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Brasyl Hardcover – May 1, 2007

3.3 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. British author McDonald's outstanding SF novel channels the vitality of South America's largest country into an edgy, post-cyberpunk free-for-all. McDonald sets up three separate characters in different eras—a cynical contemporary reality-TV producer, a near-future bisexual entrepreneur and a tormented 18th-century Jesuit agent. He then slams them together with the revelation that their worlds are strands of an immense quantum multiverse, and each of them is threatened by the Order, a vast conspiracy devoted to maintaining the status quo until the end of time. As McDonald weaves together the separate narrative threads, each character must choose between isolation or cooperation, and also between accepting things as they are or taking desperate action to make changes possible. River of Gods (2004), set in near-future India, established McDonald as a leading writer of intelligent, multicultural SF, and here he captures Latin America's mingled despair and hope. Chaotic, heartbreaking and joyous, this must-read teeters on the edge of melodrama, but somehow keeps its precarious balance. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* McDonald takes on frenetic, vast, fascinating Brazil in this epic interweaving three time strands: the contemporary world of TV producer Marcelina, whose proposal for a series based on a mock trial of an ex-soccer star who played in the most devastating championship game in Brazilian history gets her entangled with the strange truth about our world; the eighteenth century of a Jesuit whose "task most difficult" of returning a fellow Jesuit to the teachings of the church takes him to the Amazon, where the task becomes unexpectedly, unimaginably more difficult and bizarre; and the nearish future, in which Edson, risen from poverty and crime almost to his dream of wealth and a house by the sea, gets mired in the affairs of Fia, a quantumiera (she operates a quantum computer in an always-moving vehicle) who disables the quantum security chip his brother nearly died for stealing. The connections of these worlds through the various ways in which people can perceive all possible universes, and the implications of the universe's unavoidable quantum entanglements--ranging from the possibility of predicting the future to the existence of nigh-infinite doubles of everyone--prove startling. McDonald's Brasyl is a magnificent place, and the motivations and possible results of the battle over the multitude of quantum universes it posits are chilling and wonderful. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 357 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr; First Edition edition (May 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591025435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591025436
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,901,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I understand why people like this book so much: the intriguing concepts, the complex storyline, the interesting characters. However, I suspect I'm not the only one who is so turned off by the writing style that the overall experience is ruined. At best the writing is pretentious; at worst it is laughably bad. My stomach turned when I read this sentence on pg. 18:

"At first capoeira had been another wave on the zeitgeist upon which Marcelina Hoffman surfed, driven by the perpetual, vampiric hunger for fresh cool."

If you don't find this groan-worthy, then perhaps this book is for you. The overwritten prose isn't my main complaint, though. Once you remove the meandering descriptions and the abundance of Portuguese, there's very little actual substance in many of the scenes, making the events seem disjointed, arbitrary, and often downright boring.

I suspect if you read it quickly, you'll like it better. Let horribly mixed metaphors slide right by. If events seem disjointed, keep moving on--you didn't miss anything; rereading sections will only confirm this and frustrate you.
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Format: Hardcover
Brasyl was one of this year's most anticipated reads for me.

With River of Gods, Ian McDonald raised the bar rather high, and I was wondering if the author could come up with something as good. It never occurred to me that McDonald could write a better novel. And yet, somehow, he did!

Brasyl is a mesmerizing ensemble of three different tales. On takes place in Rio de Janeiro in 2006, as an ambitious reality tv producer finds herself in the middle of a conflict that could unravel reality itself. The second story takes place in Sao Paulo in 2032, as a man is thrust into the dangerous universe of quantum computing and he'll never be the same again. The third storyline occurs in Brazil in 1732, as a Jesuit Father is sent to bring back a rogue priest to face the justice of the religious order.

I was astonished to see the tale unfold, to see how McDonald yet again captures the essence of a country and its people and weaves it in a myriad of ways throughout the novel. The author paints a vivid picture of South America's largest country, depicting the past, the present, and the possible future of Brazil in a manner that makes everything come alive as you read on. Every plotline is tied to the others. Indeed, everything is linked together across time and the fabric of reality, thanks to quantum physics and the multiverse that surrounds our existence.

The worldbuilding is "top notch." Ian McDonald deserves kudos for his brilliant depiction of Brazil during three different epochs. As always, the author's eye for exquisite details adds another dimension to a book that's already head and shoulder above the competition.

Of the three main characters (one for each era), Father Luis Quinn steals the show.
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Format: Hardcover
I wanted to experience a sci-fi book set in Brazil, to see how a foreigner eye would capture our complex reality. But this book was such a big disappointment...

I tried, I swear I tried... It's unreadable. The prose is too fractured and the Portuguese terms are imprecise and annoying. Maybe his idea was to impress his friends with all his brazilian pop-culture, but all he managed to do was to use wrong terms and awkward dialogues, with so many misspelled words I wonder if it's so hard to ask a native about them, or just, you know, google them.

I couldn't finish two chapters, as I felt it was murdering two languages with only one strike. Next time, ask a native speaker before you print it, ok?
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Format: Hardcover
You know, I always liked Ian McDonald's books. "Desolation Road" got my attention in a big way and while there have been some weaker books since then, "River of gods" (for which he wuz ROBBED of a Hugo Award) was such a great book that I'm now a Believer.
So when "Brasyl" came out..well, what's not to like? Brazil! McDonald! 134 gradations of skin color! Thongs! Quantum computers! Mad Jesuits!

To be honest, about 3/4 into the book I got the sickening feeling that the story was all very humdrum, reality-hopping Order, yawnsies. But then the whole thing sort of twisted 90 degrees and I was spellbound to the end again.

You can read plenty of potted notes about the actual events in the book elsewhere. One thing I have to comment on is the lavish use of Brazilian/Portuguese slang/words/expressions. At first it's a little disconcerting (he's full of WHAT? She went to the WHAT?) but after awhile you just get into the...rhythm (insert obligatory Brazilian samba reference here) of the thing and it's all good to the end.

Any book that can combine reality TV shows, quantum computers, Fitzcarraldo and "The Mission" and transvestite street hustlers is okay by me.

Give this man a Hugo. Now. Or the kitten dies.
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Format: Hardcover
Coming on the heels of McDonald's blockbuster hit "River of Gods", Brasyl is part cyberpunk, part historical narrative, part bladerunner, part parallel universe epic, and part introduction to a culture most Americans know nothing about. Throwing standard American/Western European scifi on it's head, McDonald sets his story in Sao Paulo, the capitol of Brazil. I don't know about you, but everything I know about Sao Paulo can be summed up with "they speak Portuguese, right?". I am a sad, sad American that I know next to zero about one of the worlds largest cities. Forget Tokyo and New York City, this future is in South America. While he overwhelms you with local slang and culture (don't worry, a lot of it is in the glossary in the back), we are introduced to three different Sao Paulos in three very different times.

Sao Paulo, 1730's, father Luis Quinn is on a Jesuit mission to bring a rogue priest back into faith by whatever means necessary, before this man can burn and kill his way through the jungle. Beyond treacherous waters, dangerous animals, unpredictable natives and poisonous everything, Quinn has no idea what to expect. And the reports of gigantic angels flying over the river followed by fiery death are especially disturbing.

Sao Paulo, right now. Marcelina Hoffman produces trash reality tv shows by day, and sleeps with a highly respected news reporter by night. Always chasing the new big thing to beat the competition, she has no idea when she is in over her head. While on a wild goose-chase for the story of her life, no amount of capoeira will save her from the a fast death by a q-blade, which cuts down to the quantum level.

Sao Paulo, thirty years from now. The population is higher, the stakes are higher, the technology is faster.
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