Manchester Sci Fi Book Group - Brasyl

The Manchester Sci Fi Book Group at Madlab is reading Brasyl by Ian MacDonald for next month (the meeting where we discuss it will be on 15th May at 7pm in Manchester MadLab (3rd Tuesday). As this is my suggestion and I'm advocating it, I thought I should try and put a few notes up about why I suggested it.

First of all, we must get one FAQ out the way - it is not based on, or the novel of, or the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's film Brazil.

Brasyl is one of, what has become known as, Ian MacDonald's New World series. Brasyl sits between the first of these novels, River of Gods (and accompanying short story collection Cyberabad Days) set in India and exploring Artificial Intelligence (AIs writing soap operas and plotting world domination in their spare time... sort of) and the most recent addition The Dervish House exploring nano-technology in Turkey. Brasyl, as may be obvious from the title is set in Brazil.

A Brazil of 2006 pushing the at the limits of and blurring the boundaries of crime and entertainment.

A Brazil of 2032 pushed into an extremity of crime control surveillance.

A Brazil of 1732 challenging the line between science and religion.

But the New World novels are about two things: the country they're set in and the science and technology they want to showcase - in this case, quantum mechanics.

I suggested this book because I'm a huge fan of Ian MacDonald and the New World series (and a re-issue of Necro City) are the books he has in print (an important factor in deciding on a book). River of Gods is far too long and The Dervish House... I don't know, I've read it a little too recently. But Brasyl. Short enough, read long enough ago. It exists in a goldilocks zone 8-). But I haven't suggested it purely through a process of elimination: it's a great book that, when I put it down, I knew I would benefit from re-reading.

The three, very different, plot lines showing different facets of Brazil, of the world. The three different plots and pacings reflecting the respective Brazils. The slow coming together of those story lines. The frogs.

Yeah, let's ignore the frogs for now and buckle up, do your reading and remember: if you think you understand quantum theory, you have almost certainly got it wrong.

To forestall some problems I have heard people mention - there is a lot of Portuguese (inspired) words. There is a glossary at the end which explains any that you can't work out from context.

Would be great to see people there!

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