Samit Basu is the contributor for this week’s Take Five, a regular series where we ask authors and editors to share five facts about their latest books. Basu is the author of Resistance, a sequel to his novel Turbulence.
Eleven years after the passengers of flight BA142 from London to Delhi developed extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires, the world is overrun with supers. Some use their powers for good, others for evil, and some just want to smash up iconic monuments and get on TV. But now someone is hunting down supers, killing heroes and villains both, and it’s up to the Unit to stop them…
1. Resistance is a superhero novel, the sequel to Turbulence. Turbulence is set in 2009, and follows a group of characters who travel on a flight from London to Delhi and find, a few days after they land, that they have strange physical abilities corresponding to their innermost desires. They have to figure out what to do with their powers, and very quickly, because of course a few of them see this as a chance to achieve conventional power, in a part of the world that needs radical change much more than it needs protecting. When
2. Resistance starts, it’s 2020, and 11 years have passed since the events of Turbulence. The essential nature of all superpowers in this story is the same – they’re related to what their owner wants most – which means that while the scale is bigger, the roots are still in each individual character. In 2020, the supers effectively run the world, and a lot of humans aren’t happy about this at all. It’s a world of kaiju and giant mecha, wild teenaged gods, insect-man swarms and nuclear submarines that makes the world of Turbulence look very calm. Many people are trying to control factions of superheroes – and perhaps more importantly, several very brilliant people are trying to find a way to remove the superhero menace once and for all.
3. I wrote Turbulence in 2009, and was surprised to find that while I’m hopeless at guessing what life is going to throw at me five minutes from now, I was a reasonably good prophet of big world events. Turbulence predicted Osama’s discovery, the London riots, a minor Indian religious cult and a few other things. Now obviously Resistance won’t get there as well, especially given it’s set eleven years into a superpowered future and is set many, many quantum universes away from our current world, but Resistance has ended up predicting a lot of the visuals that will dominate pop culture over the years since I wrote it – you’ll find things that remind you of Pacific Rim, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, and various other films that hadn’t come out when I wrote it.
Resistance is set all over the world, but mostly in a future New York and Tokyo, both cities I had never been to when I wrote the book. This is the exact opposite of Turbulence, where pretty much every scene in the book is set in a place I have been to. I enjoyed the experience of adding a layer of augmented reality to real places – it helped set Turbulence in the here and now when I was writing it, and was a welcome change from a trilogy I’d finished before that, set entirely in an alternate universe. Part of the reason for setting the book in 2020 was that I wanted to have large chunks of it in New York and Tokyo, and I needed to make sure that I didn’t get these cities wrong. The only way to do that is by moving them into the future. I was determined to visit at least one of these cities before publication, and a few months ago I went to New York, traced a couple of the big action set-pieces on the streets, and was thoroughly pleased to see they work.
4. A Bollywood version of Turbulence is in the works, but Resistance is pretty much Bollywood-unfilmable, it’s too big in scale and too unfamiliar to present-day Indian audiences. I’m curious and eager to see what Bollywood will make of my work, because most of it over the last decade has been completely new and unfamiliar in India. I’m working on the screenplay too, but the final screenplay will be in Hindi, and the director has already warned me it will feel completely different. I wonder what it will be. Will there be songs? Will there be dancing? Will there be touching family reunions?
5. I want to tell more stories in this world but I will wait until I have the right one before doing another book. I did that with Resistance, and my editor says she likes it better than Turbulence. I hope you will too.