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Brasyl by Ian McDonald
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Brasyl

by Ian McDonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: New World Order (2)

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8453516,208 (3.6)81

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Ian McDonald's Braysyl takes place in Brazil, but in three different time lines - 2006, 2032, and and 1732. The separate story-lines don't so much come together, as you discover they were never actually separate.

I love the book, but I can't recommend it to just anyone. If you know something about Brazil, if you're prone to being seduced by outstandingly well-written characters, and if you can keep track of three distinct story-lines, you may come to love Braysyl like I do. Or you might hate it. It's a difficult read. I didn't much care for it at first. I only got excited about reading it as the characters came to life for me.

The story is very set in Brazil. Especially at first, I felt like I needed a primer on Brazilian culture and history. The text is littered with Portuguese words, because there simply aren't good English equivalents. The glossary is a big help with that, but it's confusing until you get used to to the bilingualism of the story. It also seems to presuppose familiarity with Brazil, but I managed to pick up enough from context to get by. The story hops from time-line to time-line, without a clear reason for why or when it switches, which just adds to the confusion.

But it's a great story, if you can get to it. I don't think it could be told any other way. For me, the pay-off was well worth the effort, but your mileage will vary. ( )
  hopeevey | May 19, 2018 |
As with many of Ian McDonald's other novels, there are parallel protagonists and plot strands that are brought together only at the end of Brasyl. The unusual thing in this case is that they run "parallel" in the first and fourth decades of the twenty-first century, and in the fourth decade of the eighteenth century. Their eventual interaction is neither on the plane of simple historical causality, nor is it a matter of "time travel" as usually understood.

Brasyl was the first novel I'd read in quite a long while that had a glossary at the back. And it was helpful, because of the frequent use of Portuguese in the story. In fact, I sometimes ended up looking for words that weren't even in the glossary. I don't feel like I really gained a richer appreciation for Brazilian culture from this book, but the setting was densely presented and effective in framing the story.

There is a cinematic feel to the story, and despite an explicit homage to Terry Gilliam's ("wrong") Brazil (214), the ideal directors for this one would be the Wachowskis--the book is suffused with their most conspicuous themes, tropes, and concepts, from The Matrix to Cloud Atlas to Sense8.

I enjoyed Brasyl a lot, but it seemed to have only about half of the overall length and primary character populations found in River of Gods or The Dervish House, and I think I preferred the more sprawling feel and longer immersion that those others supplied. (Of those three "New World Order" books, The Dervish House is probably my favorite.)
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Feb 21, 2017 |
Didn't read all of this ( I don't like mixed up time-lines fiction ) But the part where he calls string theory physicists ' stringieros ' was great ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
Much more fun this time around... I remember being slightly dazed the first time I read it, the tumult of all the characters, the cities, the places... but this time, the threads linking everything seemed smoother, clearer, and Ian Mcdonald's superb use of language shone through ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian McDonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harman, DominicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martiniere, StephanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"I trained under Jésus y Portugal of Léon." Quinn was in no humor for false humility.

"Montoya of Toledo was my master," Father Diego said...
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Book description
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 impressario 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.

--Father Luis is a Jesuit missionary sent into the maelstrom of 18th-century Brazil to locate and punish a rogue priest who has strayed beyond the articles of his faith and set up a vast empire in the hinterland. In the company of a French geographer and spy, what he finds in the backwaters of the Amazon tries both his faith and the nature of reality itself to the breaking point.

Three characters, three stories, three Brazils, all linked together across time, space, and reality in a hugely ambitious story that will challenge the way you think about everything
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"Past, present, and future Brazil, with all its colour, passion, and shifting realities, come together in a novel that is part SF, part history, part mystery, and entirely enthralling. 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 colour, 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 impressario one step up from the slums in a near future Sao 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.Father Luis is a Jesuit missionary sent into the maelstrom of 18th-century Brazil to locate and punish a rogue priest who has strayed beyond the articles of his faith and set up a vast empire in the hinterland. In the company of a French geographer and spy, what he finds in the backwaters of the Amazon tries both his faith and the nature of reality itself to the breaking point. Three characters, three stories, three Brazils, all linked together across time, space, and reality in a hugely ambitious story that will challenge the way you think about everything."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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