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Must-Read Indian Fantasy and Science Fiction Books

Diversify your SFF reading list with these fun, quirky and thought-provoking titles by Indian authors.

Collage of novels by Indian authors

Indian speculative fiction has a rich and varied history, often overlooked in western discourses of the genre. 

Excluding our ancient myths, epics and folktales, all of which contain a heavy inflection of the supernatural, some of the earliest SF short stories include polymath Jagdish Chandra Bose’s bilingual tale "Nirrudeshar Kahini" (The Story of the Missing One). It anticipates the Butterfly Effect and was written in 1896 in response to a short story competition by serial entrepreneur Hemendramohan Bose who stipulated that the entries must reference his new hair-oil in some way. 

Then, there’s “Sultana’s Dream” (1905) by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain that bravely and cheekily imagines a feminist utopia called “Ladyland” where all women have access to education and transform society with technological innovations while men remain sequestered, indoors. My own childhood was filled with bedtime narrations, vociferously acted out by my parents, from Thakurmar Jhuli (1907), an illustrated collection of Bengali fairytales and folktales collected by Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder.

World-renowned film-maker, Satyajit Ray also dabbled in science-fiction stories, particularly the adventures of Professor Shonku, which offer a uniquely entertaining spin on the ‘mad scientist’ trope. Towards the end of the century, Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosone (1995), a literary novel with science fiction elements, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1997. Finally, Samit Basu’s fascinating and witty debut The Simoqin Prophecies (2004) officially marked the beginning of fantasy genre writing (in English) in India. 

This list (which is by no means exhaustive) focuses on some of the most exciting fantasy and science fiction titles by Indian writers published in recent years and is a starting point for bookworms looking to add more non-Western novels to their to-be-read pile. 

10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels by Indian Authors You Should Try

The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu

The Simoqin Prophecies

By Samit Basu

Basu wrote The Simoqin Prophecies, the first book in his best-selling GameWorld trilogy, at the age of 23. It mixes a variety of myths and legends into a humorous and thoroughly engaging narrative about prophecies, quests and the hero’s journey.

If you’re looking for something fun and quirky with lots of unexpected twists and turns, you’re sure to love The Simoqin Prophecies enough to binge-read the entire trilogy.

The Beast With Nine Billion Feet by Anil Menon

The Beast With Nine Billion Feet

By Anil Menon

Anil Menon’s speculative short stories have received worldwide acclaim and are collected in the collection, The Inconceivable Idea of the Sun (2022). His novels are equally stellar, especially The Beast With Nine Billion Feet, published by independent feminist publisher, Zubaan. 

A YA novel set in a futuristic India, The Beast With Nine Billion Feet tells the story of two kids, Tara and Aditya, whose geneticist father is on the run. It examines family ties, transhumanism, bioethics and the threat of genetic modifications—all wrapped into a lucid and compelling narrative.

Turbulence by Samit Basu


By Samit Basu

Basu’s Turbulence is a gloriously gorgeous superhero novel, packed with fast-paced action sequences, some romance, and lots of thought-provoking questions. 

It is based upon the premise where random people suddenly get superpowers, and explores what it means to use these powers to save the world and actually do some good, along with the new challenges and ethical dilemmas that come with wielding such power.

Balancing comedy with social commentary, Turbulence is a rip-roaring novel, followed by its sequel, Resistance (2013).

The Devourers by Indra Das

The Devourers

By Indra Das

Das’s debut novel, The Devourers is a richly evocative tale about shapeshifters and queer love. It tells the story of Alok, a lonely college professor who encounters a mysterious stranger claiming to be a werewolf. 

The stranger tasks with transcribing a set of old notebooks and parchment, and Alok slowly finds himself pulled into a gripping family saga involving otherworldly creatures, even as his acquaintance with the werewolf blossoms into something deeper.

The Liar's Weave by Tashan Mehta

The Liar's Weave

By Tashan Mehta

The Liar’s Weave tells the story of a Zahan, a Parsi boy who has the power to alter reality with his words and lies. The novel powerfully blends both literary and speculative modes, while unfolding against the backdrop of the Indian independence movement. 

A stunning work of art, Mehta’s debut novel is sure to stay with readers for a long, long time.

The Sultanpur Chronicles: Shadowed City by Achala Upendran

The Sultanpur Chronicles: Shadowed City

By Achala Upendran

If you’re in the mood for a book that feels gloriously refreshing but will also bring back memories of reading fantasy novels for the first time as a kid, you’ll love Upendran’s debut novel. Set in the fictional land of Sultanpur, the novel is filled with intrigue, dark magic, flying carpets and a colorful cast of characters, each with their distinct backstories. 

Engagingly written and well-paced, by the time you reach the end, you’ll be longing for a sequel just to spend more time with the unique characters and explore more of this fantastical world.

The Ten Percent Thief by Lavanya Lakshminarayan

Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Our Future

By Lavanya Lakshminarayan

Another exciting voice in Indian speculative fiction, Lavanya Lakshminarayan’s debut book, Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future, is a mosaic novel of sorts, tackling important questions relating to meritocracy, the dark side of technology and our productivity-chasing capitalist culture. 

It’s been recently published as The Ten Percent Thief to western audiences.

The Wall by Gautam Bhatia

The Wall

By Gautam Bhatia

A successful lawyer, academic, editor and science fiction author, Gautam Bhatia certainly wears many hats. His debut novel, The Wall (part of his Sumer duology) is a fierce story of challenging the status quo and breaking the rules, no matter the consequences. 

Filled with poetry, thought experiments and sharp critiques of society, the novel and its sequel The Horizon (2021) follow Mithila and her group of friends as they question and tear down the structures their world was built upon.

The City Inside by Samit Basu

The City Inside

By Samit Basu

Originally published as Chosen Spirits in 2020 and shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature, Basu’s novel is grimly prescient, depicting a near-future India, torn apart by surveillance capitalism and political corruption. 

The book follows Joey, whose official job is that of a Reality Controller, managing the livestreams of online celebrities (including her college ex). When she impulsively offers a job to Rudra, a reclusive young man determined to escape his wealthy family’s control, the two are pulled into bigger conspiracies, and must decide what form their resistance will take.

A short but relentless read, The City Inside is a sharp, thought-provoking novel that makes Black Mirror look tame.

The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar by Indra Das

The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar

By Indra Das

Set in Calcutta, Das’s exquisite novella details the story of Ru, a boy whose dragon-riding family appears to come from an alternate reality. 

Ru’s mind is filled with strange, fragmentary memories that he can’t quite make sense of, and his house is cramped with relics and secrets. As he tries to understand who he is and where he belongs, he befriends Alice, a girl from nearby Chinatown.  

It’s a quiet, wistful, achingly beautiful coming-of-age novel, gracefully delving into themes of belonging and alienation, alongside gender expectations and self-identity. Narrated in magic realist vein, Das’s redolent prose is sure to cast a spell and take you on a mesmerizing, magical ride.