On short stories and their magnetic properties

Two days back, after replenishing all sorts of entertainment, viz. Netflix (finished Heist, Never have I ever), XBOX (AC4 Black flag), getting bored of all the Zuckerberg’s digital toys, I ended up with a book, Fifty short stories.

50 Greatest Short Stories by Terry O'Brien


Now having been studying ICSE boards in India, I was exposed to a myriad of good literature since class 7th. We had the English literature book called Figments of imagination, and which had all the best short stories. The last leaf, Maupassant’s the Diamond Necklace, Chekhov’s The bet, Wilde’s the model millionaire. As one friend recently tweeted me about the rocking horse winner, these short stories take us back into descriptive prose, where one drowns in the surroundings, painting that vivid imagery as if under hypnotism of words.
I remember feverishly finishing all of the short stories from Arthur Conan Doyle, and O’Henry. I purchased Guy De Maupassant’s :” The Dark Side: Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. It was a collection of 31 supernatural short stories and quite intriguing to a teenage mind.

I finished one called “The Blind Man” yesterday, and another called the Fly. Both were pretty intense and now I am looking forward to other ones. Probably as a tribute to these authors, I will paste their pictures here or not.

But do tell me about your favourite short stories ?


figments of imagination.png

Book Review – The Gone World

the gone world

“The totality of human endeavor is nothing when set against the stars.”
― Tom Sweterlitsch

Frankly, I picked this one up after watching ‘Tenet’ trailer, someone on Reddit mentioned that Tenet is loosely based on this one. Although now I realized it’s Neill Blomkamp – District 9, Elysium director – is making a movie out of this novel. Also, it has been a while since I read a good sci-fi! I have been delving into fiction and the magical world of Neil Gaiman mostly. Or writing them essays for the last two months or so.
The novel centers around Shannon Moss, who is an investigating agent for NCIS. The navy research wing has advanced engineering and few selected agents can travel through time. They do so only for the most complex of cases. Shannon is investigating a homicide, which turns out to be one of the links of the long chain of criminal activity. But the thread that ties the whole story is how each IFT (Inadmissible Future Trajectory) and present world of the year 1997 (called Terra Firma ) has been spun together to weave a complex and twisty timeline.

The book stands true to its review – “I promise you have never read a story like this.” and “True detective meets Inception”. Often at times though it felt a bit gruesome when murder scenes were being described. But once you get over those, the book is one you would be talking about and probably recommending it, vehemently, to your fellow book readers. Yes, I did already 😉

As with all-time travel movies or books, the moment it ends you want to reread it and see if every jigsaw falls into its place, so probably I would read it again soon. (Or just wait for M. to finish it and then we can discuss it).

In an interview, the author, Tom Sweterlitsch,  mentioned that

“Brandt and Lomonaco, the scientists in the gone world who are credited with the creation of the time travel engine. Dr. Brandt, in real life, is my father-in-law, a brilliant theoretical physicist who was a pioneer in quantum computing and quantum cryptography for the Department of Defense. His longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Lomonaco, is a mathematician specializing in Knot Theory.”

Also, the novel has a fair bit of horror elements. Tom did mention those. The genre is called Lovecraftian Horror.

when I started The Gone World. My first conception of the book was “NCIS plus Battlestar Galactica plus time travel.” The horror elements came a little later, though I think horror is a natural outgrowth of the things I was writing about.

For the interested, the actual links for time travel and quantum related terminology are in the references.

The book stands true to its review – “I promise you have never read a story like this.” and “True detective meets Inception”. Often at times though it felt a bit gruesome when murder scenes were being described. But once you get over those, the book is one you would be talking about and probably recommending it, vehemently, to your fellow book readers. Yes, I did already 😉

As with all-time travel movies or books, the moment it ends you want to reread it and see if every jigsaw falls into its place, so probably I would read it again soon. (Or just wait for M. to finish it and then we can discuss it).

But prepare to be awed by time-traveling agent and anti-heroes trying to save the earth from its future demise, characters strong-headed yet delusional, and elements of intense science fiction. I was blown away by the plot, and how simple yet efficiently the premise of time travel was explained. I would say this one is my favorite sci-fi novel now, (truth be told I haven’t read a lot – time machine, War of the worlds, 20000 leagues under the sea). Now that I googled, I gotta read 1984, Neuromancer, Fahrenheit 451, Asimov’s or The Martian (I was browsing at a bookstore at NUS, selling it for only $5 ) Pheww or I can just read the Nebula award winners.


  1. Time Travel Terminologies
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_foam
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect
    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Brandt
  2. https://medium.com/adjacent-possible/q-a-with-tom-sweterlitsch-author-of-the-gone-world-69f8bd4f34e0
  3. NCIS
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Criminal_Investigative_Service
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovecraftian_horror

Book Review-“Neverwhere”

It had been a long long time since I dwelled into good old fantasy fiction, filled with mystery and magic where surreal worlds met. Like Hogwarts meeting the real London, or Shire meeting Mount Doom. I asked one, my friend, to gift me  “Neverwhere” as a birthday present. Having read celestial bodies, I was in the fast reading-zone, in the flow and delved right into it like a hungry reader. And once you start it, Neverwhere grips you and it is simply unputdownable.

Neverwhere is set in London, and it revolves around upper and lower London. Lower London being the Neverwhere. Our protagonist – Richard meets by deus ex machina, Lady Door, he helps her and falls deep into the lower London. A world which is filled with dangers at every step, and runs parallel in kind of alternate old dimension to our modern London. Now our Lady Door is being pursued by killers – Mr. Croupe & Mr. Vandemar. Neil Gaiman paints the picture of a weak hero, and strong villain duo, who have been assassins for centuries now.
““There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar’s eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelry; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing at all alike.”

Neverwhere was a companion novelization written by Neil Gaiman. The novel was a great success while the television adaption was not so well received. It follows the journey of Richard and Door through the dark and dangerous London. They are helped by Marquis De Carabas and Hunter while being chased by Croup & Vandemar. I love the way Gaiman builds up the anxiety arousing universe and yet charming. The reader is drawn into this universe like a fly to an incandescent bulb.

I won’t be going into details of the plot, but once you are done with the book you have BBC Tv series waiting for you. (Update: it’s not good, I fast-forwarded through it. Pheww. Unless you want to see how bad television shows were in 1996.)


And now I wonder which should be my next Neil Gaiman’s book?



Book review : “Celestial Bodies”

Truth be told I picked this up at an airport bookstore, overpowered by the confirmation bias –  “A Booker prize winner!! Whoa!!”

( Take one look at my bookshelf and you would know that why confirmation bias is a bias ! There are at least 3-4 booker prize winners waiting for their turn to be acknowledged, or scrolled past their first few chapters, forever looming in the limbo like Leonardo did in Inception.)

Yet this one I finished, and that too within 3-4 weeks. So yay ! The-one-which-escaped-the-limbo and lived upto it’s bias. Congratulations Jokha Alharti for writing this gem.
Celestial Bodies has an interesting, intricate and intelligent plot set in a village in Al-Awafi, Oman, and it oscillates timelessly between three generations of a merchant family. Primarily focused on three sisters and their life and their marriage. The book is been intricately written memoir from viewpoint of various characters, and it bounds you to the story like a fluidly flowing sitcom plot. Few episodes and you feel for the characters- Mayya, Asma and Khawla.
It was my first book from Gulf ( you can count close neighbor Turkey if you include Orhan Pamuk’s writings) and the reason why it became more interesting like a documentary drama running on NatGeo, telling about the life in a Oman village, the culture the people, how they evolved through last few decades. The whole narrative weaves an intricate carpet of emotions from a first-person and third person’s viewpoint. Although in the beginning, the non-linear literary locus of characters is a bit difficult to follow(and that’s where readers leave seemingly difficult bookers may be ?) the story grows over you slowly- layers upon layers – like a rich caramel cake of alphabets.
Try it and you will not be disappointed if you love good old fiction with experimental storylines and peek into the world of Gulf across three family generations.img_3563



 It was a pleasant surprise. The life was rushing through fast paced with no respite, there were corporate start-up deadlines, customer meetings, overseas trip, jet-lag, body-clock revolting with insomnia and amidst all this I chanced upon the fb post by Prof Taleb, and lets just say it was too…black swanish…to be true. He was planning an informal meeting over coffee, and that to in NUS.

I used the old management trick of delegating,  and took off with a colleague. There was already a small crowd at the Italian joint sprawled around Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
– lets talk about ideas

This was going to be fun !! There were folks discussing his new book anti-fragile, trading and losses, working out, diabetes,  brilliant academics and seemingly brilliant but stupid academics.

Non-profit organisations
– non profits are tricky, for a profitable organisation at least everyone knows that this chap wants to make profit, but non profit…Non profit idea is you feel good, but real non profit organisations are banks


-Heuristics are important. Simple heuristics will be able to answer most of the questions,
When someone gets married, guy has to buy diamond. Its not because lady likes diamonds, but then buying diamond is like commiting. Its like company building offices in a region , its kind of saying we are here to stay

Speciality and diabetes

Male lion does nothing, but kills other lion and female lion is one doing hunting, also small lion hunt. Its about your specialty.
You overeat, then made to under eat, then eat frequently.
Diabetes – every overweight person is said to be diabetes, not every but largely. Usually we know that overweight causes diabetes. You go to Siberia, loose weight, and you still have diabetes. You gotta challenge the premise every time.

Programming –
Some people can connect dots,whole idea of thinking outside the box is crap. Its probably some management professor propagation. Mgmt prof are just mgmt prof, so they can teach nothing but what has been made up by other prof, and add onto it, which is not very good.

Academia –
you are judged by number of publications you have, no matter how bullshit it is. Any field insiders know what is bullshit, and there are many who dont deserve the plaudits they are bestowed it.

This was only the tip of teh iceberg, and now since am already reading the book Antifragile, so you all gotta wait for it to be finished and then we can say that this post will be complete. Until then…


The last song of Dusk

It remained incomplete even though Author gave an acknowledgement. It was like as a child, me and my sister, waited for “the end” sprawled across screen, which denoted end of movie.

I was reeling in logical, technical world for too long, and needed a break, and yes “the last song of dusk” provided just that. (and for the record lets just say ,I stumbled upon it providently.) Dabbed in emotions and love, it was the missing piece of jigsaw. Like I was discussing with a friend, no one captures emotions and moods better than Indian artists, be it bollywood, art ot novel writing, last s.o.d. is perfect example. Siddharth Sanghvi does that again on behalf of India. (may be it my roots have to blamed, whereby I can correlate much better with a good Indian writer, not someone like Mr. Chetan,please !) Although yes there were few moments which were over dramatic like some Indian SOAP, and some equally improbable, but writer is writer. Sab maaf.

It captures the imagination vividly, with flowing words and alphabets. Set in pre independence era of India, it captures life of Anuradha. I would not say it is a tragedy, but rather an averted tragedy. And with poetry of Yeats coming in time after time, who would mind not delving in this.  Which means I am onto the next novel of Snaghvi, which is…umm… ek min…last flamingoes o.B.  Thanks to google , and not so much thanks to my university library portal which says “No catalog results found. Did you mean: the ferns of bombay? ” Dafuq !!Anyways it is someone opportunity for a b’day gift.

I should reiterate that am still not fit to write reviews, I always get careen away. One day, until some starts paying me off for writing reviews. May be. Until that day I will try to find/give words to feelings after finishing a masterpiece.

And last words to the Irishman

When you are old and grey and full of sleep, 
And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

– from “When You Are Old” by WB Yeats

Amnesia for words :|

It isnt usually like this. Writers know that writing is their best fall back, but then taking a gap of 80 days to scribble something. It very well might be my longest gap. The inequities of fight between right and left brain is to be blamed.

I dont even gather how last days have been, yes ms got finished, gave exams amidst an ongoing internship, and then founders institute came in. It has been a rush, a mad rush. So all I can think for a post is a weekly chronicle. Not done dude !!

loading <Afflatus>…

I may write about Steve Jobs biography that I am halfway through, that yes Jobs was a asshole, and a sucker for his artistic taste, which made Apple so unique. Or the joy of seeing particle accelerator other day, it was a sheer eloquence of science. And then there is an infinite gyaan to be ushered on entrepreneurship, technopreneurship and startups. Behold. It is like pulling words from a tug-of-war with, well Hercules.

Or may be I should start delving on what is next from Ishiguro I should delve in? Or shall it be ‘the last song of dusk’, atleast the writing seems to be good. “but always listen to your balls”. Reminds me of Upamanyu Chatterjee. A customary visit to my table will reveal that I have nothing to read, except Mr Jobs, Ulysses – which I am always afraid to start, whether I will be able to do justice to the elegance of this masterpiece. And then ofcourse there is Startup Weekend, TI datasheets. <stop> And what the heck is DBC Pierre doing these days, cant he write something new 😐

May be I need another day or two of silence, away from world wide web or something. Or may be you can just concentrate here, instead of calling shenanigans. Oh so you google writers block, and get…

The only light came from the kitchen sink from the hall, it was rebellious and wanted to tear apart the dark and photon-derelict ambiance that the protagonist aimed to create. On the brighter side it created silhouette and shadows which gave a queer sense of belonging and he was lost in words.

He has been lying there on couch since morning, how could someone have missed him?  He frantically searched around on internet, and got some snippets for those lost at words.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start [writing]. After that, things can only get better.” – Stephen King
“Well, yes this has some logic”, and he rolled over his post to reconfirm. He wished to sign off from the post with a red marker, on a white board, when the smell of it intoxicates the owner for few milliseconds, and he stays in that transcendental trance state. The quick flex of metacarpals, <or is it metatarsal, some one from medical >and flourish of ego, and comes the signature. Too bad these stupid wordprocessors and online blogs dont have this.
So yes I sign off in less dramatic way with someone called Norman Mailer
“Writer’s block … is simply a failure of ego.”   Let me get my ego succeed and I will be back.

PS: For improved relevance replace writer with blogger, writing with blogging

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