Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Title: Lords of Terror
Authors: Allan Cole and Nick Perumov
Publisher:Zumaya Publications / Zumaya Otherworlds
ISBN: 1-55410-285-5
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
Presentation: Soft Cover
No. of Pages: 350

The cover is suitably alien and frightening, so that unless you are a fan of magic, other worlds, aliens etc., you know it is not for you. And if you are a fan, jump right in and get a satisfying feast to your imagination. Allan Cole and Nick Perumov take a seemingly simple story (the US-USSR Cold War) and weave a beautiful novel of violence, betrayal, espionage, and of course bravery, heroism.

An American civil space liner is blown up by a Russian warship whose best instruments (magical of course) and wizards are tricked by an unseen evil force to see a warship in place of the civilian craft. The resultant political crisis is exploited by several vested interests to push their own agendas for their own hideously selfish purposes. Only a few committed and courageous individuals including an engine devil and an orphaned boy try and obviously succeed in preventing an Armageddon. Read and be thrilled by the excellent story telling and you will spend hours engrossed.

The book is a good mix of science, space, aliens and of course the eternal conflict between the good and the evil.

I did not read any of the other books written by the authors but if this book is a good sample of what they are capable of, I hope to read their other books too in the near future.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Title: A History of Murphy's Law
Author: Nick T.Spark
Publisher: Author
ISBN: 978-1-4116-8469-0
Genre: Non-Fiction/History/Reliability

This book is of valuable help to those who always wondered about the origin of Murphy's Law, which became quite famous along with Parkinson's Law and Peter's Principle. When I read the press note, I was really interested and when an opportunity to review the book came, I was delighted. And I can confidently write that I was not disappointed after finishing the slim tome which is quite attractively printed and has a number of photographs to put the text in the right perspective.

That Dr.Paul Stapp, arguably the man who first expressed the law in a press conference, was also involved in making car travel in USA and many parts of the world, including India, where I live, was news to me. You, the reader of this review too may similarly find something new in the book. In any case, unless you too have been a researcher like the author about the origin of Murphy's Law, you will certainly be much more informed after you finish the book, which can be read while travelling in a bus, train or while waiting for your flight at the airport.

Nick certainly writes well, in a good, readable style and he has tried to be as fair as humanly possible to present all the sides of the story. Whether he has indeed become the leading expert on Murphy's Law is for you to judge after reading the book. In any case, in Nick's own words, the book was and is intended not just to be a reflection on the origins of Murphy's Law, but on the difficulty in making an assessment of any historical event that was not documented properly. From that perspective, the book has broad appeal I think to anyone who is a student of history or science.

I certainly enjoyed reading this book and recommend it strongly to you too.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Title: Summer Snow
Author: William T.Hathaway
Publisher: Avatar Publications
ISBN: 0-9738442-3-X
Genre: Fiction/War/Religion/Sufi
No. of Pages: 208

Summer Snow is a fiction by William T.Hathaway, a US war veteran and now a peace activist. The story takes place in Kyrgyzstan, which has borders with several other countries including Afghanistan, China and..... A nuclear bomb is stolen and it is suspected that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations could be after it for inflicting extensive damage on US property and life. A group of Sufi women try to bring the story to a peaceful end through Transcendental Meditation, popularised by Maharshi Mahesh Yogi.

The story is told in an interesting way. The book is special in the sense that there is no hero. Jeff Madsen, the American veteran, who is dragged into the mess, is not the typical hero. The heroes if any are Djamila and Cholpon, the Sufi Master and her main Chela (disciple).

The novel is a good blend of war, religion and philosophy. Djamila integrates Sufi Islam and the TM of Hinduism. The peace which radiates from an advanced meditator is not fiction and can be experienced even today in some of the Ashrams (Hermitages) of India. Though in the story, Djamila fails to resolve the theft of the nuke peacefully (because the meditation is below the critical threshold and the sudden entrance of Al-Qaeda throws the process out of gear), the author succeeds in interesting the reader sufficiently to try out the meditation techniques described as instruments of peace.

The love scene between Jeff and Cholpon is described rather too vividly but it serves the purpose of highlighting the importance of sex as a breaker of the ego barrier albeit very briefly. The ending is tragic yet not contrived. I felt that the burying of the nuke is a too simplistic solution and a Master like Djamila should know that modern science has enough gadgets to locate even deeply buried nuclear weapons. She should have handed it over to her Government. Otherwise, the story is well told and holds the attention of the reader.

I enjoyed reading the book as a physicist and also as a student of spirituality. Though I don't practise the meditation techniques described in the novel, I know that they are real and potent. I recommend the book to all the readers who are interested in peace at personal, national and international levels.

Note: Though I am spiritually inclined, I am not a Yogi or Sanyasi (Monk). And you too need not be one to enjoy the book. I also apologise to the other authors and publicists for taking up this book ahead of their books, since this was the second of the two books which were at hand when I was hospitalised and did not have access to the previously received books. Now also, I am not yet sufficiently strong to take the several serious non-fiction books and so will finsih some more novels which are pending. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Title: Revelations
Author: M. Scott Byrnes
Publisher: Blue Stripe Books
ISBN: 0-9772674-0-7
Genre: Fiction/SF

"Revelations' by Scott Byrnes is a SF novel that holds your attention throughout its 279 pages. Here is the blurb from the inner flap.

"Huddled over her seismometer on the frozen surface of Mars, NASA geologist Kathy Palmer struggles to explain the image that just appeared on her monitor. Simultaneously, sixty-five million miles away, brilliant scientist Tim Redmond bolts upright in bed, inexplicably terrified. In a matter of days, these two strangers will unite in the face of a stunning revelation: our traditional perceptions of God are wildly inaccurate, and Armageddon is quickly approaching. Mankind's only chance of survival lies with Palmer and Redmond, who must sift through clues on Mars - and within religious doctrine on Earth - to solve a cosmic riddle s old as time itself. The two soon discover, however, that it's not just a perplexing mystery that stands in their way, but something infinitely more imposing - the pernicious being that's protected the secret for billions of years."

The story keeps shifting between the exploration of Mars and the unearthly attempts on planet earth to keep the secrets being revealed. The story is well knit and is a good mix of space science, religion and evolution/creation. Readers of Erich von Daniken's books such as "Gods from Outer Space" and "Chariots of Gods" will find some of the ideas described therein in the present book.

Though earth and its civilisations have seen several religions, the author sticks to Christianity only. So, readers of other denominations may find the story stretching their credulity rather too thin. However, if one keeps in mind that it is just a story, one can certainly enjoy the same.

The book is well written and well edited, well printed. Certainly a good read.

Note: This book reached me when I was in hospital and thus was one of the couple that were available for reading. So, my apologies to other authors whose books stayed unread.