ok, let’s do this.

July 8, 2007

Hey. I am back. Sort of. But probably not for long. I have stopped being the guy who can choose to post regularly. Take a cue from this post that from now on, I will update only when I feel it is really needed. I am struck down by heavy load of work, or disinterest.

Anyways, lots of life passed through these months. And a lot of prose too. Mostly the kind I like. Science fiction and fantasy.  I discovered Neil Gaiman. Finished two books, Anansi boys, Smoke and Mirrors and am eagerly waiting to get my hands on his masterpiece the American Gods. His writing is sort of fairy tale-ish for adults and I found it very interesting. Very calming in a sense. Anansi boys is a good fantasy story in which the hero, after his father’s funeral, discovers that he was really a God. Called Anansi. (The west African spider god, the internet says.) And he was a trickster God too, very clever. I will not spoil it one bit by explaining any further. It is beautifully written, is funny and interesting to read. If you liked the stories your grandmother once told you when you were a kid, you will probably like it. If you were not that lucky enough, you could start by trying the other book, Smoke and mirrors. It is a very nice short story collection which contains a lot of such fairy tales as well as other fantasy stories. I liked the were-wolf/Cthulhu ones a lot and by the way, I also happened to read H.P. Lovecraft. (Just before this one..) You could read the online version of his new story How to talk to girls at parties too. But it’s sort of more scifi than usual. But good and funny.

Lovecraft stories are a must read, as any respectable weird fiction/horror fan will tell you. He also reminded me of the poetic Ray Bradbury whose Martian chronicles is a huge hit in my tiny collection of books. I am yet to read the Dunwich Horror or others by H.P.L, though the one I read, “The doom that came to Sarnath and other stories” has some lovely stories like the one in the title, and his prose poems “Memory” and “Ex Oblivione” are price catches. Most of his stories are available on the net at wikisource. He is really a true genius at what he does. Bring out that deep fear of the unknown ancient. (I have read this a long time back, my previous posts talk about this..) Though not really nightmare material for today’s kids, there is an elegance in the way he puts out his ideas. Some paragraphs have a special lyrical quality to them like Ray Bradbury’s writing. Where as the most Bradbury I have read evoke a sense of loneliness and sadness, Lovecraft’s word invoke eeriness and insane irrational fear. Helplessness. The magnificence of the enemy.

Happened to stumble upon another author called China Mieville.  The book is titled The Iron Council. Terrific use of fantasy worlds and races. Imagine the worlds like those of LOTR used up cleverly to write more interesting stories. Economics. How would things run on the middle earth? what kind of relationships do the races have with each other? The sort of worlds that make other normal fantasy ones look silly. There is sciences, economics, politics, racism, revolution,  his world is amazingly rich and real. And the descriptions, they are the real catch here. They are really beautiful and easily slow down your otherwise furious pace of reading. The story revolves around the city-nation called New Crobuzon where plenty of races like humans, the cactus men, the remade (sort of steam punk cyborgs), vodyanoi (frogmen) and countless others live in a state of uneasy equilibrium for having to interact with each other. It is not a normal fantasy story at all. Infact the author almost hates Tolkien’s definition of what fantasy is. It is not a world where you escape to. It is a very clever and crafted version of our own, spiced up magnificently with loads of creativity and imagination. It is at least not about saving the world. Again, you have to read it on your own. I found it very interesting and have bought another one called The Scar. (His first book Perdido Street Station, I just can’t find it anywhere in B’lore. Do give me an indication if you found it somewhere..)

Then comes the true classic which I finished in just four days. (This rarely happens, I am a slow reader and usually take my time with books.) Ender series always have fascinated me, just because the stories are extremely cleverly crafted by the author Orson Scott Card and he usually enjoys throwing good morally conflicting questions at the reader. You can easily read through this delicious higher level ideas because the underlying stories are usually fantastic. I liked the Ender’s Game very much. I read Xenocide later (3rd book) and it was even more impressive. I read the in-between book The Speaker for the Dead earlier this week. It is the in-between book in the series, and is truly fantastic. Ender’s Saga remains amongst my favourite trilogies closer to Asimov’s foundation, Clarke’s Space Odyssey. I usually hype some of my favourites amongst my close friends. And they usually ignore it till the books somehow manage to reach them through some other channel 🙂 And then they go nuts about them 😉 Terry Pratchett, Foundation series they all come under this list. Guess this is one of the series they have most endured me about, with out reading. So I will patiently wait till someone else asks them to read it. Because it isn’t fun to not to be able to discuss how cool something really is. I mean, the enjoyment is not complete for me, unless I see someone else also enjoying it as much.

I am currently reading The Martian Timeslip by PKD. A small number on the back of it says it is number 13 in the list of SF Masterworks. I usually enjoy PKD, though let’s see how it holds up.