REVIEW: The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain

If one were to describe The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, perhaps a way of doing so would be to call it a fish-out-of-water story, sprinkled with a certain irreverent humor that has become Saad Z. Hossain’s hallmark, except that the fish out of water is in fact, a world-conquering djinn awoken from a long imprisonment spanning millennia.

The Gurkha and the Lord of TuesdayLike its preceding work Cyber Mage, The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday is set within a post-apocalyptic Earth where humans secrete nanotech to create suitable climes enabling them to live. But instead of the urban centers of Bangladesh, it’s the remote mountains of Nepal where Melek Ahmar, the Lord of Tuesday finds himself, along with the Gurkha Bhan Gurung, the knife-wielding Vergil to his Dante.

It’s an incongruous, but remarkably compelling character duo—Melek Ahmar’s sardonic observations about the new world he finds himself in, mixed with Gurung’s bland statements, peppered with a barely concealed thirst for violence that alarms even the Lord of Tuesday whose ultimate goal is just to have a good time, form some remarkable moments of grim hilarity.

“We cannot brook this kind of dishonor.”

“Look, I mean, I appreciate it, but really, no need to go out of your way . . .”

“There are other ways to skin a cat,” Gurung said. “A king you are, noble lord of Tuesday, and a kingdom you shall have, this I have sworn, when you took me into your service.”

“Eh? You did? I did? I mean, did I take you into service? I don’t exactly recall . . .”

“I have sworn!”

“Ahem, yes, of course, if you’ve sworn.” Melek Ahmar looked helplessly at ReGi for support, and only got a roll of her goth-black eyes. That was the problem with djinn. They never stepped up. “Irrevocable blood oath, was it?”

“Is there any other kind?”

Speaking of incongruity, playing off contradictions is a recurring theme when it comes to The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday. A futuristic, science fiction setting meets djinn existing outside known natural laws. Nearby Kathmandu has become a utopia, a karmic-based society ran under the AI aptly-named Karma, where its citizens want for nothing, yet crave meaning and purpose (perhaps exemplified best by another character Hamilcar Pande, the ‘Sheriff’ of Kathmandu), and the very concept of a perfect utopia ruled by an AI is contradicted by the existence of Kathmandu’s elite, and how they’ve corralled resources to rise up the karmic ranks.

While the flavor of South Asian cyberpunk doesn’t quite percolate as thickly in The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday compared to its predecessor, it’s not entirely lacking; there’s a momo place where Kathmandu’s residents go to for their authentic, non-machine printed dumpling needs. There’s an awkward conversation between Hamilcar and an uncle of his love interest about marriage, something all-too-familiar to those of Asian descent, all of which serve to root utopian Kathmandu and the story into a world that feels like it’s genuinely lived in.

All in all, The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday has a lot going for it. If you’re into narratives that examine societal issues, interspersed with quirky, memorable characters and incredibly irreverent humor that almost seems to be delivered with a cheeky wink from the author, casually delivering darker concepts and themes without going overboard, this is certainly a book to pick up.

Read The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain

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Andrew

Andrew

Andrew can usually be found looking for the latest recommendation in sci-fi horror. They also enjoy the totally scary game called Pokémon, where the untold terror of having a shiny Pokémon flee is peak existential horror. They also like apples and communicating through the universal medium of cat memes. You can find them rambling on Bluesky at dansemothabre.bsky.social.