Jihad

Igor Baranko. Humanoids, $29.95 (144) ISBN 978-1-59465-070-3
In the nearish distant future of this book, the former Soviet Union is in a state of collapse. Ivan Apelsinov, a mad, aging sci-fi writer, now runs Russia. A combination between L. Ron Hubbard and late-life Phillip K. Dick, Apelsinov has driven the empire into an era of drug-fueled mysticism with repercussions for the rest of eastern Europe. The ruin of Chechnya is overrun by UFOs, while elsewhere a pair of psychic police comb Kiev in search of the female life essence of Genghis Khan. Originally published under in 2000 the title The Horde (the current, original title having been declared too controversial), Jihad is a remarkable, if remarkably strange, exploration of human struggles against mortality and the desire for heaven. Baranko develops the novel through a rhizomic structure, the threads of which never fully cohere into a unified plot. This is a bold narrative move on his part that risks losing his reader before the final payoff of the book. It largely works, helped by Baranko's richly colorful illustrative style. This makes his scenes of quiet meditation every bit as explosive and lush as his moments of gunplay. For the patient reader, Jihad develops into a compelling and richly detailed alternate history of great depth. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
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