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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

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Reading Updates

Altered Carbon

Loved it! Not exactly like the TV show, but similar, and good in its own way. The book was able to convey more internal dialogue and Takeshi musings by way of the medium it is. I read this from cover to cover, but cheated towards the end by listening to the audio book (coz I don’t get much time to read and it’s easier to listen to a book while commuting). As I mentioned earlier the audio book quality is poor, but since it was only a few chapters here and there I didn’t mind.

Apart from the musings and such I think I also enjoyed the book because the sci-fi stuff wasn’t presented in an “oh wow this is awesome” kind of way. Richard Morgan (the author) just brings up things as if they naturally are so. Everything has an air of “this is how things are / have always been” so the book didn’t feel too sci-fi to me. Plus the fact that it tended towards noir / mystery also helped. I definitely love noir / mystery books.

To quote a paragraph that I loved a lot from the book:

Suppose you know someone, a long time ago. You share things, drink deeply of each other. Then you drift apart, life takes you in different directions, the bonds are not strong enough. Or maybe you get torn apart by external circumstance. Years later, you meet that person again, in the same sleeve, and you go through it all over again. What’s the attraction? Is this the same person? They probably have the same name, the same approximate physical appearance, but does that make them the same? And if not, does that make the things that have changed unimportant or peripheral? People change, but how much? As a child I’d believed there was an essential person, a sort of core personality around which the surface factors could evolve and change without damaging the integrity of who you were. Later, I started to see that this was an error of perception caused by the metaphors we were used to framing ourselves in. What we thought of as personality was no more than the passing shape of one of the waves in front of me. Or, slowing it down to more human speed, the shape of a sand dune. Form in response to stimulus. Wind, gravity, upbringing. Gene blueprinting. All subject to erosion and change. The only way to beat that was to go on stack forever.

Just as a primitive sextant functions on the illusion that the sun and stars rotate around the planet we are standing on, our senses give us the illusion of stability in the universe, and we accept it, because without that acceptance, nothing can be done. But the fact that a sextant will let you navigate accurately across an ocean does not mean that the sun and stars do rotate around us. For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulse and precariously stacked carbon code memory. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy. […] All and anything you achieve as Envoys must be based on the understanding that there is nothing but flux. Anything you wish to even perceive as an Envoy, let alone create or achieve, must be carved out of that flux.

Broken Angels

The sequel. I didn’t love it as much as Altered Carbon and in fact I left it about 1/3rd (chapter 14 to be precise). I tried listening to the audio book in hopes that it will engross me more, but it didn’t (in spite of being of better quality). I just couldn’t connect with the story or the characters. While Altered Carbon was more personal, Broken Angels was about war and politics and all that abstract sort of stuff which I have no interest in. And I dunno why, I kept getting irritated by how often kept saying “Envoys are this” and “Envoys are that” – too much self praise.

Reading this book made me doubt (again) whether I like sci-fi or not. When reading Altered Carbon I had gotten over that doubt coz I enjoyed it a lot, but Broken Angels for all its military sci-fi and Martians and all that bored me.

Woken Furies

I had thought of skipping this one – the third book in the trilogy – but am going to give it a chance in case it’s different. Mustn’t judge a trilogy by an unpleasant second book. :) Apparently it’s got a younger Takeshi hunting down an older (present day) Takeshi – can’t say no to that sort of a story!

A good thing about these books is that each one is independent. No relation to the events of the previous books.

Update [24th June]: Nope, skipped it after 4 chapters. The prologue was amazing and had me hooked but subsequent chapters sounded more like “Broken Angels”. I am not a fan of adventure sci-fi I guess. Although “adventure” is not the right word to use. I guess it’s more like a gaming sci-fi or military sci-fi or action sci-fi. Dunno. Anyways, left the book. I might have tried harder but I read this Goodreads blog post recently containing tips from readers who read 100+ books in a year, and most of them said it’s not worth it to stick with a book if you don’t like it/ it’s genre. At the end of the day we read books for fun or coz it hooks us – not to just suffer through it. “Woken Furies” wasn’t worth it for me.

Full Dark No Stars

Since I loved “1922” the movie, I decided I had to read/ listen to the book. I tried listening to the audio book early this year but didn’t like the narration. So I returned the audio book and when I saw the physical book recently I purchased it. Read “1922” – loved it! – and also “Big Driver”. Good stuff! Got two more short stories to go.

Update [24th June]:”Fair Extension” was short but evil! Hah. Loved it. I was waiting for some twist like stories of its sort tend to have, but there was none. Fun! One of those stories where you get away with the robbery – you can have your cake and eat it too. Good stuff. Now onto “A Good Marriage”.

Update [28th June]: Finished “A Good Marriage” and the Afterword and the bonus short story too. Loved them all! “Full Dark No Stars” has been a great read. As I was reading the last story I realized I enjoy reading these stories and my mind is much more at ease slipping into the imaginary worlds of these stories. Unless say “Broken Angels” or “Woken Furies” where I have to concentrate coz it’s so dense with information and new worlds.

Reading Updates by rakhesh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.