Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel.W.Drezner

41Iz6VvALgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I have learned a great deal about Zombies; wish I could say the same about International Politics.

Intention behind reading this book, and the book as well, was to make International Political theories interesting for a casual reader, under the pretext of hypothetical apocalypse involving flesh-eating ghouls. Author demonstrates rigorous scholarship in defining zombies, using movies and social science literature as data source on events akin to an attack of the undead: pandemics, disasters, bioterrorism, and so forth. Book then proceeds with variegated predictions of different international relation theories at the wake of outbreak, with references and footnotes from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead to World War Z, which had me fuming with pride over my reading choice.

Author tries his level best in using contemporary movies like Shawn of the Dead and Resident Evil as reference material. But he easily falls short on the same and ends up finding solace in George Romero flicks, which readers of my age might not easily relate with. As for political theories, zombie contagion is considered with cross-border relations, military tactics, evacuation logistics, refugee policies, homeland security measures and all other jargons that you can include in etceteras. Though the book discusses psychological response quite well, things turned a bit apprehensive with responses from anarchist, realist, liberalist, neo-conservatalist, constructivist povs in domestic and international scene.

International politics and zombiesZombie culture has got this infesting nature much like zombies themselves, from Fallout to Call of Duty to Pride and Prejudice, which make it an ideal parable premise to go cold turkey on complex theories. But even with such an ambitious theme, this is just another non-fiction book, trying its level best to look cool.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Obligatory Buddha and Bodhi tree picture, book has got very little to do with the enlightened one though.

This is like going to theaters for Star Wars, and getting stuck with the origin story of Jar Jar. Or I might have completely missed the point of this widely favoured work.

To me, Siddhartha(highly misleading title) was the embodiment of platitudes I’ve been overexposed to – the occident fixation on nirvana, self discovery, obsession with Om, asceticism and enlightenment.

I found, Siddhartha(not Buddha) as one classic lethargic intelligent, privileged to have born in an upper class rich family. In his selfish narcissistic pursuit for enlightenment, he conveniently chooses to ignore every obligation he has with life and loved ones; from which he eventually graduates to exploiting the extra niceties of hard working folks around, by portraying himself as the wise brahmin whom every one shall respect and care for. Author then calls for sympathy towards protagonist’s so called material sufferings, by products of his own previous negligence or karma if you ask me, on grounds of monistic philosophy of Atman and Brahman, and cycle of Samsara; I simply couldn’t align myself with that. In fact he was the proverbial silver spoon kid all along, self venerated and diplomatically renouncing though.

Maybe, if I wasn’t raised among these pursuit of happiness, self realization, meaning of life stories or If the newfound wisdom of Sakyamunis and Buddha were exotic to the society I belong to, Hesse’s masterpiece might have managed to evoke amazement or at least amusement for that matter.

Extra star for keeping it short.

Rescue Party by Arthur C Clarke


This is the upside down version of almost all alien exploration stories out there; for one, we are the exotic mysterious civilization, the aliens of this story are interested in.

Wikipedia lists this not-so-short short, as the first published work by Arthur C Clarke, Astounding Science Fiction May 1947, a fitting trailer for the vision and imagination that was to follow. In Rescue Party’s fictional universe, there seems to be a confederation of star civilizations and god like beings who orchestrate and control the happenings of explored universe. On the onset of a Supernova explosion, Sun in this case, these Lantern Guardians like beings, Alverons as they are known, sends a convoy to rescue or preserve newly discovered Earth’s civilization. Anything more than this would be an overshare at this point. Absolutely loved the pace of the story, the universe and races built in the limitation of words, psychology and mystery of exploration, along with the open ending bonus tease. If there was an option to add review title in goodreads, I would definitely have gone with ‘Rendezvous with Earth’ as a homage for Clarke’s (well, mostly Clarke’s) Rama series.

According to internet legends, Clarke abstained himself from re reading his early published works, for the fear of realizing how little he had improved over years. I must say, something near perfect doesn’t leave you much room for improvement.

On the duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?

thoreau-disobeyEven at the known risk of getting branded as a boring old uncle, I must admit into finding this essay fascinatingly metal. It was from some gandhian readings that I got introduced into this venerated magnum opus whose relevance transcends over centuries(also freely available on internet). Mahatma Gandhi has undoubtedly elevated Thoreau’s duty of Civil Disobedience from the level of individual consciousness to the ethics of a collective, during his Non-Violence movement.

A weak historic background might look something like this- Then president of United States was a demagogue(not demogorgon), and Thoreau belonged to the meager minority, who were morally troubled by the Government policies on slavery and Mexican war. So when asked, he refuses to pay State tax, as, according to him, giving allegiance to an invading war waging State is against his consciousness. Anyway, Tax was as certain as death even then, as it is now, and fractious Thoreau was put behind bars for withholding the same. Well, he continued being metal by welcoming the jail – ‘Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison’, and writing a whole essay in that direction. Thoreau was really thorough with his ideas, pun intended.

In this essay, he severely criticizes political passivism, and those who escape under the argument of not knowing what to do. Then followed portions I wasn’t able to completely comprehend except for the seemingly subtle yet lurid difference between what is right by law and what is just. Though the most obvious and convenient illustration to understand Civil Disobedient argument would be the recent Trump government, I urge readers to hyphenate the philosophy with one’s personal, more accessible demurs.

I am heavily under resourced to review this, but what amuses me is the relevance of this essay in today as well as the course of history it has been preserved along. It is highly difficult to register your opinion these days without being branded into the prejudiced categories everyone seems so eager to fit in.

an entirely random irrelevant image of demo-gorgon to masquerade from uncoolness

Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers by Lawrence Watt-Evans

1931778This story and Coherence movie could greatly complement each other,though the latter one offers more thrill and grittiness to the concept.

In this first person narrative, a young man from the countryside shares with readers, his strange experiences at Harry’s all-nighter, where he worked his teenage days off. Harry’s All night Hamburgers could be considered as a Way Station, unlike Simak’s Intergalactic one, this version works on Interdimensional platform. Narrator encounters strange beings, multiple versions of same person and is occasionally seduced by the possibility of being an Interdimensional travel bug.

Most striking fact about this story is, that even in its pompous setting of parallel universes and wanderlust, it is essentially a pleasant travel motivation short. And the feelings I am left with, after the read, goes something like this.

I should make it to Banaras at least this year :).

full text available here for free read


The Crystal Spheres by David Brin

In this Hugo winning short story, David Brin looks back into our modern history to postulate a probable, though completely fictional explanation to Fermi Paradox. His interesting yet unclear universe includes Crystal Spheres – invisible envelopes, around every galaxy. Unlike the usual sci-fi route of metaphysical arguments, Brin’s Crystal Spheres are completely materialistic with seemingly protective intentions – like Kandor in Fortress of Solitude or dust cloud surrounding planet Krikkit in Hitchhikers.

Background of the story involves futuristic Earth with Interstellar travel and deep space dwellers,and Milky Way with ‘broken by accident’ Crystal Sphere. What troubles me is the entire breakage of so called gargantuan envelope in one single impact, whose physics and existence are completely unfathomable. God would have been like, ‘I need to shield every universe from each other, lets get the most brittle material for that’. Anyway, since then, humans were on an active SETI mission that ends in one solid clincher- unbreakable Crystal Spheres enveloping other universes. At the wake of the novella, a deep spacer is called for duty , on discovery of a broken Crystal Sphere, which could be humanity’s First Contact, and bright answer to many disappointing frustrated years.

cnhBrins argument actually aligns with the progressive Segan thought (aliens exists) and the relatively hegemonic yet pessimistic Hart- Tipler (where are they if they do exist) thought. Though fascinating and full of imagination, story didn’t work well with my rigid mind.

  • Included in The River of Time, collection, 1994, Bantam Spectra.
  • A well read audio version is available under this link starshipsofa


There were few things I couldn’t get my head around. Unnecessary word building, the whole idea of fixing cosmic stuff as Shards from Crystal Spheres and the voting out of night from Earth(?) would be a few. Also the incentive of meeting intelligent life seems far less convincing for suspended animation (or stuff) of a whole civilization (Natarals),since it practically bookends progress, leaving them inferior to the very intelligent life they seek so badly for.

The 43 Antarean Dynasties by Mike Resnick

Capture.JPGIn this Hugo winning short, Author intertwines the once glorious history of erstwhile Antarean Intergalactic dynasty and a guided tour happening in present through it’s remains. And a reader could relate with both sides, whether it’s the proud erudite romantic tourist guide, who is forced to chuck his pride and knowledge to make a living, or yokel earth tourists, keen only on the boasting rights and instagramming part of sight seeing.

Coincidentally I’ve been doing some readings on per-independent India and British Raj, while I came across the 43 Antarean Dynasties. Though panning over an Intergalactic scale, this story helped me understand the asymmetrical cultural shock and post colonial attitudes between the Orient and Occident, far better than any historical texts. Highly recommend.

“What is obscene to one being is simply boring to another”

A far better analysis can be found here, along with the free text to complete story