Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game is the first book in the Ender series written by Orson Scott Card. It is about a prodigious boy called Ender and how he destroys an alien attack by the species called Buggers who have no language but only thought transmission because what they actually are is a very advanced bee sort of creatures who are directed by their queen.

The book begins sluggishly and I had a bit of hard time keeping up with it. But towards the middle it gets interesting specially when Ender’s brother and sister also come into play. The battle school life of Ender is also fascinating but what did not suit me well was that the central character of the story is so morbid and morose that it becomes really hard to relate to him and considering that he is just a 10 year old boy when he is dealing with life as people do when they are at their mid life crisis adds more sadness to an already gloomy picture of the boy. But that is the way story is and so be it. The end is good. It undos the beginning and the general heaviness.

How much I like it, I cannot say! I like the nerdy geeky thing where Ender is this super Nerd who can beat anyone and everyone. I like the alien invasion thing. I like the blog like atmosphere where Peter and Valentine operate and are able to make the elders and political leaders follow them. I like the superhuman super family concept. But what irks me is the “white man’s burden” kind of a concept. 11 year olds with a burden on their shoulder to transform the world. Almost dictatorial way of thinking and assuming that the world would accept one person of authority and bow before him.

I liked the book in general but I did not like it enough to pick up a sequel right away. Maybe I will but not for a while.


Doctor Who

So, I initiated myself to Doctor Who, the BBC Science fiction series, today with a couple of episodes and I am not surprised that it looked very promising and that I may start watching it after all. The best thing is that its fast moving, every episode there is a different story, it is racy, adventurous and humorous, all at the same time. I had heard a lot but now I have experienced, the thing called the dry British wit. It is fantastic. First, Douglas Adams and now Doctor Who. So much humor in science fiction, that is a thing very rarely seen.

I like Doctor Who more because I like the character who plays it- David Tennant. He is good. I am just sorry that I got to know about it so late. But better late than never.

One thing I rue is that we, in India, have not been able to create something really humorous along with great quality. All things in the end here turn to sleaze comedy. In domain of comics too, none of our central characters or superheroes are funny or a little wayward or light headed. All of them have to be the perfect good guys with a brooding soul who never think of anything other than saving the world. Sigh! The only salvation is Bankelal. He is funny alright. But, then he is too frivolous and miles away from any seriousness at all. I think we could do with an indigenous Doctor Who like character.

The Time Machine – H.G. Wells

These days I am addicted to Science Fiction and am contemplating of

reading a huge variety of it before I get on to some other genre. I was

looking for a quick to read small book and I chanced upon H.G. Well’s

‘The Time Machine’. It was small and old. H.G. Wells is said to be one of

the founding fathers of science fiction writing and I thought it would be

nice to read and nice it was.

Though one could easily see the oldness all through it, the typical

English inventors and intellectuals, what their view would be. It is more

of a social science fiction. More than how a time machine was made

and how it travelled, it is about where it travelled and what were the

social conditions there. Nonetheless, it was very interesting and I found

myself engrossed in the story and wondering things like “oh no!”,”what


So, I guess I enjoyed it. I will want to read some more of his stories.

More so, because they are short and right now the only thing I do not

have is time.

It was refreshing as a change to read this after indulging in modern

books replete with modern style and instruments. ( Here, by modern i

do not mean that concerning the modernism, i simply mean recent in

time )

So long!

Citizen of the Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein

Aha!! A book review after long time. So, these days I am on a sort of science fiction mode and I had heard a lot about Heinlein in this genre. I thought I will give his works a try and so i read this book about a boy who travels from being a slave to a licensed mendicant to a  free trader to a corps person to being the “Rubdek of Rubdek”. Interesting journey but I dare say that it did not look as interesting in the book. Perhaps I chose the wrong book to begin with because this one did not meet the expectations that were raised by the name of Heinlein. The important issues like black side of corporates and their indirect/direct endorsements of illegal activities, slavery, politics, traditions and spying are taken to intergalactic levels. Space ships are travelling like cars do today. There are hundred planets inhabited by all kinds of creatures, ranging from people t o fraki.

I just found it okay. Nothing very special. However, I would like to note one thing: Science fiction is addictive. I can now barely move to other shelves in the book club and even if I do, I always return to the science fiction rack. It started with Ursula Le Guin, then Connie Willis, then Heinlein, Terry Pratchett in books followed by loads of movies like Star Wars, X Men, Star Trek and now I am a sci-fi fan. Not the die hard and hard core yet but I am.

The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin

Just finished reading this book and could not help but writing a review at 4:30 in the morning. Ursula K. Le Guin is a well known and accomplished science fiction writer. She stands out because her books go much beyond the ordinarily assumed reals of science fiction. She talks about society, gender, governance in other imagined planets and worlds.

By the time I finished the first chapter, I was already convinced of her brilliance and genius .The Left Hand of Darkness is a completely new variety of science fiction for me. A social science fiction. Its amazing! The book is pregnant with ideas. In fact there are so many ideas flooding all over, from the beginning till the end that one tends to get confounded. It shows the ripe imagination that she has. It is a complex book in many ways and needs a lot of brooding and thinking over.

It is the story of how a person ( an ambassador ) from one world goes to another where he an alien and is treated/mistreated among a variety of mankind which is androgynous. A society where his being a male is seen as perversion. Where a father is a mother and a mother is a father. Where no one is tied down as much as woman is and no one is as free as a man. Most of the story is a first person narration by two major characters. There are a lot of complex names and systems of the new world which one might take time in getting accustomed to. There are philosophical gems thrown in and there are some hopeful views of a society which is equal in all respects. She sees it and she makes us see it.

A delightful reading!! Recommended!!

Never Let me Go- Ishiguro

This is the most recent novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. I came to know about him from one of my seniors and thought that I will give it a try. Picked out this book from the book club yesterday night and I am glad that I did it. It makes wonderful read and is a short novel ( 263 pages only ) which I managed to finish in 6 hours. The language was simple and easy to understand, the structure most common.

The genre of the book is romance, love with a base of science fiction. However, the science fiction part is subtler than the plot of love which is mostly tragic. There is loss of love and tragedy all along. Without using a dramatic setting or heavy handed language, he has been able to convey the sense of tragedy so convincingly that at the end you cannot help but feel sad. It is a mature book which stays away from the mawkishness which most novels come to display when dealing with topics like love. The characters are sketchy in themselves other than the major protagonists. However, the relationships and behaviours have been studied deeply. The novel also raises a question of morality and ethics while dealing with the clones which one can see arising in the near future.
That’s about what I think of it immediately after having read it. Let’s see what happens later.