The Immortal King Rao
By Vauhini Vara
A resonant debut novel by a former Wall Street Journal technology reporter, obliterating the boundaries between literary and speculative fiction, the historic and the dystopian, confronting how we arrived at the age of technological capitalism and where our actions might take us next.
Vauhini Vara's lyrical and thought-provoking debut novel begins in India in the 1950s, following a young man born into a Dalit family of coconut farmers in a remote village in Andhra Pradesh. King Rao, as he comes to be known, later moves to the US, where he studies in Seattle, meeting the love of his life and his business partner, the smart and self-assured Margie.
King Rao ultimately rises up through Silicon Valley to become the most famous tech CEO in the world and the leader of a powerful, corporate-owned global government. Yet he ultimately ends up living on a remote island off the coast of Washington state, an exile from the world which he has helped build. There, in a beautiful home on an otherwise deserted island, he brings up his brilliant daughter, Athena.
Shielded from the world's glances, in many ways she has an idyllic childhood, but she will be forced to reexamine her father's past and take steps to try to decide her own future. She is unlike other girls, and she will find the outside world much more hostile than her father did when he left the coconut grove he called home.
A profound and moving novel about technology, consciousness and revolution, The Immortal King Rao asks how we build the worlds in which we live, and whether we ever have the power to leave them.
Read if you: would watch a version of Silicon Valley set in the Westworld universe.