Profile of Vandana Singh

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I am an Indian writer and physics professor currently living in the United States. I was born and brought up mostly in New Delhi, India, and came to the U.S. for my PhD in physics when I was in my twenties. I had no plans to remain here, and indeed I went back to India after my PhD, post-doc-ing in wonderful Chennai for about a year, before Life took me back to American shores. My family and I live in Massachusetts, and enjoy it here, but I am hoping that some day we can return to India to live. Whenever I visit my homeland I feel like a duck returning to water. Quack!

I took a long break from academia to homeschool my daughter, and when we found a good school for her in third grade I was lucky enough to find a wonderful college where I currently teach physics. During my long break I discovered that I wanted to be a writer, and I know also that I want to continue exploring physics (among a bunch of other things). I absolutely love teaching as well. Balancing all this and family responsibilities is hard, but at least my life is far from boring.  

My writing is mainly in the area of speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy). I speak and write two languages fluently: Hindi and English, and read favorite authors in both, when I have time. (I also know some Farsi and Tamil). Although my PhD (way back when) is in theoretical particle physics I am eager to explore areas such as complex systems, biophysics and astrophysics. My other interests include science education, sustainable living and the environment, and peace issues, to name a few. My world view has been shaped by my participation (however minimal) as a young woman in the women's movement in India (specifically anti-dowry), in the environmental movement (specifically as a member of the student environment group Kalpavriksh) and in citizen's initiatives for communal harmony (all in Delhi). I've also done volunteer work with Asian women's rights groups in the U.S., helping domestic violence victims rebuild their lives.

Favorite writers include Premchand in Hindi, Ursula K. Le Guin in English, Jorge Luis Borges in Spanish (in translation), Italo Calvino in Italian (in translation). Scientists I find interesting and extraordinary in terms of their work and passion include (in no particular order): Rachel Carson, Albert Einstein, Jagdish Chandra Bose, George Sudarshan, Richard Feynman, Lynn Margulis, Vera Rubin and Marie Curie.


Hunger, a short story, will appear in a very interesting anthology called Interfictions, edited by Theodora Goss and Delia Sherman, coming out some time in 2007, I believe.


Syllables of Old Lore and The Choices of Leaves (2006), two poems, appeared in Spring 2006 in Mike Allen's fine new anthology Mythic. Here is a review from Strange Horizons.


The Sign in the Window (2005) appeared in #4 of the critically acclaimed chapbook series Rabid Transit : Menagerie, in May 2005. It is my only "mainstream" story. Here is a review from SF Site.


The Tetrahedron (2005) was published in the debut issue of a new international science fiction magazine called InterNova, published in English from Germany. Unfortunately this magazine lasted only two issues, but might reincarnate as a webzine. Here is their site. This story was shortlisted for the Carl Brandon Parallax award. This story also won an Honorable Mention in Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction, 23rd Annual Collection.


Thirst (2004) came out in the tenth anniversary (Winter 2004) issue of The 3rd Alternative . I am really thrilled to have a story appearing in one of the premier British speculative fiction magazines. Here is Tangent Online's review of that issue. Here is Matthew Cheney's review on SFSite. This story was also longlisted for the British Fantasy Award, and it won an honorable mention in both Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction: 22nd Annual Collection and the 18th volume of the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link and Gavin Grant. In 2006 it was included in a fine anthology called "The Inner Line: Stories by Indian Women," published by Zubaan in New Delhi.


Delhi (2004) appeared in So Long Been Dreaming in May 2004 in an anthology of post-colonial science fiction edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan, the first of its kind! The anthology was introduced at the first ever conference on science fiction from Commonwealth countries held in Liverpool, UK in July/August 2004. Here is a review, and here is another from SFSite. And there are few honours greater than appreciation from one's fellow countrymen (not to mention a Delhi-wali); see the review by Nilanjana Roy hereDelhi has also appeared in the 22nd volume of "The Year's Best Science Fiction" [edited by Gardner Dozois]. It was also shortlisted for the BSFA Award. A French translation appeared in "Fiction" in Spring 2006.


Three Tales from Sky River: Myths for a Starfaring Age (2004) came out in Strange Horizons in January 2004, marking my first professional sale as defined by the SFWA. It won an honorable mention in the Strange Horizons Readers' Choice awards for 2004, as you can see here. Also it got a favorable comment in this review. It won an honorable mention in both Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction: 22nd Annual Collection and the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: 18th annual collection (eds. Kelly Link, Gavin Grant and Ellen Datlow.


A Portrait of the Artist, (2003) a science fiction poem, was published in Strange Horizons in 2003 and got second place in the 2004 Rhysling Prize for speculative poetry (long poem category).


The Wife (2003) came out in Polyphony Volume 3. I am very glad to say that this story has been selected to be included in that august annual anthology, Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (#17). There is a nice comment about it in this review.


The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet was published next, in another anthology called Trampoline, edited by the wonderful fantasy writer Kelly Link. You can read a review here.


The Room on the Roof, my first published story, came out in the first volume of a serial anthology called Polyphony (edited by Deborah Layne and Jay Lake) in September 2002. It is a modern fantasy set in New Delhi. This story made it to Tangent Online's Recommended Reading List for 2002. Here is their review.