the guardian Fri 08 August 2008
There are few if any science-fiction writers currently working who display the kind of flair, intelligence and sheer pizzazz that is par for the course with Ian McDonald. Emerging in the early 1980s with the stylistic pyrotechnics of Desolation Road, he has been one of the most critically acclaimed genre writers of his generation. Brasyl is classic McDonald: a deep-thinking, high-paced adventure story exploring the quantum universe, combining sassy, believable characters with a captivating delight in language and storytelling. Jumping between 18th-century, contemporary and near-future settings, Brasyl is told in a series of triptychs in which the stories of reality TV producer and Botox junky Marcelina Hoffman, 18th-century priest Luis Quinn on the hunt for a rogue priest in the Amazon forest, and would-be playboy wheeler-dealer Edson come together in a battle over the nature of reality itself. McDonald inhabits the Brazil - or rather, the Brazils - of this story and sweeps you along as no other writer in the field could manage.