Ian McDonald
Brasyl Cover

What a great and trippy book...


What a great and trippy book! Three time-lines; The first, set in present-day Brazil, follows a media producer looking for her next hit reality TV show. Another, in a near-future cyberpunk setting, follows an androgynous young street hustler as he finds himself on the run with his dead girlfriend's double. The third is an 18th-century piece of historical fiction following the exploits of an Irish Jesuit warrior priest and a French scientist who have come together in the Brazilian jungle while pursuing their assigned missions. Somehow, from these seemingly disparate settings characters and events, McDonald weaves a masterful tale of particle physics, multi-dimensional travel, secret societies waging war to preserve or destroy the multiverse, and a final explanation for Life, The Universe, and Everything that is definitely more complete than merely '42'. I have not read such a nicely rendered explanation for a vastly complex scenario since finishing The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. I found the denouement in this book to be simply stunning.

Highly recommended but bear in mind that you will need patience at the beginning because things don't start to come together until about halfway through the book. For those who need it, (me!), the glossary of terms is also helpful for gaining traction with the liberal use of Portuguese throughout the narrative. It's not as dense as say, the made-up language of A Clockwork Orange, but I found the language issue to be rather heavy going at the beginning. It is all worth it in the end though.