Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: 2001 A Space Odyssey

Well, what can I say! I am at a loss of words to express the enthusiasm of reading this masterpiece. It is a nail-biting read. With this work, I believe that Arthur C. Clarke is at his best. He described all the scientific aspects with such great care and detail that I felt I was in a space ship traveling to the Moon and Saturn all along.

The story begins with retelling the history of human evolution - from man-ape to a civilized human being. It provides an intriguing perspective about "how" the it happened. Beginning with Road To Extinction towards A New Dawn. This forms the basis of history of things to come.

Arthur Clarke adores Saturn - the ringed planet of our Solar System. The way he admires this beauty is nothing short of admiring a strong willed lovely woman. It really made me wonder what an amazing planet it can be! I also remember a short story by him from the collection: Tales From Planet Earth, where he describes Saturn more beautifully.  You might want to read that also: Saturn Rising.

The greatest experiences of reading this novel is about the journey through space. It eloquently describes how amazing space travel can be and entices its readers to embark upon the journey despite its shortcomings.

One of the major themes that Clarke describes is about Artificial Intelligence (AI). HAL 9000, the artificially intelligent computer fully controls the spaceship leaving astronauts to perform other important tasks. He questions AI when HAL misbehaves. He compares HAL's misbehavior to a criminal's behavior when he tries cover up a crime by committing more crimes.
Bowman could easily believe Dr. Simonson's theory that unconscious feelings of guilt caused by his program conflicts caused HAL to break the circuit with Earth.
This raises questions about the current trend in technological advancement. Machine Learning and AI should be employed to the extent that they should only offer a helping hand to humanity; not to the extent of controlling our lives.

When I found HAL as an interesting character, I immediately browsed through the images of HAL in the film adaptation of the novel. Then I was sure that the robot Auto, from the movie WALL-E, was inspired by HAL. This was evident when I found out that WALL-E was homage to the movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Blade Runner. Andrew Stanton, director of WALL-E, also voiced HAL in a short film adaption.

 
HAL 9000 and Auto
Clarke's vivid and awe-inspiring imagination overwhelmed me near the end. The entry into the Star Gate, arrival at The Grand Central and under The Alien Sky is so fantastic that you will feel the adrenaline rush throughout the journey. He has blended fantasy and science fiction exquisitely.

If you are not used to science fiction, then I highly recommend this novel. Its an amazing read - A op class page turner (one of my fastest reads). Oh, if you are confused about the ending, I've got one word for you: Evolution. All the sequels to this novel are in my to-read list. I am picking up 2010: Odyssey Two next, as soon as my thoughts about this work that are still lingering in my head settle down.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


I bought a Kindle edition of this book from a gift card. And it was long overdue being in my to-read shelf. What I really love about this novel is that it does an excellent job in manipulating the readers's mind and does it successfully. The first part of the story is a series of diary entries by the lead character, Amy Dunne. It gives a very sympathetic outlook of her. I felt very sorry for what she had been through. Honestly, it leaves your eyes in tears. And you will feel exactly opposite about her husband, Nick Dunne. In fact I got furious about him. Its the tale about the disappearance of Amy and trying to find her if she's alive. But as the second part approaches, there is a sudden change in perspectives in the way we look up to the characters. Whether its real or not, I'll leave it for you guys to decide. But the twist is overwhelmingly atrocious, cruel, disturbing and repulsive. It freezes our minds for a few moments in trying to accept this dramatic shift in the story. Then I realized - you can count on evidence, but not your thoughts.

The characters develop splendidly as the chapters progresses; thus unfolding the instincts of each of them. Apart from the central plot, the book explains how media can be exploited to turn everyone against you; to make people think what you are based on forging a public opinion and luring them to believe it without facts. Also, it talks about the family bonding. No matter what happens, your family will be there to stand by your side. This is evident by the relationship showcased between Nick and his twin sister.

The heart of story is how people pretend to be someone else in order to be accepted as perfect. Despite our shortcomings, almost all of us wear masks when we face the world outside our own. We crave for people to believe that we are nice, kind, generous, helpful, etc. But the real face unveils itself in marriage.

On the whole its an entertaining read - it plays with the mind all along. And most importantly, all the themes it describes are intertwined nicely. The episodes it presents to us are perfectly structured showcasing the discipline of the author, Gillian Flynn. I am looking forward to watching the film adaptation of this novel.

Footnote (Spoiler Alert)

The only thing I didn't like about the novel is its ending: Nick compromises with Amy. I expected a more exciting end to the story. I wanted Nick to outsmart his wife in someway or the other and send her to prison (or a mental asylum). I couldn't tolerate the height of harassment inflicted on him by her just because she wanted to be Amazing Amy to the whole world. He has to watch out for every word he utters and each step he takes every moment of his life. How could he live a life with her peacefully without a bond between their hearts? How can he choose to live with someone who plays torturous mind games with him all the time? It's like living in hell. I just couldn't agree with this.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Disconnected

Disconnected

I am not sure why
I feel so disconnected sometimes.
Disengaged from the world I live in.
But I want someone to understand that.

I will not ask anyone to help me
But I want to have a conversation
About the longings that crop up
During the late evenings of the day
And... get lost in it.

"Hello? Is anyone there?"
"Someone talk with me, please."
My inner voice screams.

Unfortunately, no one is around
Because it's 3 a.m. I don't like to sleep
So I can't help feeling dejected about myself
And disappointed in everyone else.
"Goodnight, world." I say,
and keep rolling in my bed.

Feb  2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Being Grateful



Be grateful to all the difficult people in life.
They teach what exactly you don't want to be.
The more you get hurt,
The more you learn how not to hurt others.
Don't be sad if they don't understand
Your feelings of love and kindness.
They never will.
Yes, it hurts; sometimes, terribly!
Don't fret that you can't help yourself
Because they never change.
And don't take such things to the heart.
Take a deep breath; stay calm;
Let your mind take control.

Here is the best thing to do:
First keep all those people at bay;
Let go of the past, look ahead and move on.
Then you will make peace with yourself.
Pain is temporary, but when you read it between the lines,
It will make you wise for the rest of your life.

Always remind yourself:
That there is a whole life ahead of you,
That's waiting for you to fill it up with the things
You love and cherish.
Don't get it wasted!
October 30, 2016