Favorite Quote: “ReGi pushed up and kissed the Gurkha’s leathery cheek. ‘Good luck, Uncle Gurung. You’re a little bit scary, but I love you all the same.’”
For a neo-utopian, sci-fi futuristic novel with a vengeful Ares as a principle character, Saad Z. Hossain’s novel is a surprisingly quick and fun read. He is clearly a master storyteller, and concisely immerses us in a future world with, yes, an overlord watching our every move, but at least it is a nice overlord. Sure, fine, all the residents are telepathically linked to Karma, the force that immediately judges their actions and rewards “points” accordingly, but drinks are free and there are no hangovers.
Briefly, the dijnn king Melek Ahmar (who is also Mars/Ares), wakes up after some half-dozen millennia to find a world different from what even we would recognize. Civilization has become concentrated in a few cities, Katmandu being one of the biggest. People there are entirely reliant on the benevolent overlord, Karma, who provides everything and doesn’t require them to learn math. In general, people are pretty contented and peaceful.
Melek Ahmar is immediately appalled by the utopia. He strolls into future Katmandu with his side-kick Bhan Gurung, to seriously wreak havoc on paradise. But Gurung has other plans for his all-powerful and easily manipulated best friend.
This is a joyfully funny, richly sarcastic, and crackingly creative book that flirts with black humor but stays on the side of light.