The Geomancer


Sagramanda on Cool SciFi

Rich Horton posts his review of Alan Dean Foster's Sagramanda, apparenlty orphaned from Locus magazine, over on He makes the inevitable comparison with River of Gods, though is fair in pointing out it really is apples to oranges in terms of authorial intent and scope, but seems to like Sagramanda none the less:

"Foster's novel is not so brilliant as McDonald's, and really it makes no attempt to be brilliant at that level. Rather, it is an enjoyable and fast-moving thriller - and quite successful as such.... It's quite an exciting read. The plot moves sharply, and quite believably... The portrait of fairly near-future India is fairly well-done, though here the book truly does suffer by comparison with McDonald's altogether more complex and deeper portrait. Sagramanda is no masterpiece, but it is fun and not without deeper shadings."

I would add only that both McDonald and Foster were plugging into the zeitgeist at the same time and have produced two very different works, both valuable and enjoyable in their own rights and for their own reasons. Where McDonald's work is sort of a futuristic Kim, Foster's is a technothriller enhanced by the experience of a nonWestern setting. Obviously, I enjoyed both enormously, but then, I would. I think you will too though.


  1. I met Alan Dean Foster at Borderlands bookstore last year (before the release of Sagramanda) and asked him about any comparisons that might be made with River of Gods. He more or less said that the point is moot; both books were written without knowledge of the other. They really are two different books and each one succeeds at what the author set out to do.

  2. I say again - they were both plugged into the zeitgeist, this laudible urge to get beyond the west and explore developing countries. They both filtered this through their separate sensibilities, producing two very different works. Both books are great books, and I do think that both books can be read together as an examination of this zeitgeist, but beyond that, it's an apples and oranges comparison. And as we see more books in the coming years set in India and elsewhere, the comparison will be less "inevitable" than it is right here right now. Mind you, I don't think Rich's review suggests otherwise either.

  3. Yep, I know...I was agreeing with the comments in the original post. :)

  4. I got that. I was just agreeing with you agreeing.