Lord of the Rings Day

Here’s wishing you a Happy Lord of the Rings Day! (Previous editions: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014.) On this day in the book, Frodo, Sam and Smeagol (with help from Gandalf, Aragon, Gimli, Legolas, Faramir, Eowyn, Theoden, Eomer, Treebeard and the Ents, Meriadoc, Peregrin, Galadriel, Arwen and many, many others) destroyed the One Ring inContinue reading “Lord of the Rings Day”

Some good books I read recently

Since January 2020 Read Lady Death: The Memoirs of Stalin’s Sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko Every Creature Has a Story, Janaki Lenin The Writing Life, Annie Dillard Half-Life: The Divided Life of Bruno Pontecorvo, Physicist, Frank Close Shoes of the Dead, Kota Neelima The Overstory, Richard Powers Wild and Wilful, Neha Sinha Difficult Women: A History ofContinue reading “Some good books I read recently”

Lord of the Rings Day

A happy Lord of the Rings Day to you! (Previous editions: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014) Every year I pen a commemorative piece about Lord of the Rings, and share something about the books and films that I think about nearly every day week. This year, I don’t have the strength, thanks to the workloadContinue reading “Lord of the Rings Day”

The calculus of creative discipline

Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over world-building. World-building is dull. World-building literalises the urge to invent. World-building gives an unnecessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). World-building numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that itContinue reading “The calculus of creative discipline”

Hard sci-fi

Come November, I will be at the Bangalore Literary Festival in conversation with Sri Lankan sci-fi author Navin Weeraratne. I am told Navin – “like you,” according to one of the organisers – is a proponent of hard sci-fi, the science fiction subgenre that draws upon legitimate scientific ideas and principles. A less obsessive readerContinue reading “Hard sci-fi”

Happy Lord of the Rings Day!

The Malazan Book of the Fallen fantasy series exhibited a rabid yet desirable iconoclasm, through which its author Steven Erikson elucidated every trope of epic fantasy and then shit on it. I came out of reading the series feeling like nothing could surprise me anymore except some other Erikson fare. The man himself might notContinue reading “Happy Lord of the Rings Day!”

'Mantra sciences' is just poor fantasy

I don’t know how the author of a piece in the Times of India managed to keep a straight face when introducing a school based on Vedic rituals that would “show the way” to curing diseases like cancer. Even the more honest scientific studies that are regularly accompanied by press releases proclaiming “the paper isContinue reading “'Mantra sciences' is just poor fantasy”

‘Mantra sciences’ is just poor fantasy

I don’t know how the author of a piece in the Times of India managed to keep a straight face when introducing a school based on Vedic rituals that would “show the way” to curing diseases like cancer. Even the more honest scientific studies that are regularly accompanied by press releases proclaiming “the paper isContinue reading “‘Mantra sciences’ is just poor fantasy”

The neuroscience of how you enter your fantasy-realms

If you grew up reading Harry Potter (or Lord of the Rings, as the case may be), chances are you’d have liked to move to the world of Hogwarts (or Middle Earth), and spent time play-acting scenes in your head as if you were in them. This way of enjoying fiction isn’t uncommon. On theContinue reading “The neuroscience of how you enter your fantasy-realms”