by K. Bynum
For New Pittsburgh Courier

What happens when a person, after a few years out of the workplace, tries to re-enter the job marketplace? How does one handle obsolescence and start over? Do you start from scratch, or do you try to pick up whatever pieces are available and work with what you have? These are a few of the social issues addressed by science fiction writer C.M. Chakrabarti in her book entitled “The Planet Star: Unfolding Prophecy.”

C.M. Chakrabarti

Chakrabarti is one of only a few African-American science fiction writers in Pittsburgh. However, the subject matters and characters of her writings are universal, reaching beyond racial and cultural lines. “The Planet Star: Unfolding Prophecy” is about a young widow who leaves her home planet and heads out into the galaxy to a planet that will help reestablish her, as well as her son’s, life. Unknowingly, she enters the snare of an evil lord, who has for many decades, been searching for “the prophesied widow.” He believes she holds the key to The Planet Star that would destroy his empire. Shortly after the widow and her son arrive at their destination, they are brutally kidnapped by those in collusion with the evil lord. However, their plans are foiled when his archenemy, King Ewlon, daringly rescues the widow and her son. Together the King and widow flee to his home planet and his home, which is the only place The Planet Star can be activated. However, their footsteps are continually dogged by the evil lord and his minions. Through most of the story, the widow is unaware that her rescuer is the King.

The characters in the book have universal and diverse appeal. Chakrabarti explains: “The diversity of the characters reflects our own world. Though our cultures may differ with respect to religion, politics, social matters, etc., we are united in the most important elements, which enable survival as ‘beings.’ There are ethical constructs or moral laws written on our conscience. Those elements enable us to live civilly with more than marginal peace. A violation of such constructs or standards creates the ‘protagonist’ ‘antagonist’ struggle. Murder, theft, etc., are universal in defining good and evil. These destructive elements transcend cultural issues since these elements lead to the logical conclusion of ‘chaos.’ Because standards exist in every society, the people within these societies fall within the entire spectrum of good and evil. That in itself will create diversity.”

Chakrabarti is currently working on a second book to complete the saga of “The Planet Star: Unfolding Prophecy.” She also hopes to include several short stories as addendums to the book.

She comes from a family of creative people. She is related to the well-known com­poser/­pianist/­arranger Billy Strayhorn. Some readers might also remember her as Cheryll Conaway from Glen Hazel. She spent her first twelve years as a resident of Glen Hazel Heights and attended Burgwin Elementary School. She started her Junior High School year at Gladstone Jr. High and then moved to New York. Cheryll returned to Pittsburgh in 1968, and now cares for her two handicapped twin brothers, Kevin and Keith Conaway.

She believes that, “every one of us has at least one imaginary tale that grows with the person’s intellectual and social maturity. Every imagined story is filled with the author’s particular philosophical content on how to deal with and solve the problems of life, either personal or global.”

(“The Planet Star: Unfolding Prophecy” can be found on or For more information about C.M. Chakrabarti or her book “The Planet Star: Unfolding Prophecy,” visit

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