four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
29-July-Aug-2007
By: 
Ian McDonald
user_rating: 
0

A-BrasylIn his latest effort, Ian McDonald weaves together three stories in a tour de force of science fiction intrigue and fast-paced storytelling. Marcelina Hoffman, an ambitious reality-television producer with a sadistic streak, tracks down a disgraced soccer star for further humiliation; Edson Jesus Oliveira de Freitas, a grifter in a near-future, quantum-ready world, falls in love with physicist-for-hire Fia; and Luis Quinn, an 18th-century Jesuit missionary, plunges into the forbidding Amazon jungle to end the reign of a power-hungry priest. McDonald’s imagination hits overdrive—the quantum knives are a neat invention—as he works his way toward an ending that even the savviest sci-fi hound won’t anticipate.
Pyr. 357 pages. $25. ISBN: 1591025436

Boing Boing 4.5 of 5 Stars
"[McDonald] has the incredible gift of blending the foreign and the familiar to create something at once plausible and wonderful. He can turn anyplace from Ireland (King of Morning, Queen of Day) to India (River of Gods) into a bright, unknowably weird land." Cory Doctorow

Speculative Reviews 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Last June, I reviewed Ian McDonald’s most recent book, River of Gods, and I called it ‘The most important SF novel that has been released in my 18 years of fandom.’ So it may be a bit surprising when I say that the forthcoming Brasyl is just as strong, a bit tighter, a lot faster paced, and all-around probably a better, more enjoyable novel." William Lexner

Sci Fi Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"[McDonald] manages to work simultaneously at many levels, from the intimate and individual to the societal and universal. … The result is a tripartite thriller that whipsaws the reader’s expectations and enjoyment around like a motorcycle ride straight down the Sugarloaf." Paul DiFilippo

Strange Horizons 4 of 5 Stars
"Much more often than not, McDonald’s prose is a wonder, from a hundred vivid and witty details … to sustained passages of perfectly judged atmosphere. … McDonald finds the poetry and the energy of the outcast, the refuse of society." Adam Roberts

Critical Summary

Brasyl will be compared to many works of science fiction—William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon for starters—though it is like none of them. Ian McDonald, whose Hugo-nominated River of Gods imagined a near-future India, this time sets his sights on Latin America—with stunning success. McDonald’s previous efforts (Hearts, Hands and Voices, and Desolation Road among them) have been well received, but Brasyl seems poised to secure McDonald’s reputation as one of the best science fiction writers working today. With impeccable pacing and an uncanny sense of place, the author brings together the threads of a complex, rich story. Science fiction writer and futurist Cory Doctorow writes, "There’s an entire literary movement lurking in the bootleg quantum future of McDonald’s Rio."