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August 1, 2007

Brasyl - Ian McDonald

Brasyl (UK / US) had a lot to live up to. River Of Gods (McDonald's last book) is just about my favourite book of the last five years or so, and I was highly excited about Brasyl. Could it possibly live up to my expectations?

Well, yes. Brasyl is a book that could have been written for me to order. It's as if someone read my mind and put in everything that I want: Neal Stephenson Baroque Cycle 1700's adventure and mystery, William Gibson Pattern Recognition modern day post cyberpunk, near future state of the art Gibson McDonald cyberpunk, wonderful poetic writing and a load of quantum physics. Oh, and some of the best TV shows never to get made.

The plots are a perfect example of how to hook readers in and then escalate and escalate. Everything seems inevitable, yet unguessable. Each of the three stories starts with an small incident, then things get worse, bigger, more important. Until at the end everything collides in an excellently satisfying climax. The characters are interesting, never pandering to be likeable but instead real, with conflicts and faults, and yet you end up rooting for them.

There are hints and flavours of all sorts of modern and recent classic SF in there, what Ian McDonald does brilliantly is mix everything up, add his own flavourings and style and make it all fresh and new, he did it with River Of Gods and he's done it with Brasyl.

I really loved Brasyl. It's my perfect example of modern Science Fiction.

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With the talk of Neal Stephenson you excite me... with the talk of Pattern Recognition, you make me nervous... I really wasn't keen on the manner in which that book was written and the story was pretty bloody awful, I thought.

But still... I think I'll be getting a non-shiny version of this book in the near future!

Pattern Recognition because one plot is modern day, starts with a SF feel but nothing that couldn't be true. It does however escalate into "proper" SF, unlike Pattern Recognition.