Review: The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki

HARDCOVER; 319 P.
TRANS. OWEN F. WITESMAN
TAMMI, 2005
SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY

Indian scientists discover a vast stretch of underwater ruins at the West Coast of India. Have they found Atlantis, the fabled sunken continent? Marine archaeologist Amrita Desai and Russian submarine expert Sergei Savelnikov investigate the underwater ruins, and discover a mysterious field of human skulls and skeletons. At the same time scientists realise that a huge meltwater lake has formed inside the Greenland ice sheet. Is the ice sheet about to slide into the ocean? Are our own cities in danger of becoming the New Atlantis?

The Sands of Sarasvati was the second book in my September science fiction quest, and if every scifi book would be like this, I would have converted ages ago. This one definitely blew me away.

The story begins on the Arctic Ocean where Sergei Savelnikov and his crew are making a standard submersion with their submarine. However, everything does not go as planned and they end up much deeper than they planned to go. As they move around, they discover that the bottom of the ocean is covered with dead fish and whales, all of which seem to have died around the same time. Nevertheless, the crew is able to return to the surface where Sergei’s boss tells him that his help is needed in India – the local scientists have discovered a city 30 meters under the sea. At the same as Sergei is studying the murky oceans of India and trying to understand how this town came to be, a Finnish scientist makes a discovery that ties together ancient myths about the flood myths.

The Sands of Sarasvati is described in the blurb as ecological mystery, which is spot on. The narration is a mixture of thrilling dangers and scientific facts that come to reveal an age-old mystery. The interesting fact is that the story was inspired by the news that a vast city was discovered under water in the coast of India in 2002. The Sands of Sarasvati discusses the effects of global warming, without disregarding elements of human relationships and global politics. As this book was published originally in 2005, I was rather surprised that the English translation – by Owen Witesman – came out only last year.

This book kept me constantly on my toes, and I read it in two days, enjoying every moment. I can now say that I understand why it has been so acclaimed and I definitely hope to check out Isomäki’s other works. I guess I can also say that I’ve finally found my corner into science fiction and that pushing myself outside of my comfort zone was definitely worth it. I highly recommend this book to lovers of science fiction as well as those who don’t usually read the genre.

4.5/5

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2 thoughts on “Review: The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki

  1. Another ecological/environmental science-fiction novel! You’re unstoppable ;). The idea of a city beneath the sea is very exciting, and if the author manages to mix that with other elements, be they political, philosophical, psychological, etc, it’s even better. It add it to my wish-list :).

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