‘ve mentioned in a Dog Ear column how I found, then lost, then refound this book. Really, it is a thing of charm I discovered in my recent trip to India, a scifi novel written by the very popular Ashok Banker, an Indian author of impressive credentials.
Unfortunately, it’s the first book of a series – which he never completed. And dammit, I really was grooving in it until the end. Maybe, like King’s Dark Tower series, it will find a conclusion.
Gods of War is a stunning tale. A strange artifact enters Earth’s orbit. Before we can even figure out what it is or why it is there (of course, the Americans want to land an armed mission on it – more on this later), it essentially invades us in the way we were invaded in The 5th Wave and War of the Worlds, meaning cool calculations and utter obliteration. From this disaster, five people are plucked off at the last instant. Our band of heroes includes and Indian waif from the Mumbai slums, a middle-aged Moslem from Birmingham, England, an American lesbian spot-welder, and two brothers from Japan who made their mark in Manga/Anime.
And, strangely, their “Gandolf” in this dire mission to save life, the universe and everything is none other that Ganesh, the elephant-headed god.
So, yes, this is not simplistic western light-sabre space opera.
I really enjoyed this one. Banker writes sharp, throwing all sorts of references out there, ones from Bollywood, from Anime, from popular culture. He cuts asides to his audience, stepping back from his writing desk to chat with us, explaining things, joking with us. And the story slowly expands with amazing vistas and realizations and drama and action, the characters bickering, the great god vanishing (under less-than-idea circumstances) and even the arrival or amazingly weird allies. Sorry, but it would take me longer than my normal review to explain parts of the story. I’m going to leave you in temptation.
Now, my second warning (the first that this is an incomplete series) – if you are firmly western (and perhaps Republican) you will really need to brace yourself. Not everyone in the world likes us – to a lot of people, Americans are brash bomb-droppers. The character Ruth is a foul-mouthed bitch who openly insults the other characters for their non-white/non-western origins. The author even warns us in the introduction that he is about to do this. It didn’t bother me much – sometimes I do see my fellow countrymen in this light. But if you are a grown up and can take somewhat-deserved flak for things we have done and the people we are, fine. If not, you’d better give this one a miss.
Me, if I found out the next book of the series was out, I’d snatch it up. I loved this little gem from the sub-continent!