why I call this anthology a rollercoaster; it has its ups, it has its downs and freefalling moments, but overall fun and yes, thought provoking.One story that is definitely on the up-side is the story by an author whose 2012 alternate-history novel, Osama, pipped Stephen King and George RR Martin to win the World Fantasy Award, Lavie Tidhar. Tidhar’s story, This, Other World has Brahma defragging in a world of mass-distributed digitals and flesh-born, jacked-in physicals. Set in a future Bangkok and incorporating Buddhist elements, it’s a cyberpunk retelling of Rama and Lakshmana’s search for the abducted Sita, a meta-human cross-hatched with code.Tori Truslow’s story, Machanu Visits the Underworld, meanwhile, draws inspiration from the Thai Ramakien to relate an incident of Hanuman’s son Machanu who visits the Thai version of hell. Rama steals the spotlight in Tabish Khair’s Weak Heart, which delves into the mind of a God and has Rama grappling with the burden and dilemma of being who He is. Abha Daweshwar’s The Good King perhaps has amongst the best endings, with the king in question being Ravana who rules a technologically-advanced Lanka and able to traverse wormholes and hop across parallel universes till he finds one world with a possibility that he can live with.Breaking the Bow is definitely a good addition for the shelf of anyone interested in the epic or in spec-fic and science fiction. If one were hard-pressed to find shortcomings in this anthology, one would be that in some stories, the need to balance the reimagined tale with relatable messages about, say, social activism, weigh them down. Another fault – which is not really a fault, but mildly disappointing – is that almost all of the authors stick to the main characters and familiar incidents. Perhaps it is because the more familiar something is, the more we appreciate it (or not) when it is reinterpreted and recontextualised? This review first appeared in - and can be read in full at - my column here:

  • Raj
    2019-03-24 18:33

    I enjoyed this collection of SF stories inspired by the Ramayan. I'm familiar with the rough outline of the story from my childhood, but I don't have the deep immersion that I would have had if I'd grown up in India (in the way that I've absorbed the Christian stories just by living my life in Britain, without ever being Christian). This meant that the book was read with Wikipedia always at the ready, to look up names, places and events that Indians would just know. Still, like I say, I'm familiar with the basic story and it was fascinating to see the various different interpretations put on it in this collection.Most of the stories were fairly sympathetic to the villain of the traditional story, Raavan and they also tended to pick up on the tail end of the story - the bit that many people tend to forget, where after Raam has won Sita back, he doubts her chastity and rejects her. The book contains stories from across the SF spectrum, from hard SF, through traditional fantasy to the fence-sitting of magical realism. My favourite story was one of the more sci-fi interpretations, Sita's Descent by Indrapramit Das, about an giant intelligent nanite cloud named Sita, who takes the stories that she's based on a little too literally. Other standouts for me include The Ramayana as an American Reality Television Show (with social media fallout after an episode of the show); the somewhat disturbing, dark piece Weak Heart; and the modern day story Kalyug Amended, with its absolute killer final line.This is a great collection to dip in and out of and makes me think in different ways about the stories of my childhood. I'd be happy to read many of these stories again (I say that about a lot of books, but there's always the next shiny thing to read, so I never get time. Still, this book will stay on my shelves in the hope that one day I do have the time).

  • Shalini Sharrma
    2019-04-17 22:19

    Breaking the bow Edited by Anil Menon and Vandana singh my next #TSBCChallenge - a collection of short stories that revolve around the mythological characters from 'The Ramayana'. It was a great experience reading it as it has imagination, modernity ,innovation and out of the box thinking.The moment i start reading within few pages i was in great laugh to read an American Reality Show responses on Suprankha's incident of cutting of her nose and breasts by Lakshmana was the hot topic on Internet and debatable too. Not only this it gives access to Internet to these mythological characters.Few stories are exceptionally good and well written that took me to a different world but few bored me - to be honest. In this era of experimentation I guess it's a brave act of these two editors to compile good version of Epic but still stories circle around one or two main events that dishearten me. I'll only recommend the book if u'r patient enough to complete it to the last word. My rating : 3 out of 5 Thank u #TSBC :)

  • Bradley Boileau
    2019-04-21 15:35

    This was a very interesting read for someone with a background on the general events of the Ramayana. I do feel if I had a more thorough knowledge of the Ramayana I may have gotten more out of some of the stories in this anthology, felt lost with a few of them, but I really enjoyed them nonetheless. Compelling stories of time travel, sci-fi, futuristic tech, and more were the most interesting, followed by modern-day heartfelt interpretations of the classic relationships between Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Ravana, and others.

  • Francesca Forrest
    2019-04-20 22:33

    I remember thinking I wanted to read this when I first heard talk of the project. Then at Readercon, I attended a panel representations of gods in SFF, and Anil talked about the history of reinterpretation of the Ramayana, and it renewed my interest. He also mentioned retellings from past centuries, including (if I'm remembering right The Sound of a [or the?] Kiss, a retelling from Sita's point of view from I think he said the 1600s? (Or sixteenth century? Anyway: long ago)--I'd like to take a look at that, too.

  • Phani
    2019-04-06 17:20

    Many of stories bored me - scifi-ing up the Ramayana (or Hindu mythology) is difficult and can leave a bad taste in the mouth if not done well. I skipped many of these stories altogether Many others were readable, but repetitive - mostly Ravana/Sita's perspective. Where is Hanuman/Vibhishan/Lakshman/Kaikeyi's story? I feel a lot more could have been done. Don't read this book if you want to stick to the classical, good-vs-bad Ramayana story. Much of this may seem disrespectful/blasphemous if you cannot digest the questioning of religion.

  • Aparna Singh
    2019-04-18 18:28

    With many creative short stories inspired (in varying degrees) by the Ramayana, this is well worth reading. Not all the stories are equally readable, even though they are all innovative, and justify fully the 'speculative' tag. Some of them did not appeal to me because the effort behind he writing was all too evident - these seemed to have been written more as 'creative writing', less stories with heart. Still, the stories that do work make it fully worth your while.

  • Vidya Ananthanarayanan
    2019-04-04 20:26

    My favourite story in this collection is the social media, reality TV version. But it was interesting to read the diverse variations across genres.