The Apex Book of World SF 4 edited by Mahvesh Murad is coming in late August. Between now and then, we would like to feature some of the contributors in the anthology.

Sri Lankan author Sathya Stone’s stories have appeared in Strange Horizons and Every Day Fiction, among others.

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Tell us a little about your story in The Apex Book of World SF 4

Anyone who has written a graduate thesis will relate to this, I’m sure; after you’ve been at it for weeks, the subject matter, not matter how systematic and serious, starts to seem like utter, chaotic nonsense, and also you want to die. The whole period of time is a haze, but I think this story, “Jinki and the Paradox,” was my reaction to finishing my thesis, and then sort of reveling in the silly, whimsical side of maths and science. Hence the multiple references to Alice in Wonderland, my least favorite book when I was a child, because it drove me crazy and no one would explain why it was the way it was. Well, that and my English was terrible. 

Why do you feel it is important to read stories from around the globe? 

One of the books that had a huge impact on me when I was a kid was Sir Terry Pratchett’s The Dark Side of the Sun. It’s an amazing book, and one of the primary themes of the story, without giving away a huge spoiler, is the importance of looking at the same thing from different perspectives. Because no matter how deep you delve into your own thoughts and reflections, you’ve got biases and assumptions you will never notice without an outside influence pulling you up short, making you go, oh wait why didn’t I think of that, it's so obvious!

It would be exciting if we could get the perspective of alien races on the things we do and how we think, but since we haven’t got that option (yet?), we can try to listen to each other. And stories are the best and least violent way we have to get under someone else’s skin, someone who isn’t like you and doesn’t think like you, and can teach you a lot of things even if they don’t intend to.

If you could tell people to read one author from your home country, who would it be and why?

I would recommend the late Nihal De Silva, particularly his novel The Road from Elephant Pass. While there are occasional problematic aspects to his work, for the most part, he will unflinchingly address the flaws in my country’s mixed-up culture, our hypocrisies and foolishness and inequalities. But he won’t forget the good stuff, all the things that make Sri Lanka interesting and beautiful and a place I’m extraordinarily happy to belong to. Mr. De Silva perfectly captures the way we sort of muddle along the best we can, always full of optimism in the face of just about anything.

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