Operation Nova (novel) by Tamilmagan
English Publication History: Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction (2017, Blaft)
Original: Tamil (ஆபரேஷன் நோவா), 2014
Translated by Rasmi Ruth Devadasan & V. Vinod, 2017
Receipt: Free from the publisher by request (email)
Synopsis: Reportedly, based on the word of one renowned scientist, the earth will end within a decade due to a cataclysmic volcanic explosion; thus, the innocuously-sounding Human Development Council is founded with a sole purpose: transport and allow humans to live on another planet. Shanghaiing peoples from around the world, the unsuspecting individuals awaken to a foreign and hygienic environment on the surface of GL 581g, the planet of which they have been destined to colonize. Akilan is one such unwilling colonist who is unhappy with the current totalitarian yet technological system of governance, who also yearns to be returned across the twenty light-years to his love Vinodhini.
Meanhwhile on Earth, the realization of the 4,100 (or 41,000) people who have disappeared from the population slowly begins to dawn on the affected: sons go missing from families, spouses disappear, colleagues vanish. Vinodhini, who loves and misses Akilan, leads a rally against the police who seem complacent on whitewashing his disappearance. Soon, Charles, one man on the Coucil, announces that people have been extracted from the planet to save humanity for disaster; however, governments are quick to ridicule and institute him while the masses panic. At the same time, university students begin to protest major nations in thought they’re harvesting organs for the rich back on Earth, a demonstration that spreads across India.
Back on GL 581g, a nitrogen-eating alien species named the Durphies have a similar conquest in mind: to colonize GL 581g. In direct competition with humans for the nitrogen-rich atmosphere and soil, the human governance decides to kill on Durphies, which they do with haste and success. There’s also another native species who are green and tentacled, but they hardly matter in terms of affect on the colonists or story.
When Michael, one of the original colonists and one of the original member of the Human Development Council, discovers that his daughter isn’t one of the colonists, he is separated from the rest; however, dissent remains: Akilan still resists due to his love for Vinodhini while Gabriel, another founding member of the Council, decides that’s there’s profit in the newly-found utopia. Even though the 4,100-41,000-strong colony has no use for money or love, Gabriel still finds a way to exploit the needs of GL 581g and that of panicking Earth.
More people disappear and more people protest, thereby created more friction between the governments and the body of scientists who have secretly developed the Human Development Council and its colony on GL 581g. When Gabriel returns to Earth to negotiate “departure fee” of 100 million dollars, the world–both from the population and its’ governments–erupts in protest, at first, then in strategy. Gabriel finds himself in the position to rule two planets while both planets resolve their differences to fight against the totalitarian and in human regime that Gabriel had instituted upon the entire human race.
Analysis: The start of Tamil civilization had its roots more than 4,000 years ago in the same location as it is today. Much of this rise and fall has gone unheralded in the West, which mainly focuses on Western civilization (e.g. Greece, Normay, etc.) and the far-East (e.g. China and Japan)… this is according to both Operation Nova, which has a strong pro-Tamil-civic history and Wiki. The entire story feels heavy on the so-called science to also feel that it has some sort of social/historical parallel rather being for pure entertainment.
Review: On the surface of story, it is difficult to render parallelisms as 1) I’m not very familiar with the region’s history and 2) it feels burdened by the pulp-style of writing, which is quick to introduce, hesitant to expound upon, and forgetful to relate to the overarching story.
If GL 581g parallels the Tamil civilization in someway, the reference to the Greenies and the Durphies seems lost on me; in addition, the heavy inclusion of technology distracts from the narration, which seems to focus on “hard science fiction” yet still tries to try the tired old “love is forever” theme. It’s an awkward attempt and ultimately pulpy (hence, pulp fiction?) in the end. Also, it’s heavy on modern references to hook the reader: Facebook, Obama, the G7 nations, Bill Gates, and Hollywood stardom. It’s recurrent abuse in the story feels tried, hokey, and unimaginative rather than being natural, timely, and relevant.
Though being fairly modern-age in terms of chronological placement, the story features anti-gravity, supercomputers, FTL technology, tectonic-prediction technology, spacial displacement, ease of organ replacement, advanced genetic replication, superior forms of environmental suits, fluent language interface, instant translation software, etc.
For wanting to seem to modern in terms of presidents, social media, and so-called high society, the story feels absolutely divided between what is and what will be; there’s a huge chasm between the two that the author has chosen to bridge, which ultimately fails in delivery. It’s simply too chockablock; it’s clunky, semi-relevant in a spastic way, and name-drops far too often to feel metaphoric. Give this a pass– all 152 pages.
For the rest of the anthology, do read. Even though I have no interest in reading mysteries, I found the rest of the collection to be provincial yet interesting, quaint yet unique; the other five stories are certainly worth a read for the sake of diversity.