I didn’t do much reading in October and November 2023. In December, I started reading again.
Paradise and other short stories is a bit different from other Khushwant Singh books. As in, they are not personal stories about his life, but short stories with the themes of sex and religious superstition. I really enjoyed it and half-way through also realised that I had already read it before, years ago.
I have been following Niall Harbison on social media for quite some time and donating to his dog rescue efforts. When I saw that he has released a book about dogs, I eagerly bought it. Interestingly, the book is not directly about dogs. Instead, Niall first goes through how toxic his life was and how dogs turned it around.
After this, I started Liu Cixin‘s The Three-Body Problem, a trilogy spanning millions of years. It is well written and entertaining, although, being a Chinese sci-fi, it overestimates the importance of China in the global order.
It was good enough for me to move on to the next book in the series, The Dark Forest, which was slightly better than the first part.
But the best book in the series was Death’s End. 2 things stand out :
The description of how 3 dimensional beings perceive 3 dimensional objects in the fourth dimension. This part is so well done, I read it twice.
The way Yun Tianming tells three stories to Cheng Xin to give her clues without alerting the Trisolarans is genius.
Wandering Earth is the name of a short story. But also the name of a book with a collection of other short stories. I found them immensely enjoyable. Unlike Ted Chiang, Liu Cixin‘s stories are centred around China with Chinese people as main characters. The stories are too good, I must write a bit about each of them individually.
The Wandering Earth – This story is about the Sun eventually going supernova and humanity’s plan to move the earth to Proxima Centauri.
Mountain – This story is about an alien spaceship visiting earth and how one man climbed a water mountain to speak with them.
Sun of China – This story is about China constructing an artificial reflector in space to engineer their climate and a group of mere window-cleaners who maintain it.
For the benefit of mankind – This story is about an assassin going about his business while an alien race is on the cusp of invading humanity.
Curse 5.0 – This story is about a jilted lover unleashing a harmless computer virus to insult her ex. And how a bunch of drunk homeless people accidentally modify it to destroy humanity.
The Micro-Era – This story is about how humanity genetically engineers themselves to microscopic size to escape annihilation. And a macro-human who was in space for decades’s encounter with them.
Devourer – This story is about spacefaring dinosaurs coming back to earth to take humans with them and raise them for livestock.
Taking Care of Gods – This story is about the gods returning to earth and how the earthlings treat them.
With her eyes – Cannot say anything about it without spoiling it.
Cannonball – A story of a Chinese scientist over decades of cryogenic sleep.
The Village Teacher – A story about a teacher’s dedication to his students and how that eventually saves the planet earth.
The Time Migration – Is a story about immigrants travelling through time to experience what becomes of humanity.
2018-04-01 – This is a story about humans editing their genes to age slower and live longer.
Fire in the Earth – This one is not actually Sci-Fi at all, but nonetheless a good story about mining reforms.
Contraction – Perhaps the most fascinating of them all. It is about the universe stopping its expansion and beginning the contraction phase.
Mirrors- This one is about someone inventing a supercomputer which can simulate everything since the Big Bang. It reminded me of the TV series Devs.
Ode to Joy – A bizarre story about an alien mirror arriving to the Milky Way to play an inter-galactic concert.
Full-Spectrum Barrage Jamming – A fascination story of war between NATO and Russia. Till the end you keep thinking “What does this have to do with Sci-Fi?” And then you realise.
Sea of Dreams – This one is about a low-temperature artist visiting earth and putting all of earth’s oceans in orbit.
Cloud of Poems – This one is about gods coming to the solar system and using its matter to write all combinations of Classical Chinese poetry possible.
The Thinker – Is about a doctor and an astronomer stumbling into a galaxy-spanning discovery and how they track it over decades.
After this, I started reading The Supernova Era, my first full-length novel from Liu Cixin. It is about all the adults on earth being killed by a Supernova and the children taking charge. Much of it was Chinese propaganda and well-known stereotypes. American children doing drugs, carrying guns and shooting each other, threatening to sue, impeaching their President, Britishers always delivering memos about everything. Similarly, the Japanese children have been depicted as blood-thirsty savages, their children eating a live whale.
Not willing to commit to another full-length novel, I started Twisted Planet Book One by a lesser-known author named Peter Schinkel. It contains many Sci-Fi short stories. I found them to be reminiscent of The Twilight Zone. My only gripe is that some of the stories were a bit too short. Like just a page.
No more Sci-Fi
I had enough of Sci-Fi by now, so I started reading On Love and Sex by Khushwant Singh. There was not much love in it, mostly sex. Lectures on sex, Khushwant’s first hand and second hand experiences. Like most Khushwant novels, it didn’t disappoint.
I probably won’t do much reading in October, because my parents are visiting and I have loads of TV shows to catch up on.
Due to an unavoidable personal situation, I didn’t read anything for the first 2 weeks of March. After that, craving something familiar, I started reading Khushwant Singh, although I had read all his novels already many years ago.
It was nice reading those familiar novels, once more. I really enjoy Khushwant’s writing style.
After that, Amazon recommended me Satyajit Ray. I read his “Another Dozen Stories” which was full of short stories. Some of the stories were feel good, whereas others were paranormal or bordering paranormal. Overall, I found the stories quite entertaining.
Knowing that I didn’t do much reading the last 2 months, I will try to do better going forward.