May 30, 2008

The Expectations of Imagination

I just finished reading King of Foxes, the second book in Raymond E. Feist‘s Conclave of Shadows series. I woke up in the morning thinking of something that I had first thought on reading the first book in the series, Talon of the Silver Hawk. So what was I thinking? I was thinking that it ruins the magic of an imagined world when the author takes shortcuts 🙂

Of course, I must start off with the disclaimer that Raymond E. Feist is a successful author and I cannot claim to be anywhere even remotely close to his level as a writer, in terms of success. However, I’m not writing as a writer but as a reader and all a reader needs to criticise a book is the fact that they didn’t enjoy it thoroughly 🙂

Now in the case of Raymond E. Feist, I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed his writing. in fact, quite the reverse. However, the more I read his work, the more I realize that he tends to use shortcuts in building his world and this tends to disappoint me. I expect a completely new world springing forth from the author’s imagination when I read a novel which is set in another world, not a pale imitation of our own clothed in slightly different trappings to hide the fact.

I don’t know if I was aware of the similarity to Japanese culture in Feist’s Tsurani when I first read his Magician and the other two novels in the series. But then again, that was close to 20 years ago. However, when I read Talon of the Silver Hawk, I was immediately aware that his Orosini were lifted wholesale from various North American Indian (or Native Americans or First Nation or whatever they are called today …) tribes. Then I woke up today with the realization that the continent on the other side of Midkemia, the world that Fiest’s stories take place on, is called Novindus. Nov + Indus as in New India, get it? Like Columbus thought America, the continent on the other side of our own world, was India. (Then again, apparently Novindus is supposed to be shaped like India and so it is actually India since the known world in Midkemia might be the Americas …)

There probably are other races and other places modeled after our world in Feist’s novels. And I’m not saying a writer has no right to do that, it’s a writer’s prerogative to write their story (and build their world) in any fashion they choose. But as far as I’m concerned, when somebody copies stuff from the world we know simply because it’s easy, it takes something away from the overall story. Now Terry Pratchett copies countries and people from our world in his Discworld series but that’s for satirical effect, there is a purpose to it. Not to mention that PTerry’s copies are never exact copies 🙂

But I see no real purpose to Feist’s wholesale copying of nations and peoples except that it’s easier to do that than to create something completely new. Perhaps I am mistaken and am assigning incorrect motives to Feist, Perhaps he did have a reason for creating these parallels. But if so, I can’t see that reason. All that it’s done for me is to slightly dilute the enjoyment of reading his work. And I don’t think any writer wants that ….

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May 29, 2008

All Things Art and Good VI

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Posted by Fahim at 7:41 am  |  No Comments

May 26, 2008

Interesting, but weird :)

Apparently, I’m published with Reuters. Yes, *the* Reuters 🙂 I didn’t know about this at all, though I believe traffic has been slightly heavier than usual, till today 🙂 And even then, it was totally by accident.

This blog is part of the BlogBurst network, which syndicates blog RSS feeds to online media sites. I’ve been with them for years and as far as I know, I haven’t been featured by any of the BlogBurst media partners. So I haven’t actually paid much attention to what was going on with BlogBurst.

However, I was fiddling around with the RSS feeds for the site today and so decided to go check if BlogBurst can still access my RSS feed and to my surprise, I found that my site had been featured on Reuters! Of course, I was curious to see what had been featured and so I did some more digging and came up with this article.

Now the funny thing is, that article is on the Reuters Investing Blog but it has nothing at all to do with investing 🙂 So I’m not sure why the article was picked unless it was the word "China" in the title. Guess I should experiment by adding more country names to my titles :p

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Posted by Fahim at 10:50 am  |  No Comments

No updates, update

Things have been rather quiet on the blog because I’ve been busy plugging away at a couple of projects. I’ve also got to get busy on the next issue of C3, the magazine I edit and that’ll mean even less time to update the blog or do any of the other hundred odd things that I keep meaning to do/fix on my site 🙂

I’ll get back to the All Things Art and Good series soon, I promise …

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Posted by Fahim at 10:10 am  |  No Comments

May 20, 2008

More Lulu-science

OK, the results are in – at my current level, the purchase of one book appears to bump me up about 3,000+ places on the Lulu sales rankings. I was at 50,227 last month when my friend Ginosion was kind enough to purchase a copy of my book, Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog. Today I discovered that my Lulu sales ranking had jumped up to 47,063!

Well, there you have the results of the not-so-empirical evidence. Of course, now the question is, is the jump in rankings consistent if another book is purchased? 😀 To find out, somebody else will have to buy a copy of the book though. Any takers? :p

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Posted by Fahim at 12:09 pm  |  No Comments

May 16, 2008

All Things Art and Good V

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Posted by Fahim at 7:29 am  |  3 Comments

May 13, 2008

All Things Art and Good IV

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Posted by Fahim at 7:30 am  |  1 Comment

May 12, 2008

Dresden, Files not China

I’m feeling much better than I have in almost a week 🙂 Give me a couple more days (or weeks …) and I should hopefully be completely back to normal.

While I was sick, I finished reading the (currently) last book in the Dresden Files series. It made me wonder why I had never talked about the books here because the more I read from this absorbing series by Jim Butcher, the more I like it 🙂 And now that I’ve reached the end of the series, I can’t wait for the rest of the books in the series to make their appearance. With 20+ projected books in the series, and only 10 written so far, there’s a long time to go before I can complete the series, and the anticipation is killing me 😀

I didn’t even know of Jim Butcher or his books till I picked up the DVD boxed set for the Sci-Fi channel series by the same name. At that time, I found the similarities between a wizard named Harry living amongst normal humans who are oblivious to the existence of magic, and another young wizard named Harry living amongst muggles, a bit too comical. The show wasn’t all that great and was too full of inconsistencies and plot holes to make it very appealing. However, the show did its job in getting me to read the books …

I read the first book and liked it. The second book wasn’t so good, in my opinion but this was mostly because the plot for the second book was given away by an episode of the TV series. I liked how the book handled werewolves much better than the clichés the TV series used but I couldn’t enjoy the book fully. By the time I read the third book, my interest was back. The fourth book, I was hooked! And since then I’ve been rushing through one book after another, always eager to find out what happens next.

The best thing about the Dresden Files is how intricately they are plotted. While each book is a story in its own right, it also advances a much bigger, overall story arc. This wasn’t as evident in the early books but now into the middle of the series with book ten, it is well-and firmly established that these things are all leading up to what we hope will be a very satisfying culmination.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that each and every book seems to pit Harry against bigger and more stronger opponents than before. It’s almost as if Harry is being trained to go up against the biggest opponent you can think of in the final book and these are simply to get him trained both mentally and physically to meet that challenge.

And of course, Harry’s friends are a topic unto itself. Each character has been fleshed out and expanded upon over the course of several books. Some of them have started out as really negative characters who have over the course of time have become much more morally ambiguous. Others have always been what they started out as but have still managed to show different facets as the journey progressed. And that probably is the biggest reason for enjoying the books – the journey itself, the things you learn about people (and about yourself) as you read these books.

If you’re into fantasy or crime noir (or both), the Dresden Files will prove to be well worth the read if you stick with it past book four or five 🙂

May 9, 2008

Fever Dreams

Apparently, dengue and Chikungunya are sweeping through Colombo these days. Being the reclusive people we are, we haven’t been out much nor do we read newspapers or watch/listen to the news. So we really wouldn’t have known about any of this unless both of us hadn’t been struck down by what seems to have the symptoms of one or the other. But then again, Chikungunya has symptoms similar to dengue, so it’s all the same boat anyway 🙂

Anyway, the fever’s still around, nipping at us from time to time like a guerilla force 🙂 Nothing much we can do except to hope we can last out the attack. But one of the more … umm … interesting is not the right word here but I guess it will have to suffice, aspects of the whole experience was the dreams.

The first day of fever, the dream was line of HTML. Yes, I’m not kidding. I would have this one single line of HTML code (or text on a web page, I’m not sure now …) and it would keep repeating and looping through my mind over, and over and over and over, like a hamster at its wheel. I would have thoughts flashing through my mind at the same time in a sequence similar to this:
It’s coming off the default web page!
All I need to do is change the default web page and the text will change!
But where is the web server in my mind?

And that of course, was the real question. Where is the web server of your mind? 🙂

The second day, it got a little more complex. From one line of text, we moved on to a whole book. I had been reading Neil Gaiman‘s Stardust during the hours when I was awake and when I slept, the novel transformed in my mind. The protagonist somehow received the ability to create illustrations which were alive and he in turn illustrated the scenes in the book so that the words were replaced by living, moving images. The dreams this time were of the text turning to images over and over and over and if that wasn’t torture enough, even in my dream, I was questioning the logic of the dream 🙂

I was wondering how the story could stay true to how it was written if the illustrations were alive. What if a character stepped out of the scene – how could the story be told properly? And if all the characters were fixed in space, but are alive, would they grow old? And if they did, would that not ruin the story for later readers who would find an older man carrying out the actions of a teenage boy? And if the images were fixed both in space and time, then was there justification for calling them "alive"? As you can see, I create most of my own trouble 🙂

The third day of dreams was more scattered. It wasn’t as repetitive though it still involved quite a bit of computers, blogging, and so on. So it might simply be that whatever I did during the day has a direct bearing on the dreams that I had. I just wish that I didn’t have to have the same dream endlessly repeated. That’s no fun and I tell ya, it’s exhausting!

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Posted by Fahim at 7:03 am  |  3 Comments

May 6, 2008

Sick!

Yes, I’m sick. Not the sick in the head kind but the joint-aching, head-achy, whiny, complainy kind of sick. So I probably won’t get back to the blog (or to the All Things Art and Good series) for a while. Unless I buy the big one, in which case, you’ll just have to be left in suspense :p

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Posted by Fahim at 4:54 pm  |  No Comments

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