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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.

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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?

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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.

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Books

Book Review – The Patna Manual of Style

The Patna Manual of StyleThe Patna Manual of Style by Siddharth Chowdhury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The stories took me back to my days doing my Pre-med from Ramjas College and then Medicine from DU and my stay at Gwyer Hall. I yearned for those innocent days – loafing around K. Nags, Maurice Nagar Bus Stop, U Specials, the memorable first-day-first show of “Bobby” and the hours spent in the musty caverns of Delhi Public Library. Fifteen paise was the bus fare from Kash. Gate to DU; five paise for a glass of chilled water…..

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