Lord of Light
By Roger Zelazny
Mercury Press 1967/Panther Books 1977
ISBN: 0 586 03518 4
This is a great read!
“His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the –atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god.”
Surviving colonists from lost Earth have to fight to establish themselves on a new planet against hostile native life forms. Experimenting with bio-feedback, genetic engineering, life extension through mind transfer, and mutation, some of the colonists develop paranormal abilities which are enhanced by technology.
Taking on the names and aspects of Gods and Goddesses from Hindu mythology, these new Gods keep the rest of the colony at a medieval level of technology while indulging themselves in “Heaven” – a high tech base at one of the planet’s poles.
Mahasamatman, or Sam, decides this is wrong and takes action to right the wrong.
Zelazny has the knack of making technology seem like magic, or vice versa, yet making it both believable and logical.
There is an interesting article on Wikipedia that looks at the structure of the novel and relates it to such Hindu texts as the Upanishads and the Vedas. A knowledge of these texts is not required to enjoy ‘Lord of Light’, but reading ‘Lord of Light’ might awaken an interest in these texts.
‘Lord of Light’ is Number 7 on the Orion Books SF Masterworks List