Published: 05th January 2021
Lavanya Lakshminarayan's debut novel is all about a tech-driven future and what it holds for us. Check it out
Lavanya Lakshminarayan, author of the Sci-Fi book Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future speaks about her interest in Science fictions and the reasons for calling Bengaluru an Apex city
Though Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future was released this May, during the pandemic, it has received a warm welcome from readers who love the genre of Science fiction. Lavanya Lakshminarayan's debut novel, which was published by Hachette India has been highly appreciated by famous authors like Gautam Bhatia and, needless to say, she is happy to receive such positive responses from a tight community of Science fiction writers. Set in Bengaluru where the author was born and brought up, Apex City, as it is referred to in the book, is ruled by Bell Corporation where virtual productivity is the only key to survival. Sounds interesting? This book will get you thinking about what a future ruled by technology would be like and, in the process, will get you to think about the kind of choices we have collectively made. We speak to the Bengaluru-based author, who is a game designer by profession, about her new book.
Excerpts from an interesting interview:
1. Analog/Virtual: Other Simulations of Your Future is your debut novel. Why did you choose to write a book in the Science fiction genre?
I was always drawn towards science fiction and fantasy because here I get to suspend the rules of reality, any historical biases and preconceived notions lie in the backseat for me. I can create a complete simulation of thoughts around the characters and get closer to what defines humanity or relationships without carrying historical or cultural baggage. I think this has always drawn me as a reader and a writer.
2. You call Bengaluru 'Apex City' in your book. Your experiences must be the reason for this, I'm sure. Care to share?
The reason behind calling Bengaluru as an Apex City is because of the transition that the city has undergone over the past ten years. Being born and brought up here, I can see that it has transformed from a small town into a tech hub. It is now a thriving metropolis. Though I work as a game designer and I don't code, I have worked with a lot of coders in the city. I felt that there was a huge revolution happening. I wanted to showcase that in my book and tell people where we are headed. It is not a perfect future but a double-edge sword. Our work in technology is so closely connected that we are reliant on an app and disconnect ourselves from the real world. In my book, a corporation runs Bengaluru, not a government. And they measure everything in terms of productivity. If this is a plausible future, then what would our priorities and our value system be? While the future I predict in the book might not happen as is, it is still possible.
3. You say that our basic value system will be lost if we continue to live our lives the same way. At the same time, you define it in the book using two different categories of people, Analogs and Virtuals. What can we do to ensure that our value system is not lost?
There are many ways to address this issue turning into our future. We need to remain cognizant of reality and be aware of the happenings around us. When I started writing this, I started reflecting upon class privileges. For instance, we observed that those who are well-off could get treated for COVID-19 and the ones who weren't couldn't afford hospital care. Though we seem to have access to all kinds of gadgets and technology, there are people who couldn't work or study online due to lack of mobile phones, laptops and connectivity. We need to be empathetic and compassionate to empower everyone around us. We need to create a path to provide access to all sorts of resources.
4. How did your journey start in game designing and how has it been so far?
I have a degree in Literature and I happened to get into game designing gradually. I worked with Zynga Game Network) that builds some of the best games like Farmville. I started off by writing about their games and eventually, started understanding how these games were designed.
5. Any particular Science fiction book that you loved reading?
There is a wave of Science fiction writers coming out of India and I am very happy about it. I loved reading The Wall by Gautam Bhatia, Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu and The Salvage Crew by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. I think these are the books that one should read in the latest collection of Science fiction. There is also a lot coming from China and it is important because the West can turn towards us and watch us write Science fiction.
6. Have you started writing your next book? What is it about?
Yes, I spent my time in lockdown writing a plot for the next book, which is again in the Science fiction genre. It is based on food and food technology in the future.