- Paperback: 357 pages
- Publisher: Pyr (April 21, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591027357
- ISBN-13: 978-1591027355
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,965,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Brasyl Paperback – April 21, 2009
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About the Author
Ian McDonald is the author of Planesrunner, Be My Enemy, and Empress of the Sun, in the Everness series. He has written thirteen science fiction novels--including the 2011 John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner for Best Novel, The Dervish House--as well as Brasyl, River of Gods, Cyberabad Days, Ares Express, Desolation Road, King of Morning, Queen of Day, Out on Blue Six, Chaga, and Kirinya. He's been nominated for every major science fiction award, and even won some. McDonald also works in television and in program development--all those reality shows have to come from somewhere--and has written for screen as well as print. He lives in Northern Ireland, just outside Belfast, and loves to travel.
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First of all, the excessive Portuguese. I usually really like unusual stylistic choices, but his use of Portuguese crossed way over the line and became an annoying affectation. It felt pretentious, and didn't add anything notable to the book. If the point was immersion, there are far more skillful ways to do that and this choice was really ham handed.
And I don't think that McDonald had the authority to use that much of an actively spoken foreign language that he doesn't speak, in his novel. Sadly some of the reviews I've seen from native speakers have blasted the awkward phrasing and weird use. Could you imagine someone doing this with English? Wait, that exists, and we call it Engrish and it's terribly awkward. Why would it be good writing to do it to another language? I can see he had consultants, and I am sure he did tons of research but that frankly is not enough.
Although that would have been forgivable, just annoying, had the content of the book stood up. Sadly it did not. I found the characters fairly interesting, unlike some reviewers who hated the MC-- she was pretty hate able, and I'm a little worried that this is the only type of interesting female character McDonald seems to enjoy writing, but she was also kind of hilarious in her hateability and very self aware of her flamboyant flaws. So I actually liked her-- which is why i felt betrayed when certain character changes happened near the end of the book which felt completely out of the blue and nonsensical. There was no real build up to her change in character into the person she was at the end, she was just one way in one chapter and totally different in the next.
Also the plot is a sloppy mess. Eighty percent interesting ideas building up to a final twenty percent "oh god I have to make the novel end the way I planned, how do I get from here to there" and the answer was contrived and boring.
The multiple time lines that bothered other people didn't bother me, I liked them. Just the stuff above.
Anyways, a disappointment. I expected better.
First off, I'm a native Irish speaker, from Galway, so when Quinn launched into the commentary of how language shapes mind, I was in complete sympathy.
Next, it seems like a bunch of authors (like this one) are jumping on the "multiverse" theme these days. Good for them. It's a fun thing to explore, and I enjoy what's coming out of it. Having earned a degree in physics, and having heard about the devil creating the interface, well, I just love the Q-blade.
Beyond that, well, I've been to Rio, love the city, and the chase scenes play out very true to life. I'm sure the author does Sao Paulo equally well.
Reading this book, and "Anathem", I am filled with hope that we'll have languages strong enough to describe (flip side: solve) NP-hard problems within the next 20 years. How *that* will change us!
What a great world we live in. What a great book.
UPDATE (3/31/2010): The opening bit of this books now exists in the US, as the series "Bait Car."
And a note on the electronic version: there was too much space between paragraphs; a single space would suffice, except for when there is a change of "scene".
Why say something simply, when you can use a few flowery and long sentences without commas to say the same thing? :-) This book didn't give me any need to sample something else McDonald has written. Second this years' Hugo nominated book I have read. At this time "No award" is still my first choice in the novel category.