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River of Gods [Paperback]

Ian McDonald
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jun 2004
August 15th, 2047. Happy Hundredth Birthday, India...In the mid twenty-first century, Mother India is all the things she is now - ancient and vibrant, poor yet staggeringly rich. Diverse, violent, beautiful and terrible, thrilling and bewildering. A nation choked with peoples and cultures, riven with almost seismic contrasts and contradictions. Nearly two billion humans crowd the subcontinent and her seething cities - the cyberabads - where timeless culture and the highest of high-technologies meet to spawn new societies, and - possibly - new sentient species. RIVER OF GODS is a book as big and brawling as its subject. Its magnificently diverse array of characters - from genetically enhanced 'Brahmins' to body-part runners, American scientists to 'Dharma-cops' (government Artificial Intelligence assassins) - are drawn in interwoven stories towards a cosmic-scale conclusion that will forever change the way we understand ourselves, life, and the universe we inhabit.

Product details

  • Paperback: 583 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (7 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743256700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743256704
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,169,961 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


'A staggering achievement, brilliantly imagined and endlessly surprising ... A brave, brilliant and wonderful novel' -- GUARDIAN

'A staggering achievement, brilliantly imagined and endlessly surprising...a brave, brilliant and wonderful novel' -- Christopher Priest, Guardian

'Hugely adventurous and entertaining, sumptuously inventive and full of heart...it is likely to rank as Ian McDonald's finest creative achievement' -- Nick Gevers, Locus

Book Description

A re-issue of the novel that secured McDonald's reputation as one of the most exciting voices in global SF. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars River of Gods 19 July 2005
River of Gods marks a return to form for Ian McDonald, after the dissapointing Ares Express. It's set in a near-future India, splintered into smaller states. The book takes awhile to get going as there are several protagonists and we are introduced to each in turn, as the plot starts up. This takes time, but is rewarding as we see a multi-faceted view of the society that Indida has become in the near future, and the changes to the human condition that have come with biotechnology and climate change.
The plot is layered and keeps us guessing to the very end. I can't discuss it much here whithout giving too much away, but it's as satisfying and twisty-turny with the same mythic ties as the original Desolation Road, only the mythos here is Indian, not African, and a great deal more interesting. There are occasional passages where he holds up a latter-day mirror to the current-day West, but it's done stubly and doesn't interfere with a read as tightly plotted as a thriller.
In short, a very rewarding read.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars woo hoo, woo hoo hoo 20 Aug 2004
Three years after the so-so Ares Express, but it's been worth the wait. This is a big steam-roller of a book --you don't so much read it as experience it; it's a shock to the system in almost every way. There's so much going on it it's almost impossible to adequately describe --Mysterious Artefacts in space, artificial intelligences, a completely computer generated soap opera (it's only a question of time really)weater wars, political intrigue, third-sex 'nutes', genetically engineered 'Brahmins': this is wide-screen SF. More than that, it has the feel of John Brunner's classics: Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, --it's a lived in future, not just a wam-bam story. And it's India! This is a world as alien as any you'll read in a wide-angle space-opera...
Great characters, who generate the story, rather than get pushed around by it, and a cosmic-scale denoument that is perfectly set up, but I for one didn't see coming.
Not the easiest book I ever read, but you come out of it with your head reeling and our world seems dull and pale by comparison.
Oh, and there's cricket too!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars River of Gods 13 May 2005
River of Gods takes you into an alien (at least alien to my western mind) world of India 50 years hence, with a mix of hi-tech gadgets and third-world slums, Hindu mythology and Bollywood artificial intelligences.
The book consists of the lives of several seemingly unconnected individuals all gradually colliding into a crescendo finish.
It takes a little effort to get into the story, especially as the book is littered with Indian terms mixed with future technology. The Glossary at the back was helpful, though even without it the general context of the phrases can be understood. But pretty soon I was hooked.
An excellent read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A roller coaster ride with superlative character development and prose that really paints a picture of the difference in culture between east/west and the rigid societal and religious issues in India. Also greatresearch went into this book as it is authentic in its intepretation of Indian culture. Great SF elements to the story, although feel some of the ideas have been copied from other books (but thats inevitable....I liked this book alot and after spending most of the year reading mediocre old hash, this was refreshing. Good material for a film, maybe Bollywood can come up with something....BUT and its a rather large BUT.....after all the great writing, ideas and the pictures in your head he paints, the ending is something of a damp squib....should have been a bit more grandiose i feel to match the earlier parts of the book. Altogether though worth every penny and ill read it again....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stream of Demiurges (or Danger of Oxbow Lakes) 23 April 2011
By sft
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is quite a tough book to review. There's much to admire here and it deserves to be a wholly successful piece. But it isn't. McDonald has an impressive imagination and he weaves a complex and convoluted narrative. However, the complexity is purely character-based. There are many main characters and many plot threads, some of which, although quite interesting in their own right, are too obviously engineered to flesh out the story. The effect of this approach is that the minimal plot is made even thinner despite the scale of the work. This is more of a character study than anything else. Now there's nothing wrong with that: most fine literature is character-driven. And, in a genre that's constantly criticised for a lack of such depth, this is good to see. But RIVER OF GODS is something of a pretender. It teases the reader with the promise of a typically big SF story, and in the early stages of the book it appears it might deliver. But then comes the resolution, and it's a bit of a damp squib. My other reservation is that MacDonald's prose is often rather too florid. He tries too hard to impress and his language tends towards the profligate. On the whole though this is an impressive book and worth reading despite its flaws.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last.....! 1 Oct 2009
This is the second book I've read of Ian McDonalds, the first being Brasyl, and as inventive and quirky as that was, this book is even better. For reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, the UK has IMO never produced a world-class sci-fi writer. With this book Ian McDonald changes all that, joining the ranks of Alfred Bester, Roger Zelazny, William Gibson et al. This is a work of vaulting imagination which draws on the issues, technologies and geopolitical fault lines of today to yield a work which is fresh, fast-paced, and has that textual and linguistic richness that has eluded pretty much all other UK (and European?) writers in this genre. One could argue that this book is stylistically indebted to William Gibson, yet it is none the worse for that and besides which, McDonald is entirely his own man, with a facility for transporting the reader to a strange, yet entirely believable Indian sub-continent, albeit a fractured one, at once colourful, dark, sexy and not a little troubling for those of a nervous disposition. I cannot reccomend this work too strongly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Culturally and technologically rich, almost too much
Ian McDonald is a new author for me and my picking up the tome which is River of Gods was a daunting endeavor. Read more
Published 8 months ago by M-I-K-E 2theD
2.0 out of 5 stars Lutulent and boring.
The alien discovery part is barely touched, and disappears amid a gangean overflow of plots, subplots, and loads ofcharacters for the most part uninteresring, some frankly... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ventura Angelo
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex and well written
Complex and well written, with a clever interweaving series of first person narratives I enjoyed this and also purchased Brasyl and Cyberbad days. Read more
Published on 16 Sep 2010 by Orion
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many plot threads
The premise behind this book is indeed interesting, and could have made for a very interesting novel. Read more
Published on 4 Sep 2010 by just another customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
Ian McD writes beautifully, and has created an incredible vision of India in the future. The characters are full, and real, and his attention to detail to culture in the... Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2010 by HeecheeRendezvous
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious and mostly successful novel
An vast story set mostly in a mid 21st century India that has split into competing states looking at man's relationship with other intelligences.
Published on 13 April 2010 by Dr Evil
3.0 out of 5 stars Overambitious and incoherent...
Trully massive in scope, filled with interesting characters and ideas (hence the 3 stars), I nevertheless felt it did not live up to its intentions and my expectations... Read more
Published on 14 July 2008 by selana
1.0 out of 5 stars Ughh!
It's more than 30 years that i read sf and I rarely write reviews but this i had to do!
Basic Idea is just enough for a short story. Read more
Published on 3 April 2008 by Antonio Donini
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed But Worth Reading
Once or twice a year I like to try out a recent science-fiction title people are buzzing about, just to get a sense of developments in the genre. Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2008 by A. Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book - too short though
Ok. After over a decade of reading I.M. books I've been completely amazed by this mans imagination, way with words (those adjectives, still can't believe it) and the staggering... Read more
Published on 10 July 2006 by da ding
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