Book Review · Books · Humour · Psychosis · science fiction · Unusual words

Book Review – Dark Intelligence

Dark Intelligence (Transformation, #1)Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The exigencies of an inter-stellar war against cancroid aliens led to the fabrication of a flawed AI that piloted a space destroyer. This AI named Penny Royal (as an allusion to the attempt of the AI to abort its gremlin-laced glitched software) eventually went rogue and launched on a career of inexplicable, whimsical and psychopathic exploits. It is aptly described by a fellow AI as ‘A potential gigadeath weapon and paradigm-changing intelligence.’

The book is ‘people’ by aliens and artificial constructs viz., centipede-like hooders, pyramidal gabbleducks, the antimalarial-sounding Artether, haiman, prador, the denticulate siluroyne, airborne heroyne, Jain spatterjoy virus and assassin snake-drones!

The fauna is equally weird – “They built sugars via induction shifts in the planet’s magnetic field. They also occasionally pulled up their roots and perambulated on a slug-like foot to a better position, after having drained the soil below of minerals. The offler weed was a particularly aggressive slime mould.”

There are Carrollenian ‘runcible’ teleport gate-ways, flippant AI entities that remind the SF fan of Iain Banks. The jaunty and jocular writing style echoes Banks and Douglas Adams. “the turd trajectory would be fanwards.” “‘When superior minds start stating the obvious,’ said Amistad, ‘I tend to start questioning the appellation “superior”.’ “I was seeing a gabbleduck thumbing a lift.”

All in all, a classic SF space opera! Immensely readable.

View all my reviews

Book Review · Books · science fiction · Uncategorized

Book Review

Pandora's StarPandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘I would very much like to meet me.’ Thus spake Dudley Bose when he learns of the existence of an alien entity that was imbued with his personality.

This is the second time I’ve read this epic space opera and enjoyed it even more.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Peter F. Hamilton is an alien like the Starflyer, slowly infiltrating humanity with its insurrecting and corruptive ideas! Else he has a ginormously vivid imagination.
The multifarious planetary settings, eccentric characters and nail-biting and seat of the pants action make engrossing reading. The compulsive and svelte Paula Myo, goofy and spaced out Ozzie, polygamous and philandering Nigel Sheldon, the aloof and smug SI, the voluptuous, salacious and ambitious Mellanie are all memorable characters.

Then there are the aliens – the single-minded and rapacious MorningLightMountain, the sleazy, wheezy human-emotion-addicted Quatux, the bewildered and lost Tochee, ark ship or hypersentient entity High Angel and finally the mystical Silfen and their equally mystifying and parasentient pan-galactic ‘paths’ are the creations of a truly transcended mentality.

I read the Night’s Dawn Trilogy thrice and am now ready to tackle the Void series for the second time.

Mr Hamilton, I have spent a significant time of my life in your Universe. Time for a rejuve?

View all my reviews

Book Review · Books · Kindle and E-books · science fiction

Book Review – The Collapsing Empire

The Collapsing EmpireThe Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this futuristic novel, since FTL was not possible, a physical distortion of time and space called the Flow manifested itself very fortuitously,  enabling humanity to spread all over the galaxy.

What was the Flow? “A multidimensional brane-like metacosmological structure that intersects with local time-space in a topographically complex manner, influenced partially and chaotically but not primarily by gravity, in which the ships accessing it don’t move in any traditional sense…” and more such mumbo-jumbo.

I call this book a poor man’s version of Peter F. Hamilton’s impeccably crafted space operas.

View all my reviews

Book Review · Books · Psychosis

Book Review – The illicit Happiness of Other People

The Illicit Happiness of Other PeopleThe Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book is a study of the nebulous demarcation that segues from ‘normal’ to ‘insanity’. The story is peopled with idiosyncratic characters that range from exhibiting mild eccentricities to complete schizophrenic withdrawal.
The author has closely observed human behaviour and is quite familiar with mental disorders. The writing style is lucid and gripping. It is a tad morbid in tone with echoes of “The World According to Garp” by John Irwing.

View all my reviews

Book Review · Books · Kindle and E-books

Book Review – The Metamorphosis

The MetamorphosisThe Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This may have been path-breaking when first written.
I just found it bizarre and sad. Maybe the essence has been lost in translation or there may be cultural and spatial disconnect. My loss?
The book may have been an inspiration to
Philip Roth
to write The Breast – something only the creator of the mammary-fixated Portnoy could have conjured up.
This book, in turn, has echoes of The Nose by
Nikolai Gogol
The fable does justify the term ‘Kafkaesque’.

View all my reviews

Book Review · Hindi Books · Hinglish

Book Review – Peeli Chattri Wali Lakdi (Hindi)

Peeli Chhatri Wali LadkiPeeli Chhatri Wali Ladki by Uday Prakash

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Peeli Chhatri Wali Ladki is a strong indictment of the pervasive and blatant dominance of so the called ‘uppermost caste’ in Indian society. Be it education, arts, literature, government jobs, politics etc, their influence is absolute and tyrannical.

The book may be labelled scurrilous and reactionary by the exponents of the new virus creeping across India in the guise of the fundamentalist version of Hinduism, but that is debatable. It is this debate that is missing now from the ethos of Indian society. I do not like to identified by my “upper” caste, gender, language or State, I am an Indian and I would love to hear the viewpoint of the ‘others’ – Adivasis (Tribals), folk from the North-east, Kashmir, from other religions. Let us debate, debate noisily, but let’s not permit intolerance to creep into our discourse.

A time of ferment and student unrest in a typical Indian University is threaded by a simple and sweet love story that is maligned and poisoned by toxic influences of caste, religion, parochialism, nepotism and corruption.

The nonchalant anglicized Hindustani is a pleasure to read. The novelette was an eyeopener to the vast unread contemporary Hindi literature!

The English translation is by Jason Gruebaum The Girl with the Golden Parasol

View all my reviews

Book Review · Books · Humour · Kindle and E-books · science fiction

Book Review – Unidentified Funny Objects 1

Unidentified Funny Objects (UFO #1)Unidentified Funny Objects by Alex Shvartsman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When there is talk of humour in Science Fiction, the first name that springs to mind is Slartibartfast. The second name is Douglas Adams. Hitchhiker’s Guide had other memorable characters like Zaphod Beeblebrox, Eccentrica Gallumbits – the triple-breasted whore from Eroticon VI and Marvin the Paranoid Android. No one in recorded history has ever recovered from a hangover brought on after indulging in a couple of Pan-galactic gargle blasters.

On a less flippant note, Terry Pratchett, Piers Anthony (Up Schist Creek, Mini’s Crew with hilarious scatological and erotic content) are other SF writers with funny bone(r)s.

This collection of stories doesn’t achieve the risible levels of the above-mentioned exponents of SF humour but is still worth reading. The novella that turns Einstein and Himmler into magicians in a whimsical alternate universe is the only sour note – it is puerile, to say the least.

Snigger-inducing are the cartoons and the retelling of fairy tales – Sleeping Beauty, for example, is more concerned with her morning breath than Prince Charming’s kiss that will purportedly break her narcotic spell. Santa Claus prefers to give practical instead of childish toys to children ‘who have been good’.

OK for an otiose afternoon.

View all my reviews