XKCD, Ice9 and the Dust Bowl @ BYOB Party at IISc in January 2018 (Part 5)
Akshay Arora got a comic book in the last BYOB Party and he read it out. He did the same with XKCD: What if? by Randall Munroe. He describes the XKCD series as nerdy but deep, particularly with the way the author handles disease with humor. Munroe’s also nerdy…take his revelations on Coding Quality and Bobby Tables.
Like Akshay, Aditi did not get a translation. She had a go at Kurt Vonnegut’s famous satire Cat’s Cradle. Unlike Kshitija’s book that lacked chapters, the slim 200-page book has 127 chapters, which makes it a fast read but Aditi finds that the chapters end too soon and serve no purpose. The book was written keeping in mind the Cuban Missile Crises and so the character is a kind of Oppenheimer but his name is Felix Hoenikker and he is the founder of Ice9, a dangerous chemical that can eliminate water. Since Aditi is an astrophysicist herself, she enjoyed the scientific pitch in the book and reflected on how science could go rogue. She loved the apocalyptic vision, the imaginary island dictatorship and the religion called Boskonism. Anyone who wants to know about this ground-breaking novel that was written in indignant response to the irresponsibility that science made possible should check this link.
Nomaan was impressed by John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prize-winning book about the Great Depression: Grapes of Wrath. The story chronicles the migration of the Joad family from Oklahoma to California. Steinbeck chronicles the divide between the haves and have-nots, differences that still exist everywhere in the world. Ma is the character he admired most, so he read out something she said, “We’re Joads. We don’t look up to nobody. Grampa’s grampa, he fit in the Revolution. We was farm people till the debt. And then—them people. They done somepin to us. Ever’ time they come seemed like they was a-whippin’ me—all of us. An’ in Needles, that police. He done somepin to me, made me feel mean. Made me feel ashamed. An’ now I ain’t ashamed. These folks is our folks—is our folks. An’ that manager, he come an’ set an’ drank coffee, an’ he says, ‘Mrs. Joad’ this, an’ ‘Mrs. Joad’ that—an’ ‘How you getting’ on, Mrs. Joad?’” She stopped and sighed. “Why, I feel like people again.”
More books in Part 6.