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Showing posts from 2013

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

In a nutshell A time travelling serial killer Harper Curtis is found by plucky Kirby who refused to die when killed. This is tightly written with great writing and an amazing eye for detail. The fascinating bit was how the time travel played out. It is amazing how much personality Lauren Beukes imbues in the prose and the characters. The victims are fleshed out with just the right amount of character development so that they further the plot rather than impede it. All in all a great read and a mystery I greatly enjoyed reading and unraveling. You can buy the Shining Girls here .

The implications of Sanskrit as a programming language

People talk a lot about how Sanskrit would make the perfect programming language. They claim its rigorousness and flexibility make it the ideal choice but everyone fails to grasp the implications. Mostly they speak as if they wish to make Sanskrit a programming language. If Sanskrit were a programming language back in the day its greatest feature would be the fact that everyone spoke it which meant that everyone was a programmer by default. There is no need to learn to code. However what this would imply would be the fact that the best talkers would be the best programmers and the best programmers would be wielders of power. This is of course why training Brahmins in the Vedas makes sense since childhood because every word they intone is potentially a program waiting to be executed. Let me give you an example of the power. There is this Shloka in Sanskrit which gives you the value of pi when looked at with a few substitutions. These substitutions of course can be expressed as Sanskr

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - A crime caper extraordinaire

There is a type of novel I like to call the Swashbuckler. A swashbuckler keeps you on the edge of your seat and has twists coming thick and fast which seem obvious in hindsight but totally unexpected when you first encounter them. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a Swashbuckler. It keeps you entertained and it draws you in to a world of thieves and confidence games in the city of Camorr. Locke Lamora is the Garrista of the Gentleman Bastards who specialize in thievery, duping the rich and playing confidence games. They plan an ambitious heist playing upon the greed of a certain Don. As expected complications arise as the Gentlemen Bastards get caught in a war for the Underbelly of Camorr. What sets The Lies of Locke Lamora is the execution of the plot, the deftness of the writing and the glorious city   of Camorr which is as rich a setting as I have encountered in fiction. Camorr reminded me of New Crobuzon of Bas Lag as I read about it with all its strange guilds, many f

The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis

The Coldest War is the second part of the Milkweed trilogy and it is fantastic. The Coldest War takes place twenty years after the events of Bitter Seeds the first book in the cycle and this is not a book that can be gotten into without reading the first one. Whatever tragedy has been setup in the first one comes to fruition. Raybould Marsh, a hero of the war leaves the service only to get nothing in return but more misery. William the warlock begins his own personal vendetta and the military proceeds to carry out more dastardly deeds for the protection of the Great Britain. Even more than the first book, this part belongs to Gretel who is probably one of the most intimidating villains to grace the page manipulating everyone to her needs and ends and It all comes to head in a wondrous climax which makes perfect sense in hindsight but is difficult to predict whilst reading. There is odes of well orchestrated action all of which is beautifully setup but the overall atmosp

Comics the pefect art form

Films are passive, you sit, watch and action happens. Novels are great but what the writer sees is not the image formed in your head.(This is a major benefit as well though) Comics combine both, the thrill of turning the pages and seeing what the writer sees at the same time. You get to fill the gaps between sequential art.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

There was a great quote by China Mieville when Kraken came out. It went something like “Part of the appeal of the fantastic is taking ridiculous ideas very seriously and pretending they're not absurd.” and Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis is one of those which is based on the completely absurd notion about what would happen if Germany had X Men and Britain had Warlocks during the World War. It is an absurd notion brought to life because  Ian Tregillis treats it very seriously and fleshes out the novel with a great deal of though. I know I made the reference to X Men earlier but this is a war novel more than anything else and its a cracking good read.  I found it hard to believe that this is Tregillis's first novel. I particularly enjoyed the Ravens in the interludes and the way they were weaved through the story. I was hooked from start to finish. The characters are well written and their arcs are structured so that everyone seems to be doing the right thing whi

The Orphan's Tales : In the night garden By Catherynne Valente

What a piece of work In the night garden turned out to be. A sultan boy walks into a garden, finds a strange girl who tells him a tale and what a tale it turns out to be. Stories lead to stories and weave into each other forming an impossible loop all to be resolved by the end. It seems everyone you encounter in this book has a story to tell and even more surprisingly all of them are great ones. Of course there is a part two out there and after a long time I am glad that there is one.  It also has illustrations, not many but just enough to tease your imagination and help you keep a tab on myriad number of creatures that come and go as they share their stories. The number of cultures and myths that are present and linked is mind boggling. Of course its only later that I realized this. While reading I was totally engrossed. I think I read the entire work in around 2 sittings in 2 days even though I was desperately tired after getting back from work. You can buy the Orph

Antifragile by Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Been a while since I wrote a book review. Truth be told nothing I read perked my interest in the last two months but Taleb's Antifragile  changed that. Antifragile is his latest tour de force and it is his finest work yet and the logical culmination of what I would like to call the Randomness trilogy. In fooled by randomness Taleb talked about assigning causes where none exist and how to take advantage in day to day life. In The Black Swan he spoke of events that while improbable had great impact and in Antifragile he talks about how to maximize the upside of random events while minimizing the harm. Antifragile is well written as always with Taleb's personality jumping off the pages. His insights are particularly engaging and there are numerous talks on youtube in which he talk about Antifragility. The thesis as with all great works is remarkably simple and seems obvious and intuitive once you get it. He essentially defines Antifragile as not fragile. Fragility

Dan Simmons : An incredible writer with a storied career.

What a fine and incredible writer Dan Simmons is. It seems to me that he can take any genre, any tale and narrate it so that it acquires a certain intrigue and a certain gravitas. He has this incredible ability to pull you in to the most fantastical of conceits and concepts. When he writes horror he truly chills you right down to the bone. When he writes Science Fiction his mastery over the form is evident. His storytelling is brilliant. What he does in Song of Kali is incredible. The Hyperion Cantos might be amongst the most lyrical and profound books ever written. The six stories that the pilgrims narrate about their encounter with the Shrike and amazing to say the least. Although I thought Drood was a bit overlong, he captured perfectly the feeling of being in the presence of a greater talent all the time and being good enough to know who the lesser talent is. His novels have entire scenes that I recall as vivid images in higher definition than any film has ever managed. I

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny: Hindu Mythology meets Science Fiction

This is the first book of Roger Zelazny that I have read and I enjoyed it. It is measured and pitch perfect with words chosen and sentences crafted with great care. What Zelazny does with great finesse is confuse the reader as to what the book is actually about. It starts of feeling like fantasy and mythology but the more you read the more it seems like Science Fiction but this is one of those books that makes it really hard to put in a shelf. This book also has the perfect sentence to begin the book. It is rare that one sentence capture the soul of a book and yet invite you in but Zelazny really nails it when he writes His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god, but then he never claimed not to be a god. It concerns itself with Sam and his tales. Humans have landed on an Alien Planet and made it their own and for some strange reason they choose to mod

The stuff I enjoyed in 2012

Here is a list of the stuff that I enjoyed in 2012 analogous to the one I did in  2011 . Thinking about a reason to do this I can only quote Kurt Vonnegut as the answer “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.”  China Mieville Bas Lag rereads - I read all of Mieville again and I was amazed at how much I had missed the first time around. The Scar totally transformed itself into a bravura performance. Perdido and Iron Council embedded themselves in my consciousness. Thanks to knowing the big picture and the plot details I could really dive deep into his writing, his choice of words and get lost in the amazingly rich and intricate world of Bas Lag. Nick Harkaway - Both his books Angelmaker and Gone Away World were fantastic to put it mildly. The verve, imagination and the sheer  brilliance of the storytelling blew me away. Angelmaker was a fascinating read mel