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Evolution's Shore Paperback – November 1, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

An eerie alien vegetation begins spreading across the African landscape and transforms everything and everyone it touches. Irish reporter Gaby McAslin, drawn to this otherworldly phenomenon, finds herself caught in a mystery in the heart of a strange, new world. McDonald (Terminal Cafe, Spectra: Bantam, 1995) consistently explores new territory with his breathtaking images and incisive language. Both form and substance blend fortuitously in a work that features strong characters, a suspenseful story, and a profound message of hope and transformation. A priority purchase for sf collections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

McDonald's fandom will recognize his latest novel as a reworking of his 1990 novelette "Towards Kilimanjaro." Gaby McAslan is an Irish reporter who pins her hopes of journalistic fame on covering an anomalous meteor crash on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Occurring on the heels of the shocking disappearance of Saturn's moon, Hyperion, the crash stirs further alarm from the mysterious outgrowth of rapidly spreading alien plant life, dubbed the Chaga, that follows it. McAslan's moment of glory arrives when she discovers a man who has survived among the Chaga for years and was not only fed and warmed by it but is slowly turning into a Chaga life-form. As the mysterious infestation continues to envelop Central Africa, it transforms everyone who encounters it, inspiring testimonials to both its fundamental beneficence and its unfathomable strangeness. McDonald sets aside the edgy, stylized technospeak of his previous novels to make a complex exploration of otherworldly intelligence that matches the scope of such alien-probing classics as Lem's Solaris. Another masterwork from one of sf's leading voices. Carl Hays
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; December 1995 edition (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553374354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553374353
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Salil Maniktahla on January 29, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would strongly agree with the reviewer above who said that science fiction often falls into anthropocentrist thinking, and that Ian McDonald is one of the few who can get past that to see the truly ALIEN. It's a rare skill.
What most of the reviews leave out is that this book combines an adventure story, a career story, a (great) love story, and has a political and geographical backdrop so vivid it stops the reader dead in his tracks sometimes. Few popular novels deal with Africa at all. Even fewer science fiction novels do. This would be one of the most ambitious undertakings--and McDonald pulls it off. I didn't think the ending was predictable, or that the political stances were cliche. In fact, the ending is rather unresolved. McDonald manages to convey a sense of hope rather than a neatly tied up bundle of plot strings. But it still satisfies.
There are few authors who can make you think of the universe as a place that is young and new and full of the unknown, full of possibilities. McDonald did it with one of his earliest (the earliest?) novels, "Desolation Road" and he does it again here in a less fantastic (yet still fantastic) setting.
Not everyone gets tingles down their spine reading this book. But enough do (and I did) that I'd wholeheartedly recommend it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By flying-monkey on July 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Novels with aliens in can be disastrous. They are too much like odd versions of ourselves, or a few earth species mixed together. Ian McDonald's vision avoids these pitfalls. His 'Chaga' is a substance, a machine, a being (or beings), a process and many other things all at once. None of them are remotely human or earthlike, yet there are hints that it has something to do with our own evolution. Given the rich descriptive skill with which McDonald evokes the utter strangeness of the rapidly growing Chaga, you might expect him not to be so good at human characters. You'd be wrong. His characterisation is superb - Gaby, Faraway, Tembo, Shepherd, Haran, Oksana and others are all believable people not cartoon cutouts. They invade your thoughts and beg you to care about their lives. The best thing of all though about this book is that it shits all over the idea that the USA is and will always be the most important place on the planet from a great height. While the Americans and the Europeans are running around treating the Chaga like a threat, a disease, many of the Africans realise that adaption, symbiosis, is the key to their future, and the future of the planet as a whole. By the end of the book Africa is turning the tables on the USA; this theme is continued in the equally wonderful sequel. Together, this book and its sequel add up to one of the most humane, hopeful, rich and wonderful science-fiction tales to have been written in recent years.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
Being a big McDonald fan, it's hard to put my finger on which of his books might or might not be the "best," but this one is certainly in the running. He keeps his inclination toward weirdness-for-its-own-sake under rein and puts together a fantastically gripping novel. The scene in which McAslan and her colleagues are being chased into the Chaga by a UNECTA strike force actually increased my heart rate, it was that good. McDonald has never written such a great action scene before, and it really proves that he's moved to a new level of writing.

However -- and I include these comments here because it's unlikely that they'll be seen under the titles to which they refer -- several of his other books are just as good. "Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone" is an elegant little novella exploring some ingenious concepts. "King of Morning, Queen of Day" is a terrific three-part psychodrama. And his debut novel, "Desolation Road," still stands up as pure poetry. Of course, the two great things about McDonald are the way he blends science fiction with magical realism and the way he trashes the assumption that the future belongs to the Western European world. I would recommend all his books wholeheartedly except for "Terminal Cafe," which I found dreary and uninspiring, and "The Broken Land" (an allegory of the Troubles in Northern Ireland), which I would only recommend to people who've already read several of his books and are used to his obsession with freaky biotechnology.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book about 3 years ago on a whim. It was my first Ian McDonald book. It definitely will not be my last. Great book. Started out a little slow but I was completely drawn in as soon as Gaby McAshlan hit the Chaga. A great read on its own merits but I was drawn philosophically as well. The conflict between Western civilizations (UN) trying to manipulate the outcome in 3rd world countries (Africa) was compelling. Especially in light of a situation that seems like an inevitable occurrence on the entire planet. When I thought about the alternative of the Western world doing nothing, unfortunately, that was equally plausible. The fact that the novel takes place in the near future made it very easy to visualize. I thought that the bulk of the sex and romance in the story was mostly gratuitous and McDonald did not flesh out some of the more interesting characters. I found Gaby's roommate Miriam Sondhai to be a very interesting character and wanted to learn more about her . I thought the ending with Gaby's lover Shepard in space was a little much as well, although I did enjoy the descriptions of the conditions in space and would like to know just what he saw when he went into the Big Dumb Object. I have been waiting patiently for the sequel to be published in the states.
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