Dinesh and Bawa

Dinesh and Bawa


Friday, June 6, 2008


Rajeev Bharadwaj, a friend of mine introduced me to science fiction. It was an arena of books that i had never read before, and very soon i was devouring Sci-fi at an alarming rate :)

Isaac Asmiov's Foundation series is perhaps the best introduction to this genre... The series was writtnenover a span of 40 years by the author! The enigmatic Hari Seldon and the branch of mathematics called psychohistory is the basis of the entire series of books and all that can be asked in great fiction is there... an absolutely believable setting of a galactic empire on the verge of collapse, one man actually fighting to hurry the collapse which he predicts will take 30,000 years into just a 1000 years, and all the mystery and suspense about how the Seldon plan (based on the foundation of psychohistory, which i will leave you to read about) will work.

Asimov has also written the Robot series and is actually credited with coining the word Robot. And the 3 laws of Robotics. Again a series of brilliant books about how robots become more and more human, until there is little to differentiate between man and machine...

He was a prolific writer and write on many, many diverse subjects... from the bible to the big bang theory and lamost everything in between! I especially enjoyed his short stories :)

The other author who i think about in hushed terms is Arthur C. Clarke... his novels are lyrical, with surreal beauty and superb plots. There were two of his books, Childhood's End and the Fountains of Paradise which i absolutely loved... His Rama series which deal with an encounter with a mysterious alien space ship is also nice, though i didn't find the endings of the series satisfying... He does have a habit of killing off his characters at the most inopportune times. His other very famous books are the 2001: Space odyssey series which almost, almost managed to mimic what happened with earth's fledgling space program... you should read the books and then read up on the things that actually happened... i thnk only the monolith on the far side of the moon was not there :)... ofcourse you have no idea what i am talking about... read the books and you will know! :)

Dune is also a fantastic series set on a desert planet. So vividly written, it made me sweat and feel hot just reading it.

The Star Wars original trilogy is perhaps the BEST Sci-fi movies ever made... if you have not watched them, PLEASE do yourself a favour and buy them on DVD and watch them on as big a screen as possible with the volume turned on HIGH!

Before they went onto the gory german nazi movies, steven spielberg and George lucas gave us some really really nice feel good, happy ending sci-fi movies: ET, Star Wars, batteries not included, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones... According to me, all worth owning on high quality DVD and watching once every 2-3 years :), maybe sometime i will write a review for all of them :),

Just for the record, i really didn't like the story of darth vader which was told in episodes I, II and III, which were actually made years after episodes IV, V and VI... its kind of complicated :)

As much as i loved Sci-fi, i love fantasy even more... but that's for another post, some other day...  

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Abhishek Ratna said...

Oh I am so happy to see this post :) :) The beauty of the foundation lies in its simplicity...it is one simple story wrapped in tons of tech and physics.There is a very interesting link between Guruji's talk "Space, Time, Consciousness", the foundation books and the recent sci-fi animated flic "Final Fantasy". They explore the theme of Gaia - the theory that the Earth is not simply matter but is a consciousness too.Asimov explores interesting territory in the last 2 books in the foundation series.

"I, Robot" which speaks of the 3 fundamental laws of robotics (essentially stating that robots are meant to serve humans) finds a common echo in "Animatrix", which is the stylised manga-inspired animated story of how the Matrix came into place. Extremely interesting similarities between the two.

Finally, i would recommend "The Silmarillion" - JRR Tolkien's masterpiece, which he wrote over 20 years. Trust me, once you have read the silmarillion, "Lord of the Rings" looks like a toddler's sketch in comparison.

Another honorable mention would be Arthur C Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Abhishek Ratna said...

Ok Ok...Star Wars deserves a seperate blog by itself for discussion...Bau might hate me for this, but it is a very stylized father-and-son story at the end of the day.

It reflects the West's bi-polar view of good and bad, with the Jedi as the beings wielding the "Force" for protecting the galaxy, and the Sith wielding it for their own "personal" ends, thereby upending the delicate balance of the galaxy in the process. Between this black-and-white lie all shades of characters.

Bau, with all due respects to your views on this, i believe no mention of sci-fi can be complete without the "Matrix" trilogy. To truly appreciate the movies, one must watch the companion animated flick - the "Animatrix"...covers interesting topics about pollution, greed, ambition and the consequences

rahul said...

Hello Bawa...well if u really like fantasy then try reading HARRY POTTER... ( plz dont just "TRY" reading it :) ) its amazing the way J.K has written that book.. awesome s not the word. well if u do so then plz let me know if u liked it or not!!

Anonymous said...

I've never particularly like sci-fi stories for the following reason : the settings are all so advanced technologically with white holes, people being beamed all over the place *way* beyond what is actually possible right now etc etc; but at least the ones I've read/watched, the characters don't seem to have made advanced very much at all - at the level of spirit and consciousness, stuck in the same old grooves of qualities leading to fights and wars and territorial aspirations and the like .. but after your post, maybe I'll give them a try again...

Bawa said...

It's Science FICTION!! It's what technology will be when it grows up :) It's NOT about what tech is right now :)

Though you are right about some of your observations about the war and stuff, there are many Sci-Fi books that explore the Gaia theory and universal consciousness...

and for my other friend, Harry Potter is FANTASY, NOT Sci-Fi, and having said that, i have read all the books and loved the first 3, didnt care much about the others... though the ending of the last was superb

Anonymous said...

Well, when I mentioned that technology is not realistic in sci-fi, I wasn't cribbing about that bit - I was just trying to highlight the fact that the "people" in sci-fi are so boringly mundanely unimaginatively backward *despite* the technology being so futuristic!
You mentioned Gaia theory ? -
authors who explore new types of beings (or consciouness) as well as technologies ! ?

Bawa said...

Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Orson Scott Card are 3 such authors who explore a lot of very interesting territory... and for people to be "forward" technology is not going to help... only spirituality! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, will check them out ...
ja I know .. I know .. tho' sometimes, to be honest, I wonder .. if even that will help ..

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