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Phil's Rambling Rants

December 9th, 2006

December 9th, 2006
10:14 pm


Book review: Sagramanda
Today's book review is Sagramanda by Alan Dean Foster.

As far as I can tell from the text and the cover blurb, this is a standalone novel.  It takes place roughly a generation from now, in a fictional megacity in India named Sagramanda.  (Perhaps there actually is a city of that name -- I am not at all well versed in Indian geography, culture, history, or much else -- but even if there is a place by that name today, the imagined future one is vastly different than the existing one.)  The main point of the book really seems to be speculating on how things might be in India in a couple of decades of ever-faster change.  And it's a fairly interesting imagining.  From what little I do know of the real India, I think this represents an optimistic but not utterly impossible vision of how things might be.  It's very definitely not a utopia, but it's workable, the problems seem to be managed, and one could imagine it getting better.  The actual story follows a surprisingly large number of different viewpoint characters, considering that this is a fairly thin book, but it actually does a pretty fair job of tying characters that start out together into an ending that fits fairly well.  Lots of breathless action; it just needs a few more explosions to be a great movie.  We don't have much time for character development or profound examination of the human condition.

Since I have to confess that I wouldn't have picked up the book if it didn't have a tiger on the cover, I will mention that a tiger is one of the characters.  He's even portrayed fairly well; Foster clearly did some research on tigers.  (It was otherwise accurate enough that it annoyed me that the tiger's paws were described as being as big as hubcaps.)  I wish I believed that tigers would be doing so well in a generation.

A fun book, reasonably well written, though the prose seemed just the slightest bit purple.  The speculation on how a city that big might be able to function rather than just grind to a halt is timely, given that the way things are headed, there probably will be cities that big in a generation, if they don't collapse under their own weight on the way.  I hope their chaos can be managed as well as Sagramanda's.  8 out of 10.

Having been chastised by Lois Bujold, I'll try moving the spoilery stuff to the bottom of these reports and include a warning inside the cut tag.

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