Loads of fun, although the list is really based on the books rather than the lines themselves.

I quite like #53, although the rest of the book can’t help but not live up to it.

I also like #6, #15, #47 and #69 (no, seriously).
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 11:34 AM
| Add a Comment
This one’s a week late. I know. Don’t rub it in.

Samit Basu did a book-launch/reading of his second book, The Manticore’s Secret, at Crossword in Mumbai on the 13th. I was present there. My thoughts on the event and the book.

----------------

I had a wonderful time at the book-launch. I got there early, and wandered about looking generally shifty. Then Samit arrived, and a simpering female fan (abbreviated as SFF – coincidence?) interviewed him, and I thoughtlessly muscled in on the interview.

Then the launch happened. There was a tolerable introduction, and a fine reading, followed by Samit chatting with Sonia Faleiro, with the audience joining in with their questions, followed by another reading and Q&A session. The conversation between Samit and Sonia was very relaxed and entertaining, which was nice.

The audience questions ranged from the basic (“Where do you get your ideas from?”, to which Samit disarmingly, and, in my opinion, honestly, replied, “I steal them from other writers.”) to the typical (“favourite books/authors”) and the bizarre (the clueless “Why do women always write depressing books?”). At least nobody tried to talk about ‘fantasy as symbolism’. I asked the question Jai poses near the end of his review here.

I found Samit to be very funny, very articulate (which was a bit of a surprise, because I had this idea of really good writers being people who spoke in monosyllables – or maybe that’s just me) and a very, very nice guy.

Samit (remembering a recommendation I’d made ages ago) signed my copies ‘Will read more Moorcock. Promise.’ Am mightily chuffed.

But my favourite part was after the reading ended – a tv crew was filming Samit doing a reading, without attaching the audio, and Samit, rather than doing a straight reading, spouted a whole lot of improvised silliness, which the tv host chap and I thoroughly enjoyed. (Er ... you had to be there.)

And then I had a chat with Samit, and he very helpfully answered my questions about publishing and writing in general. Thanks a lot for that, Samit. It was a huge pleasure being there and meeting you.

PrufrockTwo was also there, it seems.

----------------

Blog reviews of The Manticore’s Secret: Jai, Nikhil.

I liked The Manticore’s Secret a lot, but it isn’t as much fun as the first book. A second reading might change my mind, though.

One thing I noted was that Samit has become a better writer (as opposed to storyteller). I especially realised this when I picked up Simoqin right after finishing Manticore. The voice has become a lot more assured, for certain. The descriptions are usually better than in the first book (example – ‘Grotesque gargoyles sidled sardonically along the battlements, faces frozen in masks of madness.’ – good fun), but they are also more numerous, which was not appreciated. But I loved his highly visual style of writing, which still sits very well beside the wit and humour.

My biggest complaint with Simoqin was that it wasn’t too original. Manticore is a lot more satisfying in that respect, although this also means that the sheer number of ideas present in the book is less than in Simoqin.

The humour part of the book is still wonderful. My favourite bit was the latin name Cricinda bludinec for a very tall tree.

Complaints?

1) Overlong – I was actually aware that I was reading a very large book.

2) The shifting action – the shift is generally smooth, but sometimes the narration comes to a halt for another bit of description (see above). And a few too many strands of narrative, although that’s necessary.

3) A disagreeably small role for Kirin – this was due, in part, to the numerous narrative strands, and the fact that characters with agendas (Kirin here) are less interesting than characters in doubt (Kirin in Simoqin). I will commend Samit for realising this, but I’ll complain anyway.

4) The GameWorld concept – not too bad, not too good. Amusing.

But the complaints don’t really matter much. The book is a great read, wonderfully plotted, and some of the scenes are simply stunning, as are the characters (who have evolved from exposition to actual dialogue!). And the best thing about the book is that it is actually a continuation of the story rather than a typical sequel, if you know what I mean.

In summation, very, very good. Do give us the third one as soon as possible, please.
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 12:33 AM
| Add a Comment
Another story. A somewhat longer one this time.

I think it was when he took a chainsaw to the neighbourhood coffee shop that B and I really started to drift apart. We’d been best friends since childhood, y’know, and you tend to stick by your mate even if he shows a morbid fascination for cutting things up. Messily.

Give us a ciggy, will you? It helps me remember. Thanks. By the way, sorry if I don’t tell you B’s name – it’s a sensitive matter.

Anyway, everything B had would turn into mulch in a matter of days. It’s a wonder his parents lasted as long as they did – I guess he didn’t like them enough to care.

So one day, B came up to me and said he’d bought a sword. I took a look, of course – you don’t see swords often these days, especially if you’re not into politics. It was rather nifty, and we played at Warriors and Monsters for a bit, even though we were 17 and supposed to be above all that. Where’d he get the money to buy it from? Didn’t ask, really. Well, all teenagers steal from their parents once in a while.

So anyway, B said we had to slay a dragon. And then I watched as B captured a stray dog and butchered it with the nice shiny sword. And I didn’t puke. I’ve seen all these movies where the guy that witnesses anything horrible has to throw up. I kept expecting to puke, but I didn’t.

Anyway, I dismissed this as a one-time thing, and B never spoke about it again. Then B bought the chainsaw.

What? Was he influenced by the movie? I don’t know. I think he had seen the movie, but he probably would’ve got around to chainsaws anyway. Him and big shiny sharp things were made for each other.

The first thing he did with it was to cut up the sword. It was really messy to watch, and it’s actually how I got this scar on my forehead. Steel splinters are bad for you.

So that was when we went to the coffee shop. There were six people there. This time I did throw up. Then he said he was coming for me. And I started running. After that, we weren’t really friends any more.

I ran straight home. Bad idea? Of course it was a bad idea, but forgive me for not thinking straight with my best friend wanting to ram a chainsaw up my bottom.

By the way, do you have another cigarette? This one’s finished. Of course you do, there’s one poking out of your pocket. Thanks.

Listen, sorry for being snappy, but I’m a bit on edge. Running from place to place doesn’t help you make friends. It’s nice to have someone to talk to. Thanks for listening. You want another coffee? On me.

Okay, so I went home. And of course he came after me. But before that he went to his own house – yeah, he’d finally remembered his parents.

By then, I’d realised I had to run. So I did. That didn’t stop him from doing in my family. Saw it on the news? Me too.

Since then he’s been following me. He can smell me, I swear. What? You can smell me too? No, that’s just because I haven’t washed in a few days. He can smell me even when I’m clean. And he always looks in the coffee shops. Well, we both love them. I like the atmosphere. He likes breaking different kinds of tables.

I should stay out of coffee shops, you say? I dunno. They’re the only joy I have left. I can’t give that up, can I?

Anyway, I gotta leave now. Thanks for listening, and for the ciggies. Coffee’s on me, of course. If I were you, I wouldn’t come here for a few days. I’m not sure, but who knows. Ta, mate. Miles to go and everything. Nice meeting you.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:44 AM
| Add a Comment
Excuse me while I pick my jaw up from the floor.
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 12:58 PM
| Add a Comment
I tend to stay away entirely from blonde jokes, but this one’s totally worth it. Trust me.
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 2:51 AM
| Add a Comment
You might have read about this.

Neil Gaiman provides one of the more balanced analyses of the whole thing.

He also links to this extremely interesting discussion (for geeks who actually care about this).
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 11:55 PM
| Add a Comment
Another little story.
This was when Auntie and Uncle had the Big Fight. The one where neither talks. They refused to say anything to the adults, so Brother and I were sent in – the little troops, sent in to find the little secrets.

They were sitting in adjoining rooms. Brother went to Uncle, and I sat with Auntie.

“I’m going to shoot both of them!” Uncle raged. “Nasty fuckers!”

“But you don’t have a camera!” Brother protested.

A pause. “So did you ...?” I asked Auntie.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “It was on a trip. At one point we were in a cave. It was dark. I don’t remember, actually.”

Brother seemed to steel his nerve. He asked the ultimate question, “So who’d she do it with anyway?”

Another pause. “Her brother. That smarmy little bastard!”

As I sat rigid with shock, Brother whispered something timidly.

“Forgive them?” Uncle thundered. “They lost my 1971 Original Autographed Led Zeppelin IV LP. How can I forgive them? I’m going to kill them!”

Brother and I met in the hallway. We did what anybody sensible would do. We giggled.
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 8:20 AM
| Add a Comment
Young author (with mutant apparatus) [note to self: Not Really Relevant – although you can never tell] gets requests for a copy of his book that he shoved down his underpants for a publicity photo.

He puts it for sale on eBay, starting price 0.01 USD.

Current status: 13 bids. Top bid: 6.01 USD.

I love the internet.

(I have made a screenshot in case this ever goes offline.)
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:11 AM
| Add a Comment