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Brasyl [Hardcover]

Ian McDonald
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 16.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 May 2007
Think Bladerunner in the tropics...

Be seduced, amazed, and shocked by one of the world’s greatest and strangest nations. Past, present, and future Brazil, with all its color, passion, and shifting realities, come together in a novel that is part SF, part history, part mystery, and entirely enthralling.

Three separate stories follow three main characters:

Edson is a self-made talent impresario one step up from the slums in a near future São Paulo of astonishing riches and poverty. A chance encounter draws Edson into the dangerous world of illegal quantum computing, but where can you run in a total surveillance society where every move, face, and centavo is constantly tracked?

Marcelina is an ambitious Rio TV producer looking for that big reality TV hit to make her name. When her hot idea leads her on the track of a disgraced World Cup soccer goalkeeper, she becomes enmeshed in an ancient conspiracy that threatens not just her life, but her very soul.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 357 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (1 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591025435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591025436
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,993,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian McDonald was born in Manchester in 1960. His family moved to Northern Ireland in 1965. He now lives in Belfast and works in TV production. The author of many previous novels, including the groundbreaking Chaga books set in Africa, Ian McDonald has long been at the cutting edge of SF. RIVER OF GODS won the BSFA award in 2005.

Product Description


"Ian McDonald is one of the more politically engaged science-fiction writers working today. Brasyl is a unique thriller of ideas." (Yo Zushi NEW STATESMAN)

"A dazzling, bold, fast-moving rush through three different worlds. I'm still thinking about it days after I finished reading it, a sure sign of a worthwhile book." (DEATHRAY)

An extraordinary thematic narrative that I have no doubt will be featuring on many an award shortlist in the coming year. A genre novel right on the cutting edge of the quantum blades wielded as weapons within its pages, a book that loudly proclaims the arrival of the future (SF REVU)

A major novel from a major talent (SF REVIEWS)

McDonald conveys quite brilliantly the prodigious energy and fecundity of Brazil as it is and could be. ...Brasyl is a feast of fine prose, an able political novel, and an intriguing experiment in cross-temporal storytelling and implication. is without doubt one of the major SF books of 2007 (LOCUS)

A mesmerizing ensemble of three different tales. I was astonished... to see how McDonald yet again captures the essence of a country and its people and weaves it in a myriad of ways throughout the novel... Brasyl deserves the highest possible recommendation. It will surely be one of the best - if not the best - science fiction novels of 2007 (FANTASY HOTLIST)

I predict Brasyl will grace multiple shortlists come 2008. It's easily the best SF novel I've read this year. McDonald is a superb writer . . . much more often than not McDonald's prose is a wonder, from a hundred vivid and witty details, to sustained passages of perfectly judged atmosphere' (STRANGE HORIZONS)

A triptych tale of humanity and all its passions and indignities. McDonald is not for the weak of heart. But oh, the ideas! Having learned and wondered and considered, I am better for having read this novel (SPECULATIVE REVIEWS)

"It's a great story, wonderfully written, packed with neo-lit images and nifty phrases. A triple stranded SF narrative that glows with stronger colours and throbs to a more compulsive samba beat than mere reality can offer." (David Langford SFX)

A bold, triple stranded novel - a sort of mutant chick lit horror, a historical adventure and a reeling cyberpunk thriller. (THE BIG ISSUE)

"Scintillating. Put this on your must-read list." (Dave Langford BBC FOCUS)

"A brilliant, kaleidoscopic novel that's both a portrait of a country and an exploration of the wider shores of theoretical physics. Brasyl is McDonald's best book yet." (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

"A big, sprawling, sexy, complex novel. The writing is energetic and economical, the story riveting, the denouement fascinating. Enjoy!" (DREAMWATCH)

"A distinct and convincingly detailed world, full of the horrors of slavery, the Orwellian potential of the surveillance society currently developing, and the casual cruelty of our own celebrity driven culture. An impressive work." (STARBURST)

Brasyl is an accomplished work, a complex, multi-layered narrative which questions the notions of determinism and free will in a universe of illimitable possibilities. McDonald not only paints a stunning portrait of Brazil, which in all its chaos mirrors the quantum uncertainties of the multiverse, but presents a set of characters who come over as real people: multi-faceted, flawed, but ultimately sympathetic." (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

Brasyl's worth a look: whenever McDonald's imagination slips free of its narrative constraints it leaves many of his contemporaries standing. A flawed technicolour storm of a book by one of Britain's most consistently interesting SF writers." (Tim Martin THE INDEPENDENT)

Part Blade Runner, part Fast and Furious, part Philip K Dick, part Neuromancer. One of my favourite reads of 2007 so far. (SFFWORLD.COM)

Brasyl is the best new novel I've read this year: a load of fun and an inventive politico-philosophical story, making it both "entertaining" and "important." Read it now so that when it starts popping up on several short lists later this year you'll know why. (SFFWORLD.COM)

"Probably the most intriguing and stylish SF novel of the year. Gloriously lush." (Roz Kaveney TIME OUT) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The sensational new novel from one of the most acclaimed UK SF writers; a major addition to the Gollancz list --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior novel! 25 Jun 2007
Brasyl was one of this year's most anticipated reads for me.

With River of Gods, Ian McDonald raised the bar rather high, and I was wondering if the author could come up with something as good. It never occurred to me that McDonald could write a better novel. And yet, somehow, he did!

Brasyl is a mesmerizing ensemble of three different tales. On takes place in Rio de Janeiro in 2006, as an ambitious reality tv producer finds herself in the middle of a conflict that could unravel reality itself. The second story takes place in Sao Paulo in 2032, as a man is thrust into the dangerous universe of quantum computing and he'll never be the same again. The third storyline occurs in Brazil in 1732, as a Jesuit Father is sent to bring back a rogue priest to face the justice of the religious order.

I was astonished to see the tale unfold, to see how McDonald yet again captures the essence of a country and its people and weaves it in a myriad of ways throughout the novel. The author paints a vivid picture of South America's largest country, depicting the past, the present, and the possible future of Brazil in a manner that makes everything come alive as you read on. Every plotline is tied to the others. Indeed, everything is linked together across time and the fabric of reality, thanks to quantum physics and the multiverse that surrounds our existence.

The worldbuilding is "top notch." Ian McDonald deserves kudos for his brilliant depiction of Brazil during three different epochs. As always, the author's eye for exquisite details adds another dimension to a book that's already head and shoulder above the competition.

Of the three main characters (one for each era), Father Luis Quinn steals the show.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vibrant and original 16 Oct 2007
MacDonald once again chooses a distinctive cultural backdrop for this tale of quantum computing, parallel universes and mysterious organisations attempting to control reality. We are presented with three 'eras' of Brazil, anicent, contemporary and near-future, and within these three narrative strands is packed a phenomenal amount of historical, scientific and cultural knowledge. MacDonald has clearly done his research, and if at times the science is shoe-horned in via clunky 'infodumps', the never-ending stream of vivid characters, visceral action and cliffhanger plot-twists keeps the reader very much engaged. At times bewildering, and perhaps a little rushed towards the end, this is nevertheless a feast of alternative sci-fi that betrays a deep-love for its setting and its people.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars real sci-fi, real storytelling 2 Feb 2009
This is one of the most original and inventive novels in this genre that I've read for some time. One can only conclude from the protests re the use of Brazilian-Portuguese in the text, that the complaints originate from those who holiday in foreign climes and insist on the full English breakfast. If one seeks the exotic, it's pretty much a given that things will be somewhat different. And this book certainly is different. This is the first book I've read by this author, but it is unlikely to be the last. Mr McDonald appears to be the sort of author who sets out to flatter his readers by assuming that they are either well-read, curious or both, whilst managing to entertain them at the same time. If you've found Wm Gibson, Neal Stephenson et al rewarding then this book is for you, tho' Mr McDonald is, on the basis of this outing, entirely his own man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brasyl, Brazil, etc 16 Feb 2010
Interesting one, this. As a SF novel, the concept feels pretty standard fare - multiverse, a manichean battle between those who want to preserve and those who want to provoke. The real high concept is the setting and the characterisation which aspires to the literary. The liberal sprinkling of Portuguese words acts as a badge of realism, of authenticity - yet the novel is premised on the quantum uncertainty, impossibility, of "the real". It comes across a little as literary tourism, an English author looking to carve out a niche as the SF Michael Palin. In terms of plot, this is the origin story of a trilogy that will never be written. It took me over 100 pages to crack the style and want to read on. Interesting, but not, I think, a classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch 29 Aug 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Absolutely first class read from Ian McDonald. A three handed narrative, in the now almost compulsory Sci-Fi multi narrative, multi timeline format but none the worse for it. Unlike so many novelists McDonald handles his disparate narrative streams deftly, allowing sufficient "bleed through" before the dénouement to direct and steer the meta-narrative and keep the stories tightly entwined until they fuse into one.

I loved Brazil as a source of inspiration, mixing past, present, future and some merely "possible" Brazils with a quantum cascade of possibilities and interlinkage that kept me turning pages well into the night.

If I have any criticism is it that the character of the protagonist in the past brazil, Luis Quinn, felt too familiar to me, almost stereotypical in some respects, perhaps I've simply read too many novels to allow me to see characters as truly fresh if they share any, even minor, trait with another I've read somewhere else, but this is a very trivial complaint in an otherwise compelling and innovative book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of annoying ways to apply the letter Q
This depicts both a future and past Brazil but not as you know it. It’s Brasyl, or a multiplicity of Brasyls, or Brazils, past, current and present which each give you a range of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by P. J. Dunn
5.0 out of 5 stars "For a hundred leagues along the Rio Branco the emblem of the Green...
This is stunning. Set in modern times in Sao Paulo, and in 1732-34 in the Amerindian jungle. It flips to one or another location chapter to chapter. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Eileen Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars In the end I'm glad I persevered
I thought it important that the star rating reflects this book. Everything is pretty much covered in other reviews.

It's a darn beautiful book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Conor Syme
2.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable
I loved 'River of Gods', I struggled through 'Cyderabad Days' and eventually enjoyed it. This is just unreadable - entirely the style. Read more
Published on 11 Mar 2012 by Love Complexity
4.0 out of 5 stars Colourful Complex Quantum Shenanigans
In 1733, Father Luis Quinn, a decent irish priest haunted by a violent incident in his past, is sent on a mission into the Amazon jungle as an admonitory to reign in a rogue... Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2011 by Rod Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars Something is missing
"Brasyl" is a book written by Ian McDonald, a british author born in the sixties known for his non-traditional science fiction, like "River of Gods" and "The Dervish House". Read more
Published on 23 July 2011 by ManInsideTheHelm
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best.
I didn't find this book as engaging as River of Gods or Cyberabad Days. I felt the characters were weaker (and more cliched) and so was the sci-fi concept behind the story.
Published on 1 Aug 2010 by HeecheeRendezvous
3.0 out of 5 stars In another universe this is a better book
As other reviewers have remarked the high count of Portuguese words, real and invented, makes this tough to read, but the real problem is that story is just not as gripping as it... Read more
Published on 30 Nov 2008 by M. G. Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars Aweful
The consistent and unecessary refrence to Brazilian dialect made it hard going. The Author does not write well and there is no sense of flow when reading the book. Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2008 by Paul Dawson
5.0 out of 5 stars True brilliance
Brasyl is a work of true brilliance! If William Gibson will still penning mainstream science fiction works than this is what he would have evolved into. Read more
Published on 4 July 2008 by thesci-figuy
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