While definitely not a retelling of the Shiva purana (as some people have claimed,...probably under the sway of awe and admiration for the story),...While definitely not a retelling of the Shiva purana (as some people have claimed,...probably under the sway of awe and admiration for the story),... this book is an amazing read, nonetheless.
A very enjoyable mix of history, fiction, mythology and traditional stories (passed by parents and grandparents to kids) from the Hindu faith. This book is definitely a page turner, and keeps the reader absolutely captivated and enthralled. It took a lot of self control to remember that I have to go to office the next day and resist the temptation to read it through the night. Even if fictionalized in this book, Shiva is drawn up in a very careful, true-to-image way,.. and this makes me wonder if the story outlined in this book (or at least parts of it) could have really happened.
I am also really impressed with the research which is evident from the work, although certain sections might have needed a tad more work in this area. For e.g. the reference to 'sangamtamil' seems a bit strange to me, as I have only heard the word 'sangatamil' so far which refers to ancient tamil literature, and the language used in it...definitely not any territory or demarcated region. Also the 'm' sound halfway between the word makes it sound unnatural. In ancient tamil works, the tamil speaking part of the country was called as "Tamilakam", which might have been a more appropriate term to use. However, this is a very minor point...which does not really take anything away from the book.
To summarize, a really delightful book that I would readily recommend to all who have an interest in fiction, period stories, ancient India, eastern mythology/religions and/or fantasy/adventure stories. Although not really required, an Indian background or some exposure to Hindu stories might help to appreciate this book even more....more
As a sci-fi novel (and story series), this book (and the series as a whole) is quite good and entertaining.
But, where this novel to**spoiler alert**
As a sci-fi novel (and story series), this book (and the series as a whole) is quite good and entertaining.
But, where this novel totally soars (over everything I have read so far), and is so absolutely mind blowing, is in the witty sayings and quotes that it is choc-a-bloc with. British humor is amazing once you develop a taste for it...and Douglas Adams is arguably one of the best (probably *the best*, even better than my previous favorite PGW) in this genre that I have come across so far.
Presented below are some of my favorite quotes/lines (italicized) from this classic. I can't think of a better review, than to provide a sneak-peek into the book. The content speaks for itself :-).
Do not forget to pick this book up,...especially if these few excerpts bring a grin to your face.
"For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons."
"Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what's so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what's so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where the hell they wanted to be."
"He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it."
"What's up?" [asked Ford.] I don't know," said Marvin, "I've never been there"
"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."
"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."
"There are of course many problems connected with life, of which some of the most popular are Why are people born? Why do they die? Why do they want to spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?"
"And so the problem remained; lots of people were mean, and most were miserable, even the ones with digital watches."
"Please relax," said the voice pleasantly, like a stewardess in an airliner with only one wing and two engines one of which is on fire, "you are perfectly safe."
"Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist,'" says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing." "But," says Man, "The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED." "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. "Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing."
"Well the hours are good...' ... 'but now you come to mention it, most of the actual minutes are pretty lousy."
Then... there is the bit about finding the answer to life, universe, everything which takes the cake. It also ended up making "42" my favorite number :-)...after all it is indeed (as has been proved in later books of this series) the answer to life, universe and everything and is just not clear to us, because nobody knows the question :-D.
O Deep Thought computer," he said, "the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us...." he paused, "The Answer." "The Answer?" said Deep Thought. "The Answer to what?" "Life!" urged Fook. "The Universe!" said Lunkwill. "Everything!" they said in chorus. Deep Thought paused for a moment's reflection. "Tricky," he said finally. "But can you do it?" Again, a significant pause. "Yes," said Deep Thought, "I can do it." "There is an answer?" said Fook with breathless excitement. "Yes," said Deep Thought. "Life, the Universe, and Everything. There is an answer. But, I'll have to think about it." ... Fook glanced impatiently at his watch. “How long?” he said. “Seven and a half million years,” said Deep Thought. Lunkwill and Fook blinked at each other. “Seven and a half million years...!” they cried in chorus. “Yes,” declaimed Deep Thought, “I said I’d have to think about it, didn’t I?"
[Seven and a half million years later.... Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their ancestors continue what they started]
"We are the ones who will hear," said Phouchg, "the answer to the great question of Life....!" "The Universe...!" said Loonquawl. "And Everything...!" "Shhh," said Loonquawl with a slight gesture. "I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!" There was a moment's expectant pause while panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel.
"Good Morning," said Deep Thought at last. "Er..good morning, O Deep Thought" said Loonquawl nervously, "do you have...er, that is..." "An Answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought majestically. "Yes, I have." The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain. "There really is one?" breathed Phouchg. "There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought. "To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and everything?" "Yes." Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children. "And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonsuawl. "I am." "Now?" "Now," said Deep Thought. They both licked their dry lips. "Though I don't think," added Deep Thought. "that you're going to like it." "Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it! Now!" "Now?" inquired Deep Thought. "Yes! Now..." "All right," said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable. "You're really not going to like it," observed Deep Thought. "Tell us!" "All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..." "Yes..!" "Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought. "Yes...!" "Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused. "Yes...!" "Is..." "Yes...!!!...?" "Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
One of the most amazing books that I have ever read. I have always been a fan of Dilbert...and true to his style Scott Adams has made every chapter ofOne of the most amazing books that I have ever read. I have always been a fan of Dilbert...and true to his style Scott Adams has made every chapter of this book as brutally honest and amazing in its simplicity/straightforwardness as the typical Dibert strip. I need to take some time out to think, and write a fitting review here. Hope to get to it soon....more
This book left me with a bevy of thoughts and feelings. It is narrated in the first person, thus presenting a realistic view of a complex world from tThis book left me with a bevy of thoughts and feelings. It is narrated in the first person, thus presenting a realistic view of a complex world from the eyes of a special kid, and is funny (in a sense), sweet as well as really heartbreaking at times. Some of the blunt, honest views expressed in this novel will leave you thinking for a long time after you complete reading it.
The story revolves around, and is narrated by Christopher, an autistic teenager, whose mother died a couple of years ago, and who lives with a loving and very patient father. He finds emotions / feelings too complicated to understand, and is very uncomfortable with crowds and loud noises, and does not like people touching him in any way. He detests the colors yellow and brown, and likes red, and uses the color of cars that pass him on his way to school to identify if the day would be a good day or a bad one. While this looks somewhat stupid to us, he reasons (very convincingly) that this is no more stupid than letting the weather (or some other such factor) affect your mood and thus dictate whether your day in office would be good or bad. Gifted with a highly reasoning and logical (almost to dizzy levels) brain, it does not really come as a wonder that he enjoys problems that have a definite answer like the ones in Maths and Physics. He is very gifted in Maths and Physics, and plans to give advanced 'A' level exams and top them, and become an astronaut or a scientist someday. Overall, he likes things which are arranged / ordered and have a definite pattern to them, and absolutely detests randomness.
One day, Christopher finds his neighbor's dog stabbed by a garden fork. He is initially accused of the murder and instinctively punches a policeman, when the policeman tries to touch him (for which he is taken to the police station and given a caution). He then decides to start investigating this murder, the way Sherlock Holmes (his favorite detective, ever) would, and write a novel about this adventure. Here starts a journey to solve this mystery, which leads through twists and turns to revelations that completely shatter Christopher's world. (view spoiler)[ He finds the murderer of the dog, but is shocked and scared when he sees that the murderer is not jailed even after he reports this to the police. He also finds some more facts about his parents, which prove too much for the kid to handle, making him run away from home and take a scary (yet adventurous) journey to London. (hide spoiler)]
Through Christopher's words, we see the strain that his parents' marriage is put through, due to him, and their painful separation. Mark Haddon has, in his own words (posted on his blog), made it clear that this novel is not just about an autistic or asperger child (or indeed, people with any specific disorder), but about all people who are different, and about all who think differently than the majority do. It is difficult to put this book down once started (at least, it was so for me), and it is in a sense, an insight into the way people with different abilities think. This world definitely needs everybody to be more empathetic, and books like this can definitely help people in that regard....more
I-Robot is easily among the the most enthralling, captivating books that I have ever come across. Had to really put in an effort to keep myself from rI-Robot is easily among the the most enthralling, captivating books that I have ever come across. Had to really put in an effort to keep myself from reading it continuously at one stretch, and actually spend time to savor and enjoy the details and subtle meanings and dimensions of every small action that the robots do, in the various scenes of the really well written plots that dot this book.
This book is actually a collection of loosely tied but largely unrelated stories, all set in the same time frame around a principal group of characters, who really start growing on you after sometime, and robots, androids and thinking machines that are commonplace in their world. Asimov wrote this book in the form of a collection of short stories, which does not really afford a writer much place for character development. However, this has been achieved admirably through small power packed sections of dialogues and actions within the different stories. It's like getting to know a different facet/ fact about your favorite characters with each new story in this book. Then, there are the intriguing, amazing robots...who are everywhere. Working as excellent companions and caretakers of kids, mining minerals in hostile environments, working in space stations, thinking, inventing, planning, manufacturing,...even working with public figures for the betterment of human society.
Asimov introduced the three primal laws of robotics in this book. Built into the robot's positronic brain, these laws are supposed to guide all robotic behaviour and have inspired and affected so much of popular culture that they are almost a defining point when it comes to talking about science fiction dealing with robots of any kind whatsoever. Even Rajnikant's movie Endhiran refers to them (during a scene where Rajnikant present's his robot to a panel of experts, one of whom asks Rajnikant if the robot was created in accordance with the three laws). They are as follows: < 1.A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2.A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3.A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws It is pretty amazing how these laws interplay with each other to form complex psychological situations. It's even more amazing how robopsychology was introduced, and the psychological analysis of different situations and involving the effect of conflicting laws on the Robot's positronic brain (which is also a defining term in popular science fiction culture. The most popular android in the Star Trek Series, Data from "The Next Generation" franchise, had a positronic brain too) were presented in the form of debates between Susan and her colleagues, which totally keep you hooked to every word...even if it involves some new, complicated sounding terms at times. It definitely had me intrigued and hungry for more.
There aren't any real negatives that I can think of in this book. However, there are a couple of tiny peeves. Firstly, that this book was too short and ended too quickly for my liking, in spite of me holding myself back to one chapter a day (for the most part). Once I started reading this book, I did not want it to end...but it did, and a bit too quickly. Secondly, the dates mentioned in the book for many of the events have already passed. I realize that this book was written about 60 years ago...and during that time it might have seemed OK to put the plot in the early 2000s and 2010s, but that doesn't look so good in 2012 anymore. I wish the writer had planted these events well in the future, or at least during the late stages of the 21st century. Other sci-fi stories/series (like the books of Star Trek for example) are usually set at a time which is well out of the expected lifetime of the current and the next two or three generations...and it makes a lot of sense to do so, as science fiction is essentially about possibilities...which are easier to imagine happening in the future,.. .rather than in the past or present. So, the fact that Asimov chose to set his book barely 60 years into the future and paint it as drastically different (considering the time frame) is a small irritant for me. But, when you consider the positives of this book, these peeves add up to nothing substantial, and can be totally ignored.
With excellent character development, both of the robots as well as of the principal characters, amazing plots, well reasoned and well researched story lines, and masterful writing, this book is my new all-time favourite and is verily a classic worth collecting. If you read sci-fi or mystery novels, then this is one book that you should definitely not miss....more
**spoiler alert** One of the most lively and enjoyable books that I have ever read. This is a must read for animal lovers, nature lovers and especiall**spoiler alert** One of the most lively and enjoyable books that I have ever read. This is a must read for animal lovers, nature lovers and especially dog lovers. It's definitely not a hyperbole if I say that the story of Kazan and Gray Wolf can really touch your heart and mind. It makes you wonder about the deep feelings and instincts that are inherent in all of nature's creation, and not just human beings. In fact Kazan seems much more humane than some of the humans in this book (with whips and clubs and rifles) who seem to be lacking some basic humanitarian qualities. Kazan's feelings and struggles and deep emotions are presented so tastefully and skillfully that you cant help but wonder and be amazed with the story that unfolds...the climax was perfect and left my eyes moist.
Kazan is a one quarter wolf - three quarters husky, who responds to love and affection. He has a soft corner for human females and children, whom he has found to be extremely loving, but has a hard block towards human males as most of the men he has encountered have been abusive and cruel. He could tolerate men, but never really trust them, given these experiences.
The story starts out with Kazan, his owner Thorpe and the owner's wife going up north towards the great white northern regions (which are now known as the land of Canada), where they meet a man called McCready. From Kazan's reactions to McCready's presence, it is obvious that he knew him from before and that it was not a good relation between them. From Kazan's eyes we see how McCready would use whips and clubs and fire to beat and coax Kazan into submission. All this abuse leads to a deep resentment and loathing in Kazan's heart towards McCready, which scares Thorpe and he starts regarding Kazan with suspicion. Later when McCready attacks Thorpe's wife and attempts to force himself on her, during Thorpe's absence, a moment of cold fury and hatred engulfs Kazan and he breaks free from his chain and kills the evil abusive man. Realizing that he has killed a human, and in his simple heart, believing that this would mean being subject to violent beatings with clubs and whip lashes, he runs off and disappears into the Canadian wilderness, where he encounters, quite literally, his wild side and legacy.
Here he joins a wolf pack, finds a devoted mate in the loyal Gray Wolf, and after defeating the alpha male leader of the pack, becomes its new leader. They hunt together and rule over the forests. Once, sensing humans in their area, and driven by a mad anger he leads his pack towards their tent. The thrill of the hunt was on and the strong jaws snapped and howled the song of impending death while approaching their tent, when Kazan senses and sees a scared frail woman holding her infant close to her chest and sobbing with fear. This evokes his protective side and he turns this strong jaws on the pack instead. Gray wolf is confused by this behaviour, but being in the heat of battle and having a strong sense of mate-hood and fidelity, throws in her mettle with Kazan and they fight the pack off together, thus sealing their fate as outcasts from the wolf pack.
They journey alone, with just each other for company. In time, Gray wolf gives birth to three little pups. Kazan finds himself turning into a father and increased responsibility which comes with the same. Once, when Kazan is out hunting, a lynx attacks their cave, permanently blinding gray wolf and killing off her cubs; before Kazan returns and kills the physically stronger lynx. This incident makes his blood boil with rage and leads to a lifetime of hatred and enmity with lynx-kind.
The two partners survive forest fires, starvation, human induced separation, gray wolf's blindness and hence dependance on Kazan, and many other challenges, but they stick with each other through thick and thin. The book is full of a number of thrilling incidents small and big, only a few of which are mentioned in passing in my review above, and is guaranteed to tug at your heart chords. An absolute must - read. Someone should absolutely make a movie on this book. The people of this world definitely need a bit more sensitization and awareness which this story can provide. ...more
Satire at its best...Some of the events made me wonder whether the reference was really just to Communist "Comrades" or was this also a prediction aboSatire at its best...Some of the events made me wonder whether the reference was really just to Communist "Comrades" or was this also a prediction about what would happen in post freedom India.
Very light and easy free flowing language, interesting events which make us relate to contemporary events (and events in history) and continuity between chapters makes this book sort of "unputdownable".
Would definitely recommend this one. In fact, I think that this book should be part of high school curriculum...when we study about world history, civics and other social subjects....then again, I'm not sure if this book would have been so much fun if I was reading it with exams and a good score in mind....more