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exodusNow here's an unusual find - an SF book from Sri Lanka, written in English. Not sure about you, but it's a first for me!

Exodus 2300 is a religiously tinged Seeding/Uplifting story by Sri Lankan author Carl Muller. Carl is, apparently, the best-known author in Sri Lanka, and this is his first stab at SF. The book comes with an endorsement from A.C. Clarke; it is unusual, and interesting, but has parts that would have been in dire need of editing and potentially re-writing in my opinion.

It’s the end of the 22nd Century – Earth is slowly recovering from the impact of a star, only 36 million miles away, exploding into a Supernova and subsequently collapsing into a black hole, with our Solar System ‘barely out of reach’ of its gravitational pull. This, it will not surprise you to hear, has caused ‘elemental havoc’ on Earth, ‘like ten thousand nuclear wars’. Er.

But now things are looking up. An anonymous benefactor, acting under the pseudonym “500…51.100.50.10” is providing Earth with knowledge for research and development, with organization and money and information for implementation and application of these. There are conditions – s/he can remain anonymous, things are handled on a global scale by the UN (Earth is moving towards a central government anyway), all of the 666 centres that are being built eventually (no kidding) have to be on state boundaries, ie don’t belong to anyone alone.
The story then focuses mainly on the science of Psychosurgery, which aims to surgically remove traits considered unsuitable in the new world order (some faint Nazi references there – especially when people are surgically turned into ‘Angels’); and on the circumstances leading up to New Year’s Eve 2300, when the anonymous benefactor will show himself. Key players are Harris and Martin from the 'US Review and World Report', who try to work out who the mysterious benefactor is; Warren Hayes, US President, devout Christian, and unhappy with the loss in freedom and moral superiority that comes with the new order; and finally Nalin Wijeyewardene, the Sri Lankan President (wonder wonder…).

Carl Muller, born 1935, is apparently Sri Lanka’s best known Author, covering Poetry, Children’s fiction, Short Stories, Historical Fiction, as well as Collections of Essays and Monographs. He’s fairly controversial for the racy style of his fiction – this book shows this in the horrors that humanity gets up to (mainly sexual), but the general tack of the book is everything but, it has to be said. This is his first SF Novel – it comes with a glowing endorsement by AC Clarke.

The book deals with a number of standard SF concepts (and a few less usual ones). We have some hints at the fact that life on Earth was seeded from Space Aeons ago, and we have a classic Scientific-technological Uplifting element.
Less standard is the religious approach taken - all religions are, in the end, the same; and were founded by the same person (he completely ignores Polytheistic systems). Essentially the book is the Revelation, as told in the Bible, re-told as an SF story (not a completely novel idea, either).

The technology employed is a muddle of SF staples like gravity-compensated ships, ‘electro-magnetical’ forcefields and the like, of psychological factors (‘Love is the greatest weapon of them all’, and required in the final battle), and of religious artefacts and reliquaries which give their bearer supernatural powers.

This is a readable story with an unusual slant, but by no means the breathless and breathtaking tour-de-force some people make it out to be. Parts of the story jump around and feel disjointed, due to the variable language, and a lack of stringency in parts.
The worst bit, in my eyes, are the chapters, both within and at the end of the book, where the author stops the flow of the story to explain himself, his beliefs, and what happens in the story in relation to, mainly, the bible. Unnecessary, po-faced in extremis, and it belittles the reader’s intelligence in no minor way. The entire book feels like it would benefit from another round of editing and a subsequent re-write; these should be the first parts to go, IMHO.
Each chapter begins with a quote from some religious source, selected with considerable breath; we find Sufi sayings next to Shakespeare, St John of the Cross, Aldous Huxley, the Bhagavad-Gita, the philosopher Jala-uddin Rumi, Chuang Tze, various Sutras etc. The story itself, though, despite the breath of references in the quotes – and to a lesser degree in the story itself – is clearly biblical, especially in resolution. I presume this is, for once, Muller actually showing his own colours.

Recommended for reading, if you don’t mind religious SF, for its unusual background and author (that’s why I picked it up) – I look forward to further SF stories from Muller – maybe a re-telling of a myth from another religion next time?



Title: Exodus 2300
Author: Carl Muller
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net
Publisher:  VYP (Vijitha Yapa Publications)
Publisher URL: http://www.vijithayapa.com/
Publication Date: 2003
Review Date: 18/12/2007
ISBN: 9558095281
Price: 399 Rupees
Book URL: http://www.vijithayapa.com//pdesceription.php?id=14
Pages: 181
Format: Paperback, large forma
Topic: SF
Topic: Religion

 

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