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Showing posts from August, 2012

The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway : Incredible tale set sometime in the future

This is a terrific novel. Easily the best debut I have read in a while (including Altered Carbon ). I was moved beyond words by Gone Away World even though I anticipated the twist. I was one with the narrator, his every triumph became mine, his sorrow melded with my consciousness. A novel hasn't done this to me in a long time. The plot concerns our narrator who narrates his life which intertwines with the life of his best friend Gonzo Lubitsch. Its set in future where a weapon has been deployed, that has consequences beyond what anyone could have imagined. A pipe runs through the world keeping the world livable. This is as far as I will go about revealing the setting because anything more would take something out of the reader's experience, the slow burn of connecting the dots and figuring out how the world became gone away would be ruined. Gone Away World is many things, dystopia, sci fi, fantasy, horror in parts along with a bit of romance thrown in. It is a nove

Some extracts from In the Beginning was the Command Line by Neal Stephenson

This seminal essay was written by Neal Stephenson at the dawn of GUIs, when computers had become necessities and had gone beyond just being calculating machines and become a lot more. This is available freely online and yet for an essay as good as this it doesn't have a well formatted version that is easy to read. So I just decided to go ahead and do it myself. You can read the whole essay here (templated with the excellent twitter bootstrap) or a readable version here  (Done using the fantastic readabilitly extension). The original site is here where you will need to download a text file that is a pain to read but excellent for everything else. You can also download a pdf here . The essay is rather long so I have collected the extracts that I liked best. Even the least technically-minded people in our society now have at least a hazy idea of what operating systems do; what is more, they have strong opinions about their relative merits. It is commonly un

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow : A young hacker sets out to make privacy a public issue

I read Little Brother in one sitting and then went back and forth figuring out some of the stuff that I did not understand. As I read it I wished that I had read this when I was much younger. The novel is about Marcus,  a smart seventeen year old who likes to hack. He breaks security systems that have been setup. That's just the way his mind is wired. He and his friends are playing a game(they are on quest) when all of a sudden there is a terrorist attack during which they happen to be in the vicinity. (It sounds incredibly lame the way I have stated the premise but trust me on this, it is not). Marcus gets taken to certain facilities where he is shaken up to put it mildly. What follows next is a masterclass.  What Doctorow does really well is talk about the trade off between security and privacy. He also talks about what makes people feel (feel is the keyword here, the security might not actually be increased but people feel that it has been) secure may ruin their pri

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell : A year in the life of a thirteen year old

Black Swan Green is a year in the life of thirteen year old stammering Jason Taylor in the small town of Black Swan Green. David Mitchell assumes his voice with amazing deftness and skill. What he does really well is immerse the reader in Jason's world. The narration, the voice is spot on. The characters are brought to life. The setting of Black Swan Green is brilliant. Two characters from Cloud Atlas make an appearance and all of it leads to a surprisingly cohesive whole that is much greater than the sum of his parts. A lot of novels with kids as protagonists are written but this is by far the best I have read. Its loads better than what they call Young Adult fiction and indeed I would  rate it above A Catcher in the Rye. Its not a novel light on subject matter, gypsies come into the picture at one stage and the unrest they cause in Black Swan Green is vividly rendered. Weighty matters are dealt with, without even once losing the narrator's voice. Looking back at h