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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Samit Basu

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To purchase Turbulence

Title: Turbulence
Author: Samit Basu
Genre: Novel
Written: 2010
Length: 360 pages
Availability: Turbulence - US
Turbulence - UK
Turbulence - Canada
Turbulence - India

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Our Assessment:

B+ : snappy fantasy

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Caravan . 3/2011 Anjum Hasan
Hindustan Times . 19/11/2010 Shalini Singh
Publishers Weekly . 29/4/2013 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Turbulence is that customer-friendly thing -- a racy read. (...) In the end though, the novelís apotheosis consists not in the triumph of good over evil or of India over the rest of the world but in restating, in a way that is both serious and funny, the question about what is the good." - Anjum Hasan, The Caravan

  • "The plot -- good guys, bad guys, grey guys, confused guys -- runs a fairly predictable trail and makes way for a grand finale. The passages describing Amanís inward virtual journeys are striking, and the sharp wit punctuating edgy twists provides relief from certain tedious action sequences." - Shalini Singh, Hindustan Times

  • "Snappy and clever but unfocused and lazy, this may inadvertently be the first hipster superhero story." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The premise of Turbulence is that all 403 passengers of BA flight 142 that landed in India find themselves with super-powers, their deepest wishes manifested. A pilot finds that he can now fly even without a plane (à la Superman), another that he is basically plugged into the Internet directly via his mind, which functions like the highest-powered super-computer, another has visions of the future, another finds that she can duplicate herself, sending as many doubles out into the world as she likes (and then reintegrate them all into her one self). Dozens of different, personally-tuned superpowers -- though varieties of shape-shifting (including the ability to grow to monstrous proportions), great strength, and the ability to withstand an incredible amount are fairly widespread among them,
       The novel does not begin with the transition, but rather opens a while after that fateful flight, with the super-powered humans already putting their new abilities to use. Basu doesn't put much effort into explaining what might have happened, or why, preferring instead to force readers simply to accept the premise and move on from there.
       The exact nature of what has happened to those on the flight isn't clear: some don't immediately recognize what their superpowers are, and some apparently don't even show any sign of them initially -- and, as it turns out, the superpowers (and the adeptness of the newly empowered in using them) grow with time. But some suspicious things have happened -- all the foreigners on board, for example, seem to have disappeared. And at least one empowered person, Jai, already has big, big plans, collecting and culling the super-powered and rapidly taking steps to consolidate power so that world domination will be in his grasp. A few of the super-powered who have escaped his clutches or, for now, notice have other plans, with human-Internet Aman trying to coördinate them, and flying-machine Vir one of the first he and those he has assembled try to win over for their slightly more noble cause.
       The different factions -- there are also other elements, for now beyond Jai's and Aman's reach, with much disruptive talent -- vie against each other, taking both damn-the consequences and more careful approaches -- unleashing all that super-might can cause a mess, but also often only has limited effect on others similarly (if differently ...) well-endowed. Given how many figures are near-indestructible and near all-powerful the plans for the big take-over (Jai and friends) or the big take-down (Aman et al.) require some very careful planning.
       While some of the battle-scenes are too drawn-out -- and better suited to a comic book than any written work of fiction -- Basu maintains surprisingly good control of all these absurd super (really, really super) powers in how he uses them with and against each other. This is fantasy-fiction lite, but Basu's light touch is also deceptive; the writing here is often very good, and the super-powers -- like that of the multiplying (and then reintegrating) Tia -- consistently well-presented. Impressive, too, is how well he realizes his characters in just short descriptions and snappy dialogue: from computer-mind-man Aman to eager little Anima, it's a rich cast on offer here.
       Basu also has a deft comic touch, from the many digs at Indian aspirations to grandeur to the repartee among the empowered characters. At times, the story is stretched a bit thin, with consequences only summarily mentioned and barely ever explored (there's a lot of chaos and debris in the wake of what happens here), but except for those too-drawn-out battle scenes Basu paces the novel very well (especially at the beginning).
       All in all, an enjoyable read, and the sort of fantasy that transcends at least some of the limits of the genre (even as it also revels entirely in it).

- M.A.Orthofer, 17 August 2013

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Turbulence: Reviews: Samit Basu: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Indian author Samit Basu was born in 1979.

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© 2013-2021 the complete review

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