Friday, 18 June 2021

What I'm reading: Retribution and romance in modern-day India


ANIL NIJHAWAN: A cobra's bite doesn't hurt


Told in the first-person, this is the story of Kalu, a fatherless boy in twenty-first-century India abandoned by his mother. After a brutal orphanage childhood he falls in, like Oliver Twist, with a pick-pocketing gang in Bangalore. Then he escapes to Kolkata and a more independent life, still stealing but making new friends, including a higher-caste sweetheart and an elderly teacher to whom Kalu plays Cupid, attempting to reunite him with a youthful love lost to time and circumstance.

As well as romance, the novel contains some grim retributive violence. Echoes of Dickensian London abound, not just in the criminal underworld but with the unsparing portrayal of the harshness of life for India’s dispossessed. The writing is contemporary, with a lot of profanity, but the dynamic pace makes for an unputdownable if harrowing read.

Friday, 4 June 2021

LILLIAN's BlogTour hits the USA

Thursday, 3 June 2021

What I'm reading: Space opera with echoes of DUNE

Elaine Graham-Leigh: THE CADUCA


It’s been a while since I read any science fiction or fantasy. I have fond memories of Philip José Farmer’s Riverworld series and also John Norman’s naughty un-PC Gor chronicles. Now Elaine Graham-Leigh has taken me to another vividly realized corner of the universe.

Centuries into the future and many millions of miles across our galaxy, the planet Benan Ty is an Earth-colony ruled by a not-quite-benevolent dictator. The ViaVera guerrillas are trying to launch an insurrection. And the galaxy’s most powerful nation, the blue-skinned Chi!me (that rogue exclamation mark is the author’s, not mine!), send an untested female envoy, Quila, to broker a peace deal. Fate crosses Quila’s path with that of Terise, a woman at the heart of ViaVera. Oppression and betrayal generate tension throughout this epic story. The messianic figure of the ‘Caduca’ provides a faint hope for the very distant future.

Colonial power versus revolution: this is as much a major backdrop to sci-fi as it has been to the annals of our own planet. I sometimes felt that the Vietnam War was being re-orchestrated in all its grim glory. Elaine Graham-Leigh gives her faraway colony and her two female protagonists a rich and believable history. There are echoes of Frank Herbert’s magisterial Dune saga, which sets Graham-Leigh up there with the giants of the genre.