Book: The Code of Manavas
Author: Arpit Bakshi
Price: Rs 285
There is a huge market for Indian Mythological Science Fiction and it is growing. After all, people enjoy seeing and reading about their venerated Gods and Goddess in new avatars. In this genre comes another entry, The Code of Manavas by Arpit Bakshi. The novel, which is part 1 of the Vishnu trilogy, is set some two million years past AD 2050, when earth as we know it ceased to exist and so has mankind. A new race — the Manavas — has replaced mankind and there are only two cities — Madhavpur and Ayudhpur.
Now, the novel is also ‘Apocalyptic fiction’ since Krishna, the hero who is a scientist, has to prepare another abode (alternate universe) for the Manavas, an advanced race, before an impending apocalypse destroys them. The author has not gone the usual track of reimagining mythology, but used it as an inspiration. The naming of some of the characters — Krishna, Gopal, Mohan, Vasu and Shyam — which are all names of one God — Lord Krishna, but having different characteristics shows the different aspects of Man.
The main protagonist of the novel is based on Lord Krishna in as much as he wears yellow clothes, plays the flute and is the saviour of the entire human race. Strange, how even an advanced race needs a saviour? The novel starts off slowly and picks up pace only after a few initial chapters. This is because the author tries very hard to explain the science of this make-believe world and establish characters. It feels a bit forced and the poor editing that sees grammatical errors sprouting regularly doesn’t help. That is one of the most common problems in Indian mytho-fiction genre writing. Except for the top echelons of Indian writers like Devdutt Pattnaik, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Amish Tripathi, writers in this genre generally suffer due to a lack of effort from their editors. In their rush to come out with the next bestseller, they end up making these products feel like ‘Dime Novels’. And this is a disservice to the genre, authors and the readers.
The Code is better than many others in this genre in as much as the plot is more interesting. But here too it would have been better if it was a little less convoluted as it does tend to lose the reader at this point of the trilogy. Given these drawbacks, suffice to say that while it may not have been a brilliant debut for Mr Bakshi, we hope that he learns from this and ensures that the sequel to The Code is better turned out. At least for the sake of the readers since he does have a germ of great idea and I would love to see how the saga unfolds.