In The Guardian, Hari Kunzru tells Stuart Jeffries about his latest novel, Gods Without Men, religion and road trips
One day in 1951 while meditating beside the world’s largest free-standing boulder in the Mojave desert, George van Tassel was transported aboard a spaceship orbiting the Earth. In the 50s, visiting aliens were not evil predatory Martians as envisaged in HG Wells’s War of the Worlds, but all-wise Venusians who sought to improve us feeble Earthlings.
True, cosmologist Carl Sagan later showed that Venus was inhospitable to human-like life forms since its surface temperature seemed to be upwards of 600K (roughly the melting point of lead), but let’s not spoil the story.
“These aliens were beautiful humans who wanted to give us the extraordinary secrets of wisdom and longer life,” says Hari Kunzru, whose new novel Gods Without Men includes an acknowledgment to Van Tassel and has a character inspired by his life. “They thought we had the technology, but lacked the wisdom because we didn’t live long enough.” more