The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

"Saad Z. Hossain continues to blow through the flimsy walls of genre like a whirlwind with The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, sweeping science-fiction, fantasy, myth, and satire into the wildly imaginative vortex of his ever-expanding fictional universe of alternate djinn-history and futures. Hossain's wit and wry compassion create a vision of humanity's hurtling path thr...

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Title:The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday
Author:Saad Hossain
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday Reviews

  • Jenia

    In the heart of the Himalayas, Melek Ahmar, the Lord of Mars, the Red King, the Lord of of Tuesday, Most August Rajah of Djinn, awakens after millennia of slumber. He finds that everyone's forgotten about him. Humans have their own problems: climate change has ravaged Earth and humans can't survive without nanobots scrubbing the air clean enough to breathe. Most therefore live in giant cit

    In the heart of the Himalayas, Melek Ahmar, the Lord of Mars, the Red King, the Lord of of Tuesday, Most August Rajah of Djinn, awakens after millennia of slumber. He finds that everyone's forgotten about him. Humans have their own problems: climate change has ravaged Earth and humans can't survive without nanobots scrubbing the air clean enough to breathe. Most therefore live in giant cities, the closest of which is Kathmandu Incorporated, governed by the god-like AI Karma. Of course, now that Melek Ahmar is awake, he has no interest in staying a forgotten king with no subjects. With the prodding of an old soldier who has his own grudge against Kathmandu, Melek Ahmar decides to conquer the city.

    This is my second book by Saad Z. Hossain — the first being

    — and honestly, hot

    .

    deserved its exclamation mark, and I'd add an honorary exclamation mark to

    too. This novella is a very wild, very fun ride.

    The setting is great. I always really enjoy cyberpunk mixed with traditional magic, and it's especially fun to see this mixture not in the usual suspects (New York, Tokyo) but in Nepal. The city Kathmandu itself is something like a paradise within a climate change-ravaged hell. Money has been abolished; everyone has basic food, shelter, and entertainment. Even in paradise, some people do have more though: people receive "Karma points" by contributing to society and can spend them on luxuries or favours from Karma. And of course even in paradise, not everyone is content and not everyone believes that being governed by an AI is best. By the end, I still couldn't make up my mind as to whether Kathmandu is "worth it".

    The characters are all fun to follow, though Melek Ahmar was by far my favourite. He's all-powerful, arrogant, and grandiloquent. And aside from conquering the city, what he really wants is a really good party. (For an ancient all-powerful djinn, he's very relatable.) His irritated ruminations on humanity also never failed to make me laugh, e.g.

    Acting as his foil is the other half of the book's title, the

    soldier Bhan Gurung. Well, he is sort of the foil, being a lot calmer and strategically-minded. But his perpetual smile and attachment to his knife alarms even the Lord of Tuesday. In fact, all the characters are a

    nuts, in all the best ways.

    This cross between depressing setting and outrageous characters keeps the book's tone light. Some of the themes raised — the dullness of a paradise where all your needs are met; justice and exploitation in a money-less, "(good) deeds"-based society; the morality of AI-government in general — will definitely bounce around my head a while. But the book itself is just plain funny. I mean, it's about an all-powerful djinn who doesn't think the party's really started if there's no goat sacrifices, hanging out with a perpetually smiling old man with "murder hole eyes", trying to ferment revolution in a city where people quite like how things are, thanks. It's all pretty absurd, in the best way.

    comes out on August 13th, 2019 and I can't wait for everyone else to check it out. In the meantime, I'm definitely going to explore more of Hassain's older work, and hope that this stand-alone novella spawns some sequels.

  • Lukasz

    Perfection.

    Imagine an arrogant djinn waking up in a brand new world run by an artificial intelligence system called Karma. 

    wants a city to rule, good parties, plenty of booze and great companions to drink, fight and carouse with. Accompanied by a Gurkha named Bhan Gurung who lives off the grid, he plans to conquer Kathmandu. At least he says so, but his actions suggest parties and heavy drinking appeal t

    Perfection.

    Imagine an arrogant djinn waking up in a brand new world run by an artificial intelligence system called Karma. 

    wants a city to rule, good parties, plenty of booze and great companions to drink, fight and carouse with. Accompanied by a Gurkha named Bhan Gurung who lives off the grid, he plans to conquer Kathmandu. At least he says so, but his actions suggest parties and heavy drinking appeal to him more than ruling. 

    I like good satires, the ones that don’t try desperately to be funny but make you laugh anyway. Saad Z. Hossain delivered a compact and entertaining blend of sci-fi, thriller, comedy, and heist. He even has a cheeky teenage djinn-girl who sells weed for karma points. And it works. Moments of sheer joy mix with clever twists that reveal dark secrets of seemingly perfect Kathmandu of the future. At this point, human characters hijack the story,

    I loved it. It’s probably my favorite

    published by Tor in recent years.

  • Yasser Ahmed

    Melek Khamar, the Lord of Tuesday, has been asleep for ~3000 years and wakes up to a world where humans have salted the earth (or more accurately, the air) and require nanotech implants to survive. It doesn’t take too long for Melek Khamar (note he always refers to himself using his full name, the first indications of his self-importance) to begin his plans to take over again – because why not? That’s what he does. This might be shallow reasoning elsewhere but the entire novella is so self-aware

    Melek Khamar, the Lord of Tuesday, has been asleep for ~3000 years and wakes up to a world where humans have salted the earth (or more accurately, the air) and require nanotech implants to survive. It doesn’t take too long for Melek Khamar (note he always refers to himself using his full name, the first indications of his self-importance) to begin his plans to take over again – because why not? That’s what he does. This might be shallow reasoning elsewhere but the entire novella is so self-aware, the read and author are acutely aware that it’s the childish plan of a magnanimous ruler.

    The Lord of Tuesday (a very prestigious title we’re told, there’s only seven days after all) receives help from the mysterious very disturbing outcast Bhan Gurung who likes nothing more than a good genocidal night out and a bag of pistachios. Together they try to take over Kathmandu which has become one of the most advanced cities worldwide. I really like that the story is set here rather than the traditional settings of London/Tokyo etc. It makes sense that a djinn would wake up in Southeast Asia. Too often an author will try to force the location to be their hometown (understandably so); it’s very cool to see a city be used more organically.

    Kathmandu is ruled by an AI called Karma which freely provides basic needs (food, water, shelter etc) to everyone. Money has been abolished, replaced with a karma system – good deeds build up one’s karma count, letting them use it as a currency. It’s an interesting depiction of a utopian post-capitalist society while deconstructing why the concept didn’t work as perfectly as its designers intended. A serious critique of this situation a la

    would be fascinating but it’s a mistake to think this book is that. Extremely tongue-in-cheek, The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday mocks the vain, hyper-masculine warrior god trope in a gonzo, crackpot, lightning fast story. It parodies and exaggerates sword-and-sorcery heroes, but does so affectionately.

    With characters like Gurung, who keeps pushing towards the goal of conquering the city by playing on an immortal, all-powerful djinn’s insecurities pride, and ReGi, the teenage djinn who grants wishes (read: sells weed) and listens to classic kpop, the book is impossible to take seriously.

    It’s absurd, hectic, and hilarious while prodding the redaer along with just some light commentary on the dangers of utopian society and AI-controlled decision making. Immediately after finishing the book,

    jumped straight to the top of my TBR – and perhaps that’s the simplest and most effective endorsement of the book I can give.

  • Kend

    Tor.com novellas continue to be the platform giving voice to diverse thought experiments in science fiction and fantasy that we just

    anywhere else, and Saad Hossain's

    is a fine example. It's also, I must add, a thought experiment pitting magic versus the machine, the artificial versus the natural, and the ordered versus the chaotic ...

    . The agent of chaos is a djinn, the agent of order is an artificial intelligence, and the

    Tor.com novellas continue to be the platform giving voice to diverse thought experiments in science fiction and fantasy that we just

    anywhere else, and Saad Hossain's

    is a fine example. It's also, I must add, a thought experiment pitting magic versus the machine, the artificial versus the natural, and the ordered versus the chaotic ...

    . The agent of chaos is a djinn, the agent of order is an artificial intelligence, and the battleground is the city of Kathmandu, rising from the ashes of a future so terrifying I honestly don't really want to think about it for long. The djinn stumbles across a former Gurkha soldier who becomes his companion and confidante, while the artificial intelligence—Karma—keeps a human failsafe nearby to be our access point to its inner workings.

    Early on, I was on the verge of finding myself annoyed at Hossain's use of stereotypes—the uncontrolled, ravaging (and sexually ravenous) djinn, the stoic ex-soldier without a war to fight, the private investigator desperate for a case to distract himself from his own bleak introspection, the amoral and unfeeling artificial intelligence guiding human affairs without dispensing justice to the citizens under its care. And one of these stereotypes does persist throughout, but the others are thoroughly dispatched by the novella's conclusion, the characters grown into rich and round personality. I enjoyed the denouement, the author's final stance on matters of human nature and destruction, as well as the characters themselves. For someone who felt uncomfortable with them even halfway through, that's a stunning reversal and worthy of my respect.

    A wonderful addition to the entire science fiction and fantasy continuum!

  • Mehrangez

    A fast and furious race through a vividly imagined futuristic utopia. Or is it a dystopia?

    is a novella and so doesn't have the plotty heft of Saad Hossain's other, longer novels,

    and

    , but it does have his signature combination of cynicism, wisecracks, likeable yet wildly amoral characters, and a plot that hurtles to the finish. And some of the most badass female characters I have come across in the genre. So good. Highly recomme

    A fast and furious race through a vividly imagined futuristic utopia. Or is it a dystopia?

    is a novella and so doesn't have the plotty heft of Saad Hossain's other, longer novels,

    and

    , but it does have his signature combination of cynicism, wisecracks, likeable yet wildly amoral characters, and a plot that hurtles to the finish. And some of the most badass female characters I have come across in the genre. So good. Highly recommended.

  • Rana

    Absolutely amazing. Blending futuristic sci-fi with very ancient stories of djinn. Plus, it's hilarious. Would trade a lot of Karma credits to read more in this world.

  • Andy Coleman

    A SIMPLE MAN'S REVIEW:

    How is this the first A.I. vs Djinn book I've read?! It's funny, thoughtful, and just a bit bigger than a bite-sized nugget - perfect for a quick, weekend read.

    The story is a simple one: a Djinn wakes up to find the world a much different place, but then he meets a guy and is taken on quite the trip. There's hilarious elements to the story that will keep you chuckling, but there's also commentary on society and the idea of utopia. Plus, since it all takes place in the futur

    A SIMPLE MAN'S REVIEW:

    How is this the first A.I. vs Djinn book I've read?! It's funny, thoughtful, and just a bit bigger than a bite-sized nugget - perfect for a quick, weekend read.

    The story is a simple one: a Djinn wakes up to find the world a much different place, but then he meets a guy and is taken on quite the trip. There's hilarious elements to the story that will keep you chuckling, but there's also commentary on society and the idea of utopia. Plus, since it all takes place in the future, you get a fun, sci-fi slant.

    Read it!

  • Rick Brose

    This novella is a fun romp through a futuristic city alongside an ancient being of magic. The juxtaposition is great. The technology is cool. The characters are intriguing. It is a nice little ride to take in between bigger reads.

  • Nina 321

    A novella that is quite jolly but promises more than it keeps (at least for me). What I liked: the setting of Kathmandu, the collision of magic (djinn) with futuristic nanotechnology and surveillance AI (the djinn 'Melek Ahmar, quickly used to the magic of the age, was unimpressed'), the snarky tone. What didn't really quite come together for me: the characterisation, the dialogue (a tad *too* snarky so that it became knowing), the lack of emotional heart.

    There are two women characters in this b

    A novella that is quite jolly but promises more than it keeps (at least for me). What I liked: the setting of Kathmandu, the collision of magic (djinn) with futuristic nanotechnology and surveillance AI (the djinn 'Melek Ahmar, quickly used to the magic of the age, was unimpressed'), the snarky tone. What didn't really quite come together for me: the characterisation, the dialogue (a tad *too* snarky so that it became knowing), the lack of emotional heart.

    There are two women characters in this book (and one AI gendered as 'she'). One of them is a kind of manic pixie dream girl; she is a snarky teenage Goth djinn. The stereotype wore thin after a while. The other is the badass warrior woman, familiar as token woman from countless action movies. Again, to me she seemed a male wish-fulfilling cardboard cut-out; I did not warm to her at all. The most vivid character is the old goatherd gurkha but he, too, is driven by a one-dimensional motivation.

    The premise is clever. The AI (named Karma) dispenses karmic points that function as currency. It raised the question: can there be an economy of moral good? 'Value is determined by what people want' (chapter 9), and what happens when the people want murder and mayhem? As the AI says: 'My job is not to assign value. I merely ensure a true fair market.' So there is an interesting exploration of free-market capitalism embedded in this story somewhere. (For a truly awesome exploration of the same topic, though, I suggest Ursula LeGuin's

    .)

    Format: Kindle. Good, clean formatting, and I spotted only two typos (Vasco de Gama; miniscule (my personal bugbear).

  • K.J. Charles

    Oh my GOD this was so much fun. A crazed mash-up of djinn, nanotech, and detective story full of fantastic lines--it's literally laugh out loud funny, I was howling.

    The curse of reading a lot of genre fiction is that it's very often obvious where a story is going from early on. This is never the case with Saad Hossain. At all. (I may never recover from

    , in a good way.) The plot, settings, and concept all screech round unexpected turns, and occasionally plough through solid walls, and

    Oh my GOD this was so much fun. A crazed mash-up of djinn, nanotech, and detective story full of fantastic lines--it's literally laugh out loud funny, I was howling.

    The curse of reading a lot of genre fiction is that it's very often obvious where a story is going from early on. This is never the case with Saad Hossain. At all. (I may never recover from

    , in a good way.) The plot, settings, and concept all screech round unexpected turns, and occasionally plough through solid walls, and the reader just has to hang on for the ride. Bonkers enjoyable fantasy, and an absolute autobuy author for me.

    I will note that, not for the first time, Tor's strong covers game and excellent acquisitions policy is not matched by the editing/proofing, and I wish they'd put a bit more into that because they are otherwise one of the most exciting and innovative publishers out there.

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