Netflix Saturdays : Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 (Malayalam)

Trust Malayalam movies to skewer movie tropes on Robots saving the world! After having subjected us to horrors like Robot 2.0, I think Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 (AKV5.25) comes as a refreshingly original take on the robot-myths in Indian movies. Treating AI/robotics as it should be, rather than muck around in murky waters of ethics and robo-genocides, the movie keeps it simple and straightforward. One of the best movies I have seen from 2019. Period.

An odd-ball comedy of errors, AKV5.25 is set in a small village in Payannur, North Kerala. It follows the life of grouchy old man Bhaskaran Poduval ( Siraj Venjaramoodu knocks it out of the park with his searing, heart-rending performance!) and his electronics engineer son, Subramanhiyan who's forced to give up good job prospects in cities like Bangalore and Kochi, as he is duty-bound to take care of his old father. Both their lives are turned upside down, when Subramanhiyan decides to risk it out in a Japanese robotics company …

Cry Pilot by Joel Dane

Cry Pilot came out in 2019, a debut military sci-fi novel set in a futuristic bleak version of Earth filled with threats like sentient (Ascended) AI, bio-engineering and mutant forms that arise out of a terraforming process, intended to bring back the older greener form of Mother Earth.

I admit, I haven't read much of military sci-fi. In a long long time time now. So Cry Pilot was a welcome leap back into this genre for me. But I admit, it took it's own sweet time working its charm on me as a reader. For most of the first quarter of the book, I was aloof and disenchanted by Maseo Kaytu, the "cry pilot"  who headlines the act and is our single first-person POV to the narrative. I was a bit disappointed, thinking that if I don't bond well enough with our main 'hero', rest of the narrative is going to fall by the wayside. But thankfully, with an adroit handle on the pacing, I was soon cruising into the exciting and gruelling training camps that Maseo had man…

Best of 2019 - II (Lists!)

I decided to go one further this time and give you the best of various lists, among my fav reads of the year. Ha :) Bring it on, 2020. We got to raise the bar!

Best of 2019 Fantasy Books:
This one's tough as many series endings happened in 2019 and also new books by favourite authors from the past have surfaced. Anyways - the long list is here ( on my previous post) but if I had to slice out my heart and lay down in front of you, the best of the best among that, it would have to be:
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
This book is a return to fine fettle, by one of my go-to-authors when I feel down in the dumps. There are a few authors who make me want to drop everything and read non-stop, inspire me to write and really really play with my imagination. Joe Abercrombie tops that list and his new series is an absolute blast in that manner.

Best of 2019 Science Fiction books: 

Admittedly, I need to read a lot more SF books. But among the few I did snag my hands on and finish, two really…

Best of 2019 on Smorgasbord!

Happy New Year folks! 

It's the start of a new decade and I am super excited. Looking back at how 2019 has gone down for me, I mostly take pride. My total books read has hit 54 (That's a book every week!) with a few in various final stages as they stand today, on 31st Dec. What has helped that tally this year, is the advent of audio books in a big way in my life. I have managed to finish 13 audio books this year (A book every month!), which is phenomenal for me. Combing through this list, there are quite a few shining gems for the year, that I have loved to bits and would categorise as the best reads of the year.

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie: The return of the Lord Grim Dark to his brutal lawless world of the First Law trilogy was indeed, a welcome one.  The wheels of time are turning and an age of madness descends into this world. A Little Hatred features the sons and daughters of our intrepid 'heroes' of the original trilogy. Complex, twisted, nuanced, this one&…

Rise of the Skywalker (Star Wars ) - (Not a) Movie Review

We knew this was coming.
42 years and 9 movies later, the genius of George Lucas is finally drawing curtains and frankly, I cannot keep calm. Rise of the Skywalker marks the end of the third trilogy of star-wars saga and the full stop on the new story-line as we know it. It is the sort of cultural identity that has been seared into the minds of us fans, deep and long. Regardless of whether you started binge-watching the series on your mobile phone in the last one week ( like my teenage nephew!) or been brought up on the staples of May the Force be with you, right from '77 or like me, got struck by the bug in my college days in the late 90's [The whole concept of a Jedi with light sabre who fights for the Light was mind blowing stuff for me, young adult! I was mesmerised by the start of this whole original series, the first of the prequels that had me enthralled and completely engrossed by the terrible transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader !] this has been an emo…

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Geisbrecht

The Monster of Elendhaven hit the bookshelves right around Halloween and this seemed like the perfect excuse to burrow deeper into your night sheets, dim the lights a bit and snuggle down to devour this perfectly wicked, deviously plotted horror novella from Jennifer Geisbrecht.

It's a fascinating piece of work, in all its perfect allure - balancing character, plot and masterful world building on a razor thin platter, building up into a bleak crescendo of horror and violence. It's the kind of rare book that comes along once in a while and the writing is so sharp and lucid that the wounds linger far beyond that last page turned, forcing you think about the subtle contexts hinted to, around social injustices, homophobia, the power-play and even capitalism to some extent.

So Johann is the 'monster' of Elendhaven, a foul dying city birthed out of magical violence, which never was able to sustain the industrial revolution that swamped over and is now, just in its last throe…

Why I think Watchmen on TV is the Greatest Show running today

Alan Moore's greatest project, Watchmen - possibly one of the best graphic novels/ comics ever written still continues to be ultra-relevant and topical as we are living in the middle of the one of the turbulent politically unstable times ever. I loved the graphic novel and the movie, I thought wasn't too shabby either. But I wasn't a fan-boy. No sir, not until Damon Lindelof ( creator of the one of the most successful longest running telly-series Lost and the critically acclaimed but criminally underrated Leftovers) brought to HBO, this amazing companion sequel to the main movie/comic.

Which in my humble opinion, is undoubtedly the greatest show running on TV today.

It is set in an alternate America, more specifically, a small town in Oklahoma called Tulsa. Which is a microcosm of modern America filled with masked vigilantes ( pitted against masked policemen, empowered by the ludicrous sounding DOPA - Defence of Police Act, that lets the police force use  violence to brin…