Noah M.'s Reviews > River of Gods

River of Gods by Ian McDonald
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's review
Nov 28, 2008

it was amazing

First, a warning: There is a goddamn glossary in the back of this book. I did not realize this until I was about 300 pages in. A lot of the Hindi words became clear through contextual clues, but some stuff I still am not sure about. I didn't bother to consult it (once I learned of its existence) because I was more than happy to just let the atmosphere wash over me and try to absorb meaning as I went.

Anyway, this is a hell of a book.

It's an absurdly rich portrait of India in the year 2050. The prose is lovely, but never excessive. The technology is imaginative, but extremely plausible.

I have nothing particularly bad to say about this book. The plot is, perhaps, nothing groundbreaking. You might be tempted to think that the Indian setting is just a flashy gimmick, but the ending elucidates why this story could not have been set anywhere but India. I was surprised. I didn't think plot would connect to setting in such an organic way...but here we are.

I loved this book. It was nominated for the Hugo award in 2005, but lost out to "Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell."

Another thing--I liked that the author included a "Soundtrack" page where he lists the artists he was listening to during the writing of the novel. Lots of good stuff on that list too Autechre, Future Sound of London, Boards of Canada, Sigur Ros.... So he has good taste in music as well.
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