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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Krishnanujam (Krish) is a highly regarded mathematician from the Indian subcontinent, working at a Californian university. The US government is very interested in his work as it has applications in the field of secure communications. Unfortunately, so are a number of competing governments that, if they cannot get access to his work, are also prepared to murder Krish to stop the US government getting it. The Tenth Avatar by Kanchan A. Joshi tells how Krish, having experienced several attempts on his life, frightened and dispirited, returns to India and his family where he is able to carry on with his work under the protection of the Indian authorities, assisted by the US government.
Krish is pleased that his work is considered so important, but his real aim is to understand and express mathematically the workings of the universe and humanity’s place in it. To this end, he sets out to find the lost notes of the famous Indian mathematician Ramanujan, which he believes will help him in his quest. The book’s narrative is interspersed with chapters set in ancient India which chronicle the life of Hanuman, a part-human, part-simian immortal, and his role in the war which results from the kidnapping of the wife of Prince Ram. The sections set in ancient India cover a good deal of folklore and philosophy and, as Krish gains the necessary insights to complete his work, the narrative threads unite in a surprising and unexpected conclusion.
The Tenth Avatar is an unusual work of science fiction which presents an optimistic view of the future of humanity. Turning his back on the somewhat ubiquitous dystopian trend, Kanchan A. Joshi, a PhD Engineering graduate, has presented a different view of the future. Taking inspiration from the Ramayana, meditation, and Yogic practices, he weaves a complex tale which encompasses the hard sciences of physics and mathematics (in which he displays a great deal of competence), together with the culture and spirituality of his home country. An inspiring, thought-provoking work and a worthy addition to the genre.