[LMB] OT: Ian McDonald, was Hugo nominees

Paula Lieberman paal at gis.net
Sun Sep 18 14:40:53 BST 2011

Moldy oldy thread comment....

It's much more the writing style than necessarily the  content which effects 
my lack of appreciation.

Also, I'm not a huge fan of satire, when it gets to levels such as are in 
Laumer's Retief series and stays there, the target audience does not include 

Meanwhile, I'm impatiently looking forward to Echoes of Betrayal, I think 
the title is, from Elizabeth Moon which will be out first quarter next year, 
and Korval Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller which is in progress I think 
as regards writing, and the sequel to Balance of Trade, which is also in 
progress, and whatever the next book by Mark del Franco might be....

-----Original Message----- 
From: John Lennard
Sent: Thursday, June 09, 2011 9:59 AM
To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
Subject: [LMB] OT: Hugo nominees

Paula says she's "Not an appreciator of Ian McDonald", about whom no-one
else has said anything. I am an appreciator -- and should I suppose declare
an interest, in that I've published on him (an essay, 'Of Aliens in Africa',
in *Modern Dragons*, and a little guide to his excellent novel *Chaga*.)

For those who know only the name, McDonald is Scots-Irish, has lived in
Belfast since 1964, and tends to set his SF in "third-world countries", a
category of which he is very suspicious, persuasively equates with
'post-colonial', and in which he includes Ulster.

One early novel, *Sacrifice of Fools*, has a bunch of alien refugees
arriving. The UK govt says 'sure, we'll take em', and dumps them in Ulster.
Cue the old joke about the little green man who landed in the Falls Road and
got chatting to a local : "Ah, you're an alien, then. But are you a
protestant alien or  a catholic alien?"

The duology of *Chaga* (US title: Evolution's Shore) and *Kirinya* from the
early-mid 1990s is *very* good indeed, and I used to teach it in Jamaica
(same course that had PoS as a set text). A strange alien life form lands,
not on the White House lawn but on the White Mountain summit (Kilimanjaro),
and we roll from there. The UN is quite savagely satirised, and the account
of Kenya is gripping and moving. The protagonist is a not very likeable
Ulsterwoman who is a journalist sent to cover the alien landing, and the
whole plays riffs on all sorts of things, from an excellent 'Big Dumb
Object' to Conrad's *Heart of Darkness*, while focussing very sharply (and
five years before it became media currency) on the rank disgrace of AIDS as
a manageable condition if you're rich, a death sentence if you're poor.
Superior work all round.

More recently he's had a very good novel + volume of short stories set in
mid-C21 India (*River of Darkness* + *Cyberabad Days*), a complex
time-twisty novel set in Brazil from the C19 to C21 (*Brasyl*), and the
nominee set in near-future Istanbul (*The Dervish House*). All recommended. 

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