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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior novel!
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...
Published on 25 Jun 2007 by Patrick St-Denis

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brasyl, Brazil, etc
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...
Published on 16 Feb 2010 by avl06


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior novel!, 25 Jun 2007
By 
Patrick St-Denis "editor of Pat's Fantasy Hot... (Laval, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Hardcover)
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. Funny how a Jesuit priest from the 18th century should become the star of a thought-provoking scifi masterpiece! The supporting cast consists of a few interesting characters, chief among those Dr. Robert Falcon.

You'll be amazed to see how the various plotlines come together to form a dazzling whole. This book blew my mind even more than River of Gods. Seriously, I didn't want it to end!

Brasyl deserves the highest possible recommendation. It will surely be one of the best -- if not the best -- science fiction novels of 2007.

Without the shadow of a doubt, Brasyl is one of the books to read this year!

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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
This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
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
By 
F. M. Muse "headspace traveller" (Leicester, Leics United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
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
By 
avl06 (The Village) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
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
By 
Ed.F "edz314" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Hardcover)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of annoying ways to apply the letter Q, 7 May 2014
By 
P. J. Dunn "Peter Dunn" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
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 believable characters along with lots of annoying ways to apply the letter Q. My only minor criticism would be with the ending but I will leave you to discover that for yourself…
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5.0 out of 5 stars "For a hundred leagues along the Rio Branco the emblem of the Green Lady is an object of dread", 9 Dec 2013
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
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. Don't let the noisy language in the first chapter, set in 2005, put you off. This is where we meet, a group of boys who have unexpectedly found a Merc with the keys still in it and are having it away, when one, Marcelina Hoffman comes on their sound system shrieking that they are on a TV Game Show, and all they have to do to keep the car and maybe get a TV contract, is evade the cops who are hot on their trail. Bear with it. It does get better than this. As an arbiter of TV taste, though, Marcelina leaves a lot to be desired.

Something weird is happening in Marcelina's universe as she seems to be sabotaging her own production ideas. The language is a mixture of South American slang and up to the moment neologisms. Copywrong dealers are `quantumeiros'. Top-dog of the favela (shanty-town)is Fia Kisheda with the very important handbag. In the Favela "the population of a small town scavanges the slopes of the tech trash mountain." There's the forest of fake-plastic trees (has Thom York read this book?), the Vale of Swarf, the Ridge of Lost Refrigerators.

In the blink of an eye we are at June 1732, with a mule going mad on the wharfe-side, and Father Luis Quinn, an admonitory of the Jesuit Order, is raging at a race, where slaves carry their (human) mounts up the rigging. That word `admonitory' has a meaning which will carry over via quantum mechanics to the present and the future. Quinn will travel with Dr Robert Falcon, a Geographer, in whose possession is a new device, a governing engine of some kind. We learn more about this, and, staring into the river, as two currents converge, Falcon intuits fractals. Some the descriptions of the landscape and jungle are breathtaking.

We flip to 2032 where an admonitory of the Order has crossed the boundaries between the multiverses, this is Fia, whose computer is printed on her body. Slipping back to 2006, we learn that there is not one world, there are many worlds. There is not one you, there a many you's. There is not the universe, but the multiverse. There are two competing theories. One is String Theory, the other is Loop Quantum Gravity. LQG wins out.

We segue back and forth in time, pivoted upon theory. In 1733 Fr Quinn has determined a site to develop, a home for his freed slaves, but a mad priest, Goncalves, has dammed the river. Can the damm be sabotaged? Can Fr Quinn deliver the ultimate admonishment? The Portuguese Navy is sequestered nearby. Will they interfere? (You bet they will.) The thick allusiveness of the language is a revelation, in both worlds. I've left a lot out of the range of plots - futbol, for instance. It's a wonderful book, but you need a deep affinity for Science Fiction (and maybe a little bit of scientific nous), to get the best out of it. But even without that, if you like real, grown-up SF, this was made for you. There's a very welcome glossary at the back.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In the end I'm glad I persevered, 12 July 2013
By 
Conor Syme - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
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. Vibrant beyond the colour, textured to the point of immersion. There's even a music list and reading list to elaborate what McDonald is laying out for us. But that info is not essential.

Where it lags - and be sure like most stories out there it does slow down - you're sure to find a revelation round the corner. So persevere! It's worth it.

The idea's alone are worth the time with this book. Kicks around in your head for days after you've closed the cover. Really there's another story after this. Whether it's left to the imagination or McDonald will fill in that void who knows. It's not necessary. Just Fantastic.

An ending just a couple notches below the likes of Hyperion in my opinion. And that sure is saying something.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Colourful Complex Quantum Shenanigans, 19 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
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 priest.
In 2006, Marveline Hoffman, a producer of reality TV programmes is on the trail of Barbosa, the Brazilian goalkeeper from the Nineteen Fifty Fateful Final, the man who made all Brazil cry. However, things start becoming decidedly weird when her doppelganger begins interfering in her life.
And in 2033, Edson, a metrosexual bisexual entrepreneur, falls suddenly in love with a Japanese quantum scientist in a Brazil monitored by surveillance angels whose quantum technology is beginning to leak onto the streets.
For these three main characters to be enfleshed so lovingly on the page is remarkable enough, but McDonald goes far far further in giving birth to an entire cast of wonderful people.
It is most impressive in its tri-part descriptions of South America in its past, present and future where life in each of the three ages is tough, but still finds room for loving, compassionate people.
Each of the protagonists experiences, to a greater or lesser degree, an epiphany and their lives are changed. Father Luis Quinn's turning point is when he is given an Amazonian drug extracted from the skin of a golden frog which gives him access to his consciousness across the infinite array of parallel universes.
Marcelina, whose life revolved around the production of exploitative reality shows, finds her life turned upside down by the discovery of another Marcelina from a parallel world who is slowly destroying her life and relationships.
Edson, possibly the most complex of the characters here, falls in love with a quantum physicist. When she is killed he is devastated until he sees her again and discovers that she is a fugitive from a parallel world who is being hunted down by the agencies patrolling the infinite array of quantum realities.
It becomes evident that these worlds are from different variations of our own earth, and none of them may be based on the Earth we know.
However, inbetween the plots strands McDonald gives us wonderful views into the lives of a whole army of characters, whether they be Eighteenth Century scientists attempting to measure the world or Hispanic cleaning ladies who know all there is to know about The Fateful Final when Brazil lost the World Cup in Nineteen Fifty.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Something is missing, 23 July 2011
This review is from: Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
"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".

"Brasyl" is a novel which portraits Brazil in three different epochs. The present, a country filled with contrasts and reality shows. The not-very-distant future (circa 2030), a country with even more extremes and wonders than we could dream to find nowadays. And a 1700's Brazil still under the influence of Portugal, born from slavery, religiousness and despise for indigenous people.

In the present, we meet Marcelina, a reality show producer and capoeirista, trying to get back on its feet after a failed project. In the future, we encounter Edson and Fia(s), a man and a woman in a country of fluid sexual orientation and amazing technology. And in the past, we follow the story of Luís, a Jesuit, and François, a scientist. They're to travel to the heart of the Amazonian rainforest with different purposes, but end up needing each other more than they could possibly want.

How three storylines as far apart as three hundred years are to be related is for you to find out.

The differences between the three different sub-plots and the non-linearity of the story is a very positive aspect. As I read a few weeks ago (can't remember where), that constant change of pace is like acceleration. As it is known we can't feel velocities but only accelerations and it is the same with books, permitting a more thorough feel the story, much like with rollercoasters.

This was a great book in most of its duration, but the end almost ruins it. First of all, it looks like something tore off a piece of the ending (I'm not saying that there should be a second book). And second, the final portion of the book has an unconfortable tang of self-help book (might not be bad for everyone, I just don't like those things), despite the cool physics theories embedded.

Great read till the end, making it an ok-ish story, more to the good than the bad (at least in my opinion).

Recommend it, despite its shortcomings.

Till next time,
M.I.T.H. (ManInsideTheHelm)
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Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Brasyl (GOLLANCZ S.F.) by Ian McDonald (Paperback - 28 Aug 2008)
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