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The Beast With Nine Billion Feet Paperback – November 26, 2009
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Anil Menon is a writer of extraordinary wit and intelligence. His novel is characterized by a rare emotional sensitivity combined with intellectual depth -- all rendered in fine prose. Definitely a writer to be excited about. --Vandana Singh
This spellbinding novel will entrance not just teenagers, but everyone. --Windows & Aisles, December 2009 Issue, Paramount Airways Inflight Magazine
This exciting, imaginative and intelligently witty fantasy will blow your mind. Who says science fiction fantasies cannot be set in our own country? This book is as original and fascinating as the best books from other corners of the world. The year is 2040, and the future of our dreams and nightmares has arrived. Kids in Pune, India are working with liquid computers and illusion pods and travelling in intelligent cars. Perfect, pimple free skin can be had by applying the right creams. Synthit is a brave new world of difficult questions and endless possibilities. A world peopled with humans, and transhumans who are more than human. Thirteen year-old Tara of Pune waits for her father to return, to escape her domineering aunt, to leave boring old Pune, and to grow up. Her older brother Aditya is a virtual-reality game addict, whose sharp mind holds a mysterious key. Tara seeks answers to many questions. Her new friends, Ria and Francis, get strangely upset by the night sky. Is her mysterious and lovely mother Mandira a friend or enemy? Why has Mandira come all the way from the artificial island of Nurth? Is her father a terrorist or a genius? Who is Aditya really? And finally, what is the beast with nine million feet? There are no simple answers. Tara and Aditya find themselves caught up in a deadly struggle for power and control. The genetic code to life itself is in danger of falling into the wrong hands. This spellbinding novel will entrance not just teenagers, but everyone. --Monideepa Sahu, Deccan Herald
About the Author
Anil Menon's stories have appeared in a variety of international magazines and anthologies. He likes science fiction for its cheeky attitude towards common sense. He lives and works in Virginia, in 2040 A.D.
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Top Customer Reviews
I came across this as a result of discussion of international science fiction, and it was a great introduction to Indian science fiction that's got me adding others to my list. Easily one of the best things I've read this year.
Seriously, if you think there's no market for jam packed smarty pants SF for young and adult readers, get your hands on a copy. Publishers will have a hell of a time categorizing it (they already have in India, where it's tagged "young reader"-but it's no more young reader than LeGuin's "YA" work. It'll either wither in obscurity or, my bet, grow a long spidery set of legs.)
I really do love this book--the plot is complex, with interesting young and adult characters, rich in social and scientific details that are typically woven into the story as background or really, really interesting foreground. And the details are unique--or will be to most readers. There's scientific (biological) and social evolution and revolution, in the east and west. Children and adults grow up or continue to reveal facets of themselves in an honest way. There's an honest depiction of parent/child relationships that progress in different directions but aren't always resolved. The representation of near future technology is believable.
It's not perfect book, but damn it's good. A sequel might be perfect. While the story stands alone, the ending promises a continuation. You've probably noticed that there's not much detail in this review to accompany the praise. There's too much story for me to summarize in a way that matches my appreciation for this work. A friend describes it this way:
It is a great and complex yarn, unafraid of such things as Big Ideas, politics, Sanskrit poetry, Swedish exclamations, German jokes and family relationships. Not to mention wild, cool future-tech. One of the most enjoyable things about the book is how richly textured it is in terms of its content, themes, atmospheric world-building. The book is thought provoking and uncomfortable and moving, especially in its descriptions of family dynamics. Why do people do what they do? Why do siblings find themselves on opposite (or different) sides of things?