Dr Sami Ahmed Khan, University of Oslo
Keynote title: Yoga Firing Nuclear Gandhis: Videogames and Indian Science Fiction
Keynote abstract: From Street Fighter to Raji: An Ancient Epic, videogames from both without and within India – and the positioning and portrayal of India in these videogames – have exhibited divergent strands and contesting vantage points. This talk engages with videogames vis-à-vis Indian Science Fiction (SF). It proposes a “transMIT thesis” to investigate how mythology (M), ideology (I) and technology (T) contour speculative imaginations as manifested in contemporary videogame narratives. It asks how videogames in, for, and about India engage with the mythic, negotiate socio-political otherization, and deploy newer technologies.
Bio-note: Sami Ahmad Khan is a writer, academic, and documentary producer. His future-war thriller Red Jihad won two awards [NBT India’s National Debut Youth Fiction Award (co-winner) and Muse India Young Writer Award (runners-up)]. His second novel – Aliens in Delhi – garnered rave reviews and was shortlisted for the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar (Indian National Academy of Letters’ Young Writer
Award). His creative and critical writings have appeared in leading academic journals (Science Fiction Studies, The Journal of Popular Culture, Foundation, Fafnir), university presses (MIT Press, University of Wales Press), and trade imprints (Gollancz, Hachette, Bloomsbury, Routledge, Rupa, Juggernaut, Niyogi).
His overview of Indian SF has been translated into Czech and his short story has been translated into Marathi. His fiction has been the subject of formal academic research and a part of university syllabi in India and the US. He is the recipient of a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship (University of Oslo, Norway), a Fulbright FLTA grant (University of Iowa, USA), and a UGC-MANF Senior Research Fellowship (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India). He holds a PhD in Science Fiction from JNU and has taught at the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi), Jindal Global University, and GGS Indraprastha University. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed Star Warriors of the Modern Raj: Materiality, Mythology and Technology of Indian Science Fiction, which was longlisted for the BSFA Award (non-fiction).