02 July 2009

Writing on Reading: Brasyl

I recently read the 2007 novel Brasyl by Ian McDonald. It's been nominated for many awards including the best novel Hugo (2008) and best novel Nebula (2009). I picked up it because of a rave review in Asimov's or Analog (can't recall which, sorry) which said among other things it is a novel of The Multiverse.

Brasyl has three Brazilian timelines: 1732, 2006, and 2032. In these three time lines there are different pov characters including an Irish-Portuguese Jesuit, a psychotic rogue priest, a french natural philosopher, a reality TV producer, a quantum hacker, and a hustler. The 1732 plotline is very reminiscent of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness or maybe even Francis Ford Coppola's movie Apocalypse Now. The 2006 and 2032 timelines really reminded me of William Gibson's Neuromancer, by which I mean a lot of style, perhaps at the expense of plot.

The so-called science in this science fiction novel is a magical frog. Specifically, there's an Amazonian frog "whose eye is so sensitive that it can perceive a single photon of light, a single quantum event. The frog sees the fundamental quantum nature of reality." Thus, folks lick the frog and it enables them to perceive and move between the multitude of quantum realities.

I really try to stay positive in these little mini-reviews, so I'll leave you with this: This book is very creative.

Did you read it? What did you think?

Oh, and there's a Portuguese-English glossary in the back of the book--you'll need it.

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