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Reviews of Lord of Light (1967)

Review by clong (2005-09-01)
I guess I'd have to say that I was a little disappointed in this book, which many consider to be one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. It certainly starts with a superb concept: a group of technologically advanced refugees from a long dead Earth have colonized a plant, vanquished its native species, and developed a form of immortality through controlled reincarnation. These original colonists rule over their descendents as gods, each having taken the aspect of one of the traditional deities of Indian mythology, until one of their own decides that their rule is corrupt and fights to end it.

I guess that I had several problems with the book. Most importantly, I never developed much empathy for the protagonist Sam or any of the other leading characters. For most of the book his history and motivations remained hidden, and by the time it all came out I just found that I didn't really care much about what happened to him. The character I liked the most was probably Tak, who has been reincarneted as an ape as punishment for an early transgression against the gods. But, after playing an important role in a couple of early chapters, he then disappears for most of the book. Also, one of the characters who plays a key role in the final resolution seemed like an afterthought.

I found that this is one of those science fiction books where the science is really just technologically justified "magic." And finally the narrative style was overly choppy, at times it was hard to know what was a flashback and what was the current storyline.

Still the plot was reasonably engaging and I am glad to have read it, but it doesn't join my list of all time science fiction greats.

Review by KC7WUE (2003-03-09)
A mix of Hindu mythology, mental powers, and technology set on a world with monsters physical and etherial. The population is descended from a starship that landed generations ago. Some of the starship crew were posessed of extra mental powers which they enhanced using drugs, hyponsis, and electronics. Several hundred years later these "gods" now rule, some would say oppress, a world with a stable social order enforced by brain scans. New inventions are destroyed to keep the people's level of technology at a primitive level. Sam, the renegade god, sets out to upset the world order using Buddhist teachings with the goal of allowing the civilization to develop. A book worth reading several times.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2012
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