Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SF Signal’s review of Ian McDonald’s 1988 novel Desolation Road

John DeNardo of SF Signal has written a refreshing review of Desolation Road (1988), a novel by British author Ian McDonald that was recently reprinted by Pyr Books. Set in the growing town of Desolation Road on Mars, here’s a description of the novel:

It all began thirty years ago on Mars, with a greenperson. But by the time it all finished, the town of Desolation Road had experienced every conceivable abnormality from Adam Black's Wonderful Travelling Chautauqua and Educational ‘Stravaganza (complete with its very own captive angel) to the Astounding Tatterdemalion Air Bazaar. Its inhabitants ranged from Dr. Alimantando, the town’s founder and resident genius, to the Babooshka, a barren grandmother who just wants her own child -- grown in a fruit jar; from Rajendra Das, mechanical hobo who has a mystical way with machines to the Gallacelli brothers, identical triplets who fell in love with -- and married -- the same woman.

In providing an insightful critical analysis of McDonald’s novel, DeNardo praises the imaginative cast of characters of Desolation Road but questions the strength of the book’s plot. Expecting a traditional science fiction story, DeNardo got Peyton Place. He concludes: “In the end, Desolation Road felt more like a literary exercise than the cool wondrous story I was hoping for.”

John DeNardo gives Desolation Road a rating of 2 stars out of 5.

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