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Showing posts from October, 2011

Crytonomicon by Neal Stephenson : A sprawling World War epic that will leave you smarter

The first book of Neal Stephenson's that I picked up was Anathem and I found that to be really tough going. This one though turned out to be a totally different beast( and a beast it is, at around 1100 pages). I was hooked in the first 100 pages(although admittedly it took me really long to finish) Cryptonomicon connects two story lines one based in World War II and the other in 1990s internet era and they are connected by some strange family coincidences. There is a lot of math and computer science going on here and Neal Stephenson does an admirable job of explaining it all. This is a geek novel if ever there was one with the most developed character being a fantasy card playing, slightly round around the paunches unix loving geek.The novel is very detailed in everything that it does and Stephenson takes great pains to explain everything that is being talked about and even goes so far as to provide equations. Heck there is a perl script thrown in with the actual text

On Success and Perception

Success changes most things but the thing it does really well is change perception. He is a micromanager. He gives no one any freedom, everything has to be exactly as he says, He is a bloody control freak. On succeeding he is called a perfectionist. He is too set in his ways. He never listens to anyone. He never takes any advice. On succeeding he is said to have conviction in his ideas and having a vision no one else had at the time. He is an arrogant bastard. He is rude to people. He doesn't hesitate to expect the best out of people. He lacks all social niceties On succeeding he is said to have a cavalier disregard towards rules. It is said that he makes his own. He doesn't get what he should say in any situation. He has this tendency to blurt out anything that strikes his fancy. On succeeding it is said that he always speaks his mind irrespective of the situation he is in. He is quiet. He doesn't know how to make his presence felt. On succeeding he is said t

Freedom of speech

Freedom of speech is an interesting concept because people always think that they should have it but the asshole next to him doesn't deserve it. In most places freedom of speech is an ideal and indeed the rules and the media do their best to ensure that it remains an ideal. Indeed I doubt there is any place where there is actual freedom of speech. Shoaib Akhtar can come in and say, write whatever he wants to about Sachin and it shouldn't really matter because he has the right of expressing his opinions.(His opinion might even be an informed one seeing that he actually bowled to him several times). Nobody should be allowed to ban his book event simply because he presents disagreeable views. No book should be stopped from being published because it offends someone's religious sensibilities(Harry Potter, Satanic Verses etc etc). A release of a movie should not be stopped because it handles a difficult subject or indeed dares to present truth but alas the real world is no

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Short history of Nearly Everything is Quite a fantastic book. Enjoyed it immensely and laughed a lot as well.  The blurb mentions it as the finest rough guide to science and I cannot think of a better description. Bill Bryson takes on dry subjects with ease and makes them interesting and even fun. The title is an apt description because the book really is about everything. More intriguing than the science itself is the brilliance with with Bryson describes the quirky and eccentric scientists all the while adding his own wry observations. You can buy A Short of Nearly Everything here .

City of Ruin by Mark Charan Newton : Mature fantasy with a great cast of characters

A fantastic read from start to finish. The book in essence is about a detective solving many murders and a general trying to hold of alien beings from invading Villirien. This is straight off inspired from the Bas Lag novels of China Mieville and I couldn't escape the feeling that I had while reading Perdido Street Station.(Which is a good thing) . There are vivid creatures at every turn but Mark Charan Newton doesn't bore with with details and the book never gets expository. Indeed its amazing how much he reveals through bits of conversation along with the biases and racism inherent in any city. He also has a taste for the macabre and the deaths are truly terrifying when they happen. Also the author has a healthy fascination for Whisky. Its a well written and a very accomplished novel and Mark Charan Newton can add me to his growing list of fans. I look forward to seeing what he does next. You can read City of Ruin here .

Gone Baby Gone

So yesterday I saw Gone Baby Gone, A  crime thriller and one of the best I have ever seen.  A bit of googling later it turns out to be based on a book by Dennis Lehane, the guy who penned Shutter Island. Dennis Lehane has this knack of taking common situations and making them morally ambiguous by the end and Nothing shows this off better than Gone baby gone. The opening lines of the film are the most poignant. In that southern drawl of his Casey Affleck delivers the lines "I always believed it was the things you don't choose that makes you who you are. Your city, your neighborhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something they'd accomplished. The bodies around their souls, the cities wrapped around those. " The things we cling on to most are not our own but hand me downs. From here on in the movie gets even better holding your attention with the case of a disappeared young girl and the twist in the end just makes th

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

This is a story of a time machine operator who talks about time a lot of the time but its more a memoir of a father son relationship. There is sadness and melancholy in equal parts. Also this book gets extremely meta meta in parts. Its probably the geekiest book on father son relationships currently in existence. A good and light read (Although you will get a headache if you dwell deeply on the time loops and start mapping out the time travel like I did). You can buy  How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe  here