rating: 5 of 5 stars
An amazing and mind blowing book.
This book comes at you with a three braided plot, with one braid in Brazil's colonial past, one in it's urban present, and the other in a strange future. The past follows a Jesuit priest set on a Heart of Darkness quest to stop a renegade Jesuit who has carved out an empire in the Amazon. The present Point of View character is a reality TV show producer who comes up with the idea to have a Reality TV trail of the goalie who lost the 1950 world cup for Brazil and cost the nation decades of self-doubt. The future gives us the world of a high tech bisexual businessman/hustler who falls in love with a beautiful quantum computer hacker.
All of the characters are well drawn and when the braid switches, you get immediately caught up in the life of the next character.
What the reader doesn't get at the start of the book, is how these threads could ever meet up. But meet up they do, so pay attention to the weird stuff, because that's where the tie-in comes from.
Some SF/F books are so subtle in their fantastic elements, you can recommend them to your friends outside the genre. Not Brasyl. This is why you read science fiction. I imagine that readers of literary fiction must feel the same way, "this is such a life altering book, but no one outside of our tribe will understand it. Poor simpletons." This is such a book for the Science Fiction reader. It is truly sad that outsiders couldn't begin to understand. Simpletons....
It's an amazing ride, but I was slightly put off by one of the ideas in the ending. Perhaps only because I had read Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson years ago. I don't want to include any spoilers, so I'll leave it at that. Not enough of a problem for me to take off a star.
The ending was emotionally satisfying and my major disappointment what that it came to an end. If you read Science Fiction, you don't want to miss this. Ian McDonald's best work, and I like Ian McDonald.
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