Ian McDonald
Brasyl Cover

Quantum awesome


There are good and bad times to be able to tell that an author is fascinated by a specific scientific idea or advance. This was a good time. Ian McDonald takes a fascination with quantum computing and weaves it into three vibrant story strands while also playing with themes of adaptability of language and religion.

The first thread, that of Marcelina, takes place in the recent-to-now past of 2006. Marcelina is a producer of loud and transgressive reality television. While pursuing her latest show idea she gets in way over her head.

The 2nd thread takes place in the near-ish future Sao Paulo where everything is RFID tagged and drones hover above the city keeping track. Edson, a flamboyant entrepreneur, in helping his imprudent brother out of a jam, falls for a girl who is out of his league and who just happens to operate illegal quantum computers. When she gets into trouble he follows her all the way down the rabbit hole.

The 3rd thread follows Father Luis Quinn in the 18th century to bring a rogue priest back into order. His quest will take him up the Amazon, where everyone seems to want to build or at least exploit empires.

Even those descriptions don't do the magnificance of the book justice. Trust me that each thread is enthralling in its own way and when the whole comes together it is beautiful.