Worth Reading: River of Gods – Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald’s “River of Gods” was one of the best books I read in 2008. This one came as a bit of a surprise to me as it was one recommended to me by Amazon based on previous purchases and wasn’t sure how I’d take to “Bollywood Cyberpunk”. I’ve since learned that McDonald is a master of not just throwing you into the deep end of the pool, but drowning you in it.  McDonald drowns so skillfully that you simply don’t want to surface for air, you just want to keep breathing the world. I’ve just finished his Brasyl and you come away feeling similarly drenched by the author.

The structure of the novel reminds me a lot of the classic Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. 

Stories thread around a large number of separate characters, briefly merging and spliting as the plot dictates. One of the main threads follows an AI cop who tracks down emergent intelligences before singularity events (the AI improving itself to godhood) can occur. Other threads explore India of the 2040’s where a thriving technology based economy butts up against millenias old culture. I’m not much of an India-phile myself, but McDonald’s style drew me in, immersing me in something totally alien from my own experience. I read perhaps a hundred or so books a year and it is rare for me to become so engrossed. River of Gods is a classic worthy of a readers time and something that will stay with you a long time after you put it down.

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7 Responses to “Worth Reading: River of Gods – Ian McDonald”

  1. drej08 Says:

    I’ve been keeping an eye out for it, after you talked it up at the burger last year, to no avail, so am going to order it up.
    But I did find Brasyl recently, thought it was awesome, now Sth America is on the top of my to-do list.

  2. Orin Says:

    I saw it with a far less cool cover at Borders in Chadstone and Knox – so you can probably get it through your local bookshop. In may a follow up is going to be published, though probably with a different cast – just the same setting (and it is the setting that makes this book so great)

  3. Ender in Exile « Orin’s Blog Says:

    […] Ender in Exile meanders along at about the same pace. Card doesn’t reach the heights he hit with the original Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide and Ender’s Shadow (I found Children of the Mind also a bit lacking) – and this fits more into the Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Giant level of fiction. Which is perfectly fine for a throwaway read – but won’t knock your socks off like Ian McDonald’s River of Gods. […]

  4. paulboylan Says:

    Sounds really good. I will find a copy.

  5. mickH Says:

    OK, sounds like my next book, after Zoe’s tale (I have to finish the series)

  6. mickH Says:

    Bugger!
    It’s out of print. I’m goi9ng to have to wait for it (Or chase it down on line or check Borders or…)

    So I bought The Steel Remains instead

  7. Orin Says:

    That is odd because I saw a copy again the other day in Borders. The sequel is turning up in 2 weeks – so I’m rereading it and loving every minute of it.

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