Sunday, 28 February 2010

O Décimo Terceiro Poder by Madalena Santos

I decided to read this book not only because I know the author personally, but also because it seemed the kind of fictional historic and political novel I have become fan of.
The book follows a part of Neferlöen's life, the 15-year-old adopted daughter of the ruler of one of the so called Terras de Corza (portuguese for Lands of Corza), the king of Levionda. She comes to play a major part in the changes happening in those lands, related to the formation of a new Power (as the different states are called) and to the attacks of an organized group of mercenaries of whom all we know in the beginning is that they wear black and have a typical tattoo on their chest. 
Neferlöen is a well developed character, I found myself capable of befriending her halfway through the book and considering how her problems might be solved or guessing what she would do now and then. The geopolitical context is also very interesting, created from scratch, middle-age like, where nobles fight for power and catapults are state of the art. A striking difference with our middle-age is that women's rights in some of the Powers are already somewhat understood and respected. 
My main issue with the book was the writing. Madalena Santos was 15 years old when she wrote O Décimo Terceiro Poder, and it shows on the grammatical formality of her writing, mainly during the first half of the book, where sometimes I felt I was reading a text composed for a Portuguese examination. By the end of the book this is fairly less notorious and does leave me interested in her later books.
O Décimo Terceiro Poder is a quick read, but, nonetheless, the story, characters and political emphasis were enticing. I believe the book exists only in Portuguese, so I recommend this for Portuguese speaking readers that enjoy fiction/fantasy and politics.

   Style - 3
   Creativity - 6
   Entertainment - 7
   Relevance - 3
   Overall - 5

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Fractal Art

Today I decided to talk about fractal art. I came across some examples of this at deviantART some years ago and, knowing absolutely nothing about it, it piqued my curiosity. For those who, as myself at that time, don't know what I'm talking about, I'll tell you what I found out about it in the web.
Fractals are objects or quantities that display self-similarity, meaning that in all scales it has the same type of structure. To put it simple, the parts of the fractal closely resemble the whole. Perhaps the most typical example of the fractal structure in nature would be snowflakes and broccoli. You can see examples with pictures at webecoist. This has a probably obvious mathematical interest, and the functions behind fractals have been studied at least since the 17th century. (for a more elaborated definition and historical review you can check Wikipedia or just google it and look for maths websites for a technical explanation).
The development of computer graphics allowed for fractal functions to have a visible translation and that led to what is now called fractal art. The objects created based on these functions, using them to define shapes and colours, are not only visually appealing, but also "technically engaging", as the viewer will feel curious and try to understand the pattern that led to it. Fractals have been represented as images, animations or music and recently 3D software brought new possibilities.
At deviantART (but I hope it has been happening at other art communities) fractal art has grown to have its own place and value recognized, and there are dedicated artists achieving true marvels using software as Apophysis or Ultra Fractal. Two of my favourite examples are Pasternak's 070509 (above) and Microcosm by trystianity (to the right). I have seen a lot of really good works by these and other authors, and I'll keep sharing them if I have their consent. I've tried both Apophysis and Ultra Fractal some time ago, and I might share some here when I feel like it, but if you feel curious about what a layman can do with them, you can check my gallery.
I just found out about Electric Sheep, a project to create a collaborative abstract artwork founded by Scott Draves. The idea is to have fractals as your screensaver and then voting on your favourites, which will influence the time they are alive and reproducing, generating new ones subject to mutations and cross-overs, in a biologically inspired system. The name was inspired by Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, that I plan to read this year.



I decided to start this to post some ideas, opinions and mainly to talk about any subject I consider interesting enough. I don't want to create a strict purpose for the blog. My initial idea is to write book and film reviews, share some things I find on the internet as for example other blogs, videos, photos or music and I might even comment on my travelling experiences, if I find anything captivating.
Feel free to comment, talk about the same subjects or bring up some stuff related to what I posted.

Thanks for reading.