Crystal-gazing into Future

Human beings are fascinated by thoughts of future. A part of the reason for the fascination is that it triggers one’s imagination on the exciting possibilities and scenarios. This explains why have we so many books dealing with future. In this post, I’m going to introduce you to a young and upcoming author, Anirudh Chakravarthy, who has dealt with this topic in a unique and daring way with a narrative of his own in his book titled Kalki’s coming.  It’s daring because the author is able to visualize a future scenario when India becomes a super power. Well, more on that later in the post. Let me give a very brief review of the book:

Sometime in the far future, in a world ravaged by third world war, India becomes the number 1 super power with China at number 2 slot. While I like the idea, I would have liked to see more thorough and logical explanation of how this happens. Super power status is not a game of mere numbers or of demography.  However, granting that, the author certainly spins a nice web of plots and subplots around a few key characters. Through these characters, the author forcefully presents a case for banning science and technology as the twin evils out to destroy humanity. The ethical and moral dilemma for and against such a ban was discussed & well presented – Can one individual decide what is good for humanity? Does he know enough? What about the ethics of means adopted to keep out technological literature out of reach of the common man? Also having denied the humanity this knowledge effectively, is it sustainable?

It’s not clear to me, though,  how anyone can own all knowledge for himself and ban it for the rest. Further, will any one person along with his cohorts, be in a position to oversee the banning after a devastating world war? One cannot also expect an imperialist China to abandon technology and then steal the knowledge of weapons from India.  These are some of the grey areas which have to be addressed in an otherwise well-written book.

The story begins with the introduction of a self-styled messenger of God who is the ruler of India after the 3rd world war. He happens to believe strongly that as a ruler his primary responsibility should be to purge all evil represented by knowledge, science & technology. He justifies several sins and atrocities he commits in  the name of  protecting the human race from self-destruction in the future. It’s a case of just one man claiming to know what is good for everyone. One is reminded of what one witnessed in the communist countries after the 2nd world war. The ruler of India, in the present story, kills several who oppose his ideas. He projects himself as the saviour of people and a messenger of God. He resorts to exhibiting carefully orchestrated magical powers to impress gullible people and to convince them about his divine status.

The story takes an interesting turn when an alien is introduced. The alien with his supernatural powers is in a position to swing the balance of power in the ensuing conflict between good and evil*

While the story is simple, it’s handled well. The pacing of the story with rapid fire dialogues in some places, a fair amount of suspense till the end and a bit of romance makes it easy to read. The style of the language is very good and quite consistent. The dialogues are purposeful, have depth and offer insights into the questions of human nature, morality and ethics.  Here are a couple of examples: Kalki, the ruler of India, puts on the mask of a God’s messenger to hoodwink people into believing he has the divine right to rule. To counter that, we have another character who puts on a real mask and declares himself as an angel. A character in the story exclaims: “Don’t we all put on masks of one kind or the other in our daily lives?” How true!

To give another example of an insightful statement, a character in the story says that time is the ultimate winner after all. One may think one has achieved the ultimate good hiding technology away from people. But then, over time, another equally crazy guy would appear and undo what has been done before. Not to be outwitted by this logic, Kalki, the ruler says: I believe that God gives each one a certain role. We play the role as best we can, leave the stage and don’t worry about what happens later in time.

But then what is the final message of the story, I wonder. Is it that Human beings are stupid collectively but brilliant individually. This is perhaps implied in the story but has not been made clear. The stupidity of human beings arises out of the weaknesses like, envy, greed for power, perpetuation of power by any means and a condescending attitude to the common man. And these collectively cause the downfall of human beings.

Greed for power, revenge, one-upmanship​, love, hatred, compassion – virtually every emotion is on display in the story. The plots and subplots are nicely woven together and the author manages to bring to light certain profound facts about human nature.

 

*Portrayal of magical powers through Alchemy is perhaps avoidable considering that Alchemists involved in transmutation of base metals to gold were historically regarded as pseudo-scientists, counterfeit artists or quacks. Moreover, gold cannot be considered as a strategic resource to swing balance of power. One can perhaps think of more imaginative ways in which aliens can influence matters on earth.

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Published in: on April 15, 2017 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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