Dilman Dila, The Future God of Love, Luna Press Publishing, 2021.
The Future God of Love is a short fantasy novella, with wonderful world building, about loneliness and the need for being loved.
Jamaaro is a story teller. He's so famous that, after his death, he'll become a god of love and his stories have inspired many. A few decades later, though, he has burnt out. One day, he meets a woman and he falls hopelessly in love with her. But is she all she appears to be?
The Future God of Love is less than a hundred pages, but Dila packs so much in those pages that it is an absolute pleasure to read.
Jamaaro is a complex and remarkably well done character. His desperate hopes and his flaws appear as the story progresses: his struggle as he tries to write new stories, his need for love and family, the fact he wasn't able to maintain a relationship with the women who inspired him, his tendency to hyperbolic feelings, his sometimes pettiness and violence too.
It's a first person narrator and it tells something of Dila's writing that such a character is also eminently relatable. You'll want to know what happens to him.
In a few brushstrokes, Dila also paints some of the secondary characters and they come to life easily: the sweeper, the healer, the innkeeper. As it is a novella, they exist in relationship with Jamaaro, but their existence seems whole and their presence helps to nuance how we see Jamaaro.
I have absolutely loved the richness of the world The Future God of Love is set in. It is in an undetermined African country. The architecture of the villages and of the dwellings is made to emphasise Jamaaro's loneliness. The technology is, more or less, early to mid 20th century: the story telling relies on moving pictures, music and voice, and Jamaaro is described with all the instruments to create his art, and there are flying bicycles. (Yes, I have loved the flying bicycle!)
To all that, you can add monsters and gods, and villages competing against each other to retain the best story tellers that will bring them prosperity.
The Future God of Love isn't a romance. It's the story of a man whose life didn't turn out as he hoped it would, mainly through his own fault. It's also a universal story about the need for being loved, not just being remembered, and about the fear of loneliness. It's not a sad story though, and you'll snigger more than a few times at Jamaaro's sometimes juvenile reactions.
Any reader who's looking for a short read with impressive world building, great storytelling and characters you can relate to should absolutely check out The Future God of Love!
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All reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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