A Dystopian Future

Written in 1949, Orwell’s last book, ‘1984‘ is a well known classic, featuring prominently in most, usually all 100-books-to read-lists. The novel is unquestionably Orwell’s masterpiece. A definite must read because of the brilliant ideas presented in the novel along with the lucid narrative and uncomplicated writing and plot.

Taken from themodernworld.com

1984‘ is set in well the year 1984 in London where the state brutally controls everything-from your relationships,language, thoughts and memories-literally everything! This bleak aspect is immediately impressed upon the reader when the novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith is introduced. The government is the ubiquitous Party along with the founder, Big Brother, whose omnipresence is one of the tools with the Party to control the people through fear. Winston is a sort of a quiet rebel against the Party. He knows that the Party is controlling them and falsifying history yet he doesn’t know how to rise up against this subtle oppression and constant surveillance. His first step in a small rebellion is writing a diary, his second step is falling in love with a Party member, Julia-something which isn’t allowed. His last step of rebellion is meeting up with another Party member, O’Brien, who Winston thinks about rebelling too. What perhaps the readers think might actually become a one man showdown with the Party doesn’t come to pass as the Party with all its might suppresses Smith into complete submission and acceptance of its ideology.

A prominent dystopian novel, ‘1984‘ will shock us even today because those ideas of control and tweaking public opinion are relevant today too and are quite applicable in all forms of government till today. The ideas are unnerving and one shifts uneasily in one’s seat while reading the novel, but this does not take away from the fact that the ideology Orwell puts forward is bloody brilliant! Orwell was perhaps inspired by the totalitarian regimes of the 1940s’, the Stalin regime later on and even the British Labour Party’s policies during WWII. However, reading this novel as only an allegory of the Stalinist brutality or an anti-communist tirade or future-predicting sci-fi novel is a grave mistake. The reader must acknowledge that the ideas manifested are quite universal and relevant and that Orwell did not intend to solely malign Communism or predict the future but to provide its readers a sort of a warning about the direction the world societies were heading towards and therefore why it what important to not let such blatant control of humanity ever take place.Its so easy to say that ok, ‘Animal Farm’ was an allegory for the Russian Revolution, so ‘1984‘ is for Stalin but that is hardly the main purpose of the novel.

This marvellous novel of ideas is not a conventional one with a traditional plot, climax and perfect ending in place. It is a speculative novel wherein Orwell envisages the world of 1984 rather pessimistically, using his imagination to invent new technologies and languages. The whole novel more or less focuses on presenting an ideology and thus many dialogues are simply a way to exchange ideas of some ideology. This makes for a fascinating read and one just cannot resist when it comes to comparing Orwell’s fictional future with the real world as so many ideas are very much applicable even today.

No wonder this book figures in those silly 100-books-to-read lists!

Pottering Around!

Yup you guessed it! The title says it all, doesn’t it? What else could I be pottering around for except for Harry Potter??? Well not exactly among the 7 Rowling books but among the Potter fan fiction. And it is quite fun to read all these stories to pass you time. Most of what I read were short stories but I came across this novel on Goodreads website by Norman Lippert titled, ‘James Potter and The Hall of Elders’ Crossing.’ At first I thought its about Harry’s dad, James but no, its about his son, James’ first year in Hogwarts.

Firstly, anyone can read the book in PDF format on the following website: http://www.speedbumpstudios.com/chapters/JPHEC.pdf

The author obviously makes no money out of this but he himself has written a book called, ‘The Flyover Country’ and has also written books of James’ 2nd and 3rd years at Hogwarts, although I haven’t read them as yet.

Taken from elderscrossing.com

The plot concerns James going into the first year of Hogwarts. Initially he is nervous, in general because it is his first year and in particular that he is great Harry Potter’s son and has to live up to that legend. Eventually he does make friends and relaxes a little. The novel touches upon other students as well and the mischief they do. But of course, being Harry’s son, adventure can’t be far behind right? This year at Hogwarts representatives from Alma Aleron and United States Department of Magical Administration are to arrive at Hogwarts. Also, a movement called the ‘Progressive Element’ is spreading among the students that questions the recent history of the whole Battle with Voldemort and the fact that the existence of the magical community has to be kept a secret from the Muggle world. James and his two friends, Ralph and Zane, an American whose father works in England, discover a sinister plot to bring back the most dangerous wizard, Merlin, to this time. And these three are determined and confident to foil this plan. Well, the book is more exciting than it sounds here. It really is.

Being a Harry Potter fan, it was good to read this particular book. ‘James Potter and The Hall of EldersCrossing‘  is definitely not fantastic yet it gives a plausible imaginative story about Harry’s first kid. Reading the novel will stimulate any Potter fan as it takes the reader back to the school, gives tidbits of Harry and gang’s future and everything. Its quite fun to plunge back into that world again and is definitely enjoyable. So ok, Lippert is not a Rowling but his writing is decent, simple and comprehensible and retains the magic of the Potter world. The dash of the American element is well blended in in the book. Certain other imaginative bits like Snape’s portrait and Diggory’s ghost add a touch of nostalgia. The friendship between different houses, James need to become like his father and the slight sketches of the old characters like Harry in the role of the Head of Auror Department, Neville as the Herbology professor and several such more elements show Lippert’s desire to be different while still capturing the charm of the Harry Potter books. In fact, all sort of fan fiction does require neccesarily to hold on to the original books to make a connection with the reader. I remember feeling very happy seeing all the old characters in a new avatar.

However,there were some odd discrepancies which haven’t been explained such as James having subjects like Muggle Studies in his first year itself(which in Rowling’s case is supposed to be studied in the third year) or that different year students are attending the same lecture or that Harry gifting James’ best friend the Potions book that belonged to Snape(Harry couldn’t have got the book back because he left it in the room of requirement and also the things in that room burnt down because of the Fiendfyre set by Crabbe in the 7th book) etc. The whole idea of magic as a science wasn’t too appealing either but those classes of Technomancy were good nonetheless. It just showed(along with the American flavour) that Lippert has the capability to imagine quirky bits while mingling the original ideas from JK Rowling.

In all, its worth a read for sure. Its good to be back in Potter world and ‘James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing‘ just helps you take the plunge into it! Go for it!