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Friday, April 29, 2016

Author Interview : Richard Abbott, author of ‘Far from the Spaceports' (Part 1)

Read up, the first part of the Interview with Richard Abbott, author of 'Far from the Spaceports.' To come up, with a concept such as this is a brilliant matter, in itself. It might be all about space and AIs, yet it is not. There are so many sub-plots, and so much more to understand in this book, that you might just not ask, Scotty to Beam you up, after all, and instead ask Richard Abbott to Folks...  

How did ‘Far from the Spaceports’ happen? Could you describe the journey?

The journey actually began many years ago, on a family holiday when my son and I devised the title song for a competition on a wet day. A few of the words we made up are there in Chapter 3. 

So there the matter rested until many years later, on another holiday when I visited the Scilly Isles for the first time, I thought how atmospheric they were, and how perfect for storytelling. 

But rather than set it in the past, the idea collided with another interest of mine – artificial intelligence – and the story started to unfold. A bit of a winding track, I suppose, but it all made sense at the time!

How did you bring about the two main characters, Mitnash and Slate?

Well, I wanted a human at the centre of the book. But because human-machine relationships are key to the plot, I also wanted an AI there as well – a persona, as I call them in the book.
So, what more natural than to make them working partners, who provide a great deal of mutual support and reassurance as well as technical help. 

A lot of the book focuses on their emotional bond as well as the patterns of work. What would it be like to work with an AI as your partner?

What kind of research did you put in it?

Three kinds, really. First, I wanted to make the science bits plausible for where we might get to in another few years... I mean things like journey times, delays in sending messages around, and so on. How far in the future am I thinking? Maybe a hundred years, though I am deliberately vague about timescale.

Secondly, there were the financial details which, although a little exaggerated, do reflect some of the ways people try to deceive one another with money.
Scilly Isles in the UK. From Wiki
Finally, and most enjoyably, places on the (real) Scilly Isles here in the UK have found their way into the plot. These are a little disguised and changed, but are still recognisable. For example, there is a bar called Fraggle Rock, which in the story got changed to Frag Rockers. The owner of the real bar is not called Glyndwr!

What according to you is different about your book?

As you mentioned in your review, there are no space battles! I wanted to write something that reflects everyday life, plus something of a finance/crime mystery. 

I enjoy reading space opera with grand fleet battles, but I didn’t want to write a book like that.

Also, when many people write about space they jump straight to an interstellar empire of some kind, but I wanted to focus on something much closer at hand – there is no Star Trek style warp drive, no instantaneous communication, just the technologies we know, but up scaled a bit.

How would you relate the lives of characters to the lives today? Especially, today?

I think there are a lot of relevant themes in the story – financial fraud and hacking are, sadly, all too common today. We struggle already to defend against these without giving up too many of our liberties in the process. 

As and when we spread out to other parts of the solar system, there will be more places for criminals to hide, and they will find more creative ways to ‘trade’.
To protect against technically skilled attacks, we will need the same skills in defence – and we do need them already today. So, my lead characters have to be able to debug, hack into, and fix the systems they come across, and they usually have to act before any official approval can come through.

But outside tackling crime, my belief is that the patterns of human relationships – trust, liking, love, and their opposites – will stay the same wherever we spread and whoever we meet.

How did the entire sequence of events come about, especially the economic fraud in space and human settlers up there?

Well, in my day job I get to see how people today design computer systems and work processes to challenge fraud – or indeed to question actions, which are in fact legal, but are widely believed to be immoral, such as evading taxes by means of clever accountancy work. I didn’t particularly want to write about the present time, so I started imagining, how these themes might develop in the future. 

Neil Armstrong in 1969. From Wiki
Buzz Aldrin in 1969. From Wiki
As for settling other planets and moons, I have wanted to see this since watching the early Apollo space missions, when I was a child – I was 10 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, first walked on the Moon. 

I’d like to see some kind of human settlement away from the Earth in my lifetime – it’s great to hear about the people on the International Space Station, but it would be even better if the location was somewhere on another celestial body.

You can Buy the Book, here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Review : ‘Cometh the Hour’ by Jeffrey Archer (Part 6 of the Clifton Chronicles)

Jeffrey Archer’s penultimate novel, ‘Cometh the Hour’ brings the sixth of the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ to almost an end. But, it is not over yet. Harry Clifton’s family and friends are still trying to find the shore. There is more to it because there are a few more characters introduced, in the beginning itself.

It feels like a typical Hindi TV soap opera (Of course, it is minus the usual sounds). But you could imagine it. It starts off with a suicide note, which almost sounds like it is going to be the end of the legal proceedings. Will Emma Clifton who is in the middle of this mess, against Lady Virginia find a way out of this squabble?

Will Giles Barrinton manage to find his love, Karin in East Germany and bring her to England? Or will she turn out to be a spy? There was some soap opera style here, as well. Moving to the hero of this plot, Harry Clifton, who is working really hard to see that, the book of Soviet poet, Anatoly Babakov’s sees the light of day. He manages to get the contents of the book, using his photographic memory to the United States.

Meanwhile, Harry and Emma’s son, Sebastian Clifton falls for an Indian girl, Priya and travels to Bombay in the hope that he will marry her. The cover of the book is of the ‘Gateway of India’, which was built in the early 20th century. It shows a girl with a man, in a hurry to get somewhere. Enough to get me interested in the book. Unfortunately, this particular aspect of this story was not properly fleshed out.

And of course, there are all the aspects of Farthings Bank, where he is the chairman and his rivals pledged against him and his chairman, Hakim Bashira.

The other ‘soapy’ aspect is to do with Lady Virginia, who has run into financial troubles. She manages to get into a tryst with a twist with an American. He is Cyrus T Grant, who is in England, to follow the races. She manages to spend the night with him, and get a ring off him, as well. He rushes back to the US, in a hurry, but she travels all the way, behind him to land up at his wedding, with a ‘pregnant belly’. The shock is immutable, and this sub-plot was fairly unnecessary, I felt. Oh, and Margaret Thatcher and the politics too makes an appearance.

With so much and more, these legal squabbles, family relations in unexpected complications, politics with Giles Barrington in the middle of the whole thing, jealousy among lovers and business rivals, and of course, Emma Clifton with the additional healthcare and politics.

Whoa… Am just trying to find an end to this review, but it really isn’t there.
Jeffrey Archer
This book ends somewhere, in all these complications, with a wonderful twist and more to come for sure. Love, politics, conspiracy are only the sub-plots in this saga. Jeffrey Archer is finally working towards the end, and that much is obvious in this book.

I liked this book, and it was way better than his earlier volumes. The twists and turns were brilliant, though I felt that it did not do justice to its cover (in this case, of Bombay and the Gateway of India); if you ignore the cover, the book is fairly well etched out. Its ending, I hope will be as cool as this volume.Or even the first one, 'Only Time Will Tell'.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Author Interview : Kavita Kane, author of 'Menaka's Choice’ (Part 2)

Read up, the second part of Kavita Kane's Interview, with regard to 'Menaka's Choice'. In this, she tells us whether the storyline or characters took more precedence, what the most challenging part of writing the book was, how much of the story was based on reasearch/imaginiation and also gives us information on the next book, she has planned. She also tells us what she's reading currently, among others, Folks...
How do you think your book is different from everyone else’s?

Is it? I leave it to the readers.

Between your storyline and your characters, which takes precedence?

Kavita Kane

I work around a known or familiar storyline bringing to light characters often overlooked or buried in the huge narrative of the epics

I prefer giving these characters a voice.  

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

The last conversation between Vasishá¹­h and Vishwamitra.  Two intellectual giants interacting without a verbal duel was quite a task

How much of the story is based on and the research and how much is imagination?

The fact-fiction ratio keeps changing

As I said earlier there was nothing on Menaka but tonnes on Vasishá¹­h , Vishwamitra and Indra by which an entire narrative could be weaved

How do you come up with the concepts and develop them?

That's the craft of writing!

What book is coming from you, next? When do you see it released?

Am almost done with the next book. And yes, it's about an extraordinary, highly misunderstood woman. It should be out by this December

Haruki Murukami
Which books are you currently reading?

Haruki Murakamis 'Kafka on the Shore' and Robert Galbraiths 'Career of Evil'.

What else do you like to do on a daily basis?

Watch movies!

You can read the First Part of this Interview, right here. You can also catch the Review and also Buy the Book right here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Book Review : 'It will always be you' by Megha Rao

'It will always be you' by Megha Rao starts off in Coimbatore with a young girl, Aditya Mehra and her brother, Amar on a beach. The talk is an odd one, as she is in a way forced to explain to her brother, why she is going away. She is being compelled to go away to Chennai from Coimbatore, to a friend of her father’s. Aditya does not understand why, she can only guess. She thinks it is because she got into a fight after school.

Her brother is not well, and she feels that her parents do not feel that they can take care of both children, and so she leaves blaming them. Her brother is in tears and she feels only, she can take care of him.

In Chennai: Aditya Thevar is a rock star and a teen idol, who has it all. A great voice, looks, and top notch marks at college, as well. And he is very surprised, when he gets home after a tour. He walks in on Aditya in his room. He wants her out, minutes after he meets her. Aditya or perhaps Tiger, as he is better known (and will be so addressed in this review, so as to avoid confusion) is forced to accept the fact that he will have to stay in the guest room.

A fight ensues between himself and Aditya and they seem to have taken a dislike for each other. The two become friendly eventually, and it is in her new found friendship, that she tells him the whole story. Of why he parents sent her away, of her brother’s illness, into her own fight to protect Amar, in the mess he got into over bullying, and finally of the reason she was in Chennai.

Tiger, who genuinely understands her issue then goes ahead to narrate his, own story. Of what drove him to become the rock star, he was today. He is rather impressed with Aditya when he hears of her song writing skills. The two of them get into a huddle with the song writing and singing, when he kisses her. She pushes him away, and rushes to her room. Trying to convince her, he spends some time. But it is not to be. 

And so, another fight ensued, before Aditya was called home. Her brother, Amar was in hospital. And so, with her brother’s death and she returns to Chennai and a little mayhem ensues. The two of them discover each other. Friendships, some love, some song writing, some singing, and the whole thing comes to another end, when she catches him kissing another girl. She is mad and she is back, home with her parents.

Would he get her back? Would she ever discover her own true feelings? And what would happen in the end? The book in itself was rather simplistic. As in, there was always trouble and there were always solutions. There was no point where the story paused. There was more and more trouble to discover, as I read on. I, honestly do not know, how I can judge this book, other than it was a genuine effort. And to say, that there were no errors at all. Read it to understand it and judge it on your own basis…

You can Buy the Book, right here  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Author Interview : Kavita Kane, author of ‘Menaka's Choice' (Part 1)

Kavita Kane
Read up, the first part of the Interview with Kavita Kane, author of 'Menaka's Choice'. The book was was a brilliant narration. It held its own, throughout the story. In this Interview, she tells us how the Menaka's characterisation came about, what the kind of research was put into this book, what the challenges were that went into its writing and which her favourite love story was and why, Folks...

Beauty with brains is something, which very few people have thought of for Menaka’s character? How did the characterisation come about and why?

It started with her name. Menaka means – from the mind. Which means a certain intelligence and intellectual brilliance.

Menaka is synonymous with beauty but her cleverness was as fascinating. 

What is the kind of research that has gone into this book?

Enormous. As a marginalised, minor character, there was not much matter on Menaka besides this single episode of seduction with Vishwamitra.  

I had to glean ang flesh out her character through the information from major characters like Indra, Vishwamitra and Urvashi. There was a lot about them

Any challenges you had to face while writing this particular book?

Yes, making both my protagonists more endearing! Both are proud and  selfish but how they learn lessons in humility and compassion was one of the thread running in the narrative.

How would you relate this book and its characters to the lives today? Any similarities?

You see it all the while! The office politics, gender bias, clash of wills, the conflict of privilege and merit, human jealousy and insecurity - it's all around us.

It seems to be mix and match of two love stories. Which was your favourite one and why?

If you are talking about the Vasu-Menaka-Vishwamitra triangle, it was essentially to bring out the contrast between the two men. Also the question if a woman can love two men. She can. 

And more importantly, why is a woman often identified with the men in her life? The ending which some did not like reiterates this aspect

You can Read the Review, right here and Buy the Book, right here, as well.