Monday, April 16, 2007

River of Gods, Ian McDonald

If there is one pet peeve I have with science fiction, it is the desire on the part of authors (or maybe their audiences) to deal with some earth shattering, universe crushing, paradigm shifting event.

I was just in the bookstore yesterday, chuckling to myself as the sales pitch on every book I picked up ended with something along the lines of "... the fate of the [universe|earth|humanity]."

At the end of most of these books, one is left wondering, well what exactly just happened, and why should I care.

River Gods suffers from this as well. But, mostly, reading it was a joyous return to the heady days of when I first picked up a William Gibson. It is a cyberpunk romp through a fascinating and complex India of the future, with artificial intelligences, rich and poor, religion and science, humans and post-humans all mixing it up. There are few fully evil or fully pure characters in the book, the character arcs are complex and the characters themselves mostly interesting.

Having not been to India, I can't say if it is as fascinating and complex as India is today, but its a worthy and engaging try. If the ending was a little bit of a let down, well endings almost always are.

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