Time is the stage where the universe plays out its own existence. The inevitable change of time reflects the corresponding rise and fall of ideas, individuals and institutions while in its inexorable flow it sculpts personalities, delineates events and shapes narratives.
This story is set in the near future. The world has descended into a dystopia of anarchy and chaos. A fortunate minority has either retreated behind gated communities or has escaped into space and Mars. A benevolent technocracy manages these enclaves with extraordinary competence using high technology.
Artificial intelligence has evolved into a new species with which human and other biological species share the world. As this digital species acquires the sophistication to move out from the virtual to the physical realm, it finds itself asking the same questions that humans have also wondered about for long. Is there another world that lies beyond the obvious dimensions of space time?
In this quest, the digital intelligence realises that its traditional reliance on rational science inadequate. Biological sentience is an essential mechanism to crossover from the known to the unknown. But this transit is possible if only if one can eliminate one’s sense of personal identity and merge it with a greater and transcendent identity that lies in the matrix of Mahākāl or Time.
Līlā is a Santhali engineer who is both curious and sceptical about the role of AI in human affairs.But she will have to travel all the way to Mars and then back again to her native Chotanagpur before she finally realises the different roles that are played out by the digital and biological members of the sentient ecosystem.
Prithwis is an engineer by education, a teacher by profession, a programmer by passion and an imagineer by intention. He loves to live at the creative edge where technology opens up new opportunities for doing business and strongly believes that "Resources are Limited, Creativity is Unlimited."
Prithwis graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from IIT, Kharagpur and has done his Masters and PhD in Management Science from the University of Texas at Dallas, USA. His doctoral thesis was in Associative Information Systems. Interestingly enough, he never passed his Class XII examinations and yet, thanks to a temporary loophole in regulations, he got into IIT with an All India Rank of 39 in the Joint Entrance Examination!
Prithwis has been a footnote in the Great Indian Software Story. He has worked in Tata Steel, Tata IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM Global Service and was directly involved in the design, development and deployment of complex software applications for Indian and global companies. In his corporate career, Prithwis was always at the bleeding edge of technology and had introduced Relational Databases at Tata Steel, pioneered e-Business and the concept of Business Beyond Borders at PwC and explored the enchanting virtual world of Second Life at IBM Global Services.
Extending his intense involvement with in-house training programs he switched careers and entered academia. After a four year stint as a tenured Professor and Member of the Senate at IIT, Kharagpur, India, he is now the Director at Praxis Business School, Calcutta.
As a student of Sankar's Advaita Vedanta and an ardent follower of the Divine Feminine, he has built a virtual temple of Mahakali that can be accessed through the Second Life viewer at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife...
In addition to Chronotantra, an Indic-themed science fiction novel, Prithwis has published a non-fiction book – The Road to pSingularity – in 2007 where he explores the convergence of computers, genetics and Advaita Vedanta. He also writes an occasional technology column at Swarajya http://bit.ly/pmswarajya
His personal portal http://www.yantrajaal.com has been reflecting his thoughts and ideas since 1999. Prithwis lives in Calcutta, India with his wife and mother while his son and daughter-in-law live in Chicago.
I couldn’t put down the book .. had to read it in a flow. As a woman engineer I can relate with the protagonist Lila - her curiosity for science, technology, engineering and life purpose. Chronotantra takes us through the world of possibilities of AI, of Tiva - that makes distant perspectives very local, of Mars habitats and eventually of a life beyond physical realms. The characters come alive as they debate eloquently on contemporary issues -- of the individual & collective, of rational intellect & untouched minds, of pervasive surveillance & privacy .. ideas contrast, conflict and finally converge in a truly life changing realisation. This book is a must read for the Imagineers!