Evolution’s Shore is a different kind of alien invasion story. First of all, most of the story takes place in the urban areas of Kenya and around Mt Kilimanjaro (which is in Tanzania). When I decided on the title of this post, I chose “before his prime” because one of the things that I really like about McDonald’s later work is how immersive it is when it comes to describing a foreign place. This book was written well before Brasyl and River of Gods and at this point (early 1990’s) it seems that McDonald’s “full immersion literary style” hasn’t hit it’s stride. There are certainly hints of it, but because the reader travels through the book looking through the eyes of a young Irish female journalist, they don’t really get the feeling of living on the streets in urban Kenya (the way they get the feeling of living in a future Brazil or India in the other books). The alien invasion takes the form of an infestation called the “Chaga”, a hyper-evolved semi-sentient super-organism that seems to be able to treat DNA like software code, rewriting it as it wants to such a level of sophistication that it can grow working biological replacements for electronic components once it has absorbed an original sample. The infestation’s borders are growing at around 50 feet per day and no matter what is tried, that tide cannot be stopped (there are also similar infestations in Malaysia, Central America and an underwater site in the Indian Ocean). This isn’t a “gung ho kick alien arse” kind of book – but can be thought of as an alien invasion book where the aliens are so alien as to be incomprehensible to us.
Evolution’s Shore: Still good, but McDonald before his prime