The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Each chapter in Lord of Light is introduced by two headings. The first is unidentified but appears to be an excerpt from a secular history giving a factual, if sanitized, version of events on planet Urath (a corrupted spelling of Earth). The second heading is an excerpt from one of several Hindu holy books, primarily the Upanishads. It relates the same events from the first heading but in mythologized and highly symbolic language. Only after the reader gets two different, but equally valid, perspectives on the story are the events presented in narrative form.

The novel concerns the adventures and quests of Sam, an original crewman of The Star of India, a spaceship that had colonized Urath many generations ago. Using sophisticated machinery, the crew has been able to transmigrate their consciousness for untold generations, achieving a type of immortality via periodic reincarnation into new bodies when their old ones have worn out. They created identities for themselves based on the Hindu pantheon and, using advanced technologies, assumed powers and attributes of godlike proportions.

These manufactured gods live insulated under Celestial City’s protective dome at Urath’s polar ice cap. The rest of the planet is populated by mortals, the flesh-and-blood offspring of the crew’s original bodies, though familial relationships are seldom recognized. The mortals put money into pray-o-mat machines, and if their accounts are...

(The entire section is 585 words.)