I’m always on the lookout for non-Western speculative fiction; there’s this stereotype of fantasy and science-fiction being a White, predominantly Anglo-Saxon (or at best Slavic) pastime. Even an occasional jaunt into the East often turns out to be just a Western writer seeking some new pastures.
Lack of diversity is never a good thing, so I’m glad to see definite changes in what the pundits would call “the ethnic make-up” of the genre. This is an example of technology breakthrough bringing a breakthrough in art: the spread of internet and digital self-publishing enabled the authors shunned by the big Western agents and publishers to come into the spotlight. From Singaporean Steampunk to Vietnamese Science Fiction, the virtual bookshelves are filling up with literature only a few hobbyists in the West would have heard of otherwise.
Laxmi Hariharan is one of this new wave of independently published authors, though she is by no means a newcomer to the writing game – she’s an accomplished and popular blogger and journalist. Her debut novel, which I’ve been requested to review, “The Destiny of Shaitan”, is a space-fantasy strongly inspired by Indian mythology.
The book is a tough nut to crack. Laxmi makes a few bold choices: the writing is all in present tense; the chronology of the events is out of whack, at times making Tarantino look like Dr. Seuss; the dialogue often has no literary stylization whatsoever – although I suppose in the distant future language like that would be considered archaic in its own right. And finally, the world created in the book, though ostensibly science-fiction, is pure fantasy in space, verging on pre-Campbellian era pulp.
All this makes the novel difficult to follow at first, but also gives it a unique flavour. “The Destiny of Shaitan” is the marmite of science-fiction, and will not be to everyone’s taste. What it definitely is, is different – and if diversity is what you’re after, then this book may just be the right choice.
From the Press Kit:
YA epic fantasy novel The Destiny of Shaitan is a delicious blend of gods & humans, offering a glimpse into your own power. This coming of age story is painted against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world.
When Tiina accompanies Yudi on a mission to save the universe from the
ruthless Shaitan, she seeks more than the end of the tyrant; she seeks herself.
Driven by greed and fear for his own survival, Shaitan bulldozes his way through the galaxy, destroying everything in his path. Tiina wants Yudi to destroy Shaitan, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Shaitan being killed by his son. But she finds that Yudi is hesitant to do so. The final showdown between Tiina, Yudi, and Shaitan has unexpected consequences, for Shaitan will do anything in his power to win the fight, even kill Tiina. The stakes are high and the combatants determined. Will Shaitan's ultimate destiny be fulfilled? To find out get your own copy here http://tiny.cc/i24qew
About the Author:
While born in India, Laxmi Hariharan has lived in
Singapore and Hong Kong and is now based in London.
She has written for various publications including The
Times of India, The Independent, Inside Singapore,
Inside Hong Kong and Asian Age. Indian mythology
inspires her work. When not writing, this chai-swigging
technophile enjoys long walks in the woods, growing eye-
catching flowers and indulging her inner geek.