Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
A Hugo award winner from 1968.
A book which throws the reader directly to the deep end of the pool. The book starts in the middle of action with no explanations or background information. The next chapters tell as semi-independent stories how the situation of the first chapter was set up.
The book happens on a planet which has been colonized centuries earlier. The crew of the space ship has established themselves as the “gods” of the world and has created mythology and religion which is loosely based on Hinduism. They use technology and reincarnation using a sort of mind transfer to stay in power, while the rest of the colonist stay on about medieval technology level. Any significant scientific advancement is crushed to preserve the power of the “gods”. One former crew member and former “god”, Mahasamatman (or Sam for short) wants to change that and establishes Buddhism as a rival to “god-run” Hinduism placing himself at the role of Buddha hoping to undermine rigid social structure imposed by the old “gods”. He also drafts the “demons” who were the originals inhabitant of the planet and who have been banished for centuries.
I was somewhat ambivalent about this book. Parts of it were very good, parts were written in fairly complex language which wasn’t too easy to understand (especially under fairly heavy medication against pain. A frozen shoulder is something I DON'T recommend). Perhaps a little better knowledge of religions described in the book would have made the content easier to understand. The independence of the separate chapters which happened sometimes with very long time-spans between them didn’t help and it took some time get into a new chapter with totally new situation. The book is excellent in spite of those little shortcomings I have mentioned.