Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ascendance by Sadhna Shanker

A simple but wavy work of art cover depicting man and woman in front of a purple advanced city and a colophon having a dialog just enough to get you interested; it had been some time since I read sci-fi and "Ascendance" seemed like an ideal candidate.

Book Blurb
The location is a planet in outer space inhabited by antagonistic species.
The night Seeni died, the fault line reappeared. The existing equilibrium between men and women, the antagonistic species that inhabit Elone began to crumble. If a clash happens, how long would it last? What would remain? Who? How many? Were they heading for a time like the last days on Earth?
As each side regroups along the Fence, Maya, a woman’s consciousness from twenty-third century Earth, reveals the past intertwined existence of men and women. Would knowledge of their shared past change the course for the future?
Delving into ideas of divergence, immortality and consequent new social constructs, Ascendance is set in a world that represents a possible and not a dystopian future.
“Ascendance” is a futuristic tale that speaks of a possible scenario where Men and Women no longer need each other and have left Earth to live on another planet Elone. They live separately on different sides of a wall which has been erected as a result of two major battles, ignoring each others’ existence, till one woman goes missing near the wall and Men become target of suspicion, which leads to war like chaos on both the sides.

The novel is written in third person narrative and in switching perspective of Men and Women in alternate chapters. Be it cloning, AI systems, advanced medical science, mode of travel or even the houses, the author has seamlessly captured the lifestyle of the characters. Use of alternate terms like ‘Zac’ for planet years or ‘nex’ for death sets the proper tone of a science fiction, as to how the world transitioned from one planet/perspective to other. However, too much time is taken to set the plot, and there are times when it drags. Men seem more like dwarves, more advanced in weaponry and a little aggressive by nature. Women are more like as elves, comparatively more technically advanced in rest of the fields than men, less aggressive of the two, but more mature in taking decisions. Every now and then its highlighted that men and women are essentially the same, but it fails to be properly captured in essence of this book.

As far as characters go, Maya plays her part flawlessly as a woman’s consciousness. But alas, the same cannot be said for rest of the characters, who fail to leave a lasting impression. Aryan has limited presence and executes his role aptly. Ime and Iwe stick around but again do not leave the desired impact as they could had. By the time Radul and Ultor start to make an impact, its nearly the end of the book leaving a huge gap for their potential. Personally, I felt no characters except these two had traits that set them unique other than their circumstances (with the exception of Maya and Aryan).

The story line has a lot of potential but lacks the gripping element. “Maya’s story” is a well written chapter. The world of Women is captured superbly, but personally I felt that more effort could had been made on getting insight of the Men’s world.

For Sadhna Shanker’s well attempted sci-fi which imbibes some well-thought philosophy as well, my overall rating would be 3/5.

Overall Verdict:- Good concept but lacks the gripping element

The book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at GoodReads


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