Book Review Digest

02May07

Thanks to Sify Broadband Services and their incompetence, my internet connection at home is still not up. The good thing is that I’ve finally gotten time to get back to a few books.

A Devil’s Chaplain by Richard Dawkins

“What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!”

They say Dawkins is one of the three greatest intellectuals of our time; the others being Noam Chomsky and Umberto Eco. This book, a collection of essays is a testimony to that fact.

The book is a compendium of writings ranging from Atheism to Genetic Determinism. Dawkins is a man who can talk about anything under the sun and that too very eloquently. The book is divided into various sections:

  1. Science and Sensibility
  2. Light Will Be Thrown 
  3. The Infected Mind
  4. They Told Me, Heraclitus
  5. Even the Ranks of Tuscany: Devoted to the late Stephen Jay Gould
  6. There is All Africa and her Prodigies in Us 
  7. A Prayer for My Daughter

The last section is especially moving as it is sort of an open letter to his daughter asking her to NOT believe everything she is told, but to take time to think and evaluate for herself.

I guess the reason why I love Dawkins’s writings are because his view on life and the likes are a lot like mine except that he’s a LOT smarter and eloquent than anyone I know.

A must read for anybody who doesn’t believe in swallowing every morsel of information he/she is fed but instead believes in the freedom to think and choose.

10/10

Time Out Of Joint by Philip K Dick

It’s been a while since I’e read a good Science Fiction book and Philip K Dick is probably one of my favorite authors of the genre.

Thing about Philip K Dick is that he was a man of ideas but not that great a writer so chances that the book will turn you off at first are pretty big but if you manage to keep reading, it’s worth it. If you’ve not read any of his works, you may have still seen the screen adaptations of his books/shorts; Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly etc…

As in most other books of his, he deals with the fabric of reality. What is reality? Is reality relative?

Ragle Gumm, the protagonist lives (atleast thinks he does) in the heartland of America in the year 1959 and his occupation is basically winning a local newspaper puzzle day after day. While most people consider him just lucky, he thinks his wins aren’t random events but the result of precise calculations. However he starts suspecting the nature of his reality once a hot dog stand ‘disintegrates into molecules‘ before his very eyes.

What follows is his uncovering of a conspiracy that unravels the lives of him and his family. I was reminded a lot of Truman Show but the climax or the ‘twist’ is nothing like the film.

A great read for fans of the author/genre. 7/10

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3 Responses to “Book Review Digest”

  1. 1 Indisch

    Hey, it’s really good that you are back to reading books full time. Nothing can ever ever replace the joy one feels while reading a book. Not even s**! And hope the Sify guys do take their own time in restoring your connection. 😉

  2. 2 Ravenent

    If you’ve got around to reading obscure Dick novellas (where did you get it from anyway? Forum?), read Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, a novel that even Linklater talks about in Waking Life.

    Of course, besides his more famous novels with their big-screen adaptations, one short story that really, really captured my imagination as a kid was Second Variety. Suffice it to say that when I started watching a movie on HBO one day from the middle, within 5 mins. I had pulled out my very first sci-fi compendium and located Dick’s story, quite a feat if I say so myself considering I read it almost a decade ago! The movie, however (Screamers) was nowhere as good as the story as it had some major plot changes that I didn’t like. Also, the fact that a tightly written short story has its own inherent charms that don’t necessarily translate well to a full-length feature film may have affected my judgement.

  3. @Ravenent Yep…Forum. Anyhoo…I just got hold of this entire comependium of ebooks by Dick.

    I’ve read a lot of his earlier works…as kid but I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy them a lot more now.

    Anyhho, didyua know that Time Out of Joint was actually the inspiration for Truman Show?


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