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Debashis Chakraborty

By Anandajit Goswami
Year 2016, pp. 81, Rs. 190.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

As documented by Lewis Carroll, the journey of Alice down the rabbit hole became ‘curiouser and curiouser’, with Cheshire Cat, Jabberwock, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts and the other characters gradually entering the narrative. Carroll’s fascinating account led to a rich genre of fictions, which document one’s magical journey in the realm of fantasy. The science fiction stories in the recent past have matured into a similar genre of documenting journey to the future. Futuristic science fiction can give the reader an unexpected and enjoyable jolt, if at the last moment it is revealed to be a frame story (i.e., a story within a story), as classically seen in the ‘Planet of the Apes’. To his credit, Anandajit Goswami in Lucy And The Train creates an interesting ‘frame’ covering fantasy and science fiction, while managing to add another crucial dimension to the narrative, namely, sustainability challenges. There exists a vast pool of sci-fi stories in dystopian framework, with the world slowly moving towards destruction. Goswami’s narrative stands out within the genre by viewing the future through the eyes of a child, on a journey to come to terms with the future world, trace the causes behind the disaster and more importantly, to discover herself. In Lucy And The Train, the protagonist Lucy, a ten-year old girl from New York, drinks a potion at the Central Park in 2015. After opening her eyes, she realizes her magical transportation through time to 2150, inside the last bogey of a moving train. A group of copassengers explain the impending task—she needs to travel towards the front of the train, to reach the engine. Staying in one bogey without movement is not permitted as then she will be thrown out of the train. The discussions make Lucy realize that she has reached Wonderland, a future earth covered with layers of snow, where a series of environmental disasters have turned the humans into climate refugees. So, mankind survives through innovation, staying within the confines of a skate-driven train and recycling all waste water and foods for survival. She is further told that for moving forward from each bogey, a question needs to be answered. So Lucy begins her journey, each bogey representing a particular theme and mindset, and occupied by people from diverse backgrounds. The first set of questions is asked by the people who explain the rules of the game. The ...

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