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Hearts, Hands and Voices

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  17 reviews
For almost 30, 000 years The Land has been a dependency of The Empire Across The River. The Empire retains a mechanistic technology in the hands of the wealthy and the civil service, but The Land uses its dead, whose brains are linked to a massive data network. By the author of "Desolation Road".
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 11th 1993 by VGSF / Gollancz (first published January 1st 1992)
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I've had a review copy of this for ages. I was slightly put off by negative/ambivalent reviews, but this ended up being really, really fascinating. I'm a little taken aback by the fact that people see Israel/Palestine here and not Catholics/Protestants in Northern Ireland -- I mean, come on: the language thing, read Translations by Brian Friel, and Confessors vs. Proclaimers... The language thing especially got to me, because you know, I'm Welsh and I live in Wales and yes, half the place named ...more
It's not an easy read, that's for sure. A few hours after finishing, I'm still drained. Not quite sure what to think. Lost in a crazy dream tapestry that encompasses everything good and everything bad, everything new and everything old, everything now and everything before and everything that ever will be or might be.

That's how big this book is. That's the scope of its universe.

Perhaps the most disturbing images in The Broken Land are the people who've been planted in the ground to die. Or the g
This is a more challenging book than I've been reading lately, and that's a pity because I now remember that reading challenging books is a much more satisfying experience.

The Broken Land is challenging in all the right ways. The prose is dense but beautifully packed with imagery, the sort of descriptions you read twice to fully understand and three times just because they're so moving.

McDonald has created a politically, culturally and ethically complex world. Wikipedia will tell you he writes
Wow, this book is amazing and beautiful. Loved how the far-future world is so different and magical and intricately created, yet the issues and conflicts and the ways the conflicts play out are so incisively true to the world today.

Loved the changes in perspective as heroine Mathembe grows and matures from a small-town oddball to a street-smart girl of the old city, then a resourceful refugee, and so on. It was so organic that halfway through the book, I wanted to start over from the beginning,
Fantasy Literature
Ian McDonald’s The Broken Land (Hearts, Hands and Voices in the UK) is a book I admired more than I loved. It’s an allegorical look at the horrors of civil war caused by religious zeal and division. The story is set in a fictional country that feels like it could be in a future Africa where biotechnology has led to the development of mechanical infrastructure that is part organic and part artificial intelligence. The citizens are divided by their religious affiliation — some are Proclaimers and ...more
Kat  Hooper
3.5 I admired this more than I liked it.

Ian McDonald’s The Broken Land (Hearts, Hands and Voices in the UK) is a book I admired more than I loved. It’s an allegorical look at the horrors of civil war caused by religious zeal and division. The story is set in a fictional country that feels like it could be in a future Africa where biotechnology has led to the development of mechanical infrastructure that is part organic and part artificial intelligence. The citizens are divided by their religiou
Surprisingly good, emotional, interesting, innovative.
An Odd1
"Grandfather was a tree. Father grew trux .. Mother could sing the double-helix song .. A house ran amok .. Split into its components" p1 " .. skittering thing like a walking umbrella .. alarmed the young organicals .. to the Proclaimer end of town" p2 scatter pieces of a puzzle. Words build a thorny barrier of odd spellings, names, and slow-emerging concepts. Exhausting.

Mathembe converses in Old Speech with her (determined after many pages) late grandfather's head, among others being absorbed
Lis Carey
This is an older book, first published in the early nineties, and a true classic.

Mathembe Fileli is a girl on the verge of womanhood living in a village on a far-future Earth, an Earth where biotechnology is the main technology, the dominant technology even in the areas where mechanical technology is still used. It's also a world with strong ethnic and religious divides, with the Proclaimer and Confessor religious split even on such seemingly minor points as which hand should be your dominant on
Hearts, Hands and Voices informs us on the stupidity of war, especially when fought over something trivial like different beliefs. We feel the plight of refugees, those who end up in the middle of fighting and devastation, getting separated from their lost ones without a choice or warning. It arouses our interest on how refugees cope, an always relevant issue. We feel sadness, anger and hope, hope that there may be an end to this horror as we are given a solution that fits in neatly with the bac ...more
...I've been thinking about how good a read this novel really is and I can't seem to make up my mind about it. The story is gripping and Mathembe a great character. I also liked the prose and McDonald's vision of what genetic research but I do think that for some readers the prose in particular is too much of a good thing. Some passages needed several rereads to be able to figure out what the author was trying to communicate, making the The Broken Land a slow read. Readers of main stream fiction ...more
The Land is the last province of a dying Empire. It has had advanced biotechnology for a thousand years, but this land that should be paradise is riven by the same old evils of religious and nationalist violence. This is the story of Mathembe Fileli and her family who are made refugees in the conflict and Mathembe's trials and tribulations as she loses one after another of her relatives and has to rely only on herself to get through them all and find her family again.

Like his first novel, Desola
Patricia McLean
I think I will always enjoy reading an Ian McDonald novel even when I am not entirely satisfied with it. McDonald renders a fabulous, seamless world in which is well-realized main character battles for survival. I imagine being a Palestinian must be very much like being a Confessor, and I imagine partition in the Indian subcontinent is a parallel to the partitioning of the Proclaimer and Confessor lands of The Broken Land. McDonald's desire to imagine a way for humanity to find peace is the argu ...more
Craig Ruaux
Jul 29, 2009 Craig Ruaux rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Only the hard core Ian McDonald fan
Shelves: science-fiction
Ian McDonald is a bit of a stylist, and in some of his other work (the utterly awesome Desolation Road, for instance), the style and the substance gel together wonderfully.

In The Broken Land the style sometimes gets in the road, which is a pity, as there is clever substance here too. Overall, "it was OK", as my two star score would suggest, but I would not recommend it as a first entry into Ian McDonald's body of work.
Oh my God, what a terrible book.

It was like a slam poet tries making a sci-fi book.

It. Doesn't. Work.
Yasmin Elliott
Loved it. Second book I read by Ian McDonald.
The Broken Land by Ian Mcdonald (1992)
Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander marked it as to-read
Dec 20, 2014
GT marked it as to-read
Dec 09, 2014
Bradley Parks
Bradley Parks marked it as to-read
Dec 04, 2014
Greg marked it as to-read
Dec 02, 2014
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Stephen Robertson marked it as to-read
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Oct 10, 2014
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Chris Huntley marked it as to-read
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Ian Neil McDonald was born in 1960 in Manchester, England, to an Irish mother and a Scottish father. He moved with his family to Northern Ireland in 1965. He used to live in a house built in the back garden of C. S. Lewis’s childhood home but has since moved to central Belfast, where he now lives, exploring interests like cats, contemplative religion, bonsai, bicycles, and comic-book collecting. H ...more
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