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Friday, January 11, 2013

December Reading - Part 2

Continued from previous post …

 

7. PKD Shorts: Piper in the Woods by Philip K Dick

 

A small army unit located on a rather small asteroid is facing a threateningly interesting problem. Some of its brightest men have begun to behave very strangely, have given up work, begun basking in the sun 'literally' and consider themselves as 'TREES'.

The problem gets increasingly serious the Army Psychiatrist, after examining several such cases, reaches the conclusion that it was not a case of delusions or novel-excuse-to-escape-work; but the individuals genuinely believed that they were Trees !!

He decides to investigate it himself by visiting the asteroid … only to return a transformed person himself.

 

8. PKD Shorts: The Infinites by Philip K Dick

 

This one had quite a few twists. An exploratory spaceship encounters an unknown planet which seems perfect for habitation but has no visible habitation of any kind. Exploration of this space leads to some dreadful results and physical deformation including losing eyesight.

But all is not as bad as it seems as the 3 surviving members discover that they were probably exposed to radiation which is transforming them. The transformation was scary at first but then they begin to understand them.

In the climax, they realize that they were not the only ones to be radiated and that they are not yet ready for the transformation.

 

9. PKD Shorts: The Preserving Machine by Philip K Dick

 

The story has a very interesting premise. All living things have a survival instinct while the material things may exist for either a long time to come or forever depending on their properties and the action of the environment on them.

In a world where things are perishing, a gentleman is worried about the perishable beauties of life which do not have a material existence. He feels music by virtue of its non-material existence will be the biggest and the quickest loss for mankind. With this thought in mind … he designs a machine to 'convert' music into living creatures. The results are interesting and their implications even more.

What makes this story interesting is PKD's attempt at giving music a shape and the visualization of music in the form of a living creature with physical features, moods and temperaments.

 

10. PKD Shorts: Expendable by Philip K Dick

 

We humans live with a superiority complex of being more evolved beings than the other members of the Animal kingdom. What if it is not true? What if we are the ones who need protection and are being protected by other 'animals' whom we consider worthless …

 

11. PKD Shorts: The Indefatigable Frog by Philip K Dick

 

Zeno's paradox of the frog and the well - the frog will never reach the top of the well when each jump is half the previous jump from the bottom of the well; a small but very real margin always remains for him to travel. The Physics professor believes this while the math/logic professor believes otherwise.

Together they 'build' a machine to test the scenario. They put a frog in a long tunnel with force field which reduces the size of the frog to half every time he leaps towards the other end thereby reducing his leaping distance to half. The frog hopping forward eventually 'vanishes'.  

The Physics professor in a fit of humor/prank/revenge/etc puts the Logic professor inside the tunnel and closes it off. The professor begins to face a fate similar to the frog … diminishing half in size every time you take a step and eventually disappearing.

The climax is interesting as we face a situation we did not imagine …

 

12. Dr. Challenger Short: The Disintegration Machine by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A man has invented a machine which can disintegrate absolutely anything in its sphere of influence … and the more striking thing is that he can put the object back together again at any other location at will. This machine immediately catches the attention of all government / military bodies for the intense ramifications which such a weapon / machine can have on war and power.

Dr. Challenger is called upon to assist in ascertaining the validity of the claim.

Much to the chagrin of Dr. C; the machine works as is evident from the demonstrative experiment performed by the inventor on Dr. C himself … making him vanish and reappear right in front of Marlon. The inventor becomes slightly audacious and plays a trick on Dr. C

Dr. C is enraged to the extent he could have broken the inventors neck with his bare hands but he has greater designs on his mind.

 

13-14. Three Investigators short: 'Down in the Tube' and 'Vanishing Chocolate' by Dave Jinks

 

Both the stories were pretty uninteresting and even childish with several errors and a very bad writing style. Let's not talk about it now …

 

15-22. ACD Brigadier Shorts by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A complete collection of 8 short stories or chapters about an outlandish character called Brigadier. It was ok to read and nothing great about the character. Wont write much about him.

 

With this the year ended on a not so great note from reading point of view. I wanted to end the year with a Ludlum novel but never got a chance to pick it up because of all the travel. The next month also looks scary and I hope reading is not a casualty in the coming year.

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