Review: Baramulla Bomber

BY IN A, Science Fiction NO COMMENTS YET Clark Prasad

By Clark Prasad. #1 in Svastik Trilogy. Grade: A

The ambitious tagline, “Quantum Physics meets Bible & Vedas in Background of Kashmir & Cricket”, first inspires scorn, then disbelief, eventually awe and finally applause. There are espionage novels, and they have a huge following and there are sci-fi novels, they too have a huge following. Novels of both these genres have immense potential, if they’re well written. Imagine what the potential could be if a novel combines elements of both the genres, and it is well-written.

An Ancient Weapon from the Vedas & Bible
Once Hunted by the Nazis
Powered by the Sound of the Universe

Reborn with the Help of Quantum Physics
Going to be Unleashed onto the World
And Kashmir Holds its Secret

Baramulla Bomber

The only way
Multiple intelligence agencies are tracking Mansur Haider, a god-fearing aspiring cricketer from Kashmir. His girlfriend, Aahana Yajurvedi, is trying to locate her missing mountaineering team, which vanished after a mysterious earthquake struck Shaksgam Valley. Investigating Mansur and the Shaksgam Valley incident is Swedish intelligence officer, Adolf Silfverskiold, whose only relationship to God consists of escorting his girlfriend to Church.

to save the world
A dual China-Pakistan battlefront scenario facing the Indian Home Minister, Agastya Rathore, whose ancestors carry a prehistoric secret linked to the stars. He is faced with the challenge of finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis.

is to challenge one’s faith
Which biblical weapon was tested in Shaksgam valley? Why is Mansur Haider important? Is there a solution to the Kashmir crisis? Can destiny be controlled? Does a cosmic religion exist?

There are three concrete elements which work in favour of Baramulla Bomber:

PaceBaramulla Bomber is barely above 300 pages, plus the plot moves at a pace worthy of a thriller. There are no morose descriptions or scenes of chemistry (even though there are two female companions). With a possible exception of one or two scenes, the novel throughout doesn’t talk too much about the allied paraphernalia and has maintained its focus absolutely on the task at hand.

ConnectAs mentioned in its tagline, the book has three core elements – religion, Kashmir and cricket. These three core elements have a very strong connect with the Indian audience, but they all ping three very different emotions among us Indians. Cricket, with or without victories in reality, evokes passion amongst us; religion is something which a majority of are very conservative and to a certain extent, possessive about; Kashmir is no doubt a very sensitive issue, but at the same time, arouses in us a very strong sense of patriotism.

Structure – This is one of the most underrated factors when it comes to judging or even writing a novel. A structure to the plot can add so much to the impact that a novel makes on its readers. The sequencing of events is so very organised that it makes it very easy for the reader to connect the dots at the right time. Full points here as well.

I would have raised the issue of lack of exploration – the author put up many ideas but didn’t go into their depth, probably due to dearth of character space. This issue is however still a question mark as Baramulla Bomber is the first in the trilogy, so hopefully the exploration is done in the sequels. A very strong complaint that I have to make is the weakness in character sketching. A plot which was extremely well-knit deserved very strong faces to be in the fore, something which was lacking; this is invariably the case with all the characters, right from Mansur to Agastya Rathore.

At the risk of sounding extremely sceptical, I rarely find Indian authors writing fiction novels which are worthy of even qualifying to compete at the global scene, leave alone competing there. This novel, by the man of nom de plume Clark Prasad, is one of those rare novels which are worthy of representing Indian fiction worldwide. Kudos to the author for his brainchild and its crafting. He has shown great promise and I sincerely hope that Mr. Prasad sticks to this genre.

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.