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Once Upon a Time in the Future

Once Upon a Time in the Future

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Recently added byRowenaHoseason, Robertowiz, Imane.



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Don’t take the title of this anthology literally. These are not mainstream sci-fi short stories, not in the conventional sense of the genre. They are imaginative reinterpretations of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. So this slim collection of spiritual stories is an unusual mix of ancient and modern, striving to capture a moment of infinite possibility and of cultural reflection.

The tales may be a little tricky for Western readers to get a handle on, each being a modern interpretation or development of traditional Sanskrit parables. Each story is self-contained but the mythology forms an over-arching continuum of moral reflections on the notions of truth, honesty, responsibility and loyalty. If you enjoy folklore, fables and fantasy then they can be read as such, or you can search for more significant spirituality within.

Each is preceded by an overview of the original parable which inspired the modern interpretation, and these summaries can be a bit tough to digest, containing many unfamiliar names, most of whom are brothers, cousins, tribal leaders, wise men, teachers, wives or sons. It’s not exactly easy to get a grip on the relationships between them – but you don’t necessarily need to, in order to enjoy the new story which follows. Each of these either re-tells the story in a modern context, or examines it in more detail from an unusual perspective.

There’s a couple of intriguing murder investigations – one of them almost a traditional locked room mystery – and in these stories the notion of moral responsibility and of accepting consequences is more important than the nuts and bolts of who / howdunit.

There are gods and deities in these pages, gods of patience and guidance, eternally nudging people towards the right path but never forcing anyone in a particular direction.

The result is a charming collection – perhaps not to be read in one go, but taken slowly, a story at a time, over a couple of weeks. The writing is easy to access, not without considerable wit and occasional satirical comment, so these are easy to enjoy.

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A thought-provoking collection. Something rather unusual; an anthology to stimulate the spirit as well as the intellect. Definitely recommended for any with an interest in Eastern philosophy.
8/10 ( )
  RowenaHoseason | Jun 22, 2016 |
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