Hachette; Rs 350; Pp 313
This is an India that has disintegrated into a dozen conflicting nations, including Bharat, Avadh and the United States of Bengal, and armies of battle robots are facing off in the fields outside Varanasi. Distorted demographics mean that now only the richest men can get brides, and a complex shaadi industry has evolved to meet their needs. Bharat’s quantum-crypto industry has overtaken California’s, and Avadh’s TV industry entertains the planet with its soap operas, generated by artificial intelligence beings called “aeais”. But the biggest industry in this parched land is the water industry, controlled by two bloodily feuding family-owned corporations. (Sounds familiar?)
Cyber-punk is a genre of sci-fi that combines high tech and low life, and the award-winning Ian McDonald is a poet of the genre. But Cyberabad Days is not for everybody: McDonald is a story-teller, not an expert on India; nor is he particularly bothered about getting his details correct. What’s important to him is the soaring, celestial sweep of the sci-fi imagination, not nitpicking about little things like the accuracy of facts, names, etcetera. So, if you can’t live with that, you’re not invited to the party.
Full report here Outlook