Monday, April 26, 2010

Ode to Sci-Fi

Reading has always been a very important part of my life, even when I think back as long as I can. Mom always used to say that all she had to do was hand me a book and I would be entertained for hours together. I read my first adult fiction in eighth grade and by the end of that year had devoured most of the usual fiction - Sidney Sheldon, Robin Cook and the like and since then have tried out pretty much all kinds of authors. But it was not until the last 5-6 years that I had the pleasure of reading Science fiction. Now I know that I usually put sci-fi and fantasy in the same category when I talk to people (read: non-believers) but to me they are completely different. Ever since I discovered the world of Sci-fi every other genre has pretty much paled in comparison (not fantasy of course - which is my second best and another topic close to my heart). It may seem weird, having read more mature book when I was younger, that I refuse to pick up any thing else now. Maybe it is because I came across sci-fi's so late in life that I have to go through an entire room - and mind you there are that many - before I can switch to something else. I do feel every now and then, when my friends advocate non-fiction and biographies that may be it is time to 'grow up' and read 'real stuff'. But, to me, Sci-fi books have offered every kind of life experience, politics, history that I ever need. Can anyone ever contradict me when I say that 'Dune' is one of the best learning grounds of politics? Is there any better philosopher than Orson Scott Card or even Asimov? But the problem with Sci-fi is that it is very hard to pass on the excitement to a non-initiate. How do you convince a 'realist' to accept for a minute that you can travel at light speed, just so you can explain to him the theories behind the 'eighth color' (Zimmermann - colors of space) or make someone understand that kelp can be sentient too (Herbert - Lazarus effect)? So, why am I rambling today, because I finally found another Orson Scott Card that I had not read. Ever since 'S' introduced me to Enders game (thank you for that!), I have loved Card's books. A lot of his fans are not very fond of the later sequels because they seem to ramble on and border the realm of fantasy, but I was fascinated - the fact that a gene sequence could remember and reproduce was amazing to me and it seemed so possible - can the flu virus not do exactly that? And now while reading Wyrms, I realize that he is really gifted. Card had dealt with the subject of sentience in so many different ways and so many times that I feel I am never going to be surprised if I ever come across a sentient species. Oh, I love Science fiction!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I recently came across this article that talks about the popularity of social games, especially the ones of Facebook like Farmville, Mafia wars etc. I know that almost everybody has played or knows someone who has played these games. Apparently 65million users play these games each month. Now, I know that most of us are tired of seeing Farmville updates pop up on our 'Recent news' page, just because one of our contacts has been playing it. I have been a part of many a conversation in which we all have complained about the stupidity of maintaining a virtual farm. But, the other day this got me thinking- which is never good - that what if all technology ended tomorrow. What if, white collar jobs as we know them stopped existing. What if we had to go back to a world where agriculture was the main form of sustenance. How many of us know how to plant a crop? Heck, how many of us even know what you can find on a farm. Well, the players of Farmville sure do! Virtual playing can nver be compared to a real world scenario, but if we had to go back to living on the land, I am hoping that these Farmville players can tell us what crops to grow when and what fertilizers to use and when to water the grains. Weak as it may sound, atleast this social game reminds the next generation that 'farms' were once the main source of family income. And thanks to Farmville, we know for sure that individual farms will not go extinct for a while, atleast not in the virtual world.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

April fool's day

When i first came to the US, almost 6 years ago, I was very amused by the fact that even corporates played pranks on people. It never ceased to amaze me that a company that makes money out of its customers can play tricks, especially because it was soooo frowned upon in India (Dad used to hate me playing any kind of pranks :( ).
Anyway, over the years, I have become a bit desensitized, because this year I have not fallen for any trick (yeayyy me!!)
Here are the usual ones:
Eric Shepherd from QuestionMark - it is a good one and surprising coming from an assessment company
Google Mobile
Engadget - i bet there are more, someone needs to comb the site :)
Google Mobile 2 
Johns Hopkins