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Monday, August 11, 2003

A review of SHIVA 3000, by Jan Lars Jensen (UK 2000, PanMacMillan, 326pp).


Who or what is Shiva 3000?

Shiva appears in the book, but the number 3000 does not. That this story is set in the far future is specifically mentioned on the back cover only. Inside, within the story, nothing so specific. Does this matter? No. The front cover describes Shiva 3000 as ‘A Timeless Fantasy’, and that’s precisely what it is, because Shiva 3000 could be set in the past, the future, or an alternate world of any tense. It really doesn’t matter.

The plot is deceptively simple. Boy hunts mythical warrior. Intends to kill him. Misplaced jealously over a lost love could be part of the reason, but destiny also has a hand. On his way, the boy meets various people, they travel and adventure together. Final scene, book ends, but in such a way that a sequel seems possible.

Sounds derivative, but it isn’t. Shiva 3000 is set in India, not some boring piece of Middle Earth. There are no hobbits, elves or goblins. There is, however, an underground snake that seems to be at least 30 miles long. Boy meets snake after escaping from a gigantic wooden god that trundles across the land, levelling entire cities. There are many gods in this story, gods which humans seem to have lost control of. Robots that have taken over their masters? An obvious allusion, perhaps, but this isn’t Terminator. Instead, Shiva 3000 demonstrates how ancient realities can become myths, and how these myths shape and control destinies.

However, what makes this book refreshingly different - apart from the setting - is the prose. It’s languid and meandering, like the Ganges on a steamy summer evening. It wafts you rhythmically along, camouflage for the various sucker punches that the plot delivers.

An impressive first novel from Jan Lars Jensen.
The review

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