WORLDS APART, is a collection of science fiction stories written by Dr.Sukanya Datta, an Indian zoologist, with a doctorate from the University of Calcutta, and author of both popular science books and short stories, the latter first assembled as “Once Upon a Blue Moon: Science Fiction Stories”. Her work, some of which could be described as both science fiction and fantasy, focuses on the challenge of new Technologies in the complex world of Near Future India, which is seen as a land of humane enterprise. Some of the tales are fantasy. Worlds Apart runs into 262 pages containing 10 different stories, all of which are firmly rooted in scientific facts where fantasy and fiction merge seamlessly. All the stories are very interesting and full of scientific ideas which seem to be closer to reality and quite innovative. I have neither learnt nor heard the kind of scientific thoughts that permeates the novel from beginning to the end. From the first story “Tide turns” to “Taking a shortcut” it was an amazing learning cum literary experience. The first story is “The Tide Turns Again” which is woven around the scientific idea of making chlorophyll implants on our body thereby enabling humans to nourish themselves by utilizing sunlight directly without depending on green plants, our primary producers. This story also tells of the people of a bygone era who died of starvation also tells about albinos. The story is also about the difficulties they face during the course of finding scientific answers to the vexed issues people have. This story also tells about transformation by using chloroplasts from different plant species, about asteroids and the special plants.
The next story is A Little Learning which tells about an old man from whom everybody loves to hear stories. It tells about good and bad. It also tells about the things the people saw during visiting different places. Science is beautifully blended with the story. It also tells about different words which is of many good meanings. The next story is Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom which tells about an eight year old girl called Juhi who dislike to hear fairy tales soon she got interested on a story told by her uncle about a gardener and a princess. It tells about soil science like the ph of the soil changes the colour of hydrangeas. Next is Tasting success which tells the story of a thirteen year old boy called Lucky Shome. He studied in a school in Kolkata. He was a late riser. He loves to wake up late on Sundays. Once he got to hear about a sadhu. this gives the information of phenylthiocarbonate, commonly called PTC also about colour blindness. This story also reveals beautifully that potassium per magnate and glycerin together can start a fire. It also mention about the characters Manjumdar, Babaji. Lucky wants to be a detective when he grows up. At last Lucky grew up to be a detective, one with a love for science . He never forgot the sweet taste of his first success. The next story is Seasonal Death. Dr. Debashish Bose who was searching for detective Lucky Shome. He got an idea of driving away the demon of death that the people lived there and feared so greatly. This story is conveying the reality of seasonal illness which is prevalent in the villagers. This story also tells about the disease in different seasons with examples of different people. It also says cold, cough, snake, insect, and even rodent bites were common in monsoon . It also tells about sudden death, people who died years back when health centers were not there. About poisonous plants like mushroom, tests if barium poisoning via immature mushrooms.
Next story is Eternal Eve. Alator a boy who was confused about what to give to his girlfriend on valentites day. Alator had a better chance to get a female than he had on earth. But he needed to get a gift for pritha. He thought of many things such as a trip on the time machine but cancelled because it was expensive. Alators father had ran an asteroid a sort of recycling unit. The on it were processed to fuel to life and economy on mars. Alators father had recently advised a sort of maneuverable salvage stain. It linked mars to earth . All carried a chemical detector device to tell whether blasting was worth it or not. This story gives a lot information about earth a nd mars. It also tells about lysergic acid diethylamide a hallueogenic substance that many creative people indulged on earth. Alator then thought of diamond that pritha also liked to were but Martians did not allow.It tells of different types of diamond like BPM37093 a star diamond. The end with a pot made of terracotta which was gifted by Alator to pritha.
The next story is Bridge The Divine which starts with a person called Dr.Sameer Bose. He was a special for hormonal disorders. His laest diagnosis had been a spectacular discovery, unknown till now in the corridors of medicine. He is a of many cases in many parts of the country and so he is very famous. This story gives many science through different characters like estrogen imbalance . It also tells tea oil is obtained from the leaves of melaleuca alterniforlia a plant native to Australia. Lavender and tea oil is a medicine and also used to make many things. Dr.Bose had a son called Adithya, The rest is between Dr.Bose and his son Adithya. The next story is So Many Options .Captain Seattle Vessel Commander of the Inter-Planetary Friendship Spacecraft from PlanetKappa Sol 3 stepped out of his craft. He had just landed on the planet SigDel. The year was 3021 on earth. This story was thrilling. It is all about space and spacecraft and events unfolding in the mysterious outer space. It also tells about different planets, how will be our earth on 3021. It tells about the advantage of different planets discovered newly and things happened when people went there. This gives an information about how it will be the earth in future and things yet to be found.
The next is Gem of a Story. Prof.Hans Kinder had first come to India as a backpacker when he was in teens and fallen in love with the country. He was a language professor in Germany. This story tells many things when the character Tunir had elected with a large Indian continent. It tells about mount Kailas, water Rakshas Taal , Kuber Kshethra , Yakshas and Yakshis etc. Tunir knew a lot about history of gems. It tells a lot and lot of gems of India – Nassak diamond, orloff diamond etc and when and where they found. It also tells that Syamantak gem and the Kohi-noor were one and the same stone. This story gives a full picture of gems through different characters and their experience . The last story is Taking a Shortcut . The lead character Rantiq, being the repository of living knowledge. This story tells about agriculture propped by biotechnology, about star 275 delta, Orion etc. Thus all the ten stories push the boundary of the possible and attempts to bridge the world of reality and that of imagination the world of mythology and future realities.
From a flower that exposes a murder to a flower that wins the heart of lady on mars, from a little flower to dangers of power, the stories kindle fire in the reader’s mind and develops a new scientific temper.
Reviewed by Sharika P. Nair