Dragons, AI and the Nobel @ BYOB Party in November 2017 (Part 7)

Ravi talked about Eldest by Christopher Paolini, the second book in the four-book series The Inheritance Cycle. The story is a mature fantasy based on the adventures of Eragon and his dragon Saphira. Other fantasies that were mentioned were the Kingkiller Chronicle, a fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss and The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

Bhargavi spoke about how Homo Deus was the most depressing book she had ever read. While Yuval Harari’s Sapiens is a mega-favorite, this book chronicles an eerie future for the human race, a future where Artificial Intelligence will pull strings and shove humans off of the pedestal they have lurched themselves precariously on. If you are in the mood for some science fiction reading, you may want to try reading Asimov’s short story.


The 2017 Nobel Prize for literature went to Kazuo Ishiguro and what better way to end the year then a mention of his book, Remains of the Day, a book that Ishiguro wrote in four weeks! The story is written in the perspective of a butler. The narrative contains diary entries and the story veers on the relationship that Stevens shares with Miss Kenton, the housekeeper. The book won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989 and was adapted into a Hollywood film that was nominated for eight Academy Awards. Piya spoke about how enamored she was by the way Ishiguro would make the reader arrive at the place he wanted them to arrive at, no mean feat and the sign of a skilled craftsman.

And with that we end our round-up of books for 2017!

Sci-fi– Hard wired and Emotionally charged @ BYOB Party in March, 2016 (Part 3)

This BYOB Party (Part 1 and Part 2) had no mention of the Mahabharata. Instead there was a great deal of sci-fi.

manhattan in reverseAkshay is an avid sci-fi reader. When he was done with his share of Clarks and Asimovs, he came across Hamilton. The book he talked about was Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton, a book of nine stories. For sci-fi geeks Hamilton’s work provides all the delightful details of time travel, memory manipulation, planetary inequality, inter-galactic wars, and rejuvenation technology.

“When it comes to Hamilton’s series,  as characters don’t die,  there is scope for continuity and evolution. “

In the sci-fi mode, Jaya advised us to watch a short movie available on Youtube- Man from Earth. The conversation moved on to how the social context would change if human beings did not die at all. While on one hand, there would be more Mondays, on the other, there would be less inequality as only those who had the means to live forever would be around anyway. The predominant theme of sci-fi was debated upon- is it human expansion or space operas? A science fiction writer who was recommended was Cyril Kornbluth.

Never Let me GoPiya Bose has read her share of sci-fi as well. What she’s now looking for is a sci-fi heavier on emotional quotient. She found this in Never Let Me Go by Booker Prize winning author Kazuo Ishiguro. Three children Kathy, Ruth and Tommy study at Hallsham in an imaginary set-up in the 1990s. Although the narration is straight forward, there is an eeriness and strangeness in the novel that turns it into a mystery.  Ishiguro speaks about how science without ethics is detrimental to society.

“The vagueness of the writer is a style shared by Murakami too,” Piya said. Everyone agreed unanimously that there were two kinds of readers and you would know who would prefer an Ishiguro and a Murakami as opposed to those who wouldn’t.

More in Part 4.