Cover image for Shiva 3000
Shiva 3000
Jensen, Jan Lars.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt Brace, [1999]

Physical Description:
283 pages ; 24 cm
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Jan Lars Jensen weaves a magical, mythical narrative with a modern sensibility, present-future technology, and a dark humor strongly reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's Brazil and Time Bandits. Two quarreling friends travel across India together, following their very different destinies. Along the way, young Rakesh and the Royal Engineer, Vasant, encounter the giant god of wood, Jagannath, who carves a swath of destruction; the Pragmatic Monks, who live in a carved-out mountain and perform miracles of meditation; demon cranes, who reduce life to counting; battles where the weapons are spices; and numerous other wonders. This cinematic Sinbad dreamscape, filled with animate machines, airships of silk, and legends brought to life, evokes an ancient time but also points a finger at our modern age. Jensen's prose fascinates, amuses, and haunts as he presents vivid scenes of India and in the process examines Hinduism, Buddhism, intolerance, and the awful power of faith.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Projecting exotic, multifaceted India into the far future, Jensen whirls readers off on a colorfully surreal series of peculiar adventures. Young Rakesh, a jilted bridegroom, and his new acquaintance, disgraced Royal Engineer Vasant Alamvala, seek vengeance. Rakesh intends to slay the legendary Baboon Warrior who stole his arranged-marriage bride, and Varent means to obliterate his palace rival Prince Hapi, a devotee of intricate Kama Sutran amatory entanglements, in order to regain his position at court. The two join forces when Brahmins summon the monstrous Jagganath, the earthquake god made visible, to crush the city of Sholapur. After discovering that the Jagganath is a dung-fueled wooden construct, Rakesh and Varent crawl inside it, learn to operate it and smash their way through India, meeting strangers and swapping yarns until each realizes an enlightened goal quite different from his original obsession. By treating India's ancient pantheonÄKali the Destroyer, Shiva, Vishnu, Hanuman the money godÄas beings created by the human need to worship, Jensen explores some faces of religious intolerance. He also uses India's broad spectrum of religious observance, from the self-denial of ascetics to the intricately implemented sexuality of the Kama Sutrans, to suggest the infinite possibilities of human faith. Individual passages of this ambitious tapestry of spicy sensory overload are briefly fascinating, such as those concerning the erotic temple sculptures at Khajuraho, but as a whole, the book leaves only a nebulous impression of the futility of human life. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Canadian newcomer Jensen's first novel is set in an India of the future, still bound by class and divided by religious beliefs. The religious factions include the majority Hindus, the persecuted Kama Sutrans, and a tiny but virulently hated minority of Buddhists. Driven by divinely ordained fate and religious zeal, two unlikely companions roam Jensen's surreal Indian landscape inside the colossal body of the Jagganath, a physical manifestation of the god Vishnu (and the origin of the English word juggernaut). With the help of the Pragmatic Monks, the two companions work to control the will of the Jagganath, thus fulfilling the will of the gods. In the end, Rakesh, the young hero of this wild and unlikely Bildungsroman, must reject free will and bow to merciless fate before finally embarking on a life of his own making. Shiva 3000 uses a mythological India for its framework but can also be seen as a critique of any ethnically or socially divided community or organization claiming manifest destiny as it bludgeons its way toward its ends. Highly recommended for all libraries.ÄRebecca A. Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.