HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

River of Gods (2004)

by Ian McDonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: River of Gods (1), New World Order (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6464610,943 (3.92)178
Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

As Mother India approaches her centenary, nine people are going about their business -- a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. And so is Aj -- the waif, the mind-reader, the prophet -- when she one day finds a man who wants to stay hidden.

In the next few weeks, they will all be swept together to decide the fate of the nation.

River of Gods teems with the life of a country choked with peoples and cultures -- one and a half billion people, twelve semi-independent nations, nine million gods. Ian McDonald has written the great Indian novel of the new millennium, in which a war is fought, a love betrayed, a message from a different world decoded, as the great river Ganges flows on.

.… (more)
  1. 40
    The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Rynooo)
  2. 00
    Rule 34 by Charles Stross (Busifer)
  3. 00
    Void Star by Zachary Mason (Anonymous user)
  4. 01
    Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Many of the characters and situations in River of Gods are reminiscent of Stand on Zanzibar.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 178 mentions

English (45)  Finnish (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book on a variety of levels. It had enough futuristic wonderment for me, but enough of a dystopian edge that I could recommend it to my friend Bob (who has always enjoyed the slit-my-wrist kind of futures). It seemed to me to be thoroughly grounded in Indian culture (but how would I be sure?) without talking down to a Western audience. (There was a glossary of Indian terms, but because I was reading it in ebook form, I didn't find it until I was finished with the story.) It has a grand philosophical scope, speculating on the nature of artificial intelligence and possible multiverses. At the same time, the characters are well-fleshed and believable, with virtues and faults on a normal scale (for the most part).

Initially, I was reading this at the same time as McDonald's collection set in the same future India, [b:Cyberabad Days|3428255|Cyberabad Days (Paperback)|Ian McDonald|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1267999185s/3428255.jpg|3469135]. I don't recommend doing that. I was learning things in advance of their exposition in River of Gods that would have perhaps been better left to discover as McDonald intended. So I laid Cyberabad Days aside until finishing the novel first.

I will definitely be reading more of McDonald's work. Looking at what's out there, I'm not sure which would be best. Any suggestions? ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
Can't get there. The five different voices are too far apart for me. And the doorstop width of this book was also a deterrent. Loved the enforcer's Hindu pantheon aeais.
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
In August in 2047, in the city of Varanasi in the country of Bharat in central India, nine people converge on one singular event that changes everything for mankind. For some, it's an asteroid containing the alien relic the Tabernacle. For others it is chasing down AIs. And for others, it is about finding themselves in the midst of a water war when the monsoon rains no longer come and the Ganga runs dry.

The good: River of Gods does very interesting things with the arc of the growth of computers and computing into every corner of life. Even the very popular soap, "Town and Country," is completely computer rendered with fake AI actors having fake AI-based weddings and entire "People Magazine"-like publications fawn over the imaginary private lives of the AIs inhabiting the rendered soap opera. Everyone has a cellphone-like device, even the most poor. Everything is wired together. And AIs (called aeais in the book) fill every corner of existence -- driving cars (but apparently not the taxis), running heating and cooling systems, injecting themselves into medical devices, everywhere. One of the main themes of the book is hunting down rogue AIs, those who have somehow "evolved" through illicit programming or through happenstance to become "Generation Three" AIs, those AIs that have developed full native intelligence. The question the book grapples with is not only how these beings come about and flow through the interconnectedness of all computers, but how they see existence and how their consciousness is represented by copying millions of copies of themselves. The other is how humans react to the super intelligent AIs, hunting them down, and "excommunicating" them with huge EMP pulses and destroying all the copies hiding in the machines.

Another bit of good comes from grappling with how humans are forcing their own evolution through selective breeding, gene therapy, and remaking themselves with extensive surgery. From this comes a shortage of women, strange children who age at 1/2 the rate of regular human beings called Brahmins who have no empathy for the human race, and nutes -- a group of people who have surgically removed all gender. The reaction from normal humans is revulsion but the book implies this is the forward trajectory of humanity and the normal people will soon be an out-bred relic of the past.

The bad: I generally like books with multiple viewpoints but River of Gods has nine and it felt overdone. The themes of the book were focused over the actual characterization of the characters. Only the nute Tal really stood out as a distinct personality. The rest of the characters tended to flow together into one amorphous mass. All the characters _do_ get a different view of the actions during August 2047 to give a perspective on how the whole plot comes together in the end -- with a little bit of Science Fiction Plot Device thrown in.

The science fiction is a little too precious at times. Sometimes it wants to be Arthur C. Clarke and sometimes it wants to be Blade Runner with just a dash of the original Philip K Dick and it doesn't seem to know which is which.

The Hindi sprinkled through is not much of a challenge. However, the kindle version of the book lacks bookmarks so looking up terms in the back of the book is a major challenge. Also, the kindle version is sprinkled throughout the text with enough typos for it to be called out.

The ending is about middling for a science fiction book. It's not awful. It's no Sphere. It's not a total collapse like Snow Crash. The book ends very definitively.

River of Gods by Ian McDonald is an awful lot of book. It's big. In parts it goes on and on and on and on. Some of it drags in places when it goes BEHOLD MY INDIA OF THE FUTURE! For an easy comparison on pure word count, it's about 1 Red Mars. Figure out how long it took to read Red Mars, add a tax for having to look up all the words in Hindi in the appendix in the back, and that's about how long it takes to get through River of Gods.

So, not bad. I made it all the way through. It definitely does have some good ideas and it is one of the better science fiction novels floating around. It's in the "pretty good" category but it's not Childhood's End or anything. It's a decent read but it's not one of those science fiction novels that lays hooks in your brain that lie there and fester until they get disgorged in some argument one day. I give it about a 3.75 stars but the rating system isn't that fine grained so I round it up to a four. It's not quite a four star book. It's very much a 3.75 star book. ( )
  multiplexer | Jun 20, 2021 |
In some ways this deserves a high 4 star rating - but! it! doesn't! make! any! sense!! Two of the main viewpoint characters do hardly anything to move the plot along, The resolution doesn't do anything for the fundamental existential problem - it will happen all over again guys - and why do we have another white guy setting his story on the Indian Subcontinent? I enjoyed reading it, and loved the neuts and the alien cultures, but thought most of the women total wimps or bitches - of course the males had their issues, but they weren't dependents or betrayers. ( )
  quondame | Dec 2, 2017 |
Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig

(...)

Ultimately, the story of this book could have taken place anywhere, and India mainly serves as a metaphor for the complexity of our planet and our species. It also makes for a colorful backdrop, and the Indian pantheon allows easy links with software avatars. All that doesn’t take away the feeling I have that the reason McDonald chose India as the story’s setting has more to do with the stereotypical images we Westerners tend to have of India: ever rising population numbers, lots of religions intersecting, an emerging technological powerhouse full of IT PhDs working for minimum wage, mad ascetic gurus, etc., etc.

The fact that McDonald also wrote a Brazilian and a Turkish book – both of which I’ll willingly read somewhere in the future – makes me think the setting is more of a gimmick and a technique, and not a necessity internal to the story. That’s not a fault per se, and an author’s prerogative. McDonald shows both respect and has done heaps of research. But as a reader, I don’t have the feeling that I learned a lot about India. My preconceptions were reinforced, that’s about it.

Again, not a fault per se: it’s impossible to get to know something as large as a nation through a book, and expecting that is questionable in itself.

(...) ( )
1 vote bormgans | Apr 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
In a book that winds itself around a discussion of God and the Machine, India—with its ready acceptance of supernatural beings and its increasing footprint in the Information Age—is well suited to be the focal point of this discourse. It is what mythologist Mircea Eliade called the "ephipany"—the point where the sacred touches the profane and God manifests Itself.
 
It captures the frenetic essence of India as manifested in the ear-splitting shriek of air horns on monstrous hurtling Indian lorries, the everyday roar of urban streets out your window pummeling you like the sound of a soccer stadium in full frenzy, the flatulent impudence of motorized rickshaws and scooters, the rivers of people, and life flowing inexorably to and from Mata Ganga, Mother Ganges, the river of life, and river of death.
 
As readers have come to expect from McDonald, the storyline works so well because he creates such excellent characters, sharply delineated one from the other, each an individual that we can understand and empathise with (even a vicious gangster). By hopping from one character to another in the early chapters, McDonald both introduces the people of his story, and sketches in the society which they inhabit. Then he hits the accelerator, the storyline goes into top gear, and events send his characters into each others' orbits.
 
By repositioning cyberpunk from noir fiction set in a near-future western world to a near-future non-western world, authors such as McDonald and Grimwood are talking about the flight of the creative class. This is the outsourcing of jobs that are not manual to the developing world that started with call-centres and continues with programmers and IT jobs.
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian McDonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kempen, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martiniere, StephanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Series

Belongs to Publisher Series

SF Masterworks (New design)
Urania [Mondadori] (Jumbo, 40)

Has the (non-series) sequel

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
The body turns in the stream.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The German translation of River of Gods is "Cyberabad" (and "roman" just means novel) please do not remove these to combine with Cyberabad Days, that's the wrong work.
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

As Mother India approaches her centenary, nine people are going about their business -- a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. And so is Aj -- the waif, the mind-reader, the prophet -- when she one day finds a man who wants to stay hidden.

In the next few weeks, they will all be swept together to decide the fate of the nation.

River of Gods teems with the life of a country choked with peoples and cultures -- one and a half billion people, twelve semi-independent nations, nine million gods. Ian McDonald has written the great Indian novel of the new millennium, in which a war is fought, a love betrayed, a message from a different world decoded, as the great river Ganges flows on.

.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.92)
0.5
1 6
1.5 1
2 21
2.5 4
3 63
3.5 28
4 151
4.5 26
5 99

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 208,691,958 books! | Top bar: Always visible