The Geomancer


Brasyl is Hot and Tropical and Full of Music

Paul Di Filippo reviews Brasyl for's SciFi Weekly today, giving the latest from Ian McDonald an A and saying that the novel is, "hot and tropical and full of music—finds more than enough materials and promise in this developing land to support a conceit of cosmic magnitude... He manages to work simultaneously at many levels, from the intimate and individual to the societal and universal. And he always embodies his themes in minutely particularized images and descriptions, both quotidian and fantastical. His characters are utterly believable, grounded in their unique pasts and presents. And typical of his more stefnal speculations is his invention of 'Q blades,' knives with quantum edges that can sever reality. They steal the show every time they appear."

As always, Di Filippo's reviews are grounded in a thorough understanding of our genre's history. His comparisons to other works always interesting and informative, this time he offers, "In Marcelina's sections, we get a story built of equal parts Norman Spinrad (the sardonic media satire) and Fritz Leiber (the crosstime shennanigans). In Edson's parts, McDonald distills John Brunner, Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, producing his own unique hard liquor. And in the Quinn action, we've got flavors of Neal Stephenson blended with Howard Hendrix. And don't forget that all three sections authentically render the Brazilian milieu as deftly as native writer Jorge Amado would."

Di Filippo concludes by calling the novel, "a tripartite thriller that whipsaws the reader's expectations and enjoyment around like a motorcycle ride straight down Sugarloaf itself. As Dr. Falcon writes in his journal, 'Brazil turns hyperbole into reality.' Call what McDonald does here, then, "hyper-real SF."

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