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SF/F Columnist
Podcast host

Date & Time

Tuesday Tue, 28 Apr 2020



Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

Samhita Arni and Gautham Shenoy share their thoughts on pandemic literature and science fiction, and what light they can shed on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, with host Pavan Srinath.

Stories set during pandemics can reveal a lot about human society, conflict, power and politics – from The Iliad, to UR Ananthamurthy’s Samskara, to recent science and speculative fiction books written by Cory Doctorow, Emily St. John Mandel, James SA Corey and many others.

Samhita Arni is the author of four books, and retells mythological stories. Her most recent book is The Prince. Gautham Shenoy is a columnist and critic, and writes the SpecFix column in the Bangalore Mirror, and used to write a science fiction column in Factor Daily. Both are avid and enthusiastic readers of science fiction.

While neither Sam nor Gautham recommend reading excessive pandemic fiction during the summer of 2020, here are some of their favourite stories. We welcome our listeners to share the most poignant pandemic fiction that they have come across, as well.

Samhita Arni:
The Expanse. Book series by James SA Corey & ongoing show on Amazon Prime Video
Samskara, by UR Ananthamurthy (originally written in Kannada)
Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow

Gautham Shenoy:
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart
The Plague, by Albert Camus
The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton

Other stories explored in the episode:
The Iliad, by Homer
The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccacio
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
The Masque of Red Death, by Edgar Allen Poe
The Masque of Red Death, by Cory Doctorow


Samhita Arni


When she was eight, Samhita Arni started writing and illustrating her first book. The Mahabharata – A Child’s View went on to be published in seven language editions and sell 50,000 copies worldwide. Samhita’s second book, Sita’s Ramayana, a graphic novel developed in collaboration with Patua artist Moyna Chitrakar, was on the New York Times Bestseller list for Graphic Novels. Her third book, is The Missing Queen. Samhita was also head scriptwriter for the first season of ‘The Defenders’, a TV series produced by Tolo TV in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Prince is her fourth book.

Gautham Shenoy

SF/F Columnist

Part biryani, part daLitoy. Consulting Partner, Celsius100. SF/F columnist. Reads. Wrote #NWWonFD. Makes sense, sometimes. #IndianSF, #scifi, #comics, #GGMU

Pavan Srinath

Podcast host