Geek Sublime: Writing Fiction, Coding Software by Vikram Chandra is an examination of the Indian genius for coding, told through the secret computer programming career of the acclaimed literary novelist, Chandra himself.
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A great novelist on his twin obsessions: writing and coding. What is the relationship between the two? Is there such a thing as the sublime in code? Can we ascribe beauty to the craft of coding?
Vikram Chandra is the award-winning author of two acclaimed novels and a collection of short stories – and has been a computer programmer for almost as long as he has been a writer. In his extraordinary new book he looks at the connection between these two worlds of art and technology. Coders are obsessed with elegance and style, just as writers are, but do the words mean the same thing to both? And is it a coincidence that Chandra is drawn to two seemingly opposing ways of thinking?
Exploring these questions, Chandra creates an idiosyncratic history of coding – exploring such varied topics as logic gates and literary modernism, the male machismo of geeks, the striking presence of an ‘Indian Mafia’ in Silicon Valley, and the writings of Abhinavagupta, the 10th – 11th century Kashmiri thinker. Part technology story and part memoir, Geek Sublime is a book of sweeping ideas. It is a heady and utterly original work.
A thought-provoking set of linked essays that are part memoir, part analysis of geeks, part aesthetic treasure. If that makes the book sound a bit incoherent, it is nothing of the sort. It is a delight to read and never prescriptive.
Computational thinking is not new, and it is grounded in more fundamental disciplines such as mathematics, philosophy and linguistics. This, indeed, is one of the messages of Vikram Chandra's fascinating and often beautiful new book, a kind of techno-artistic memoir that is informed by his unusual double ability as both novelist and coder.
Mr Chandra's description of how computers work is masterly.
An illuminating, genre-defying exploration of a world that, despite the ubiquity of computers, most people (many coders included) find alien and don't fully understand.
A compendium of delight in which Chandra delves with relish into the bowels of technology and the intricate mechanisms of linguistic suggestion, drawing on his own experiences to create an extraordinary thesis that is part autobiography, part crash course in coding and unfailingly an ode to language ... an eloquent tribute to text and its ability to shape our emotions, and rewrite the very world we live in.
An unexpected tour de force. . . . Its ambition: to look deeply, and with great subtlety, into the connections and tensions between the worlds-the cultures-of technology and art. The book becomes an exquisite meditation on aesthetics, and meanwhile it is also part memoir, the story of a young man finding his way from India to the West and back, and from literature to programming and back. . . . Programmers feel an exhilarating creative mastery, and Chandra captures it.
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