Review: "Sagramanda" by Alan Dean Foster

Sagramanda Buy at Amazon

Buy at Amazon

Remember how the cyberpunk books of the 80's and 90's all had Japan as the business and cultural leaders of the new world? Well since then the years have passed and newer, bigger kids have appeared on the block in the form of India and China. Writers should be looking towards these countries as the future players in the techo/cyberpunk genres.

The Gist: The novel Sagramanda is set in the Indian city of the same name. It is a city of 100 million people, a melting pot of the traditions of the older generations and the shiny technical trappings of the future. The story centers around Taneer Buthlahee, a scientist who has something valuable from his multinational corporation, something so valuable the corporation will stop at nothing to get it back. Taneer is on the run with his beautiful girlfriend Depahli, who comes from the "untouchable class". They are pursued by not only the corporate "problem solver" Chalcedony 'Chal' Schneemann but also by Taneer's father Anil.

Wrapped into the story is the farmer-turned-merchant Sanjay Ghosh, who Taneer hires to help him unload his stolen goods. Jena Chalmette, a French woman who worships the goddess Kali with all her being, killing in Kali's name whenever she is able. Chief Inspector Keshu Singh who has been assigned to track down the serial killer before it hits the media. The last character is a tiger making its way into the city from a nearby jungle reserve looking for food and finding a taste for human flesh.

The Good: India and China poised as the new technological superpowers in the coming years it gives a rather refreshing looking at the new background for cyberpunk style novels.

The atmosphere in the book was well done. It gave a feel for what a near future city in India might be like full of the old and new, the desolate poor and the nouveau technological rich. I also enjoyed the small interesting details that were brought to into the story such as the equipping of sidewalks with devices meant to deter drivers from driving on the sidewalk instead of being stuck in a traffic jam, a common occurrence in modern day India.

The Bad: The ending seemed a bit rushed and tied into a tidy bit bringing all the characters path intersecting. This is not to say the ending isn't satisfying but it's almost TOO neat of a wrap up.

The Ugly: Nothing really ugly to report.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a techo thriller with near future sci-fi thrown in. It is a well written and enjoyable tale that is full of the flavor of India, its culture and people, from a forward looking perspective.

Sagramanda, by Alan Dean Foster
Published by: Pyr (October 2006)
ISBN: 1591024889
Genre: Science Fiction

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