Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Shloka

अश्वं नैव गजं नैव व्याघ्रं नैव च नैव च अजापुत्रं बलिं दद्यात् देवो दुर्बलघातकः

Not a horse, not an elephant, and never a tiger. It is the son of a goat that is sacrificed. Even the Gods are against the weak.

A Shloka I came across on my wanderings. Of course the interpretation of these things is always a subjective issue but I like to look at it as a subtle agnostic snub.

Right now I have no idea which text it is from. Help would be appreciated and acknowledged.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Unwaba Revelations - A Review

I rarely review books or movies because I am sure that there are other people who do. But in my wanderings on the great www I did not come across a decent review of the "The Unwaba Revelations" therefore this post is born.

Before I start this I must confess that I have not read the first two novels. But I did not think that it mattered because novels even if they are part of trilogy must be enjoyable on their own without resorting to what happened before. I wonder if this was a factor is my actually enjoying the book only half way through it when I had managed to get ravains, vamans, asurs, humans and other myriad life forms that inhabit the book sorted out in my head.

I started reading it with a lot of expectations, considering reviews on the net and all that though I must confess that Samit Basu’s state-mate’s brushes with science fiction one of which produced the Calcutta Chromosome should have made me wary but nevertheless in the quest for fiction that is based in my reality and not Central Park, contemporary London or post WWII Jewish Boston, hope springs eternal from the human breast.

I was hooked from the first page when not only was Aishwarya(Rai?) was compared to a duck but she was also given a species name. (Viduci olwwasysac – Why does she always ask?) My favorite is the Kaos butterflies used by Kol(get it?) to defend itself against enemies, which can create thunderstorms by flapping their wings. (Get it? Get it?) Some other allusions that I came across. - Regal Eagles(?), Streakers in Central Kol Park. (Quite obvious), Free States (USA!) ,Xi’en (China?) [Oook tells me that the Kaos butterflies bit is borrowed from Terry Pratchett.]

Yes "The Umwaba Revelations" is chock full of these weird references. Some of which I am sure I did not get. Though two friends tried to convince me that forest Ekyavan whose leader pretends to sleep but is actually meditating is a reference to Vaijpayee. But in retrospect it might be referring to Area 51 as later in the novel some fancy alien ships are found there.

An interesting new literary device the single paragraphed conversation between two people was original. Sly references to Mumbai in the form of Bolvudis(Get it?), which I applauded. The hero(Kirin) who prefers sex to saving the world and outwits the gods by mere argument I liked.

At some places his language seems strained and sometimes too much of a college cliché especially the conversations between Maya and Kirin. A little cutting and snipping would have made it perfect. Towards the end the complex battle scenes had my head reeling and wondering when it would all end. There are a lot of names common between the people he acknowledges and some characters in the book. I wonder if they are in-jokes. That would be poor taste.

I went in looking for a book that would represent our cultures our inflences in a sartorial way like Terry Pratchett. (the Gods here so speak like Death from Terry Pratchett - ALL IN CAPS.) I was slightly dissapointed but still it is a great effort overall - perhaps I enjoyed it a little bit more because reading of said book was punctuated by the reviewer meeting with the author at a book lauch where he most graciously returned her pen after signing her book (the high moral standards thus displayed had impartial reviewer swooning.) Now if only he wrote a novel about a great city named Mum with meandering roads by the sea where great rains come once a year and a cold wave paralyses the city’s denizens, then I shall deify him.