Immortal King Rao, By Vauhin Vara
The basics of Wauhin Vara’s debut novel, The Immortal King Rao, are as simple as possible: A young woman named Athena, who was secretly raised on Pugget Sound Island by an elderly father who gave her a genetic code. Allowing him to access the entire Internet, as well as all his memories, finds himself in a prison named after his mother, awaiting a verdict according to an algorithm for a crime he claims he did not commit. While he waits, he writes a lengthy defense addressing the shareholders of a megacorporation that has replaced the U.S. government, indeed all governments, as well as the “shareholder” has changed the word “citizen” with the big “s”.
Let me try this again. The premise of “Immortal King Rao” is as simple as it can be: a boy named King Rao was born into a large Dalit Indian family who gained a foothold in the middle class through a wise investment in a coconut farm. King is sent to study engineering in the United States, where he becomes a leading programmer and the public face of an early computer company that became a lifestyle brand of a global superpower, darkened by Gates, Jobs, and others. After a miraculous fall from grace, King goes to a small island where his daughter, Athena, plays Miranda with her prospector: ward, caregiver, secret companion. He hopes for the day when he will correct the sins he has committed, as well as what he feels has been committed against him.
Again, with feeling. The premise of “Immortal King Rao” is as simple as it could be: a phenomenon called Hothouse Earth, the latest game of climate collapse, is gradually erasing human civilization and perhaps all life on the planet. But this idea is too big and scary for anyone to handle, so they do not do it. The shareholder government continues to use social capital ratings to operate, consume and place its shareholders. Meanwhile, in the Blanklands – officially recognized autonomous zones, beyond the control of shareholders – people who call themselves Exes have achieved some functional anarcho-communism à la Proudhon workers’ collectives. Former leaders believe that when inherent contradictions in the shareholder system become difficult to ignore, more people will accept their model. Unfortunately, by the time all the hills are back to their city, there is a great chance that the hill will be under water.
370 pages, “Rao” is briefly a saga of a multinational family and a broad social epic. (Not to mention science-fiction, though the novel is science-fiction only insofar as it covers some science-fiction.) – Not to mention older monsters like “Suitable Boy” or “Independent People” – “Rao” may appear from the beginning with the weight gain weight. Do not be deceived.