The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov, translated by John French I thought this would be a science-fiction story, because I vaguely remember phrases like “aliens” and “building rockets around the world” when I first saw it in a random booklist. But it’s actually first of all a story about a man’s life in the Soviet Union, and the life and deaths of his friends. It happens in the Soviet Union, but this story is not set at the center of it.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of Liu Cixin, even though he’s often heralded as “the best sci-fi author in China”. He does (sometimes) demonstrate interesting ideas by combining scientific concepts and imagination, but in my opinion that’s not quite enough to be a good sci-fi story. In particular, these two elements in his writings always leave me feeling irritated, if not downright angry:
Helpless female characters with a “pure” mind (and body)
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I picked up a random book by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., expecting a science-fiction type of story, but instead got a book about war.
I never liked books or movies about war, they glorify it by telling stories of heroes and their gallantry, whereas the dead sidekicks and other collateral damages barely constitute an afterthought.
I’d hate to be such a sidekick, and hate it even more if I were such a hero.
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski I’ve been curious about the writings of Charles Bukowski for a while, mostly because of his dirty, subversive style.
This story delivers just that: a straight punch to the gut (there are many punches thrown in the book, both figurative and literal), packed with the hopelessness and disillusionment of being an outsider, and the rage of man against machine.
Among the many themes explored in the story, the one that resonated the most with me is how an individual can be totally powerless against the institution and the society at large.
I took part in the recently-finished ML Reproducibility Challenge 2020, and together with a great team we attempted to reproduce one of the papers as part of a course assignment.
This is just my attempt to get back to blogging, as well as writing down some lessons learned. It’s by no means a criticism of anything, but lately I’ve realised if I don’t write things down I’ll most likely forget all about it in two or three months.
I was very excited to go back to school to once again bask in the glory of education and inch closer to becoming a virtuous woman. But the gods have not been kind, and more importantly, the humans have not been able enough to trust and be trusted and keep the virus at bay through concerted efforts. So even though I really miss the chance to meet people and talk to them once a week, I’ve decided to stay at home and avoid university campuses for a while.