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Cyberabad Days Paperback – February 24, 2009
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Ian McDonald’s chops as a storyteller and visionary have become apparent over two decades of cutting-edge SF—in short stories, novels, and the trickier novellas and novelettes that have often formed the springboard for longer works. The stories in Cyberabad Days showcase those skills, distilling the author’s extrapolation of the present into a cyberpunk, dystopian future that is still fundamentally human despite the increasing dominance of technology in “a world that manages to be convincingly, sympathetically India, but is still created with such light strokes of McDonald’s pen that the reader never gets bogged down in the world-building” (Green Man Review). No matter what form his fiction takes, McDonald has become one of the surest bets in SF.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
"I would recommend this collection to everyone and anyone. If you like River of Gods, this collection is a must-have. If you haven’t read [it], this collection should show you what you’re missing, and provide an introduction to this fascinating world." --SFRevu
"A terrific book and a satisfying return to the world of River of Gods. Ian McDonald is a genius, pure and simple… Highly recommended! 8.5/10" --Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist
“…sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year…” --Fantasy Book Critic
“Ian McDonald is one of science fiction's finest working writers, and his latest short story collection…is the kind of book that showcases exactly what science fiction is for. Cyberabad Days has it all: spirituality, technology, humanity, love, sex, war, environmentalism, politics, media -- all blended together to form a manifesto of sorts, a statement about how technology shapes and is shaped by all the wet, gooey human factors. Every story is simultaneously a cracking yarn, a thoughtful piece of technosocial criticism, and a bag of eyeball kicks that'll fire your imagination. The field is very lucky to have Ian McDonald working in it.” --Boing Boing.net
“Wonderfully imagined world; great story ideas; McDonald's well-crafted prose delivers enjoyment on several levels. An excellent collection of stories that serves as both starting place for readers new to this world, and fascinating return trips for those who have been here before.” --SF Signal
Top customer reviews
I think McDonald's strong point is creating a believable, living and breathing world and then analyzing all sorts of cool technologies and ideas within that world. He's a little weaker on actual story telling. Most of the stories in this book don't have much of a plot. In fact, the final story is basically a retelling of the entire future "history" of India through the eyes of "Brahmin," and definitely should NOT be read before you read River of Gods.
Some of the phrases McDonald uses (like Brahmin, for example) are borrowed from Indian and/or middle-eastern culture and applied to the new technologies and genetic mutations he's invented for his future. This occasionally was a problem for me as I read the stories, trying to remember what different terms meant. For example, was a Djinn a ghost or was it the physical manifestation of an advanced AI personality? River of Gods had a glossary at the end to help you keep those terms straight. Cyberabad Days definitely could have also benefited from a glossary, especially for readers like me, who read River of Gods a couple years ago.
Here's the problem: there are really only four themes around which each of these stories are written, and each story includes all of the themes. By the middle of the book, the wonderful creativity seems to turn into a varied retelling of the same basic vision. By the end of the book the constant retelling just grinds along.
It's worth a read just for the uniqueness of the non-Western approach to science fiction, but you could read any two of the stories in the collection and not miss the rest.
The last chapter wants to be a new book or is the author's hook as to what's comming next. I reccommed it to any one looking for some insight as to where the future of AI might be going.
I give the author high marks for his depiction of a future India and the medical and informational advances. He is original and talented. Just make me care about the characters.
This review is anomalous, given the higher stars awarded by others. In this regard, my prior reads were Bacigalupi's "Pump Six" and "The Windup Girl". In both these books the characters (all of them) grabbed me like a treble hook in a catfish
and kept me involved to the last page. So the bar was left pretty high when I got to RoG and CD. RoG comfortably cleared the bar, but CD caught the bar in the face.
Sorry, fans. Maybe his next in this arc will be better.