February 25, 2005
River of Gods
I've finished reading the quite amazingly wonderful River of Gods by Ian McDonald. If you hadn't already guessed I liked it a lot. It's exactly the sort of Science Fiction that I love, complicated, involved, absorbing.
To start with there are about ten characters, which means about ten plots. I say "about" because as you'd expect things collide and crossover and converge, in a very satisfying way. Christopher Priest said that this made it "fiendishly difficult to follow", but I love that sort of challenge.
On top of the multiple plots you have India as the setting, which feels very exotic and new. It's first SF book that I've read that is set in India, although presumably India has some SF writers who use their home country as a backdrop? And the characters are great as well, real people who you love (or hate) but definitely care about. Oh and hundreds of fantastic ideas, I love the idea of AI's playing out a meta-soap.
If you love William Gibson's books, but couldn't help wishing that Pattern Recognition, though you liked it, was science fiction, read River of Gods.
If you're longing for an environment in a book that feels as fresh and exotic but tantalisingly close as the first time you read Neuromancer(UK/US), read River of Gods.
If you love that sense of disorientation of being thrown into an exotic world where everything is revealed in enticing fragments, read River of Gods.
In fact, just read it.