To be honest, this future-set book didn’t go at all in any of the directions I might have been anticipating. I didn’t read the blurb, so was genuinely intrigued to find that, far from science fiction or another very trendy dystopian gloomfest, Legacy of the Third Way instead went on to offer a mildly interesting look into American politics, though, it has to be said, it doesn’t really delve too deeply into the subject. The story is quite a simple one: a dying man writes his autobiography, which organically evolves into a memoir of his political career – the difference being that Sher Shah is a man who, by middle age, has never considered a career in politics before. So, we get to accompany him for his baptism of fire.
I’m glad the book went in this direction, rather than the many others it could have; it gives it quite a unique feel. In honesty, though, I couldn’t really figure out why Kundi chose to set his book so far into the future. After reading and much consideration, I can honestly see no reason for this decision. In fact, in doing so, I feel the author may have made the task of writing this book unnecessarily problematic for himself. The politics, while perhaps progressive to a small extent, are certainly not speculative to the extent that I would expect to see being debated in years to come – bearing in mind, in this narrative we aren’t talking five or ten years into the future, but nearly half a century. Many of the political topics – if not all of them, in fact – I considered to be actually rather contemporary and current, and I found it very difficult to imagine they will still be relevant several decades from now. Most notable examples of this are perhaps the climate change initiatives discussed and measures to stop electoral rigging, which one might anticipate will have been radically addressed long before the latter half of the 21st century. In fact, Kundi’s vision of the future overall was underwhelming and somewhat unambitious. There was no mention of global conflicts or any pending apocalypse (thank God), and the technology referred to doesn’t really reflect any bold predictions on the author’s part. I don’t expect to see Back to the Future-style fantasy concept, but if you’re setting a book so far into the future, you have to acknowledge that the way we live, operate, broadcast, etc. is going to change significantly, and it doesn’t feel like this book really acknowledges that.
The political aspect of the book feels somewhat rudimentary. Shah presents policies and experiences as if they’re new or groundbreaking in some way, but in fact it just feels like the character is taking a very elementary, and indeed at times quite naïve approach to the profession. He refers, as if wisdom and revelation, to things which I would believe to be common knowledge, bemoaning the underhand skulduggery of American media politics as if it is personal attack and he is sharing some trade secret.
But this is entertainment and it is a nice read. It is refreshing to read a book which has a simple narrative and gets to it. Moreover, Kundi is a good author. If you’re interested in the basics of American politics, and perhaps even getting into it ground level, give it a go, but I would advise not to be lured by the possibility of any profoundly futuristic, speculative or progressive fiction.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: abdul-quayyum-khan-kundi futuristic progressive politics fiction drama