Saturday, January 15, 2005

Digital Fortress

I just completed reading Dan Brown's Digital Fortress. Boy that’s one bad book! If Da Vinci Code was 10, this one is a 3. I have tremendous respect for Dan Brown and his works. I think he is a genius in writing. But I think he didn't quite get it in his this first novel.

The story is too dramatic. The whole Crypto section of NSA blowing up, a language professor running around in Spain trying to find a ring, the cat-and-mouse chase between him and his assassin ... everything is too dramatic. Which is why the plot becomes predictable.

Plus he doesn't talk about cryptography as much as he should have. Maybe because its a difficult concept. Explaining it to a general public is hard. If you try to go deep into the subject, you might loose the audience. On the other hand, explaining symbology in ancient paintings and buildings is easy. As you go deep into the subject, the readers become more fascinated. Mystery-in-the-History is a crowd puller, especially if its also controversial.

Digital Fortress has no mystery, no history, and no controversy (well a little controversy over NSA's job, but nothing that excites the readers). It has just drama!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Captain Cook

I couldn't sleep last night. So I started reading a history book that was lying around in my apartment. A random page that opened was on Captain Cook and his voyages.

Fasinating! Captain Cook made 3 voyages. In the first voyage, he discovered New Zealand and Australia. One of the stories on that trip was, he offered a drum of rum to the first man to sight land by the day, and 2 drums of rum to the man who sight land by night. There was a 12 year boy on board who claimed the prize - Nicholas Young! (Imagine a 12 year old drinking all that rum ... :-)

In his second trip, Cook went around the continent of Antartica. He didn't go deep south into the land. He was smart enough to realise that there is no economic value in Antartica. But he did made detailed map of the region.

The 3rd trip was where he lost his life. He was commitioned to find a route to China from North America. Many thought that there exist a land which connected the two in the very North. So Cook traveled all the way to Artic Circle, but couldn't find the joining strip. While returning he anchored at Hawaii. The Hawaiians recieved him warmly. Everything was fine until a boat (cutter) was stolen from Cook's ship. Cook suspected the Hawaiians, and kidnapped the King of Hawaii. A fierce battle followed in which Cooks was killed. His crew retrieved the pieces of his body with great difficulty, and burried him in the sea. A tragic end of a such a great genius!

One of the ships that Cook made all his voyages was called - Endeavor. I am so facinated by Cook's adventures that I am going to find a model kit of this great historic ship, and try to build it. Should be fun!