A Life in Science: The Scian

Pic Courtesy : Tech Goss

Selvakumar Ganesan mentions in his website that he was born in the year the first Indian satellite Aryabhatta went into space. It’s perhaps this connection with the universal nature of science that Selva honours by his Scientific Indian, a collection of speculative fiction from various Indian authors. He studied computing and has worked as a techie. Techgoss speaks to Selva.

Techgoss (TG): Tell us about you, your background, your education, family and profession
Selvakumar Ganesan (SG): We are Selvakumar G, Ramya P and our little one Nidhi Nova. We live in Amersham, England. We run TheScian.com and The Scian Books. We are also at Twitter account @thescianbooks.

Here’s a bit of background:

My primary education happened in a small railway town in South India called Jolarpet, and my academic curriculum there propounded my interest in literature. My father is an avid science experimenter (a science teacher by profession) and my mother had natural mathematical talents. I got quite lucky with them because Life is so arbitrary. I finished Masters in Computer Applications at Anna University and then joined IBM. I later worked in USA.

A few years ago, Ramya and I decided to live in UK, so we moved close to London. While my interest in computers took me to many places of work, I still retained the original taste for literature that developed when I was young. Later this came out through blogging and then the web site. As a young adolescent, and then as a young man who was deeply curious about how the world works, I naturally gravitated towards science and science fiction in literature. Although, now, I must admit, my youthful enthusiasm for SF has given way to a more comprehensive reading list that includes all and no genre in particular.

TG: How come you started a publishing house and a website? And why Science Fiction?
SG: The website came out of my desire to share his enthusiasm for science a few years ago. The curious thing about this world is that it makes sense and it is very strange. It doesn’t have to make sense but it does. Also, the Universe is not only weirder than we imagine it is weirder than we can imagine [JBS Haldane]. It demands our curiosity. In short, this was the motivation. The publishing venture is very recent. We, Selva and Ramya, shared a vision to bring science to as many young minds as possible. Publishing science themes books is the beginning towards realizing this vision. We enjoy all genres equally. SF happens to be closer to the tune we sing at TheScian.com. So, it gets more attention in terms of contest and other activities at TheScian.com.

TG: You had recently conducted a competition for SF, the winners from which appear in the anthology The Scientific Indian. What was the response to the competition? What was the cross section of people who participated/ age/profession/ are any of the winners techies? Tell us more about them
SG: The participants are a varied bunch. More than 100 writers have responded with their stories over the 4 years. Among them there are lawyers, professors, students, engineers, doctors and writers from all over India and US. Please visit this link, many stories on that page have ‘About the author’ section that gives more details.

What is the future of Scian? Where do you see yourself after 5 years? Do you think SF has a future as genre?
SG: In the coming months, we will be working towards publishing children’s science books (mix of non-fiction and fiction). SF will always be one of the important forms of fiction. A personal philosophy about SF is described here.

This is something personal, your daughter has a curious name, and would you tell us why?
SG: Our daughter is called Nidhi Nova. While we were looking for a name for her, we had a few considerations. We needed a secular name and one that would represent our conception of our child’s identity. We, the innocent baby’s parents who had rejected religion and disavowed nominative determinism, would in the few syllables that the name has, metaphorically indicate the baby’s place and time of birth. The baby was born at the confluence of cultures: East and West. This confluence was brought about by personal choices of her parents. In a migrant’s world, each generation stands at a different shore. For a migrant’s child, name is just the beginning of a life filled with the joys, hopes and pains of the Diaspora. We chose, Nidhi as her first name meaning wealth and Nova her last name. The word has Latin origins: it means new. Nova, incidentally, also means an exploding star that illuminates the void with light. While this meaning may be more popularly known, we intend the name to mean ‘new’ and ‘an explosion of light’ equally.

Selva and Ramya are of that rare genre, they live a life full of the joys of Science.


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