The beginning of the end, foretold – A review of the novel ‘Planet B2’
“The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.” ― Anton Chekhov
Dystopian societies and alternate worlds have appeared in many genres of fiction & art over the years and judging from the stupendous success of The Hunger Games series, this could go on to become a pattern of the times to come. Dystopia as a creative device are often used to draw your focus to many real-world issues that affect our environment & politics, economics & religion, psychology, ethics and the science in our societies. The basic premise of dystopia is that, if these factors are allowed to expand and grow uncontrollably or without taking into consideration the human element in them; it could potentially lead to an alternate society or world.
Dystopia can be made more manageable and understood better if the individual, the lowest common denominator in every society is allowed the freedom to express himself fully and freely according to his or her desires. The actual life of an individual is what must constitute to be called the true essence or meaning of life, instead of blindly following an arbitrarily attributed essence that is defined by others, which is then in turn used to define us. Therefore we humans through our own consciousness must create our own values & beliefs to determine a more meaningful existence to this life.
Author M C Raj creates such a dystopian society set in a future not too far from today and also creates a whole new planet, called B2, filled with a new order of life. And to round off a stereotype, it is America, the big & powerful and capitalist America and the man at the centre stage of it all, the American President who wants to capture & occupy this new planet and plunder away its resources for their own personal selfish desires. This ambitious plan runs into rough weather because the inhabitants of planet B2, unlike the ones you see on earth can’t be fought and conquered over by the mere use of force and weapons because these beings do not have a definite organic form, they are more like life waves created out of the entropy of life thoughts & vibes that contain only positive energy. The American president Rustler’s plans to overrun Planet B2 faces opposition not just from the hostile atmosphere of Planet B2, which doesn’t allow any vessel or individual that carries negative energy entry into its sphere, he also faces opposition from his long time confidant and key man in this mission, Plumbel who gradually begins to preach a more peaceful line of existence and eventually joins forces with the German Chancellor who too is opposed to Rustler’s evil plans.
This separation in idea and propaganda eventually leads to the entire earth being divided into two camps, those who agree with Rustler and are for the capture of Planet B2, form the Earth Alliance and those who are against it, headed by the German Chancellor forms the Cosmic Alliance. What happens next is on expected lines as another world war breaks out between these two opposing forces, but where this war becomes different from its predecessors is that this time war does spell the total end of humanity as we know it on earth.
The highlights of this story are the detailed narrative explorations about Carolina and Marissa, two Native American girls who were selected in the space mission to become a part of the nefarious grand plan of Rustler to capture the planet B2. Through them we get to know and understand more about the shamanistic beliefs and disciplines that the indigenous tribe groups follow. Philosophical ideas of getting back to nature and becoming one with nature reverberate throughout the passages involving the girls and then further with Plumbel, in whom we get to see a gradual transformation and metamorphosis from another American jock with his head stuck in the clouds to someone who becomes more sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of not just the people around him but also gets in touch with his humane and natural side. And the idea of full body orgasm that has got nothing to do with sex but everything to do with the mind and its state of happiness sound very Osho ish in presentation. The fact that such a serious issue has been addressed in this sort of a simple, straight forward and slightly flippant manner and yet manages to keep the reader interested begets the praise that the author is due.
Although sometimes the novel does become slightly caricaturist at certain points, the author may be forgiven for that because as our everyday news headlines show us, sometimes reality does become an extension of the caricature that is essentially drawn from it to begin with. But sometimes you do wish that the author kept the same level of focus even when dealing with less significant sub plot as he does with the main plots of the story. But these are minor gaffes that don’t necessarily stop the reader from enjoying the book.
This is a book that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who loves alternate fiction, ideas of existentialism, action & violence, faith & bravery, and love of a different kind, maybe the purest kind that there is.
Be forewarned that it will have you sitting on the edge of your seat as each page draws close and thereby inching you towards a very explosive & graphic climax.