- Paperback: 599 pages
- Publisher: Pyr; Edition Unstated edition (September 30, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591025958
- ISBN-13: 978-1591025955
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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River of Gods Paperback – September 30, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This ambitious portrait of a future India from British author McDonald (Desolation Road) offers multitudes: gods, castes, protagonists, cultures. Nine disparate characters, including a cop, a scientist and a stand-up comic, act out their related dramas—be they personal, political or of the mystery-thriller variety—in successive chapters within each of the book's five sections. In the India of 2047, genetically engineered children comprise a new caste, adults can be surgically transformed into a neutral gender, a water war has broken out as the Ganges threatens to run dry, AIs are violently destroyed if they approach levels akin to human intelligence, and something strange has just appeared in the solar system. The deliberate pace and lack of explanation require patience at the outset, but readers will become increasingly hooked as the pieces of McDonald's richly detailed world fall into place. Already nominated for both Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke awards, this is sure to one of the more talked-about SF novels of the year. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A staggering achievement, brilliantly imagined and endlessly surprising...a brave, brilliant and wonderful novel." -- Christopher Priest, Guardian
"Hugely adventurous and entertaining, sumptuously inventive and full of heart...likely to rank as Ian McDonalds best creative achievement." -- Nick Gevers, Locus
"I will read anything that man writeshe is the most underappreciated genius working in the field today." -- Cory Doctorow, author of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town; coeditor, boingboing.net
"One of the best SF books Ive read this year." -- Iain M. Banks, The Algebraist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
McDonald describes Varanasi in loving, intricate and believable detail. He has a wonderful eye for the way technology changes the way people live and yet leaves them essentially the same as they ever were. As foreign as his future can sometimes be, it is also eerily familiar - you find yourself believing in places like a boat town on the banks of the river where extra-legal organizations conduct remote-controlled gender-nullification surgery and create super-intelligent computer programs. McDonald uses this familiarity to discuss topics that have relevance to our lives today, especially the relationship between India and first world nations such as the US and European countries and the internal divisions that threaten to tear this fledgling nation apart. Although he doesn't spare Western imperialism, McDonald doesn't paint India as a despoiled saint. He sees the country in all its contradictory glory and shame, and gives the Western reader an edifying and fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of this fractured nation.
McDonald's characters span all levels of society, and most of them are fresh and original. There are some beautiful touches here, such as Nandha, a policeman so obsessed with doing his job that he forgets about right and wrong, Najia, a reporter discovering her conscience and her humanity, or Khan, a politician who wants to do the right thing but finds himself struggling with socially unacceptable desires.Read more ›
Some of the developments seem to be quite reasonable given our present day world. For example, India is no longer a single nation, but rather, has been balkanized into smaller states similar to those that existed before the Raj. Some humans have found ways to change themselves biologically so that they avoid the problems of being either male or female. At the same time, many elements of this society are recognizable and unchanged like the undercurrent of hatred between Hindus and Muslims on the subcontinent.
And picture a society trying to cope with artificial intelligence, not wanting to abandon it, but not wanting to let it get out of hand. And picture a Hindu policeman whose job it is to track down possibly self-aware a.i.'s and who calls each of the programs that he uses to do the job by the name of a Hindu god whose area of expertise relates to the god's role in the older society.Read more ›
My gripes in no particular order,
a) people and place names are subtly off, not as wildly as Conan Doyle mixing Sikh and Hindu names, but the name combinations, sirnames and spelling don't feel realistic for the setting of Varanasi. This goes for almost every Indian name in the book. Where he gets the names right, the spellings are off and represent how someone in South India would spell the names, highly unlikely in Varanasi e.g. Nandha is more likely to be spelled Nanda, and Najia as Nadiya. People with sirname like Rana are also unlikely to feature big in Varanasi politics. Same goes for place names, especially villages. They are plausible but unlikely.
b) they way india has divided into separate states seems wrong. Not the idea of division, which is a very likely scenario, but how the future state lines are drawn. For example, there is little chance that Awadh and Varanasi would split - not only because they form a uniform ethnic and linguistic group, but also the Ganges-Yamuna civilisation is tied together with in-extricable supply chains, with no natural boundaries between the landmass.
c) the description of india of the future feels antiquated even by existing standards. If you have lived in India you would understand that modes of thought and speech represented in this book have more in common with Kipling's colonial biases than the reality of even contemporary India, let alone the future.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very complex picture of future world. It was very convincing and scary for me.Published 4 months ago by Lukasz Wielec
Worst written and most unreadable book I've ever tried to get through. How it secured favorable reviews here is incomprehensible.Published 4 months ago by Andrew M. Klein
A very interesting novel. I plan to read the other books in this series.Published 14 months ago by S. Davidson
I really enjoyed the Indian cyberpunk setting. I liked the various characters that intertwined to tell a complex story about sentient AIs and their efforts to break free and find... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Alain C. Dewitt
Really just a fascinating read. Worthwhile for sure. Very rich backdrop. Interesting views of AI, India's future, gender evolution, etc.Published on September 14, 2014 by C. Walther
Amazing novel! Great Gibsonian dystopia, full of the confusion and paranoia that happens when ancient culture collides with the postmodern global society. Read morePublished on August 27, 2014 by Ward S. Otake
A wonderfully inspired vision of a dystopian future India. McDonald shows an intimate understanding of the confusing intricacies of Indian culture and religion. Read morePublished on April 23, 2014 by Sun Hyland
Quick paced, lush and atmospherical, this gem of an adventure picks up the thread of future where Gibson left it. Read morePublished on April 19, 2014 by Clara R. Arechiga