A Quote from 100 Years Ago

“…The days when the People could make revolutions are past.”

“I suppose they are,” said Graham. “I suppose they are.” He mused. “This world of yours has been full of surprises to me. In the old days we dreamt of a wonderful democratic life, of a time when all men would be equal and happy.”

Ostrog looked at him steadfastly. “The day of democracy is past,” he said. “Past for ever. That day began with the bowmen of Crecy, it ended when marching infantry, when common men in masses ceased to win the battles of the world, when costly cannon, great ironclads, and strategic railways became the means of power. To-day is the day of wealth. Wealth now is power as it never was power before — it commands earth and sea and sky. All power is for those who can handle wealth…. You must accept facts, and these are facts. The world for the Crowd! The Crowd as Ruler! Even in your days that creed had been tried and condemned. To-day it has only one believer — a multiplex, silly one — the mall in the Crowd.”

Graham did not answer immediately. He stood lost in sombre preoccupations.

“No,” said Ostrog.” The day of the common man is past. On the open countryside one man is as good as another, or nearly as good. The earlier aristocracy had a precarious tenure of strength and audacity. They were tempered — tempered. There were insurrections, duels, riots. The first real aristocracy, the first permanent aristocracy, came in with castles and armour, and vanished before the musket and bow. But this is the second aristocracy. The real one. Those days of gunpowder and democracy were only an eddy in the stream. The common man now is a helpless unit. In these days we have this great machine of the city, and an organisation complex beyond his understanding.”

The Sleeper Awakes – H. G. Wells (1910)

Arthur C. Clarke Died Today

Yesterday, I started reading 'Time's Eye' – the first book of the 'A Time Odyssey' series written by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter. I went to sleep after reading 22 Chapters, woke up, checked my emails and RSS feeds, and found out that Arthur C. Clarke passed away some time today at his home in Sri Lanka.

Arthur C. Clarke was one of the greatest scifi writers ever, his writing was an inspiration to millions. Besides his Odyssey, I read a lot of his short stories in the 80s. His three laws of prediction are almost as famous as Asimov's three laws of robotics, and the 3rd law is probably quoted the most:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I think I am jinxed, and should stop reading series that are not finished yet. But for now, I must move on to chapter 23 of Time's Eye.

Ender’s Game to be a … Game

'Ender's Game' is going to become a video game soon. It is probably one of the best sci-fi novels/short story of the last century, and like 'Lord of the Rings', it is bound (no pun intended) to be discovered and re-discovered by each new generation. If you haven't read it, you should download buy a copy and add it to the top of your reading queue (you do have a queue, right?). Here's the news on the Orson Scott Card official website. The game is going to be based around the "war-room" from the novel, so its probably going to be a lot like a free-form Quake III Arena CTF in zero g. Sounds fun.

A Long List of Leftover Links…

 … from last year that couldn't grow into posts. Now I can clean up my 'TO BLOG' bookmarks folder and continue pretending to be a blogger:

We are toads

ImagePaulo Coelho's book 'The Alchemist' has been the top favorite of the Pakistan Network on Facebook for a few months now. It is not surprising, as the story has a lot of things in common with the mystic/symbolic fairy tales that my generation (or at least a subset of my generation) was brought up on. This post, though is about Paulo's blog, which is usually filled with though-provoking positive content (and these days, we can surely use all the positivity we can get). A couple of days ago, I read an interesting observation on Paulo's blog about toads, that reminded me of this nation called Pakistan (and it had nothing to do with toads being green). He says:

Read more “We are toads”