Book Review: Geek Sublime – Vikram Chandra

Geek Sublime coverTitle: Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty
Author: Vikram Chandra
ISBN: 9781555976859
Pages: 272
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

In this slight book, author Vikram Chandra discusses the elegance of computer code and how computers work, using the ancient Indian language Sanskrit as a guide to help the reader understand the beauty that lies inherent in the language of computers.

Snapshot Review:

A thoughtful meditation on the language of computers, South Asian novelist Vikram Chandra successfully uses Sanskrit to ask and answer questions about code and provides the reader with a unique and well-written perspective on the subject.

Full Review:

Vikram Chandra is a well-known fiction author, but while he was writing his first novel, he paid the bills through freelance computer coding. Over the years, he has meditated on computer code and its various aspects and has come to see the beauty within computer code. This book, Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty is his meditation, the culmination of his thoughts, on the subject.

Chandra uses the prism of the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit to discuss the beauty and structure of language, as well as the question of meaning within Geek Sublime. It really is an amazing connection, and he writes about it so passionately that the reader can tell how much both subjects mean to him. It’s incredibly well done. Chandra can dive into some of these topics pretty deeply, so though the book is technically about computer code, it’s best if you have an interest in language in general (or in my case, Sanskrit in particular) to really appreciate this book.

First and foremost, this is a book about language and it’s fascinating to see what Chandra has to say about it in Geek Sublime. From thoughts on the programmers, some of whom know code fluently and others who cobble together existing code inelegantly, to how code actually instructs computers to perform tasks, there’s a lot of interesting information crammed within the pages of this small book. If you’re interested in language (especially Sanskrit) and computers, this book is a unique intersection of the two that also happens to be well-written and engaging. I definitely recommend it.

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Comments

  1. I did my masters in Sanskrit and my husband is a coder. I love Chandra. And yes, I’m dying to read this book. Sanskrit always struck me as being very mathematical and logical, so the combination of it with computers just feels right. Thanks for the review.

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