Saturday, June 2, 2007

A believable fiction ...









Future of the Past
- A Novel by Alpesh Patel

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Introduction



Future of the Past is my debut novel. I completed it in five years after laboriously writing in the solitude of dense nights and weekends.
Writing a fiction of this genre was a challenge. I had to balance fiction and facts, creativity and veracity, natural style and acceptable approach of writing. While I had to conceive life-like characters and construct intricate plots, I also had to extensively research on human evolution, civilization, medicine and history. At times, I singularly walked down the streets of Mumbai in heavy rains to appreciate how it feels to be homeless, exposed and lonely. Because that is how the characters of the book would feel. Lonely on this planet.



And if you too feel the same after reading the book, thank the most pleasant accident on the earth so far – the evolution of humans. And pray that the illusion of human dominance on earth continues. Forever.
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Synopsis of “Future of the Past”








Oh! my glorious past



Ten million years back



Survival was a tricky race



Animals were high on pace



But I won over everyone else



For I was gifted with a ballooned brain



***






I rule the world today



The air, water, fire and soil



The animals, birds and trees



But I have too many brains



They diverge and spew evil



I control everything



But not my own mind, not others’



My brain is my biggest threat



And my future not in my hands



***



So nature intervene again



Take my brain away



And give me another tool to survive



And let me continue forever



Oh! my glorious past
~ By Alpesh Patel
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We are the product of 4.5 billion years of fortuitous, slow biological evolution. There is no reason to think that the evolutionary process has stopped. Man is a transitional animal. He is not the climax of creation. ~ Dr. Carl Sagan

I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it's a very poor scheme for survival. ~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

The evolution of the brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ, which it does not know how to use. ~ Arthur Koestler
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“… We humans have had a good run of it. In the 500,000 years Homo Sapiens have roamed the land, we've built cities, created complex languages, and sent robotic scouts to other planets. It's difficult to imagine it all coming to an end. Yet, 99 percent of all species that ever lived have gone extinct, including every one of our hominid ancestors. In 1983, British cosmologist Brandon Carter framed the "Doomsday argument", a statistical way to judge when we might join them …” A cold monsoon sweat rolled down his neck and he felt terribly vulnerable. What else would the last human left on earth feel after reading that? The future of his race depended on him. Only him. It was his turn to survive on behalf of the human race.



***
A flight from London landed at the Mumbai airport and passengers were left unattended. Soon some ten passengers realized that they might be the only sensible humans left on earth because a strange incident, called “the great disaster”, had struck. Guneet Dhoot, the Captain of the flight, got a nightmare of a depopulated world where all his ten surviving passengers had grown old and died leaving him all alone. “I do not want to be the last human leaving Mother Earth. I do not want the last ticket to heaven.” he yelled.



Amidst an unforgiving monsoon in a desolated city of Mumbai, what followed was misery, anxiety, decay, perplexity and a desperate search for kin in a world sans electricity, water supply, transport and most importantly, no other sensible humans. Passengers went through pangs of loneliness and swing of moods but learned to draw warmth in company of one another. Big-headed about human’s illustrious existence of five million years on mother earth, they were unwilling to accept that humans were about to be lost forever and enter the list of extinct species. “Humans will not resign and vacate the planet so meekly. We shall fight till the end of our lives.” declared a young passenger, Roshan. The grave reality was that humans had reverted back to struggling for their survival, like the Iceman in ice age millions of years back, putting aside their dreams of immortality on the earth.Passengers launched an ambitious “mission” to revive civilisation under leadership of Captain Dhoot. Deliberations and debates to select the right approach to revive the human civilisation followed. Should they search for others? Or just populate the world again? Should they find why the great disaster happened? Or should they take the disaster as an opportunity to redesign a better human civilisation? What should they do they insure human civilisation against such vicious states of coma in future?




***
Read the book to find if… The passengers lived a lonely life and perished or they found other survivors like them. The earth rejected the arrogance of humans and pushed them to extinction or passengers triumphed in their struggle to revive the civilisation.
And if the survivors designed a new civilisation and changed the way humans lived on the earth forever.










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The first owners of the book...




"Future of the Past" was launched across India in November 2007.




The first owners with their copies...





"The dread of being left alone on the planet kept haunting me till I put the book down!" Anirban Gooptu.



"An unbelievable tale with a bundle of novel ideas. It's a must read." Joyson.




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Al Gore, the winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2007 on the "Future of our Past". A resounding resemblence of thoughts ...





"We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly...




...As the American poet Robert Frost wrote, "Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice." Either, he notes, "would suffice."...




... It is time to make peace with the planet...
... We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource. So let us renew it, and say together, "We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act."
– Al Gore at The Nobel Peace Prize 2007 ceremony




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Book coverage in the Leading Dailies .......








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In some ways the book makes the reader think, putting himself in the same situation.




A debut book by Alpesh Patel, Future of the Past is about a disaster that strikes the planet and a group of humans facing extinction. The efforts of this group to find out what exactly happended and how they survive the catastrophe, has been depicted in this book.





Characters such as Roshan the journalist, Alex the scientist, Kabir— another researcher— and many others painstakingly come close to the explanation for the disaster that struck the planet.
The journalist takes countless pictures and keeps notes and searches among various libraries for information on what happened. The scientist and the researcher meanwhile try to build a neurocomputer that can store information for the future generation, if there are any survivors.
The book, although with the usual cliched terms that are used in thrillers of its kind, has been written to give the reader a sense of loneliness, portraying the emotion of the survivors very well.
The reader gets a feel of being in the midst of the characters in the book. It also shows the different ways the human mind behaves during extreme situations, and gives choices— would one like to help others survive or would one rather help himself selfishly without thinking about the future.
In some ways the book makes the reader think, putting himself in the same situation.
Published by Frog Books, the style of writing Patel has used, can conjure up images immediately in the mind, for which Patel deserves credit, especially since this is his first book.
However, as the plot develops, Patel tends to ramble, thus boring the reader at some particular parts of the story.
But he has provided the minutest of details, which adds to the imagery.
Also, the amount of research Patel carried out is commendable, for one has to be equipped with essential information on evolution, chemistry, biology, computer science and other subjects. Good timepass, but not captivating enough.
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The world was entering a dark phase of disaster and human beings were on the brink of extinction.
The passengers of a Comfort Airways flight survive the great disaster when Captain Dhoot safely lands the aircraft in Mumbai. But a ghostly city haunts them and they discover a desolate world sans electricity, water, food or transport.
Future of the Past by Alpesh Patel is an account of the trials and tribulations experienced by the crew and passengers of a Boeing 747 flying from London to Mumbai. The plane was flying over Indian Territory, close to the Chatrapati Shivaji Inter-national airport. Oblivious to the disaster which is about to hit them, they are making preparations to land. How-ever, the first signs of the impending doom are evinced when Captain Dhoot tries to contact the central tower but fails. This turns out to be the first in a series of devastating events to come.
Dilraj, the first officer, attempts to make a connection with the ground staff but to no avail. The passengers also try to contact their relatives through their mobile phones but are unable to do so due to the non-availability of network. The airhostess, Tina, tries to assuage the passengers’ anxiety.
Having exhausted all alternatives for an emergency landing, Dilraj turns his eyes towards the city of Mumbai where an unbelievable sight meets his eyes —- the airport is on fire and an unruly mob is approaching the plane with menacing looks. The captain orders the crew to disembark the passengers from the emergency exits and the passengers walk to the airport building where there is utter chaos and confusion. The place has been thoroughly ransacked with jewellery, books, magazines scattered all around the floor.
There is no one to answer their questions as the minds of the people have been affected, causing them to lose their sanity. When addressed, they give a blank look and walk away. Eventually, the passengers and crew set out in different directions for their respective destinations. Heavy rainfall, murky roads and lack of amenities stall their footsteps.
The aggressive behaviour of the bokas (insane people) add to their miseries as they go around looking for the cause of the disaster. Electricity failure adds to their woes. There are no sane people to be found. When electrical power is finally restored, all man-made machines begin to work. The only things that do not function are human beings. The author here digresses upon the state of human beings without the complete and correct functioning of their minds.
The author describes the frustrations of Captain Dhoot and Sarangi, a world famous musician when, like all people at the airport, their near and dear ones seem to have lost their ability to think as they fail to recognise them.
The trips of the passengers to various parts of the city reveals a similar state of disaster — empty houses, people running homeless on the streets portraying a pitiful picture everywhere.
It was no better at the hospitals as ‘The room had more than 20 crawling people creeping in filth like bugs. Some patients were roaming with needles pierced in their arms and plastic bottles half filled with saline water hanging behind them.’ In describing their efforts for reviving the bokas, Patel describes all the cities they visited. It is evident that the author is familiar with most of the cities in India, especially Mumbai and its suburbs — Bandra, Mahim and Santa Cruz. He describes his trip to Maryne Drive in Colaba and the Raj Hotel where they took residence when the airport hotel was no longer safe for living.
The language used in the book is flowy and the descriptions are vivid. The book is replete with descriptions of architectural sites and places of interest. Speaking of the captain’s address to the survivors, the author comments: ‘His words were now distinct, his speech deliberate and he sounded more human but still retained an air of authority in his voice.’ The author draws a picture of the conditions prevailing. At the end when Roshan discovers the cause of the disaster and wants to be the first to tell the world about it, he collects all the computer discs, video tapes and diaries and is about to leave; his exuberance is however dampened when he looks at the calendar and realises it is a Sunday.
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Google "Future of the Past Alpesh Patel Frog Books" to know more or order a copy online. Book also available on http://www.amazon.com/ http://www.42bookz.com/