The Carol of The Reactors – Review

Book: The Carol of The Reactors
Author: Vishal Suchak
Year: 2019
Bookhad Rating: ♥♥♥

It has been a long long time since we put something up. By long we mean more than two years ago and we were itching to restart and get back into the book reviewing business. 

The pandemic gave the world an excuse to us humankind to step back and recalculate our lives; it gave us the quiet moment that we needed, but didn’t rightly deserve, to consider where we stood, and where we were headed. Enough has been said and heard regarding the effects of politics in the current scenario and, since this is not the platform for political commentary, we will refrain from it.

cover_small.pngThat said, it doesn’t matter what we want about renouncing social commentary and political critique in this here blog, when something comes up that is uncomfortably close to a reality that we have come to imagine. A world that has changed in its dynamics. A world that is based on physical segregation and isolation. A world in which the exception has suddenly become the norm.

The Carol of the Reason is a book which exists in the realms of a reality that is dichotomous in more than way. Humankind has been cleaved into two glaring groups. Physically and socially; the two groups stand out but do intermingle in cases. Physically, the “mutants” are described as having a ‘radioactive green hue’ with far more pronounced muscles and ‘furry clumps of green hair’ on their ‘shoulder, back, thighs and calves’. Socially; they’re kept away from the “Untainted”, outside the home of the Untainted humans which is called The Diablo Terrarium. A massive structure inside which no mutant is allowed apart from undertaking strict measures.

The outside world is Radioactive, after all.

The Chief Administrator, the number 1 in command of The Diablo terrarium, and the other members of the management are attempting to converge the two bifurcated population into one.

Just like old times.

But, just like old times, politics is ever present in the very midst of the Terrarium and outside. There are Untainted Humans sympathetic to the cause of the Mutants and their wellbeing. There are Mutants who don’t hate the Untainted because they are, as a matter of fact, untainted and living in far better conditions than the Mutants.

But, of course, there is a healthy amount of severe radicalization on both sides. Some not so apparent, some obviously so.

The writer, Vishal Suchak has had a rather successful career in Advertising and Digital Communication spanning across continents. His writing style is an eclectic mixture of metaphors and colloquialisms; sparse usage of the former, and a rather ample use of the latter. But, he draws the line when asked directly about it, because it’s all without forethought. The narrative of the book is smooth and the story line is compelling. It sails effortlessly and draws the reader in. My love for Dystopia and Fantasy is evident from my choices, and this one falls squarely under Dystopia and Fantasy and partially under Science Fiction.

Speaking of Dystopia, I would like to point out a few peculiarities regarding it. The book dwells on the future of an explosion which renders the world radioactive but, like the expected arc of a dystopian society, does not result in a world bereft of even some technology. The human race does not start from a blank slate. On the contrary, I-phones and Tablets and Internet is rather ubiquitous in usage and even more advanced technology is hinted at. The dichotomy is present in all visions of the writer. I am in no position to know whether this was an intentional idea, or simply a result of his work.      

Personally speaking, there was a character that was a pleasure to read, purely because of the schooling in philosophy that dripped from every word. Dr. Hudson was, at a time, the only mutated scientist on board of the united Nations’ task force. But, professional eccentricities scared his peers and finally ejected him away. He now lives in squalor in the outside world. It’s a pleasure to hear him speak. Some might find him to be a hackneyed version of all geniuses, but it was personally a delight. 

The author cites his influences from among the greats like H.G. Wells, as well as from the unexpected like William Bernbach, an American Advertising Creative Director.

The Carol of the Reactors is the debut novel by Vishal Suchak; the first of the Earthling Trilogy, and it seeps into a lot of spaces that the reader would never guess. He even gets into Biblical retelling of tales and was unexpected at more than a few turns.

NB: This review has been written at the request of the writer.



2 thoughts on “The Carol of The Reactors – Review

Add yours

  1. Thank you for considering my request for a review. This level of critical engagement and analysis is most appreciated. Truly helpful as I begin work on the second edition.

    In this comment, here: even referencing the breadth; depth; maturity; simplicity; near-divinity of Sir Allama Iqbal is laughable on my part–a four time final year repeater from a design school, of all places. But, long live the Impossible Dream.

    May I convey my Jawab-e-shikwa.

    This dystopia of mine, set in ~2022, is two years from now. The world was partially intact even when the end-of-days arrived in 2012. In the ten years which passed, we recovered somewhat. Hence Post–post-apocalyptica. Hence the ubiquitous real world tech.

    On the many dichotomies–all of them were intentional. Many from manuscript stage, some a result of editorial response. All intentional. Even the dystopia is balanced by a near, or shall we say supposed, Utopia of the ‘haves’ much like it is IRL.

    Giving credit where due. My first publisher, and the first editor as well, Malini and Kavya both made seminal contributions after coming on board.

    Kavya, after her first read, found the Chief Administrator quite unremarkable and I kept going on and on, “He’s British, see. And he’s not a Churchill, he’s an Atlee. He doesn’t want a necessary war, but a necessary peace.” Recapping this with Malini was quite a riot. After I rewrote the Chief Administrator’s address to the builders of Eden, though, Kavya’s point had to be taken.

    The dichotomy of #LoveUnspoken and #LoveConsummated emerged when I was done trimming as much ‘fat’ as I could and began adding new substance in, to restore word-count. The trope and hashtag laden character sheet is also in the book only because of Kavya. Something which quite a few readers/reviewers have appreciated.

    The usage of metaphors and colloquialisms, is as you noted. To preface, a little, my intent with writing this book was to share my existential crisis with the reader. I wanted it to inflict blunt force trauma, even if that meant the reader might not get beyond the first page itself. Metaphors, I avoided because aesthetic joy serves as an anaesthetic in that it soothes. Colloquialisms, on the other hand, helped establish the diversity of characters and grant each their own voice quickly so I could focus on world-building and control the narrative pace.

    I’m making it all sound ‘Aha!’ now, but nearly everything was without forethought, just instinct. And I was writing for myself alone.

    It’s a delight to know that Dr Hudson, despite being a hackneyed version of many geniuses (you hit the nail on the head, there, again), was a delight in your reading. He is primarily inspired by my first psychiatrist who took it upon himself to counsel–not something most do. Such an incredibly well read, broadly informed and deeply empathetic person I may never come across again.

    My initiation into Philosophy may have begun with Russell’s ‘Conquest of Happiness’ but the schooling happened in parallel to my diagnosis and treatment. Many threads came together under the tutelage of Professor Rohit Goel who presently leads the Bombay Institute for Critical Analysis and Research. So yes, Adam Smith, Kant, Wittgenstein, Eric Berne et al. My attempt at bringing self awareness to Wisdom’s to-be lovers brought in Zeno and Baudrillard as well.

    Your catching the ‘Biblical’ retelling at more than one turn speaks to your knowledge of The Books. Perhaps I was writing for you all along. Thank you for accepting my request.

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