Saturday, April 21, 2012

On Writing: Secondary Worlds and Verbal Diarrhoea

For all newbies writing their own uber-cool fantastical secondary world settings and think it's best the world has seen ever, after Tolkien dumped the Middle-earth on us, well, think again.

Here's what Patrick Rothfuss ( Yeah. the same guy, with genial twinkling eyes set behind an awful lot of facial hair and who also wrote two giant tomes - that are award-winning by the way - called the KingKiller Chronicles - read review of first book here. ) - has to say to you : ( Yeah - finger pointing to you, writing your own Gods, Religion, Culture! )

Jokes apart, it's a pretty fascinating read and told in Pat's usually engaging manner. Get enlightened and come say thanks.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Travelling Down Under with Funny Mr.Bryson

My first travelogue book that I finished completely. I had earlier started the Walk in the Woods, recounting Mr.Bryson's trails on the Apalachian Trails (:D)but never finished it.

Anyways - this was a very lively book on a country that I've always been fascinated by. Not just because the Aussies are one helluva Cricket Team or one of my all-time fav movies "Dil Chahta hain" was shot half in Australia. More like, I kept watching Steve Irwine get into ridiculously dangerous situations chasing scale-backed reptiles into the Australian Outback on Animal Planet and Discovery. More coz, one of my friends, Rohit had spent like 2-3 years in this beautiful country and described it to be a glorious piece of heaven right here on Earth.

Australia as described by Bill Bryson, is a sunny warm and gorgeously beautiful country - with lots to be explored and discovered, full of amazing people, with a little-known backstory of intrepid explorers and adventurers who dont merit much space in the History textbooks and of course, myriad ways to get killed, being chock-a-block full with the most dangerous and poisonous animals or fascinating plant life, seen nowhere else in this world.

There was so much about this huge country that i didn't know a thing about and to be traveling along with the delightfully witty Mr. Bryson as he explored this was perhaps a worthy investment of time and money. His sense of humor is simply out of this world - seemingly innocuous day-to-day interactions with strangers - seem to read like explosive bits of regaling rib-tickling good-natured humor. and he has lots of such anecdotes where he runs up against the natives. most places start with the back-story of how it was first discovered or an exposition on some of the local myths and hero-stories.

Split into 4 or 5 parts each dedicated to large states - Bryson takes you on such a fun roller-coaster ride that you cannot help falling in love with this country. it truly is amazing. The one thing I did realize is the fact that the Australia we see on TV during those matches at the MCG or Brisbane is hardly a spot on the entire country. there's so much more than the divine turquoise bays, golden sandy beaches or the Sydney Harbor. The Outback, or the "Bush" land in Aussie Lingo - to name one. I never knew a thing about it and the read was like opening up an entirely new world to me.

I am already budgetting my future tickets on the Quantas and making imaginery itinerary; and am sure to carry this book along with me.
Fantastic read. A Gem. 4-stars!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I am legend, Richard Matheson

Pretty intense and a breathlessly frenetic read. I don't think I have blown through any book this fast in the recent past.

( disclaimer: I have seen the 2007 movie: while I loved it I think the book outdoes it any day!)

I am Legend, is a classic. One that has led to a lot of great books & countless movies. For a book originally written in 1954, it has hardly aged at all. A classic that dwells on a number of themes: Vampires/zombie, Post-apocalyptic earth, Survival, Science, the darker side of humanity dealing with loneliness, confusion, fear. I am astounded by the sheer imaginative power of Richard Matheson; a quick google leads me to learn the man is credited with a lot of film-scripts as well as best-selling science fiction books. He's more like your intelligent man's escape into the imagined world. of how things would turn out if you're the only "living" being stuck on earth after it's been wiped out by a plague of unknown origin. Simply loved it.

A short read, but very powerful one at that. I was craving to write a long deep review of the book, but am refraining from that. I know, this book's been flogged to death in the blogger world of books and I wont add to the din. But on a personal level, I was right there living through Robert Neville's nightmare - of having been stuck alone in a world, inhabited by the "Un-dead".

At soul - it is ultimately a vampire novel - make no mistake - the way Matheson starts racking up the tension levels right from page one, you're convinced you're in mortal danger all through. Robert Neville, the only man left alive, has to contend with cleaning up the streets of dead vampires by day and is left imprisoned in his own house by night when the streets are filled with the blood-thirsty ones, baying for his blood.

But unlike most, Zombie novels that don't really dwell on the "cause" - the author isn't averse to veering into the "arcane" territories of biological sciences to try and explain what has caused the wipe-out. He does a commendably believable job of it (my high-school bio lessons seem to come crowding back!)

Anyways, the book is not about the un-dead though. it's an absorbing, fascinating character study of Robert Neville. It's clearly written at a higher intellectual plane, taking us deep into the dark psyche of Neville, the lone protagonist of the story as he tries to lead a "normal" life. The loneliness of such a desultory life is deftly etched out by the author in very poignant terms. Music, smoke and drinks are the only remainder of his early life. It's a deep scarily dark place, the mind of Mr. Neville.

and that is what sold the book for me. it's a winner as it deals with human trauma and how the human mind deals with it. A beautiful book with a fantastic twist at the end of the tale. The twist when it comes, rest assured, will blow your minds off.

A four and a half stars. Terrific SF/Post-apocalyptic novel.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reason for Hiatus: Books and More..


I know the blogs been empty for a while after the last windstorm called The Bonehunters passed this way.

So here's whats been happening in my busy life:

1) Finished "Long Tail" by Chris Anderson - a revised edition : a look at the new-age economy super stars of retail - like Google, eBay, Amazon, iTunes etc that have re-written the rules of engagement by unlocking the much-forgotten "Long tail" of customer demand. Anderson argues that with the advantages of infinite storage space ( esp if your products are purely "digital" - think music? ) retailers can afford to cater to the "niches" - that form micro-categories in that long tail of demand instead of being selective and pruning out a vast majority of products from that "Hit" list. It's a fantastic read - Anderson tries to illustrate his points by pain-staking data points from his wonderfully deep research and presents the same without being too pedantic and not sounding overly superficial either. A fine balance and a great learning experience. Especially since I see myself as a marketing exec who would be using similar digital tools.

2) Sinking my teeth into the juicy "Down Under" - a hilarious travelogue exploring Bill Bryson's adventures in Australia. should be done with it in the next few days. Fast read, some awesome ribtickling anecdotes. Fantastic travel companion, this man's dry witty writings.

3) Going to start on the latest blockbuster in epic fantasy, Bradley Beaulieu's Lays of Anuskaya series. Got the opener on a 0$ deal on Amazon; Follow this man, and am sure you wont be disappointed! He just released his 2nd book in the series, Straits of Galahesh ( A Mouthful I agree, but his russian-culture-inspired Fantasy world seems pretty different !! )

4) Have been plugging away on my short stories - done with two. both needs heavy duty editing. so anyone willing to step up, please gimme a shout!

5) Watching quite a lot of good movies.

Been busy, wont you say?