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Showing posts from September, 2011

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald : Nano tech in turkey with prose that would make Booker winners jealous

This is McDonald's third in his novels about developing cities in the future. The law of trilogies tell me that this will be his last in the series for some time to come. The Dervish house is set in Turkey which is at the heart of a nano tech revolution. River of gods was about AIs in India and Brasyl about Quantum in Brazil so I think he has got his bases covered. The plot deals with a few characters linked by a Dervish house and a bomb blast which turns out not to be one. The thing with McDonald is that you know what you are going to get. You know that the prose is going to be bloody brilliant, the plotting is going to be virtuoso but he always manages to surprise. This one is no different. There are passages of such staggering beauty, sections of such brilliance that they make the book worth reading all on their own. No one can meld philosophy and and an action sequence in a single breath the way he does. Also no one, no one writes a football game the way McDonald do

Science Fiction and Fantasy

At its best Science Fiction remakes reality in the way no other genre can. It allows us a glimpse of the future, of unknown lands that we could not have thought of before.  It expands our collective imagination in the way little else can. It is important to remember that everything begins as a thought in someone's mind. Everything starts out as a sketch, an outline on a piece of paper.  This is precisely why a lot of the NASA scientists acknowledge the influence that Science Fiction has had on their work. To read Science Fiction and Fantasy requires at some level a suspension of disbelief and buying into the world that the author sells to you but paradoxically Science Fiction also makes you question the basis of society and everything that you see around you. In a way it exposes one to the hypocrisies latent in human nature. To those who make the argument that Science Fiction is not literature do yourself a favor and read something by China Mieville, Ian McDonald or Paolo Ba

The second time around

It is on a second reading that books really reveal themselves for what they are. You know the big picture so your attention is on the gears that move the world around. You can pick up the subtle clues that the author has left behind and most of all you can really appreciate the writing. Indeed the works of most good authors feel so much better the second time around. I recall reading Harry Potter, the Bartimaeus trilogy, the his Dark Materials trilogy, Lord of the rings as a kid but it was only when I read them again that I took note of themes, leitmotifs that I had not registered the first time around. Indeed anything by Gene Wolfe almost demands that you read it again simply because you cannot possibly understand what is happening the first time around. Every good book deserves to be read twice. I have found this to be true in life as well. It is only the second time around that we do things properly, it is only the second time around that we avoid making the mistakes that we made th

Neil Gaiman

There isn't much that can be said about Neil Gaiman. All that has to be said has been saidand here is an attempt to say it again. He is one of the world's most popular authors and he wrote this piece called George Martin is not your bitch for which George Martin I think will be perennially grateful. His prose has a poetic quality to it along with being deceptively simple. Remember what is simple is not easy. Indeed what looks simple in the hands of a master is terribly tough to do when one attempts to do the same on his own. His words have a grace that is altogether his own and yet derived from years of reading and standing on the shoulders of giants. The way he writes it seems it all just pops out but of course that is not the case. I suppose the annoying thing is that he makes it look all so easy. American Gods - His de facto novel(He writes comics as well and hence the qualifier) masterpiece. American Gods displays a vast knowledge of mythology. The gods themselves we