Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is a first-of-its-kind collection of speculative fiction by writers and artists from India and Australia. The stories are both in prose and visual narrative formats, and strikingly different in tone and content, even as they operate within an overarching feminist sensibility.
Indian readers will recognise names of contributors who have been at the cutting edge of genre fiction and prose writing, including cartoonist, writer and memoirist Manjula Padmanabhan, writer and painter Amruta Patil, speculative fiction writer Vandana Singh, and writer of weird fiction Kuzhali Manickavel.
Through myth, fable, fantasy, science fiction, and drawing from history and politics, the stories tackle a variety of themes which affect women and girls today, from specific issues such as the targeting of women considered to be witches, to larger, abstract concepts such as appetite and consumption, which shape our gendered world.
As Strange Horizons reviewer Electra Pritchett points out, a number of these are concerned with ecological destruction and capitalist exploitation: “Many of the speculative stories take place in the quite-probably-not-so-distant-future when the Earth has been ruined by climate change, unchecked capitalism, and environmental collapse, even if that fact is often conveyed to the reader as a gentle twist rather than stated upfront.”
The results are insightful. In Memory Lace, Payal Dhar imagines a kind of utopia. In Appetite, Amruta Patil muses upon what, how much, and when, women and girls may consume. In Anarkali, Annie Zaidi and Mandy Ord tell an alternate story of the legendary courtesan. In Little Red Suit, Justine Larbalestier retells Little Red Riding Hood in a dystopia.
The anthology has been widely praised by reviewers. “From dystopian worlds and nuclear powered fairy tales, to time travel cooking shows and girls who can live inside inanimate objects and legendary Mughal beauties, it’s really a great little collection and something well worth reading,” writes Mahvesh Murad on Tor.com. “In our patriarchy-dominated country, the anthology stands out for its plucky writing and bold imagery,” says Bijal Vachharajan in Mint Lounge.
Published in 2014.