Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Alien Embassy Book view

I just finished reading "The Alien Embassy" by Ian Watson and I am curious to see what other people think of it. I don't remember why I picked it up - probably found a favorable review somewhere - but when I started reading it, the first thing that captivated me was the rich, poetic language, somewhat reminiscent of Samuel R. Delany. The story itself is also quite inventive - using tantra techniques for starlight? I especially like how the author used the themes of ancient mystiques (especially the Tibetan Book of the Dead) and spirituality to present the theme of human evolution and star flight in a setting I had not yet encountered in sci-fi writing. Add to that a very evocative writing style and you get some very vivid imagery. The only thing I didn't like was the ending - it just doesn't feel right to me. It is a good and indeed realistic conclusion to the story, but that's exactly what I don't like about it - it's too down-to-earth. But it does leave open the possibility for a sequel. Is there actually one?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Review of The Alien Embassy

I just finished reading "The Alien Embassy" by Ian Watson and I am curious to see what other people think of it. I don't remember why I picked it up - probably found a favorable review somewhere - but when I started reading it, the first thing that captivated me was the rich, poetic language, somewhat reminiscent of Samuel R. Delany. The story itself is also quite inventive - using tantra techniques for starlight? I especially like how the author used the themes of ancient mystiques (especially the Tibetan Book of the Dead) and spirituality to present the theme of human evolution and star flight in a setting I had not yet encountered in sci-fi writing. Add to that a very evocative writing style and you get some very vivid imagery. The only thing I didn't like was the ending - it just doesn't feel right to me. It is a good and indeed realistic conclusion to the story, but that's exactly what I don't like about it - it's too down-to-earth. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

About some authors

Martin is what Jordan was supposed to be. I started reading Jordan in high school, now done with high school, college and four years of work I could not care less about WoT. The last book got horrible reviews on Amazon. Maybe when he finally finishes it I will go to the library get the whole series and lock myself away for a week. Just a tad bitter over waiting so many years for the story to get a good ending. Donaldson is pretty good, but he seems to repeat the same story over and over again. I love his style of writing though.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Oxford History in India

The Short Oxford History of English Literature by Andrew Sanders is available in Indian price version from Oxford University Press. It seeks to replace the famous and dated Legouis and Cazamian. Sanders' history is one the best books on the history I have seen. It is better than almost all other history books including David Daiches's A Critical History of English Literature, Edward Albert's history , WH Hudson's A Outline History of English Literature and more recent Ronald Carter and Mc Rae's Routledge History of English Literature. It is extremely scholarly and takes into account the complex social, cultural and historical contexts of the canonical English literature. It is a model of how a literary history ought to be written. And of course most valuable for the would-be lecturers of English who want to clear their National Eligibility Test or SLET.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Strangest Secret - Let it Guide You to Success



The ebook "the strangest secret" by Earl Nightingale urges you to decide on what you want your life to become. It is important that you know the direction where you want to go. People who don't have directions in life aren't likely to end up where they want to be because they're going nowhere, obviously. On the other hand, those who have a direction to follow know exactly where they are going and they will eventually get there. However, a plan is needed to be created first.

With this ebook, you will learn the ways for you to be able to make it to your destination. Creating a goal is crucial here. Your goal is going to be your direction. You need to take time to write down what you want exactly. Whether it is to lose weight, have more money or have a bigger home, it is a must that you compile your solid goal. After writing them, come up with an action plan. Follow your action plan and you're on your way to success.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Missing the Fantasy Classics


You know I miss the fantasy classics when fantasy was simple but sweet. When people would write not to extend their series to ten books but for the sheer love of the art. I've read some of the current fantasy stuff like Robert Jordan, Martin but for some reason it doesn't compare to some of the stuff I read when I was a kid likes for instance, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series, Susan Cooper's the dark is rising, Zilphia Snyder's "Below the root", the Narnia Chronicles by Lewis and even The sword of Shannara series and Thomas Covenant. There is something simple yet sweet about those classics. Maybe I have not found the latest great author yet but I miss those books still.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Some Information about books


Mary Gentle's Ash is a great read about a female mercenary captain. I am also hearing good things about her new tome 1610, but that is still sitting in my to-read pile. Ash is all about gritty realism, even though great magic and miracles are present in the world during the later parts of the novel. Ash can is found as either a single, massive book or as three separate novels.

If you do not mind fantasy/alternate history crossovers, you might enjoy Kim Newman's Anno Dracula and follow-ups such as The Bloody Red Barron.
Also Paula Volsky's Illusion if you want an extremely-alternate and fantastic take on the French Revolution.

I found Kim Stanley Robinson's Years of Rice and Salt quite a let down. It had so much potential, but even though you keep coming to points in the story where you think things are going to turn around and actually become interesting, the thread is lost and you find yourself reading about some useless piece of trivia and still not caring about the story or the characters. It is a great concept but failed utterly on execution, which is a shame because I think he can do much better. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Stranger than Fiction Review


This one had an interesting concept, an actor well known for working in funny movies which get screwed up half way and a review stating it is an average movie. Average movie it is for it is not some hard core art cinema nor is it your daily dose of entertainment, its just sweet.

Well it's probably one of the sweetest movies i have seen in recent times. Something will neither carry forward nor brand classic but one which I would not say was a waste of time. Seems ironical the review, but then that is how the movie is pretty ironical.

It's about a writer having a writer's block who doesn't know how to kill her central character. Somewhere around the corner in real life is her central character, a real living human being who can hear her narrate his story as she goes about writing the novel. Now she wants to kill him and he wants to stop her. What happens makes the story.

It's a watch a forget cute movie which does not leave you laugh till you drop but instead end with a sail and thinking what the hell, it was not so bad, I did not waste time or money.

Reviewers say its average, I say you can watch it once, either it's the really cute actor of a very weird story line, it definitely worth a watch....

About Lawrence Watt-Evans


Anyone else read this particular author? His books aren't flashy or epic but they've all been particular favorites of mine. His characters are almost universally good, rational people who mean well, most of his conflicts arise due to accidents rather that Rampaging Evil, things generally work out reasonably well, and all in all his books are just solid, pleasant little books. They do not have the scale and sweep of Jordan or Martin, and they aren't as evocative as Gaiman or Mieville, but his characters are likeable, his plots solid, and his books fun little reads.

Just as one example, I just finished a book of his titled "Ithanalin's Restoration." The plot was not epic; a wizard's animation spell goes wrong, spreading his consciousness out into various items of furniture which run away and his apprentice has to recapture them all in order to restore him to life. It basically reads as a "slice of life" story line, in a fantasy setting -- the sort of event that might makes the local news in a fantasy world, but would normally happen in the "background" of other, larger-scale tales (indeed, this book is actually set concurrently with another book in the same setting, and happens in the background of that more epic story line).

Anyway, he is written several books but I have not really found anyone else who reads him; usually I find them in the dustier sections of used bookstores, and that makes me sad 'cause he is a better author than that. I think it may just be that as his stories are less flashy he doesn't get the same degree of attention other authors do.

Monday, December 8, 2008

You might consider me a snob


I love movies, but I dislike at least 90% of the ones that appear in theaters. However, there are so many good movies produced that I have an enormous list of movies to see.

It's the same way with books. I do not have much interest in reading a run-of-the-mill fantasy book, or even a pretty decent one. I want a fantasy or sci-fi book that, at minimum, is very well done, or has some very original, unique, brilliant concepts in it. And it's pretty easy to fill up my reading queue, even with high standards. I have about 12 novels on my to-read shelf and about 60 of them on my to-buy-and-read list.

On the other hand, I try not to spend energy trashing books I do not like. When I was younger, I enjoyed just about anything with an alien or spell caster in it, and I have no problem with people who still enjoy those books.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thaler's definition of creativity


Creative Engine appears to be a lot more than it is. Thaler is taking complex data about design, materials and products, putting them into neural nets, and then injecting noise and extinction, causing strange permutations and combinations to be output, which is presumably judged and collated by another very large neural net. The selection process is still done by a human. His creative engines have no idea what the difference between a good design and a bad one is, save through whatever rules he manages to input robustly enough to survive the permutation process. I think that this shows that while a kind of creativity may be weakly approximated by dumb processes, real judgment, or analytical ability requires much more complexity or intelligence.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On the essence of mind


J. R. Searle talked about human mind as a natural property of the human brain. I have been thinking if a system with a certain degree of complexity and flow of information through it would "cross the line" and became an intelligent bean. I have read some papers on complex networks and heard of something called "collective intelligence". All this seems to be linked. Is our mind a manifestation of the collective intelligence of a very complex (in fact, chaotic) population of neurons and organs? Could then it is simulated using A Life, complex network models, fractals...?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The theme of Waiting in Osborne's Look Back in Anger


In the 1950s in England, life had settled down from the trauma of World War II and had returned to the "status quo". The class structure that had dominated the country since the 16th century and the Victorian social standards that had - but had not - been abandoned, were firmly entrenched. A conflict existed between the "appearance" meant for society and the true nature of a person's feelings - do those feelings really exist if the person is too formal to express them? Jimmy expresses himself a bit too freely, but as the protagonist, he is used to show the audience the need to let go of apathy and reserve and to "feel". Osborne wanted to demonstrate the need to reject the old "stiff upper lip" English stereotype in favor of a more fluid and interactive expression of anger, fear, love, etc...

The man of the crowd

I read beautiful story “the man of the crowd” written by Edgar Allan Poe. It is a nice story that explicitly explains the dilemma of the modern man who is constantly running away from himself. The man in the story is on an unceasing run; he never lets himself to be alone and likes to remain in crowded places so that he can’t hear the voices of his guilt or regrets. Like all, Poe's stories, the motive behind all this is unknown to the reader but reader is free to let his imagination work.

About Mike Resnick


Although in recent years he is become better known as the editor of anthologies, he is an author in his own right who has produced about 20 far-future novels, including the oracle trilogy, the Widow Maker series and the Velvet Comet series. He also wrote a fantasy noire series, the John Justin Mallory stories and alternate history books with Teddy Roosevelt. By setting most of his books in the far future (unspecified but possibly 6000-8000 years), spread across the galaxy, Resnick is able to credibly draw in aliens (who do not feature heavily in his books, it must be said), mutants of all shapes and sizes and of course augmented humans, tricked out with the latest in implant technology as well as many gadgets, the science of which is explained believably without too much emphasis on the 'hard science' aspect of sci-fi. His far-future world is divided clearly into two distinct arenas. On the one side is the Oligarchy, a sprawling collection of humanity that spans countless planets across the galaxy - basically the standard far-future world of so many writers. On the other is the inner frontier, a far-future version of the old west with outlaws, gamblers, bounty hunters and lawmen. With the occasional mention of politics, the various currencies used throughout the galaxy, the many references to historic characters from the previous thousands of years, Resnick manages to make the future a totally consistent world similar to our own in so many ways. These books are packed with action and will probably appeal most to male readers. They are mostly "boys own" type adventures although he also wrote a prize-winning romance, The Dark Lady. If Resnick has the one failure it's that his heroes, despite their well defined flaws, are simply too perfect but since this is what we expect of heroes, this is a minor criticism at best.

Everworld My Review


Anyone familiar with this series? It's geared toward teens (but even as an adult, I still love children's lit), and it was not the best-written series of fantasy books I've ever read, and yet, I became hooked. Premise: A group of teenagers gets sucked into Ever world by a witch/friend/enemy (it's complicated) and try to save her while trying to save their own skins. It's full of mythical creatures, gods, and heroes - which I guess is why it appealed to me - with interesting interactions among the kids and the residents (and physics) of Everworld. It had a rather unsatisfactory ending, to me. And yet I wanted to keep reading. I hate books like that. But I really dug this series. Love/hate relationship I guess.

What is Languaging

Languaging becomes part of our medium and so anything we say is not trivial since it becomes part of the domain in which our co-onto genes structural drift takes place. That is, our co-drifts are contingent on our languaging. Languaging interactions are as powerful as a physical interaction example pushing someone hard. If we say "How beautiful you look" - this has certain consequences in terms of a "particular configuration of structural perturbations." This statement is like a caress. Equally, if we say "you look terrible" this is another particular configuration of structural perturbation. Such an interaction Maturana calls "like hammering in the head," i.e., it is painful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Not plausible

Not plausible is my biggest pet peeve. If you are a reader of fiction, you're expected to have some suspension of disbelief. But I find some people read fiction just to try to find things that "couldn't really happen". I find that these people are often hardcore gamers. I have nothing against gamers (I like RPG's myself) but they seem to get into a "system" mode and when they find things that don't go explicitly along with that system, they get upset. I'm not saying that speculative fiction books should be outrageously unrealistic; there's clearly a certain balance that has to be struck. I just think in the act of reading fantasy or sci-fi you should let the writer weave an illusion for you, not go looking for errors.

Diverse tastes between books

I'm curious as to what fans out there consider the most annoying criticisms or critics of fantasy books. Why? If you deal with fans of anything, there's a lot of passion and opinion, but how often do you try to have a serious discussion with supposed 'fans' of something, only to find out that most of their opinion has nothing to do with liking the subject and more to do with being critical of it? I have had discussions where I wondered why they bothered reading anything, since it didn't seem to be anything they enjoyed. I'm left shaking my head, wondering where it all went wrong for them.

As you can tell, my pet peeve are people who have standards or expectations that exceed the point where anything beyond a fraction of available content is likely to please them. Then I read one of the three books (out of thousands) they liked, and it's nothing special. If anything, it lowered my enjoyment of it because of all the connotations.

I can enjoy a flawed work for what it is. Maybe I am just missing the snob gene or something.

The Alien Embassy my review

I just finished reading "The Alien Embassy" by Ian Watson and I am curious to see what other people think of it. I don't remember why I picked it up - probably found a favorable review somewhere - but when I started reading it, the first thing that captivated me was the rich, poetic language, somewhat reminiscent of Samuel R. Delany. The story itself is also quite inventive - using tantra techniques for starlight? I especially like how the author used the themes of ancient mystiques (especially the Tibetan Book of the Dead) and spirituality to present the theme of human evolution and star flight in a setting I had not yet encountered in sci-fi writing. Add to that a very evocative writing style and you get some very vivid imagery. The only thing I didn't like was the ending - it just doesn't feel right to me. It is a good and indeed realistic conclusion to the story, but that's exactly what I don't like about it - it's too down-to-earth. But it does leave open the possibility for a sequel. Is there actually one?