Friday, February 26, 2010


by Ian McDonald

I cannot say that I totally understood Brasyl but I definitely enjoyed it. It was a Hugo Nominee in 2008. One can assume that the novel is set in what we know as Brazil and weaves among three different time periods, 1732, 2006 and 2032. In the present day Marcelina strives for the next super sensational reality tv show . In 1732 a Catholic admonitory sent from Rome travels up the Amazon in search of a renegade Jesuit priest who is attempting to establish his own City of God. And in 2032 a street wise entrepreneur becomes obsessed with a beautiful rogue quantum physicist. I don't want to give too much away but the story was action packed and compelling. I was fascinated by the various threads of soccer, quantum computers, capoeira (a Brazilian blend of martial arts and dance), religion, the nature of reality and the idea of multiple universes. It certainly merits another read as it was a little bit confusing especially with the use of many Portuguese words (although there is a glossary in the back).

I felt fully immersed in this amazing world and was surprised to realize that it was written by a guy in Ireland. It made me want to go visit Brazil and learn capaeira. Oddly for a book labeled as cyberpunk, I found the 18th century Jesuit story line the most fascinating and the imagery so vivid that I still can see it in my mind's eye. This was my first encounter with this author who has also written River of Gods and more recently Cyberabad Days and I will certainly be reading more of his work.

I read this for the SciFi Experience, Speculative Fiction Challenge and 2008 Hugo Nominee for Mind Voyages.


Carl V. said...

I found the same oddity on my recent read of Cyberabad Days by McDonald...which I highly recommend. Brasyl is on my to read list though I imagine the next McDonald I will read will be Ares Express, the sequel to Desolation Road, which comes out this April.

Moo said...

I definitely want to read more McDonald - perhaps I will try Desolation Road. Cyberabad Days also sounds great but I think I would like to read River of Gods first. I didn't start with River of Gods because of its setting in India. I am afraid that I have read a little too much set in India, plus traveled in India and therefore tend to prefer something with a setting I am not familiar with - such as Brazil or perhaps Mars.

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

Sounds great. I'll be picking it and desolation road up after lent is over. Look forward to reading stories by McDonald.

Moo said...

I cannot decide whether to try Desolation Road or River of Gods next. I look forward to your reviews Robin.