The Caves of Steel by Issac Asimov

caves-of-steelI always pictured Asimov’s Robot series with C-3PO robots and confronting humans from future.

Jumping Jehoshaphat!! How colossally wrong was I?

The Caves of Steel, in first look, even with all its futuristic contrivances, could be tagged as the grandfather of all those buddy detective action movies from Lethal Weapon to 21 JumpStreet. In second look, it felt more like Dick’s muse for Blade Runner, expect, here the detective is paired with a humanoid android capable of dreaming about all kinds of sheep. On a third and more civilized look, it is a metaphysical work unintentionally dealing with xenophobia, refugee crisis and neo-imperialism, while being a suspenseful detective science fiction at the same time.

I couldn’t help but compare the less understood universe of this novel with the one in ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ by PKD. A depressed yet brilliant(confused yet brilliant) police officer Deckard(Eliah) with a further depressed(confused and complex) wife, living in a future post-apocalyptic(agoraphobic) earth, is mixed up deep in an investigation involving Androids(Robots). They both live in Earth by choice as I remember and The Caves of Steel even suggests a ‘Voight-Kampff’ questionnaire of its own by the end.

bladerunnerAnti Robot sentiment, resentment and the growing sense of human superiority could be better understood If one attempt to read it along with neo-fascism and recent refugee crisis. The ‘medievalist’ conservatism under the allegory of Spacers and Earthmen, was Asimov predicting the rising demagogues and nationalists of his future and our present, not withstanding the strange premise and timing of prophecy. The dream for coexistence in C/Fe culture, the witty chemistry between Baley and R.Daneel, Biblical backstory of Elijah and Jezebel (quite complementing to the story if you ask me), solid investigation filled with red herrings entwined in classic sci fi, made my stealth library read worthwhile. I am even inclined to accuse Mission Impossible on stealing from this.

And climbing further up the weird ladder, ‘Jehoshaphat’ is my new favourite daily life expletive from now on.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

“You know when you find a book which is really really special and as you continue read it, it makes it even more obvious about its breathtaking, heartbreaking, profound magnificence and in that moment your mind divides and start feeling so many emotions- one part of your brain is advising you to slow it down because it’s a one in lifetime masterpiece so relish it slowly, let every word rings to every fabric of your soul, while the another part of your brain is so hyperventilating in an excitement to know what’s coming next, it forces you to skim read it and then there’s a whole separate part of your brain that had already started grieving and despairing for when it’ll end. In whirlpool of all these contrasting emotions as you’re going page after page, you realize you’re feeling a twinge of an unknown emotion; an emotion you have not felt in a long time while reading a book, you realize you are happy”.

Though I might not entirely resonate the same sentiments as of the person who recommended me this novel, which is given in her own words above, I wouldn’t​ hesitate to tag it as an exceptional read. In fact, this was a really beautiful book where, every word somehow mattered, like a slice of life anime, with beautiful post rock soundtrack, and no filler episodes.

Beartown is a secluded beautiful small town, where everyone lives and breaths Ice Hockey; it even carries a cold mystery around, the kind one might draw parallels with Twin Peaks, Wayward Pines, Riverdale or even Gravity Falls. The novel tells the story of the town, its people, their passion towards hockey and how an incident involving kids rocks brings the best and worst out of all. Author introduces the characters, develop them well enough, yet keep unfolding them as we proceed further in the read, like peeling onions. It feels very much like knowing people in real life, and the way characters were carved out, even to the most insignificant ones, made them lovable and unforgettable. He does this clever little trick with some sentences, repeating it further in the story, reminding the reader of previous instances, while intricately connecting them with the present.

Loved the subtlety by which this book addressed issues of love, dreams, loss, guilt, grief, violence and abuse, without directly referring to them. There were multiple scenes, simple usual everyday scenes, that made me go excited with adrenaline. And then there were scenes, simple usual everyday scenes, where I had to shut my copy down to take some fresh air, not just by the farrago of emotions, but the beauty in which they were depicted. Yeah, I had to punch a wall to feel manly again.

I went Kite Runner(finishing the book in shortest possible time to escape the feels) on this one, in two days this time, since my bare mind could barely contain Beartown. Its been 3 weeks and two books since, and I admit being haunted by its memories now and then. But the strangely beautiful part is, the memories, they all make me smile.