Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another Review: River of Gods

The other book I got through while in Florida was Ian McDonald's River of Gods. Unfortunately, 'got through' is rather more accurate in this case.

The story itself is very classic cyberpunk with a mystical flair and some interesting thoughts on quantum theory. And McDonald has clearly spent time in India researching this book...but it is still possible to tell that this is a white man writing a non-white story. (As an example, I was far more convinced by the South African-ness of the movie District 9, despite Peter Jackson's involvement). I'm not sure I would personally attempt a story set in India like that without actually living there for several years. And the key part of the story could almost have been set anywhere. Its Indianness was backdrop, rather than integral, even though the book is taglined as the Indian centennial (never mentioned). Sorry, Ian, but it really did read like you researched India, not lived it.

I also found his voice in this book somewhat trying. There were elements of style that threw me out of the story. Oh, and there were a couple of times when I thought there was just a touch too much sex, although much of it was necessary and none was really explicit.

However, his knowledge and understanding of multiple universe and brane theory was solid. The science worked, even as it threatened to cross the line into fantasy. The bittersweet ending made sense with regard to the rest of the story...although nobody really got their happily ever afters. I would also have liked to see a certain extremely important character introduced sooner than halfway through the book.

Flawed, but worth a read for the philosophical elements.

(Again, no bribes involved...I'm finally reading through some of my collection I haven't gotten to yet).