Sep 30, 2008


These are the greatest science fiction books ever written. Almost.

( Not in any particular order)

1984 - George Orwell

Grim, Disturbing, Claustrophobic ,one of the best books ever written. THE ONE on totalitarianism future. You don't need to read Fahrenheit 451 after this.

Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke

A classic from probably my favorite sci-fi author. Human Race , better take heed.

2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke

Although the movie has a special place in my heart , book itself was brilliant and well more straightforward than the movie.

Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke

Physics, Geometry, Exploration. This one is not for cheap thrills, this one is for the sheer spirit of adventure.

The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut

Arguably almost all Kurt Vonnegut books are sci-fi but not for me. You don't want to miss a science fiction masterpiece from an author who is Douglas Adams, Philip Dick, George Orwell, Mark Twain all combined and more. The Absurd. The Purpose of Human Life.

Complete Short Story Collection - Isaac Asimov

You don't need any full length novel to discover the genius of the master. In fact, these are better than anything else.

I, Robot - Isaac Asimov

No, the movie WAS NOT based on the book. Read this and be blown away.

Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov

I'm not AS big a fan as countless others. But this started it all. So, how can you NOT read this?

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein

This was not science ONLY. It was much more. That may be precisely the reason I am not a big fan of some of his other books like the revered Stranger in a Strange Land - which may be the perfect book for those who are not big on hard sci-fi.

Collection of short stories - Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick probably had the greatest imagination of all. He will present you the future with such immaculate details that you will wonder if he has traveled back in time. You can't imagine what scope these numerous stories (on which numerous movies have been made) cover. Start with a few.

UBIK - Philip K. Dick

A comedy on reality gone wrong!

Do Paranoids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick

The book on which Blade Runner was only loosely based. But the fun is in the details.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

Since everybody on the planet seems to have read it, what are you waiting for?

Hyperion - Dan Simmons

This is one of the few contemporary( read post 80s) sci-fi books in the list. Perhaps I haven't read many. But i am not taking anything away from this complex, grand, awesome book. NOT for easy reading.

Ender's Game
- Orson Scott Card

Probably one of the most widely loved books - and I am not talking only about science fiction here. And there's a reason to it. If any science fiction book could provide great entertainment to anyone and everyone,this is it. You may forget it as soon as you have read it, but you'll have one hell of a time while reading it.

Notable Omissions:

Dune - Frank Herbert

I have thought of reading it so many times, but somehow never actually did. I don't think I ever will.

The Time Machine - H.G. Wells

I remember reading it as a kid. I didn't like it then. I don't think I will like it now.

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

An acclaimed classic on dystopian future. My problem with this book is that it explains futuristic things like biological engineering which I can hardly relate to. It was an extremely difficult read for me.

Neuromancer - William Gibson

A cult novel. But then cyberpunks and hacking is too real now to be interesting :)

The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick

Probably because I am reading it NOW!!

Sep 15, 2008

Everything.Nothing really.

70's movies took themselves very seriously. Look at Godfather. Look at Taxi Driver. Look at The Deer Hunter. Look at Monty Python & the Holy Grail.Look at Dawn of the Dead : Are we supposed to get scared of those funny zombies? Problem is director thought we should and he made a serious movie. Hell, look at A Clockwork Orange. Look at Apocalypse Now. I found it over-the-top. But I'll give it credit for the Best Opening Scene Ever. Ever. And what is the best closing scene? For me its a tie between Trainspotting and Fight Club. Anyway. I am not saying that 70s movies were bad. Some of them are my favourites but most of them suffered from this "greatness" delusion.
In 2000s we are facing almost the same problem, and with an attached "reality" bug.I have already said they have sort of destroyed the Batman. They have sort of destroyed James Bond too. Casino Royale was more of a romantic tragedy than a slick spy thriller. I don't want stupid Roger Moore or Sean Connery movies but give me a Golden Eye anyday.Spiderman too. Look at There Will Be Blood. Look at V for Vendetta : It highlights everything that is wrong with this decade.
80's was funny.80's was damn good too. I can't imagine Die Hard or Indians Jones being made in 70s or 2000s. Ditto with Back to the Future.Imagine if Amadeus was made in 70s. They just couldn't depict Mozart as a human being which he was. Imagine if Breakfast Club was made in 70s. Someone would have definitely committed suicide. You get the point. You do.Look at Full Metal Jacket.

90s is my favourite. It knew how to balance. And it gave us Pulp Fiction.It gave us Fight Club. It gave us American Beauty ( which was again in 70s mode but still great). It even gave us Groundhog Day. It gave us Lock, Stock & Two smoking Barrels. It gave us True Lies.It gave us The Big Lebowski. And well, many more.

And I always thought that we have this habit of glorifying the past and underrating the present. That is normal.That is obvious. How can we say that we have surpassed the best in the past, then there won't be any unattainable benchmarks left. It's no fun then.And its evident in every walk of life.We will still say, will always say: Borg was better than Federer. Sampras was better than Federer.Oh, when Rod Laver himself says this : “I would be honoured to even be compared to Roger. He is such an unbelievable talent, and is capable of anything. Roger could be the greatest tennis player of all time.” , we'll say that he's just being modest.
And when McEnroe says this : "I've seen the Lavers, I played against some of the great players - the Samprases, Beckers, Connors', Borgs, you name it…He's probably the greatest player that ever lived…He can beat half the guys with his eyes closed!”, we'll say that the old man has gone nuts. For similar reasons "Citizen Kane" will always remain the greatest movie ever.
Actually, its not a bad idea to acknowledge greatness in the present era now.Its high time that we acknowledge that this generation has actually achieved something considering that those buggers have fired the Large Hadron Collider and the world might get sucked into any of the black holes soon. I don't know how is it taking so much time though. Science.
Fortunately,the great concept of marketing is fast changing the scenario. And we are reminded again and again that what we just saw, heard or touched was the greatest thing ever. But unfortunately marketing lowers the benchmarks drastically.It even promotes mediocrity. Surely. Look at The Dark Knight. Look at iphone. Look at Manchester United. Look at Mona Lisa. Look at Surf Excel.Look at Zodiac. Yes I'm talking about that serial killer on which at least 3 movies have been made and numerous books have been written. I am not sure, how good a killer Zodiac was, but he sure was an ace marketer. Oh, how he gave those idiot policemen the puzzles which had no solutions. How he claimed to have killed scores of people. Brilliant. Anyway.

I feel most of the crimes, thefts, even terrorist acts are done by individuals who want to get the satisfaction of having done something in life. Most of them are acts of ambition and fulfillment rather than revenge, religion or greed. Well the same feeling is inherent in almost all human beings. That's why people want to become rich or popular or both. That's why people want to climb Mt. Everest even if noone gives a fuck. Oh, all this crap came to my mind when I saw the last scene of "Wanted" when the hero says :"This is me taking control. blah.blah.blah. This is me taking control of my life. What the fuck have YOU done lately?"
You may get inspired by that statement. As they say(who?) : inspiration can come from the crappiest of sources. You may even get depressed by that.As they say : depression can come from the crappiest of sources. But then, it all comes down to whether glass is half full or half empty.

PS: I used to be funny :O

Mind-boggling Science Fiction 3

Me to my personal Artificially Intelligent buddy, Rocket:  Rocket, can you do this calculation for me. What's 7 + 4? Rocket: Dude, d...