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Showing posts from April, 2011

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie : A visitor from Florence arrives at the court of Akbar

I was tired. It was six in the morning when I picked up this book just to read a bit before going to bed. Then something that happens far less frequently than I would like it to happened. I read and I read and I read. I finished the book in one sitting. My sleep previously all conquering was non existent and I couldn't bring myself to put the book down. The novel starts with a stranger from Florence wanting to visit the Mughal Emperor Akbar with a secret that of course is only for the great Emperor's ears. The secret of course is highly unprovable and so the rest of the novel concerns itself with the stranger proving the secret. There are encounters with death, strange concoctions that do various things but it all strangely makes sense. Magic, time, history and the nature of storytelling are dealt with effortlessly(actually there is a lot of effort but it all seems effortless). The novel is not one continuous story but rather has different arcs which segue into each oth

Kraken by China Mieville : Wacky characters and an ode to London

Kraken is a cracker of a read. Gets boring in the middle but the end and beginning hold it in great stead. This probably has the wackiest set of characters in any Mieville novel (which is saying a lot). There is a punk who has an old warlord tattooed onto him. There is an assassin who is probably the scariest I have ever read. There is the chameleon, a man who seems familiar to everyone. There is a star trek fan boy who power happens to be teleportation with a strange twist. In Mieville's London everyone has a power or a knack as he likes to call it. The most normal person is obviously the protagonist Billy Harrow. The novel concerns itself with the theft of a Kraken(a giant squid for the uninformed) which may or may not set of an apocalypse. There is a squid cult. Questions of faith and religion are dealt with. There is a female cop who can give Captain Haddock a run for his money when it comes to cursing. There is an after life rebellion. All of which is linked throug

Never just a dream

You are trapped in a maze There is a monster behind you. You don't know what sort of a monster it is. Suffice to say, it is a monster You see it out of the corner of your eye Creeping up, ready to devour you You run, you turn left, then right, then take another left You hit a dead end. What do you do? You wake up before you die. Its never just a dream is it? Somewhere what you dreamt really happened

The travails of a frustrated compiler

I was thinking about what would happen in case a compiler becomes sentient. Rather than just translating code it would be able to understand things but I suppose because the programs are written by humans are so often wrong the best part would be the error messages. Here are a few I could think of "Hello World again and again. Do you know how many times I have had to print that bloody nonsense. You can do anything else, print your name for gods sake but it always has to Hello fucking World." "Look Lad, not so fast, take a step back, a deep breath and your fingers away from the keyboard, and now think for a second" "Son, you have been trying to do this for an hour now. Honestly speaking you are not cut out to be a programmer. I would suggest you look for the nearest river or the tallest building or best of all find something you are better at" "Does any decent person code at this time in the morning. How would you feel if I dragged you out of your slee

VVS Laxman

This one goes out to VVS Laxman, the plague of the Aussies and an artist with the bat. Laxman is a strange phenomenon. Everything about his batsmanship is about beauty and grace but it is only under stress that those qualities come forth. It is in situations that would cripple lesser men that he truly shines. The more pressure he is under the more sublime his batting becomes. Against lesser teams when everything is settled it seems he doesn't know what to do, what to accomplish so he potters along. Once he knows that there are runs to get, it seems he plays with even more freedom. It is as if he knows that now that runs are the only thing that matter no one will care about the manner in which he gets them. Paradoxically this makes his batting all the more attractive. Like all great sportsmen he has an economy of movement that is best seen not described. He is comfortable either side of the wicket and is probably the only batsmen who can hit the same ball to extra cover or mid wicke

Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

The first volume of the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. This is the second time I am reading Sandman and I am still blown away. It is a fantastic beginning. I suppose the stuff of dreams has become much more tangible thanks to Inception but Sandman came out in 1994 of all years and they actually published something like this when comics were all about Superheroes. Kudos to DC and I sincerely mean that. I cannot imagine what people who picked up the first issues must have thought of Sandman. Dream is the protagonist and not a heroic one by any measure. Dream is captured by mortals for decades. Of course he makes the inevitable escape. There is a quest for getting his tools back which is where Gaiman really flexes his muscles writing some of the most lucid prose I have ever seen. I guess comics allow you that freedom, the freedom to get away with writing less because the artwork is there to compensate. A few quotes "All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she k