I've always been interested in incorporating the South Asian cultural context into my science fiction. Coming from a Sri Lankan family, even though I was born and raised in the West, I've always been keenly aware of the amazing depth and diversity of the subcontinent's religion, history, and art. The challenge for me was to bring this into my writing without making it appear tokenistic or modish. I already had a crack at this once with My Lady, The Lily, a short story I based on a Sri Lankan legend, which appears in my collection "Tales from the Stone Lotus." But I'd never done a SF piece in a similar register.
In the end, it was Sri Lankan legend to the rescue, again. Though based in the near future, Brother actually makes reference to Sri Lankan history too. The two brothers bear the name of the famously feuding monarchs Kasyapa and Mogallana. Having usurped his father, Kasyapa fled to a giant rock in the jungle and build a palace on its back, a structure he called 'Sigiriya' -- Lion's Rock. After a decade of tyranny, he was deposed by Mogallana, but not before he'd turned the rock into a great pleasure palace carved in the shape of a lion and adorned with images of heavenly maidens, Apsaras. The rock is still there in Sri Lanka, choked with tourists. Brother in some ways is my ode to that tale, and to brotherly relations the world over -- that curious mix of competition, love, hate, and tenderness that characterizes the bond between male siblings.
Thanks, Subodhana! Very interesting!
Be sure to check out Brother and all the other stories on August 31!