Fancy title, no? Truth be told, I just had to link up all four books that I’m featuring today. This batch is the first attempt to make sense of this imposing read-to pile, courtesy of a wallet that opens faster than you can say, “Buy!”
Chronicling the World Real
Fully Booked, SM North EDSA: The Block
February 5, 2007
The first addition since the wit-skit-brit triumvirate, this is the most expensive book I’ve ever bought. The book charts the history of maps from the pre-Gutenberg era to the modern age, and charts it well for the reader’s eyes: there are large, full-color maps in almost every page! In short, this is the dream book for cartographer- wannabes, such as myself. Yep, I am one.
Before I started writing, way back in elementary school, my pen was used (alongside crayons and markers) to draw maps of fictional worlds, nations, cities, and heck, even residential subdivisions. (Kind of explains my addiction to SimCity years later). I was so enamored of maps — foreign or local — that I became peerless in geography and history class. While my contemporaries were watching Dragonball Z, I was scrutinizing Genghis Khan’s conquests, the routes of the barbarian invasions of Rome, the extent of Imperial Japan’s WWII gains, and the mad Scramble for Africa.
My early enthusiasm for cartography rubbed off on my grade school classmates; days after I petitioned them to create ‘nations’ to populate our ‘world’, they turned in colored maps that detailed their kingdoms/republics/empires’ boundaries, cities, and landmarks — complete with flags. (For the record, months later we were participating in a ‘World War’. As can be expected, the conflagration culminated in my side’s triumph and ‘annexation’ of the make-believe lands. The makings of megalomania? That is why I titled my Philippine Star essay, Learning Early.)
Sadly, it has been ages since I’ve last seen my collection of self-drawn maps, maps which were the product of a juvenile imagination that would later translate to full-blown creative writing, in turn a product of, uh, a slightly less juvenile imagination.
Chronicling the Worlds Imagined
National Bookstore, SM North EDSA
February 13, 2007
It so happened that one day, NBS was again ridding itself of books unbought by readers shooed off by exorbitant prices. As such, I was able to cheaply snag this gem from “the last surviving member of what was sometimes known as the ‘Big Three’ of science fiction, which included Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov”, to quote our favorite inaccurate resource, Wikipedia. (Hey, I’m a Wikipedian, too.) This copy’s quite cheap, considering that other sci-fi titles half its size sell for 200 pesos.
Imperial Earth tells of the journey of a certain Duncan Makenzie as he travels from Titan to Earth as a diplomatic guest of the USA for its Quincentennial (2276) Independence Day celebration. As one might glean from the premise, the book isn’t about incredulous slingings of entire solar systems being used as galactic-sized weapons and whatnot…which is kind of bad. I love incredulity in sci-fi.
Most of my sci-fi titles deal with upheavals in a massive scale, and from my skimming, Imperial Earth doesn’t really fit that bill. Still, when The New York Times hails this book as the product of Clarke “at the height of his powers”, you know the story is special. Looks like I’ll be gauging (and adjusting) my taste for non-epic storylines with this one.
Php 599 (slashed from Php 1399)
National Bookstore, SM North EDSA
February 13, 2007
If our previous sci-fi book wasn’t epic, this one screams E-P-I-C at you. (A given, because this is D-U-N-E.)
I almost shouted “W00t!” upon seeing this copy which, while not in mint condition, is very much respectable. (My favorite barometer is the smell of the leaves — this book’s 600-plus pages still smell heavenly.) This is one of the prequels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson to Frank Herbert’s original Dune. I loved the latter book that I regularly borrowed from the Pisay library, I loved the TV miniseries, and so buying this vastly discounted copy was a no-brainer.
Again, D-U-N-E. ‘Nuff said.
Chronicling the World Virtual
UP Diliman DCS Alumni Homecoming
February 24, 2007
What the hell is “Chronicling the world virtual” supposed to mean? More narrowly, how can one chronicle today’s increasingly virtual and digital world? Well, one can track the history of the developments that gave birth to computers, to cyberspace, to alternate lives c/o MMORPGs. One can also list the terms used in the context of the virtual world.
Or one can explain the littlest structures of data upon which paperless media empires and multi-billion in-game economies are built. This is what Sir Quiwa’s academic book painstakingly attempts — and spectacularly achieves.
To give a background, Sir Q is considered to be a founding father of my alma mater, the UPD Department of Computer Science. He was the Chair of two Departments, and later on was the College of Engineering Secretary. To say that he’s a beloved prof would be a gross understatement.
Sir Quiwa’s subject, CS 32 (a namesake of the book) was one of the toughest in the curriculum and one in which I performed head and shoulders above my classmates (a very rare feat for me in CS). CS 32 was the first subject I took seriously after flunking a shitload of courses in my first year, which is why it became one of my favorite subjects in the University.
Three years later, I hold in my hands my very first book autographed by its author. I know that it’s a bit expensive for a Filipino academic book, but I’m pretty sure they’ll produce lower-priced reprints for general Philippine education usage. Published by Alexan, this 530-page thing of beauty is worthy of being exported to other countries.
No, I’m not being overly promoting of the Philippines; this book is just great, plain and simple. Even I was surprised by its quality — the cover material is great and the paper is glossy. (Of course, the quality of the content is something I wasn’t surprised about.)
In fact, once a lower-priced edition hits the market, Data Structures should be highly recommended by Pinoy colleges to their CS students. I write this not because I’m UP-biased, but because if Filipinos want to patronize the works of their own brown hands, this is exactly the type of work befitting of patronage. Sir Quiwa’s book is as extensive, as beautiful, and as good as any foreign-published book on computing.
Four down, 22 to go. I’m being merciful by not boring you further with another bibliophilic side-quest — plastic-covering around 50 books and ten new magazines in my library!
By the way, do congratulate Ia for making the country proud in a recent blog design competition.