* Author : Tashan Mehta
* Narrator : Suna Dasi
* Host : Eleanor R. Wood
* Audio Producer : Peter Adrian Behravesh
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Previously published in Magical Women, an Indian speculative fiction feminist anthology, published by Hachette India
The Annual Migration of Clouds is a “cli-fi” post-apocalyptic novella by author Premee Mohamed. It takes place in the distant future, after the climate crisis has entirely disrupted life as we know it, and a mysterious mind-controlling fungus has wormed its way through the scattered population. The story focuses on a choice: Reid, a young woman who carries this parasite, has been given a chance to move far away, to study in one of the few communities sustained by pre-disaster technology, but her mother is ill, and in a world where the planting season is planned down to the minute, every body counts. It’s not easy for her to leave her loved ones behind. To set her family up for life, Reid decides to take part in a foolhardy and dangerous mission. To accomplish this task, she must ask others to put great trust in her, but she can’t easily separate her own thoughts from the parasite’s will, making it difficult for her to even trust herself.
If you’re not yet familiar with Premee Mohamed, you’re sure to hear of her soon. She’s an Indo-Caribbean scientist and author based in Edmonton, Alberta, where this book is set, and a rising star in speculative fiction. Premee is a biologist and works in the field of climate science, so the depiction of Reid’s parasitic passengers is eerily plausible, and the climate disaster scenarios in the book are grounded in modern-day research predicting an all-too-likely future.
Yet there’s still hope to be found here: rather than doubling down on the hardships of life-after-technology as so many gritty apocalyptic novels do, this book’s focus is on connection and friendship, the things that bind us together. It shows the world moving forward after terrible hardships — including natural disaster and plague — and reflects upon the importance of community, our duty to take care of one another, and our collective ability to get through difficult times. In other words, it is exactly the sort of book we need right now.
Rulebook for Creating a Universe
by Tashan Mehta
In an island that floats at the beginning of time, there is a Rulebook for Creating a Universe. This book is old, with instructions on how to make forever-worlds. It says, “When stitching a universe, think carefully about the kind of sun you want. Will it be hot or cold, moss or vein? Your sun will last forever and your planetary color palettes will depend on it. Choose wisely. Follow the blueprint.”
Beloved, you know this story.
You know Yukti is a weaver on this island-before-time and she hates weaving. Her mother must put the lotus stalk in her hand and even then she will scowl at the water until her mother says, Faster Mu-mu, we don’t own time! So Yukti—who also hates the nickname Mu-mu—will snap open the stalk to reveal filaments of silver that she thinks look like spit. These are the fibers of Time. She will rub them together to make a thread and begin stitching the banana leaf she is assigned.
This is how a single universe is made—on this island, one leaf at a time. Leaves make a tree. Trees and rivers make a planet, planets create a galaxy, and galaxies form a universe. Small to large.