The novel tackles many subjects, among them: political power struggles; resistance and/or adaption to technological change; technological based evolution; metaphysics; the ‘haves’ versus the ‘have-nots’ of our world; the role and acceptance of prophets; and the sociological issues encountered in any population of humans.
The basic plot involves a near-future when the internet is tested as a direct connection to the mind via Air. The results of an Air test are followed through the lives of a fictional Asian village; and, in particular, through Chung Mae, who acquires profound insights and visions through Air.
“It’s all so precious, thought Mae-in-Air, it’s all so beautiful, we have to ignore it all, to get on with the laundry.” (p. 379)
It’s a wonderfully imagined novel: themes are revealed gradually, but effectively. I had some problems getting through the third-quarter of the book (and found it difficult to withhold disbelief in a couple of circumstances), but the end justifies the means; and, as a whole, it is an excellent read.