Saturday, February 28, 2009

Desolation Road: the cast of characters

Congratulations to British author Ian McDonald, whose novel Brasyl (Pyr Books, 2007) is listed on the final ballot of the 2008 Nebula Awards. Brasyl has nothing to do with Mars, but the Nebula announcement reminds me that McDonald’s novel Desolation Road (1988), which is set on the Red Planet, is scheduled to be reprinted by Pyr Books this summer. One of the neat things about the 1988 Bantam Books paperback edition of Desolation Road is the cast of characters that appears just before the title page:
Welcome to Desolation Road

Dr. Alimantando -- The town’s founder and resident genius, he perfects his homemade time machine and vanishes forever. Sort of.

Persis Tatterdemalion -- An ace flier grounded forever in Desolation Road, she tends bar at the Bethlehem Ares Railroad/Hotel and waits for the chance to reclaim her dream.

Rajandra Das -- The railroad hobo who has a mystical way with machines -- there isn’t a mechanical object on Mars that doesn’t love him.

The Babooshka -- A barren, feisty grandmother, she wants nothing more than to settle down with a good farming man and grow herself a child -- in a fruit jar.

Paternoster Jericho -- Overthrown crime lord of the Exalted Families, he says he’s “just passing through” Desolation Road, but twenty years later he still says the same thing.

The Gallacelli Brothers -- Ed, Louie, and Umberto. Identical triplets, so identical they each fell in love with -– and married -– the same woman ...

These are just a few of the inhabitants of Desolation Road. They and their children shaped a town, a planet, and a history. And the only thing they had in common was their belief that destiny had passed them by ...
Pictured above: Cover of the 1988 Bantam paperback.

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