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Sharad Raghavan

By Ruchi Banerjee
Hachette, India, 2014, pp. 218, Rs. 295.00


Writing about the future can be fraught. It is deceptively simple to conjure up futuristic fantasies, simply linear progressions of events today. But there is a very real danger of over-reaching—of creating scenarios that just become unbelievable. Ruchi Banerjee seems to have reined in her imagination at just the right time in her novel Infinitude. Her world is ours, just 150-odd years in the future. All of the predictable events have played out—humans have gradually depleted all of the Earth’s natural resources and have even devised a real, actionable way to rectify the damage done by their indulgences.  The plan they have, as with many of humanity’s grand schemes, is imbued with a god-like arrogance. Using genetic engineering, humans create trees that produced much more oxygen than before, thus effectively reducing the impact of air pollution. What they haven’t planned on is the adrenaline-like boost this increased oxygen gives to the evolutionary processes on the planet. Animals quickly adapt to the new environment, with mere hunters becoming predators, their senses heightened to unprecedented levels.  It is in this world that we find Mira, the protagonist of the story. The first chapter proves to be a good prologue and introduction rolled into one. It sets the scene for later developments, and introduces the reader to Mira’s individualistic, strong thought processes.  Mira is a college student living with her scientist mother in one of the many districts created to protect humanity from the toxicity created by previous generations. Her life is a comfortable one—her house has mood lighting and she has a futuristic smartwatch-like device called a morphe than stores all her music, movies and books. Mira loves everything to do with the past—what is actually our recent past and present. She speaks in old American clichés (what she calls a retro sound) and loves watching thrillers. However, soon, her comfortable life is flipped on its head when her mother takes up a job in a distant district. Mira accompanies her and finds herself at what seems to be the boundary between her civilized world and another more wild area.  The problem with Infinitude is that, despite being written in simple language (it’s clear the author is aiming at teens), the author tries to do too much in too little space. It’s a slim novel, and yet we follow Mira through ...

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