Title: Krikos: The Vertical Horizon
Author: Rishabh Dubey
Publisher: Leadstart publishing
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
First Publication: 2021
Book Summary: Krikos: The Vertical Horizon by Rishabh Dubey
It is 4697 A.D. and the Earth doesn’t exist anymore. Humans reside in a celestial space station that is larger than the average star and is powered by the stars themselves. It is informally called a ‘Star-Eater’, but it’s official name is Krikos.
While exploring the eternity of space, humans find a possibly habitable solar system. Krikos sends out a mission under the leadership of the famed warrior, Captain Krawn Xanethius, to examine the ideal planet. Krawn soon realises that they are not alone in the Universe. But, his real ambiguity lies in the mysterious existence of a human colony in the system prior to their arrival.
A new war would engulf the Galaxy and plethora of lies shall be made known; making the anthropocentric yet existential human being question it all. The truth, though, lies in a small journal, written a thousand years before the birth of Krawn, by the creator of the Krikos and the smartest being to have ever lived – Dr. Flex D’Dustener.
Is the purpose of the Krikos to merely save humankind… Or is it much more? Embark on this journey of unknowns and get the answer to the greatest question of all – ‘Why?’.
Book Review: Krikos: The Vertical Horizon by Rishabh Dubey
Krikos: The Vertical Horizon is a science-fiction story set in future where the Earth is destroyed and humans are living in space station named Krikos. Rishabh Dubey structures the premise and then alternates the narrative between the two timelines: One is ‘Diaries of Flex’ which tells story about creation of Krikos and another, ‘Into the Dimension’, is about humans start living in Krikos and try to find a possibly habitable solar system. I think that giving away any major plot points or world-building features would do a disservice to anyone who might read the book, so for this review I’ll stick to commenting only on its broad thematic implications.
Rishabh Dubey’s Krikos is a story about the demise of one civilisation and the birth of another. On this very simple, not to say simplistic, premise, the Author creates a brilliant cosmic epos, which contains many key elements that are the driving force of many classic science-fiction novel. We have the destruction of humanity, genetic experiments, interstellar journey, fighting for survival with alien forms of life, artificial intelligence. It is a novel written with panache, and yet carefully attending to minor details, enriched by the colourful and multifaceted picture of struggles undertaken in the defence and preservation of life, and trials related to overcoming consecutive stages of biological and cultural evolution. It is also a critical vision of the distant inheritors of the Earth, irreversibly poisoning the environment, and thus approaching the point of eliminating their own species.
Krikos constitutes themes about humanity’s long journey toward unlocking the scientific worldview’s vast aesthetic potential that is space exploration. Somehow, author Rishabh Dubey seems to have soaked up all the lessons from the history of space exploration genre, channelling them into a seamless blend of humanity’s ancient narrative fundamentals and the most terrifying truths of empirical reality.
Rishabh Dubey possesses a powerful literary voice that syncs beautifully with his deep understanding of science. ‘Krikos: The Vertical Horizon’ is packed with poignant, deft descriptions of scientific phenomena and human psychology. The story often flirts with becoming overly-abstruse, but time and again author rolls out poetic summaries of whatever theoretical or technical ideas he is exploring, rendering them both intellectually accessible and emotionally impactful. The imaginative breadth and linguistic mastery on display here seem excellent.
Remarkably, Rishabh Dubey proves capable of generating thematic and emotional continuity while flouting many aspects of traditional character development. Since the master story arc spans a mind-boggling amount of time and a huge cast of characters, it would be easy for readers to become unmoored had author not managed to artfully weave so many expansive ideas and personalized moments together throughout the book. The writing is solid. It is complex enough to convey cognitive concepts of world-view as well as philosophical underpinnings of what intelligence and inter-connectivity is. I didn’t overtly realize it as I read, but I think there were parallel discussions of what humanity means and aims for, a particularly worthwhile topic for our time.
Krikos confronts the difficult relationship between time and survival in a way that feels both familiar and entirely innovative. It is an ironclad law of nature that every living system must organize itself to stave off the onslaught of entropy. Doing so buys the time to perpetuate the circumstances necessary for survival. In a best case scenario, perpetuation develops into proliferation and survival blossoms into flourishing, but the bedrock physical dynamics remain the same; each little victory, no matter how sweet, remains suffused with the promise of inexorable defeat.
At the human level, valuations of life and love can begin to feel insignificant when matched up against the epic insouciance of the cosmos, but the characters in Krikos reveal an existential attitude that is neither shamefully denialist nor naively romantic. Gritty acceptance carries the day, combined with healthy doses of courageous problem-solving and raw determination. And through it all, author never loses sight of the fact that, even when faced with ultimate failure, the physical structure of the universe is the most magnificent piece of art humanity could hope to encounter. Highly recommended.