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The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  143 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Well known and well regarded in the world of science fiction and fantasy writing, Vandana Singh brings her unique imagination to a wider audience in this collection of stories, newly reissued by Zubaan Books. In the title story, a woman tells her husband of her curious discovery: that she is inhabited by small alien creatures. In another, a young girl making her way to col ...more
Trade Paperback, 206 pages
Published January 30th 2009 by Zubaan Books / Penguin India (first published 2009)
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H.M. Ada
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to H.M. by: David (דוד)
Speculative fiction at its best, with a unique perspective.



Each story in this collection contains some fantastic, otherworldly element, or ingenious concept, wrapped in Indian history and culture, vivid descriptions, and beautiful settings and imagery. The characters are exceptionally well drawn given that these are short stories, and I was surprised how quickly each of them came alive to me.

"I was reminded of the story where Krishna's earthly mother Yashoda, happens to look into the child's m
...more
David (דוד)
This book contains one of the finest short-stories that has probably been ever published in the history of Speculative Fiction! Most of the stories are Science Fiction, while some are Fantasies. Four of the stories (from a total of 10 in the book) are at their SUPREME BEST; them being "Delhi", "Infinities", "Conservation Laws", and "The Tetrahedron". The others are truly spectacular too in their own ways and are very satisfactory enough.

The writer, Vandana Singh, has been terrific at writing the
...more
Book Riot Community
A woman realizes she’s of the Naga people, serpent deities in Hindu mythology. An alien tetrahedron crashes into New Delhi, blocking traffic and inspiring some to explore its multiple dimensions. A future, starfaring people tell three mythologies sprung out of their history. A woman finds a universe (and its inhabitants) within her.

These short stories make up one of the loveliest speculative fiction collections I’ve read. Even though fantastical things are happening, the stories are rooted in th
...more
Toni
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may be a 5 yet it is so out of my comfort zone that it is difficult for me to relegate my judgment to a simple number.I have not read much speculative fiction.Honestly, I did not know that it was its own sub-genre of literature. These are stories are quite myth-like in feel.Myths for the adult reader. As the author states" ...there is still a strong undercurrent of writing that questions and subverts dominant paradigms and persists in asking uncomfortable questions" thus the emergence of sp ...more
Dorothea
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was almost afraid to read this book because I didn't see how it anything could possibly live up to the ideas that "the woman who thought she was a planet" conjured up in my mind. But it did, oh it did!

The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet has ten stories and a short essay, "A Speculative Manifesto." Some read more like science fiction (space travel -- other dimensions) and others more like fantasy (a woman discovers she's a Naga) and some, like "Three Tales from Sky River: Myths for a Starfar
...more
Coolcurry
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This gorgeous collection of speculative short stories swept me away. Vandana Singh is a truly skilled writer.

This collection includes ten short stories and one brief essay, where Singh writes about the importance of speculative fiction (in this case she was preaching to the choir). The stories themselves are a mix of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism. Most of the stories are set in India, although one takes place on the Moon and one takes place in New England.

My favorite of the colle
...more
Chelsea Mcgill
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, recent
The first Zubaan book I picked up, this collection of short stories is a brilliant addition to the Indian speculative fiction genre. The stories in this collection fall everywhere in the speculative fiction spectrum, including magical realism, hard science fiction, and anthropology-based science fiction, as well as a few that don't seem to have much to do with speculative fiction at all!

The Stories

"Hunger"
A housewife who would rather be reading science-fiction novels is stuck preparing for a fan
...more
pax
The first two stories are weak in the same way - they start strong, but the ending over-explains things that to me should have better been left suggested, strengthening the story and, even more importantly, not breaking the wonderful voice the stories are written in.

Then the stories pick up and are pretty much amazing. Also different. This is wonderful science fiction and at the same time a glimpse into India from the inside. This is a wonderful discussion of multidimensional space and projecti
...more
Liz
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely awesome. Stories were a great mixture of weird, insightful, and strange; all written with some just beautiful prose, which is quite rare in the scifi/fantasy genre. Additionally it was really interesting to read speculative fiction from a non-westerner (and female) perspective.

Can't really say more without spoiling the stories, so I'll leave it at this. Highly recommend.
Mel
Jan 02, 2018 marked it as maybe
If someone finds out how to buy it, let me know :-/

And by this I mean, buy for a regular price through a regular source...
Just/In
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Des nouvelles aux qualités inégales mais une lecture agréable néanmoins.
Heather Chi
I absolutely heart and relish this inventive, thought-provoking and compassionate collection of stories that situate women in various fantastic, yet familiar, settings and imbue them with whimsical powers drawn from their bodies, imaginations and sheer forces of will. Singh has a great intuition for comedy, suspense and precise dialogue. Nearly perfect craft-wise, these stories made me weep, laugh and feel giddily triumphant. I recommend this book to everyone, and will purchase a copy myself.
l.
The room on the roof and thirst are both beautiful stories about women and transformation.

I also thought infinities and the woman who thought she was a planet were excellent. It’s a really strong collection in general - going to read her new one soon!
HBalikov
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her story, The Room on the Roof, Vandana Singh’s narrator observes: “She had recently come to the conclusion that the world she lived in was not a separate, self-contained thing, but actually an intersection of many worlds.” Singh seems to have experienced many worlds and in this collection of shorter pieces she describes a number of them.

Singh has been tagged as “the first Indian writer to make a serious mark in the SF world.” This book has been termed speculative fiction or fantasy. If you
...more
Siddhesh
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hunger:
We read science fiction because it reflects the realization that the world is strange, and we do not have to go to the stars to find aliens or to measure distances between people in light years. We just find them here, in this world, all around. The story ‘Hunger’ reflects this insight, that this world itself is alien to us. This is a story about a woman who reads science fiction, and still has to live the harsh realities of life. It is a story about her realizations all around, and how c
...more
TC
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it
The writing was mostly lyrical and whimsical, punctuated by some pedantic forced similes. The stories were fantastical in the midst of the quotidian, though the fact they are almost all set either in India, or, even if space, amongst Indians, changes the frame of reference from what one normally sees in SciFi, making even the "familiar" unfamiliar for a reader not living in that part of the world.

Some of the stories will definitely stay with me. If I had to pick one favorite, it would the one t
...more
Bob Van Arsdale
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thank you GOODREADS! I had never encountered Vandana Singh's works prior to seeing this collection's title on one of GOODREADS' "Best Books..." lists. The book's title was sufficiently intriguing for me to chase down a Univ. of Wisconsin copy through interlibrary loan to one of my local Denver branch libraries. My wait of several weeks was amply rewarded.
If the quality of the stories in this collection is perhaps a bit uneven, it's only because Dr. Singh -- she has a Ph.D. in theoretcial particl
...more
Gayathri Manikandan
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a first time reader of Sci-fi genre, this collection of short stories was a great start for me - particularly as the stories are set in India. In addition, this seemed to be a wise choice after a failed attempt at reading 'The Hitchhiker's guide to Galaxy'(not that I did not enjoy the book but because I held an omnibus edition and found it overwhelmingly big to read). All stories with the exception of one(Three tales from Sky river - which I did not understand how it fits in this book) left m ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I love the way this woman, a physicist born in Delhi, India, writes. I first encountered her when I read her two delightful children's books, Younguncle Comes to Town and Younguncle in the Himalayas. Both books have elements of the fantastic which are carried further in this adult book of science fiction stories. However, not only are her stories full of the weird, unusual, and uncanny, but they are also interwoven with stories about Indian women unhappy in their lives and looking for a change o ...more
Melinda
So, I'm really enjoying this collection of short stories. I like that the stories are culturally specific even though they function above the cultural. My only disappointment so far is that the stories are very middle class, but one author can't cover everything.

I really liked the story "Hunger." I felt like it really delved into the issue of women sacrificing everything for their family and the ways that sacrificing is reinforced by other women. In the case of this story, Divya is so hungry. Al
...more
Abhaga
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had high expectations from this collection. It didn't surpass them but certainly met them. My favorite stories were Hunger, Delhi and Thirst, followed by Room on the Roof. I could feel my stomach rumble when reading Hunger though that might be something I ate. :)

Stories with more technical/scientific bent: Infinities, Conservation Laws and Tetrahedron, didn't work that well for me. My pick out of them would be Tetrahedron. At one level, all three stories are similar. They are stories of ordina
...more
Anie
This is a beautiful, beautiful book.

Singh is such a fantastic prose artist. Don't look for tired phrasing here; her prose is imaginative, evocative, it brims with unusual images and juxtapositions. That imagination carries over to her stories. Singh has a real talent for making you invest deeply in her characters right quick; you find yourself caring, so much, about what happens. And what happens is always unusual and thought-provoking.

I normally find myself reading short story collections and f
...more
Sudhamshu Hebbar
May 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Sudhamshu by: Shantanu Adhicary
It was a good collection of short stories, mostly based out of India. Which made some of the stories relate-able and is one of the reasons why I liked the book. Another reason to like it was the science and mathematics involved in some of the stories. It was quite evident that the author was well versed with the subjects and used theories effectively in her stories. But the endings of those stories were disappointing. I don't always expect a surprise or a twist at the end, but it appeared that t ...more
Jenny
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
Singh's writing is fantastic. She's inventive, intimate, and dexterous as she interweaves personal inner worlds of emotion with a cosmic mythos and scientific mystery. If you enjoy the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, and Edgar Allen Poe, or the intricate world-building of Neal Stevenson and Brandon Sanderson, or the underlying mythos in Roberto Calasso and José Saramago—in short, if you enjoy fantastical experiments that manage to both leave behind the constraints of our daily ...more
Shantanu
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book when I was rummaging the dark corners of Flipkart for short stories and science fiction by Indian authors. This one takes it sweet little time to arrive but is well worth the wait. Vandana Singh's stories weave a connect between science fiction(speculative fiction as she calls it) and everyday life. Each story brings with itself the most unlikely set of characters and circumstances , a bihari gathering on the Moon or multiple universes right there in Delhi. My favorite stories ...more
Laurel
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This relates to the short story Delhi.

I quite enjoyed this short story. It was pleasant, but I cannot say it grabbed my imagination. Nevertheless, it did have something compelling to it that drew me in. Singh's narrative is very vivid, and one can identify with the despair and the confusion - the craziness - of the main character.

What I really did enjoy was the visions he had of Delhi in different times, the people he met and interacted with - or didn't. Singh portrayed these concepts very well
...more
Arun
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the best SFF writers working today. I loved this collection of short stories, which included a few that aren't available elsewhere.

On a more personal note, these stories are important to me because when I first wanted to be a writer (before Twitter and social media) I wasn't able to find other Indian SF writers, and so I didn't really have a sense of other writers who might speak to the same concerns and types of stories I was hoping to tell. During that time I read "Delhi" by: Vandana Si
...more
Jason Lundberg
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A debut collection from one of my favorite short story writers. Singh's exploration of the fantastical and science-fictional in Delhi and other Indian locales opens up the vista for speculative settings and shines a wonderfully observational light on a culture with a vast history. Whether it's a housewife inhabited by insect creatures, a giant tetrahedron that appears without warning, or a sculptress who melts into mud during a monsoon, the premises and execution of these stories is pitch perfec ...more
Phani
Jul 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Murakami with a touch of science fiction/magic realism. Odd, surrealist, and somewhat absurd (seemingly, for the fun of it). The writing was good enough for the most part, but I think most of the stories were lost on me. I did enjoy two in particular - "Delhi" about a man who encounters people from the past and the future, but only for a few minutes or so at a time, and three myths from imagined spacefaring cultures.
Sydney
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted this book to be much more than it was. My hopes were too high, I think. The titular story was incredible, but the rest of them were not quite so overwhelming. I'm very glad I read it, but I don't think I'll be going back to it any time soon.
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Vandana Singh is an Indian science fiction writer. She currently works at Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

(from Wikipedia)
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