Dune

This is by far one of my favorite sci-fi novel series. I have read Asimov, but Frank Herbert (and his son in later parts) have really put together an interesting universe with Dune. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend that you read the entire series.

It was with great anticipation that I sat down to see the movie. Having played both the games (which did not do the series justice), I had some sparing memories of the movie during my childhood. Enough to know that Paul was played by Kyle MacLachlan, the movie had Sting as one of the characters and the fremen had cobalt blue eyes :)

The actual movie as all movies based on books go, was a big disappointment. The movie has been made in 1984 (ominous no?) so I did not expect much in terms of special effects. However the richness of the sets and the good print of the movie had me astounded. It was even a pleasant surprise to see a young Patrick Stewart play the very likeable Gurney Halleck, and a very young Sean Young (no pun intended!) play Chani.

Perhaps the plots and plots within plots were too much for the movie to capture, or perhaps the director was trying to save his ass post production, I do not know what went wrong with the movie, however the movie lacked that certain impact! Paul fails to impress and the Baron who is supposed to be the devil incarnate seems to be a flying lunatic homosexual at the worst :)

Really not worth a movie of 2.5 hours. Huge plots such as the Kwisatch Haderach, the Bene Geserit, the Voice, and Paul’s struggle against the inevitable Jihad are omitted. The original movie was apparently 4 hours, and it was excised to fit the 2 hour length by the producers. A shame, because there was no lengthy directors cut available then. A movie only to be remembered the fans of the book.

 

Foundation

found1as For some reason, I had stayed away from reading Isaac Asimov. Probably because I had seen some of the poorly done movies based on his books. I finally gave in, and started reading Asimov … Foundation being one of the first novels I got my hands upon.

The story is set in the far future (as is true with most Asimov novels), where the world (or the galaxy in this case) is ruled by an uni-polar government. The human race has advanced far and wide across the galaxy, and has inhabited many planets (25 million and counting). Technology has advanced so much that it is making humans complacent, and hence the cause of its own decay.

This macro-view is held by a visionary (Hari Seldon), and he creates a mission to set two different worlds set at the ends of the galaxy to re-build the human civilization after its fall. The story takes us through the different phases any civilization will face in its rise to power. The government structures, the role of religion in controlling the masses, the role of science and trade in conquering other civilizations.

The original foundation trilogy is very well written and Isaac Asimov shows why till this date he is one of the top read authors.

Get your copy here!

 

Ender’s Game

eg One day, in office, I came across this list, the best sci-fi novels of all time (according to Reddit). I was pleased at first as I browsed through the list … I had read the first two of them … as I went down the list … not one read! I had heard about some of them (relief!, but not more than 2 of them finished reading!!).

Off I went to Flipkart, and started ordering … in that order on the list.

Fortunately, this book was delivered to me last Friday. I sat through Sunday and finished it, almost in one sitting (there was a brief nap in the middle ;-)).

The thing about sci-fi novels is that when the author is writing the book (this one was in 1985), he has very less idea of what the future would be like. The rate at which things are changing is too fast, even for the imagination of the author. This is where Orson Scott Card dazzles. He has managed to forecast a future where public opinion can be swayed (and controlled) by digital media, space training facilities, colonization of other planets. While this might have seemed a bit far out back then, these days most of these things are very much achievable.

Ender’s Game is about a young child’s (Andew Wiggin) struggle against a system pitted against him to graduate and eventually save the human civilization from an alien species. I think Starship Troopers has taken some inspiration from this movie. Ender (or Andrew) is a born genius who thrives well under hostile circumstances. So the powers that be decide that for Ender to really sparkly, he has to be thrown into fire. And he is tested, again and again. This book is not about a boy who beats them all, its about someone who beats them, then gets burnt out … but beats them anyway so that he can rest.

There is an Ender in all of us. The tired feeling that we feel when we get burnt out … that’s Ender’s state of mind through out the book. It’s also about prevailing over that and continuing in classic human fashion. There are sequels to the novel, but what I like most about this book, is the attitude with which Ender attacks each problem. Do read the book.