Saturday , June 15 2024
The Jin-bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu

Book Review: ‘The Jin-bot of Shantiport’ by Samit Basu

The Jin-bot of Shantiport

The Jin-bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu is a wonderful mixture of urban fantasy and myth set in a futuristic spaceport town. Save for it being a spaceport instead of a seaport, the Shantiport of the title feels and sounds like any seedy port town around the world. 

While the city is run in name by the Tiger Clan, a quasi political party structured like a business with branches around the world, underworld figures control great swathes of the economy. Added into this mix are the multitude of people and artificial intelligence life forms – or bots (robots) – who simply struggle to get by in what appears a rapidly disintegrating municipality.

Two people who seem to be part of the struggling masses are brother and sister Bador and Lina. However, as we find out, they are not your usual siblings. For one thing, Bador is a monkey-bot, constructed by Lina’s parents. Second, their father is missing and presumed dead, taken out of the picture in mysterious circumstance by the Tiger Clan because he was supposedly an enemy of the state.

Considering that the city’s population seems to be made up of an equal split between organic and artificial sentient beings, it only makes sense that Basu has chosen Moku, a story keeper bot, as the narrator of this tale. Discovered in an underground vault by Bador, Moku was revived to serve as Bador’s biographer, but Lina soon finds another, more important use for him.

For Lina, like her parents, is set on saving Shantiport. Not just from destruction but from the criminal overlord who runs it, and might even have been responsible for her father’s death. Ironically this very same warlord inadvertently hands Lina the means to bring her dreams to life: a bot shaped like a lamp that will give its holder three wishes.

Genie-bot?

While that sounds wondrous enough, when the lamp is combined with a magic ring it will give it holder unlimited wishes. Basu has taken these oh-so-familiar fantasy tropes and made them into something new. He has woven myth, fantasy, and robot technology into a fascinating story filled with action and adventure.

However, what separates The Jin-bot of Shantiport from so many other space fantasies and robot stories are the characters. From the humans to the bots, they’re all intriguing. In fact sometimes you have to read very carefully to know whether a character is human or bot. Bador in particular is such a complete character it is quite easy to forget he isn’t human. 

Each of the characters has their dreams and aspirations: Lina dreams of a city where everyone is equal, Bador dreams of becoming a space hero, and Mokus dreams of having a friend. Through their dreams and aspirations readers are pulled deeper into their lives and the story.

The Jin-bot of Shantiport is a great read which will appeal to fans of both science fiction and traditional fables. Samir Basu has created a story with great characters and a fun and exciting plot. What more could a reader ask for?

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of three books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion" and "Introduction to Greek Mythology For Kids". Aside from Blogcritics he contributes to Qantara.de and his work has appeared in the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and has been translated into numerous languages in multiple publications.

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