M.V. Ravi Shanker has managed to shake off any doubts I may have had about Indian authors. Yes, every second book that you will see on the street nowadays is infallibly the story of some starry eyed college student who managed to fall in love and decided to write a book about it. But from the deep recesses of this rampant pile of nonsense, sometimes you manage to find a book that has been written with a sense of clarity and conviction. Collision of Dimensions is that book. The genre? A rare mixture of science fiction and fantasy. As if that wasn’t ambitious enough, the book goes on to explore the favorite subject of spiritualist and physicists alike: What exists beyond the dimensions currently known to humanity?
The chain of events, that will lead us into the story, begin in 1647 AD, when Raja Raghuveer builds a palace of insurmountable beauty to present to his wife, but is advised against moving in by a sage, Ashtagreeva who detects an evil presence in the palace. Time jump. Four hundred years of dormancy later, the evil forces make its move once again as the power, that was supposed to descend on Earth through Ashtagreeva that fateful night, makes its presence felt, this time through Mukund Martondkar, a software engineer in the employee of one of the biggest corporate in Mumbai. This power, or Force, as he prefers to call it, is revealed to have descended to Earth from another dimension for reasons unknown, and it is now Mukund’s responsibility and obligation to save it from falling in the wrong hands. In his quest, he is joined by Yogesh Bishnoi, his brother in arms from his office, Arunav Khandelwal, a mysterious hotelier, who seems to have some powers of his own, and Vani Vaidyanathan, a physicist and researcher from the Chandrashekhar Research Institute of Advanced Physical Sciences.
And on the other side of the ring, we have the Ghoras, astral beings who had travelled into this dimension that fateful night four centuries ago in the hopes of capturing the Force for themselves to bring their lord, Ghorathighora to power. They are aided in their efforts by a number of power-hungry, well-networked individuals who would cut their right arms off for the kind of power the Ghoras were offering them. Protagonists? Check. Villains? Check. Plot? Check. Critical Analysis? Served hot from the next paragraph:
I mentioned earlier that ‘Collision of Dimensions’ is a rare mixture of science fiction and fantasy. Science fiction because the authors attempts at exploring concepts that have seen theoretical acceptance in the scientific community. Yours truly has read up enough on the subject to know that Shanker isn’t making stuff up along the way, be it the conversations between Vani and her mentor, Professor Kar or Arunav’s attempts at explaining the Force(and, by extension, his own extraordinary powers) to the cynical physicist. This novel probably works this well because Shanker succeeds in adding a dash of fantasy to his cause and intersperses it with SF effortlessly. Take, for example, Shanker’s vivid imagination of what other dimensions would look like, his descriptions of the experience of taking leave of one’s physical senses, and, of course, the mystical powers endowed upon both Arunav and the Ghoras etc. But the best part about it is that Shanker balances reality and, for lack of a better expression, “other-worldly” experiences very delicately, leaving just enough of a gap to let the implications of both sink in, without you forgetting about either.
The language he chooses for this book is very simple and unassuming. One of the causes for this may be because he’s already spinning your mind so much by what he’s saying that it would be very counter-intuitive to choose a more difficult way of saying it. All of the characters are very well etched out, in terms of their thought processes and personalities. So if Arunav is a psychic who owns a hotel in Mumbai, he knows that to find acceptance in society he must follow its rules and explain his powers/gifts to cynics using their rules, not his.
In a nutshell, the title ‘Collision of Dimensions’ doesn’t just refer to the spatial dimensions you might encounter in this book, it refers to the collision of the spiritual school of thought with the scientific, more cynical one. It refers to the collision and gradual merging of science fiction and fantasy. If you like your authors Indian and your fantasy based firmly in reality; run, don’t walk to the nearest bookstore.