According to Hindu mythology, the arrival of the god Kalki on earth will mean the destruction of all mankind—except for Kalki's handful of immediate disciples from whose loins will spring a new race of man.
In Katmandu, a year or so from now, a self proclaimed Kalki does in fact appear, insists that he is the living god, and promises that he will soon fulfill the anicent prophecy. Soon the cities of the world are filled with his followers, proclaiming the imminent destruction of the human race and the awesome power of their deity to bring this event about.
But Vidal's Kalki is not quite what the ancient Hindu scriptures had in mind. For one thing, Kalki turns out to be an American—an ex-G.I. from New Orleans whose real name is Kelly. For another, he is a gifted chemist and a former expert in the Army's chemical-biological warfar operations in Vietnam. What's more, he may (or may not) be running an international drug ring, using Kalki's persona as a front; on the other hand, the drug ring may be the front and Kelly/Kalki may really be aiming to destroy the world.
To get to the bottom of this puzzle—which has now begun to fascinate the whole world—Teddy Ottinger, the world's foremost woman pilot and a part-time journalist, makes her way to Katmandu, where she becomes a part of Kalki's inner circle. What she thereafter discovers astonishes her as much as it will shock the reader.
Not only are Kalki and his chronicler, Teddy, amond Vidal's most memorable literary inventions, but the sense of a dying world is here rendered with a hallucinatory skill that recalls 1984 and Brave New World. Kalki is a unique creation, both witty and horrifying.