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Ray, Satyajit

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1921-1992) Indian film-maker and author, best known in the former capacity; beginning with Pather Panchali (1955), he made about thirty feature films, and is generally recognized as the finest Indian director to date. His fiction, much less well known outside India, was generally restricted to series of tales, including the Feluda sequence [not listed below] of detective stories featuring a Sherlock Holmes figure, accompanied by a Watson figure, which began around 1965, and was added to until the end of Ray's life. The Best of Satyajit Ray (coll 2001) assembles work from his entire career.

Of sf interest is the Professor Shonku sequence, beginning with Professor Shonku (coll 1965), which contains stories from as early as 1961; and ending with Selam Professor Shonku ["Hats Off, Professor Shonku"] (coll 1995). Many stories in the series were translated into English, in collections beginning with Bravo! Professor Shonku (coll 1983) and ending with The Exploits of Professor Shonku: The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other Stories (coll trans Satyajit Ray and Gopa Majumdar from various sources 1994; vt The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other Stories 2008); it is assumed that all stories were published earlier in Bengali, but no attempt here has been made to establish specific links. Professor Trilokeshwar Shonku is once again based on a character created by Arthur Conan Doyle – in this case Professor Challenger, from novels like The Lost World (1912) – but is very much less pigheaded than his model, and very much more imaginative in the Inventions he creates. Each story comprises an episode from Shonku's numerous diaries, and normally recounts the creation and effects of one of his inspirations, which include Antigravity, a device to speed up Evolution, Invisibility, Ray Guns, Robots, a Time Machine (failed), automatic translators (see Linguistics) and so forth. The tales are attractively told, and can be understood as Children's SF, though their ironies and solaces are clearly designed for adult appreciation. Some of the tales incorporate Fantastic Voyages. Throughout, Shonku evidences an almost trickster-like adroitness, but without ever seeking personal gain for his gifts to the world. [JC]

see also: Bengal.

Satyajit Ray

born Calcutta, India: 2 May 1921

died Calcutta, India: 23 April 1992

works (selected)


Professor Shonku

Bengali titles

  • Professor Shonku (Calcutta, India: NewScript Publications, 1965) [coll: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]
  • Professor Shonkur Kandokarkhana ["Professor Shonku's Deeds"] (Calcutta, India: Ananda Publishers, 1970) [coll: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]
  • Shabash Professor Shonku (Calcutta, India: Ananda Publishers, 1970) [coll: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]
    • Bravo! Professor Shonku (New Delhi, India: Vision Books, 1983) [coll: trans by Kathleen M O'Connell of the above: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]
  • Mahasankatey Shonku ["Shonku in Deep Peril"] (Calcutta, India: Ananda Publishers, 1977) [coll: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]
  • Swayang Professor Shonku ["None other than Professor Shonku"] (Calcutta, India: Ananda Publishers, 1980) [coll: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]
  • Shonku Ekai Aksho ["Shonku, All in All"] (Calcutta, India: Ananda Publishers, 1983) [coll: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]
  • Punashcha Professor Shonku ["Shonku Once Again"] (Calcutta, India: Ananda Publishers, 1993) [coll: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]
  • Selam Professor Shonku ["Hats Off, Professor Shonku"] (Calcutta, India: Ananda Publishers, 1995) [coll: Professor Shonku: binding unknown/]

English titles

For Bravo! Professor Shonku, see above.

individual titles


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