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The Chorus Effect by Russell Boyd

The Chorus Effect by Russell Boyd

Review by Shwetha H S

The Chorus Effect by Russell Boyd is a book, the one and only book so far, that has made me say “okay” with a meh feeling, “Oh, did that just happen?” and made me sit at the edge of my seat and a day ago made me plead “please don’t be over, let this not end” with this book in my hand as I turned the last few pages of this infinite times wonderful book. Throughout the book, Russell Boyd made me wonder how did he even come up with such lines for particular situations, well, most of the situations. My inner voice revolted with the idea of this book coming to an end. I almost prayed for a happy ending for the first time when Russell Boyd said three of the characters will be dead by the end of the story. Yes, he actually did that. The churning of the heart is inevitable. Russell Boyd, I love you man.

The Chorus Effect comes with heavy comparisons, especially with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. With the concept of parallel universe, this story, now nearest to my heart, also has a few characters in sets, that is one found in an artificial universe created by three awesome physicists from some other universe, and another set in our world. To top this all, you have an entity of artificial intelligence that runs this artificial universe in which these three physicists reside and that they have built from the scratch. This entity, named Chorus, which later turns into Katie, a beautiful woman from simulations run by the physicists on Chintz from our world. How Chintz, along with his cat named Platelet, enters this universe known only to the three scientists is for you to find out by reading this amazing story. What more do you have here? Chorus/Katie falls in love with Chintz. Yes, you read that right. Chorus is the epitome of artificial intelligence. Having a female voice, Chorus is omnipresent in the universe created by Dr. Mitch Morley, Sam and Nelda. It takes some time to understand that they all don’t belong to the same universe, but the similarities establish the concept of parallel universe.

Apart from that, I would like to tell you this. This book is not for stupid people, as in not for people who don’t understand jokes and sarcasm. I say this because in this book there is magic/science baby named Tonk that only says Fuswah, which eats a piece of glass at some point of time in the story. Referring to that, Russell Boyd gives a note at the bottom of the page saying “Do not, under any circumstances, feed broken glass to a baby without thoroughly sterilizing both the glass and the baby.” Whether you feed glass to the baby with or without sterilizing, the baby will die anyway. Stupid people will not understand this.

Throughout the novel, Chintz calls out the name Barbara whenever he goes into an uncertain area. There is no character in the story by that name. Instead you will find Caroline and Quincy. During simulations, Chorus creates characters by name Katie and Penelope when a character by name Barbara could be created. This keeps you wondering about what is happening.

This book tells you in its own way that when humans are forgetting how to love each other, it is the machines that are learning how to love. This joyous story might make you even cry because of Nelda, Sam, Dr. Mitch Morley, Chintz and Chorus/Katie. Platelet and Tonk will always be around in their cute way. You will miss each of them badly after reading the last lines of the story.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Review By Tejas Jayasheel

A few authors would have the special ability to think beyond the normal action packed, adrenaline pumping thrillers and turn it into an utterly hilarious and morbid comedy thriller. Douglas Adams is one such author.

Well known for his notable books like Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, Doctor Who serial scripts etc., he made geeks go gaga over the phrases like “the answer is 42” and “thanks for all the fish”. However there’s another series of books that are so much better than the Hitchhiker’s but for some unknown reasons, not as famous as the latter.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – the first book in the series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, is a thriller that introduces ghosts, time machines and many more concepts into our normal action packed science fiction. The hero himself who apparently has a strange name which can compete easily with other tongue twisters, goes like Svlad Cjelly but to reader’s relief, he changes his name to Dirk Gently which everyone tends to use including the characters in the book except sergeant Gilks who seems to prefer Cjelly. The plot always revolves around the concept that Dirk is concerned about the fundamental interconnectedness of all the things, which at the end of the book is illustrated in a beautiful way.

The humor readily flows into the story with an ease that seems quite remarkable only when you try to explain a funny scenario to the person next to you. It has to be shared because it is genuinely funny but apart from a shocked, horror-stricken or confused face you are not advised to expect anything else. This holds true only for human beings who are not simultaneously reading the book with you because the humor is based on the story and character description underneath it. Anyone else will not be able to share the same enthusiasm though you read a paragraph to them.

“Away up in the high canopy of the trees an utterly extraordinary thought would suddenly strike a bird, and it would go flapping wildly through the branches and settle at last different and altogether better tree where it would sit and consider things again more calmly until the same thought came along and struck it again, or it was time to eat.”

It is such sentences which appear throughout the book, or throughout the series that makes Douglas Adams books harder to put down. The tiniest detail that you seem to have neglected or discarded as unimportant would turn into a major twist and it makes you feel that you possibly might have missed something. This would prompt you to re read it only to uncover even more twists that were discarded at the first try. It is this quality that etches a mark in your head and you always remember or re visit the thoughts to figure out something that you missed again.

It is hard to judge a novel of this awesomeness without quoting entire chapters from the book. And this is the humble effort of the reader to achieve the impossible. Oh! and before I conclude, just remember a special entry in Dirk’s bill to Ms.Sauskind for finding her missing cat when you do read it. It goes something like ‘trip to Bahamas/Bermuda triangle’ to investigate the interconnectedness of a cat missing from London. We are pretty sure you would be smiling from ear to ear when you finally put down the book.