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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

August Reading – Part 1

 

After a phenomenal July with a score of 33; I thought it would be a tough act to repeat but nevertheless it happened. Score this month is 29.

I had read somewhere about Dr. Challenger but never realized that he was yet another character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Finally found some novella and short stories from that series. Will read them in coming months; starting this month.

The novels of the month were 'Mayan Destiny' (Last of the Mayan/Domain trilogy) by Steve Alten & 'The Death Relic' by Chris Kuzneski. I also read 2 short novels (less than 200 pages); a Dr. Challenger one titled 'The Lost World' by Arthur Conan Doyle and 'A Scanner Darkly' by Philip K Dick. Departing from the norm, this month has an unfinished abandoned short novel which went completely off / over my head and I was not able to make no head or tail of what was happening in the story. PKD's Scanner Darkly (which inspired the movie by the same name) left me confused and lost. I could not complete the novel and left it halfway. 

Amongst the regulars, I had one novella from the Three Investigators series and amongst the short story regulars I had 5 by Philip K. Dick, 5 by Arthur Conan Doyle, 4 from the Misadventure series and 1 from the Exploits series of Sherlock Holmes along with 2 shorts by a new author and 6 from Mystery Traveler series.

From this month onwards; I will be reading a lot of Philip K Dick and Arthur Conan Doyle so my 'reading' posts will figure a lot of PKD and ACD tags to indicate works by them. Also, from this month onwards, I will place identifiers with each story title indicating its type (novel, short novel, novella, short story) and in some cases also identifying the author (as in ACD and PKD) as I have been identifying Sherlock Holmes Misadventures and Exploits series. 

New authors this month: Aravind Adiga's White Tiger has been in my sights for a long time but I never really picked it up. I recently found 2 short stories by him and decided to pick them first to get a feel of this writing. So this month, Aravind Adiga is the new author for me, starting with 2 of his short stories. I did not really like the short stories though.

Non-fiction reading again this month and for the first time in many years I have actually bought academic books related to my work. It is going to be difficult reading these 'boring academic' books … but then … they can be quite interesting too.

This month again has a good reading score of 29 (28 and half actually, counting half of PKD short novel) for this month – a good mix of novels (long and short), novellas, short stories and non-fiction reading.

 

1. Novel: The Mayan Destiny by Steve Alten

The Mayan Destiny is the last part of the Mayan (or Domain) Trilogy. The story now shift focus to the 'other' twin son who did not have a dominant Hunapuh gene but the only one surviving on Earth now (besides of course Lilith, who is the evil incarnate). The story now brings him and Lilith together and we realize that Immanuel is even more powerful than Jacob was.  

The story in the 21st century earth is in the backdrop of Space tourism and yet another end-of-the-world event which is a natural disaster this time around caused by man-made activities; The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) woven into the story as a critical element which 'causes' the end-of-world. (While reading about LHC, I remembered my visit to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland and going on the tour to see the LHC under construction - Mesmerizing)

The complexities of the plot only increase as we are explained about the past, future and present events and their dependency on each other and the actions of the key characters in the story. The time warps, black holes and other cosmic entities become important to the history and geography of planet earth.

Halfway down the 600 page novel … the story ENDS.

And then we are back to the point where the story BEGAN in Mayan Prophecy (the first of the trilogy). The story kind of restarts with some new members added to the cast while the story runs in a similar fashion. Lo behold ! We are now in an altered reality where the End of World is imminent in 2012 (again!) and this time around there is help from the 'immediate future' (which may or may not exis depending on whether the end of the world happens or is averted) to save humanity and the world. The climax is pretty interesting !

It is a Déjà vu experience, reading the same story again with parts of it changed due to the new characters introduced. The story now draws on references of events and people from the past, present and future as they converge to originate paradoxical events. Dialogues like 'I have known you from the day I hope to be born' add a certain touch of humor to an otherwise humorless series.

 

2-7. The Mysterious Traveler Magazine - Apr 2007 edition (6 short stories)

Picked up yet another edition of MTM with 6 interesting short stories by little known authors

Suspense - Bitter Pill by Andrew Fell

We have a secret agent and a god-man kind of villain with a female aide who is hell bent on torturing the secret agent (who has been busted and caught by the villain). The secret agent is left with no choice but to use the 'cynide pill' which all secret agents are required in cases of emergency; where they are caught and held captive by the enemy. The twist in the tale is pretty nice.

The Macabre - Almost Like Sisters by William A. Hall

The story sets off describing 2 ladies who live together and often considered as sisters. A man is introduced in the life of one of them while the other lady spends her time with the landlady of the house they have rented. The climax of the story is about how things are not what they seem. Something sinister is cooking in the seemingly innocent vessels. 

Strange Stories - The Fighter by Darrell Pitt

A fighter (sportsperson) loses his ability to compete after meeting an accident in which he loses not only his legs but also his coach. He now thinks of himself as a cripple and his life as useless. He comes across an SOS message and is caught in the dilemma of going his way as a cripple or making a foolish attempt of saving someone's life. You can guess what he chooses.

Crime - A Stitch in Time by David Baumann

Time Lords travel across time but have to follow certain rules. A protective fabric protects 'time and life' by ensuring that when the Time Lord leaves a 'time', things are back to usual provided the Time Lord don't take anything with them or leave anything behind. The repercussions of these acts could be disastrous. But what do you do when a Time Lord succumbs to temptation and turns rogue … deciding to steal a precious jewel for himself – an act that can change the course of history and future. The story keeps you guessing and the climax is pretty awesome.

Mystery - A Night of Purpose by Bobby Evers

Two teenager kids are in search of a specific car ... to steal. All they have is the number plate details and have no clue as to its make or color. They eventually find the car and escape with it without a hitch. As a reader, you will read and re-read the last paragraph of the story and spend time thinking of the story beyond the written text. It is not the story which is interesting, it is what happens after the story ends (and that is left to your imagination)

Short Shocker - Progress through Technology 'The Mysterious Traveler'

A very short story about a time when mankind has reached a stage when evolution needs to be 'reset' back to the age of the dinosaurs

 

To Be Continued …

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