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Desolation Road Paperback – July 28, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr; Original edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027446
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027447
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #777,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

ea. vol: Spectra: Bantam. Feb. 1988. sf Founded by accident in the Martian desert by a scientist obsessed with the nature of time, the town of Desolation Road grows from a whistle stop on the Bethlehem Ares Railroad to a stronghold of freedom ranged against the ROTECH bureaucracy. The loves, hates, and intrigues of the town's residents come to life and build to a vivid climax in this compellingly executed novel. In Empire Dreams , McDonald's craft as a storyteller takes on smaller dimensions but remains intact. Ranging from the inner torment of Vincent Van Gogh ("Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh") to a young boy's private battle for life in modern Belfast ("Empire Dreams"), the author finds evidence of the fantastic in unlikely settings. Both books are highly recommended. JC
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Flavoured with a voice that blends the delightful prose of Jack Vance with the idiosyncratic stylings of Cordwainer Smith, this novel is, most of all, about the dusty town of Desolation Road in the middle of the red Martian desert. Episodic in scope, it would also work as short stories. An elderly couple get lost in the infinite space of their garden, a baby growing in a jar is stolen and replaced with a mango, a man called The Hand plays electric guitar for the clouds and starts the first rain for one hundred and fifty thousand years." --SFSite

"Ian McDonald's Desolation Road is one of the books that has influenced me the most as a writer. Funny and sad and wildly imaginative... What a book!" --Cory Doctorow


"This is the kind of novel I long to find yet seldom do. Desolation Road is a rara avis... Extraordinary and more than that!" --Philip José Farmer

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
Not bad if you can find a used copy.
Dwaz
I ended up wanting to get to the end of each plotline, but it didn't really happen.
Gary Smith
McDonald has written other books which are 'must reads' for a sc-fi buff.
M Barley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 6, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've had this book sitting around forever. Literally, I think. I have had it since I was a teenager and never read it. With every move it somehow gets boxed up anyhow and shipped with me. I would see it and think that I needed to read it, and then somehow I would forget about it. Anyhow, I finally read it. I am not going to say that it is worth a 20 year wait, because what would be? But it is a pretty good book, and I enjoyed it enough that I think I will look up some of Ian McDonald's more recent works.

Desolation Road was McDonald's first book, and was apparently released to all kinds of glowing praise. For a first science fiction novel, it definitely gets credit for imagination and unusual ideas. The book begins with Dr. Alimantando following a greenperson across a desert. This following, plus an unexpected accident lead to the founding of Desolation Road-- a town where no town is supposed to be. Rather than follow any one character, the book tells the story of the town itself. The structure of the book consists of a series of interconnected stories about the people who live in the town. It spans several generations.

I am always a sucker for this structure of interlocking stories. (Another good example is The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden, by Catherynne M. Valente.) There is something about the pace and flow that I really enjoy. McDonald is also a good writer with solid craftsmanship. I engaged with the characters, and was interested in the fate of the town. I cannot exactly put my finger on how, but sometimes the plot felt a bit like much of a muchness. This was the only real flaw I can identify, but it kept me from loving the book instead of just liking it.

Anyone out there recommend other McDonald books that would be worth the time to read?
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By naraoia@hotmail.com on July 1, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ian McDonald's Desolation Road is undeniably his best book, a rich and vibrant tale of village life on a terraformed Mars. Reminiscent (intentionally) of the magic realist novels of Marquez and Llosa it transcends the science fiction genre without denigrating it, revelling in both worlds to the credit of each. This is one of those books that critics should hold up as an example of great writing in sf, especially because it won't disappoint even the most hardened veteran reader--literally, a book for everyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 1997
Format: Paperback
Desolation Road is a scifi romp through what might be when we start migrating to distant planets. The combination of entertaining and well thought through characters, peculiar perspective manipulation, and engrossing dialogue makes this one of my personal favorites. Air, Land, and Sea all take secondary roles to time and space. A distinctly new style and approach while addressing the mundane and oft peculiar activities of current life in the post industrial age make this book breath with the life of all times. Heinlein without the mysogynistic attitudes
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ian Mac Donald has a refreshing style that should appeal to all hardcore sci-fi readers tired of big spaceships and huge disasters. Here, the core of the plot is the human destiny, with its share of luck and coincidence ; if everything seems at first a bit disentangled, it all ties up in the end in a glorious finish wich is one of the best ever written. This book is like foreign food : try, and you'll find it excellent.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Michael Werneburg on July 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
The story told in this book is an original and engaging one. I particularly liked the writer's no-nonsense story telling. As a would-be author myself, I was constantly astounded by his ability to tell a lot in just a few words. It's a tale that somehow weaves together the terraforming of Mars with a rich mysticism and a gigantic array of characters. It doesn't sound like something that works, but I found myself hooked from the outset.

I recommend the story.

But I can't recommend this edition. Put simply, I could believe that this book was so poorly made. The binding is fine, the thing seems well enough made.

The problem is that this printing is clearly the result of an OCR-scan of an original printed version. Every other page seems to include a wrong word, an oddly inserted newline, or a mistaken letter (e.g. a '1' appearing where an 'l' belongs'. It is appalling obvious that no one ever reviewed what was being printed, let alone proof-read the thing. There is no evidence that this edition was even prepared by anyone involved with the original: it reads like something a guy with a scanner and MS Word could have cooked up. (Even the typeface was a weird one not suited for a book).

When I buy a book, one of the things I'm buying is a professionally-made work that I'll keep for years and will re-read. This book fails in this regard. I'm not even sure I'd pass it on to friends.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. N Ritchie on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was drawn into Desolation Road immediately and enjoyed the book. It begins as an intimate, slightly fey, story of misfits on a terraforming Mars finding a place for themselves in as yet undeveloped stop on a desert railway.

But as it progresses towards the end it drags and what was an engaging story of a small society of misfits loses focus when the stories scope expands.

I became increasingly disinterested as the story seemed to become less about the characters and more about the wider world around them.

I don't think, as some reviewers say earlier, that this is McDonalds best work. I think his stories set in future India ('River of Gods' and attendant short stories) are much better.
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