Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.



3.5 4
by Ian McDonald

See All Formats & Editions

Think Bladerunner in the tropics . . .
Be seduced, amazed, and shocked by one of the world's greatest and strangest nations. Past, present, and future Brazil, with all its color, passion, and shifting realities, come together in a novel that is part SF, part history, part mystery, and entirely enthralling.
Three separate stories follow three main


Think Bladerunner in the tropics . . .
Be seduced, amazed, and shocked by one of the world's greatest and strangest nations. Past, present, and future Brazil, with all its color, passion, and shifting realities, come together in a novel that is part SF, part history, part mystery, and entirely enthralling.
Three separate stories follow three main characters:
Edson is a self-made talent impresario one step up from the slums in a near future São Paulo of astonishing riches and poverty. A chance encounter draws Edson into the dangerous world of illegal quantum computing, but where can you run in a total surveillance society where every move, face, and centavo is constantly tracked?
Marcelina is an ambitious Rio TV producer looking for that big reality TV hit to make her name. When her hot idea leads her on the track of a disgraced World Cup soccer goalkeeper, she becomes enmeshed in an ancient conspiracy that threatens not just her life, but her very soul.
Father Luis is a Jesuit missionary sent into the maelstrom of 18th-century Brazil to locate and punish a rogue priest who has strayed beyond the articles of his faith and set up a vast empire in the hinterland. In the company of a French geographer and spy, what he finds in the backwaters of the Amazon tries both his faith and the nature of reality itself to the breaking point.
Three characters, three stories, three Brazils, all linked together across time, space, and reality in a hugely ambitious story that will challenge the way you think about everything

Editorial Reviews

Jeff VanderMeer
Ian McDonald's Brasyl, with its three storylines, is as close to perfect as any novel in recent memory. It works because of great characterization, but also because McDonald envisions Brazil as a dynamic, living place that is part postmodern trash pile, part trashy reality-TV-driven ethical abyss…and yet also somehow spiritual.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

British author McDonald's outstanding SF novel channels the vitality of South America's largest country into an edgy, post-cyberpunk free-for-all. McDonald sets up three separate characters in different eras—a cynical contemporary reality-TV producer, a near-future bisexual entrepreneur and a tormented 18th-century Jesuit agent. He then slams them together with the revelation that their worlds are strands of an immense quantum multiverse, and each of them is threatened by the Order, a vast conspiracy devoted to maintaining the status quo until the end of time. As McDonald weaves together the separate narrative threads, each character must choose between isolation or cooperation, and also between accepting things as they are or taking desperate action to make changes possible. River of Gods(2004), set in near-future India, established McDonald as a leading writer of intelligent, multicultural SF, and here he captures Latin America's mingled despair and hope. Chaotic, heartbreaking and joyous, this must-read teeters on the edge of melodrama, but somehow keeps its precarious balance. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

Gardners Books
Publication date:

Read an Excerpt


A Novel

Prometheus Books
Copyright © 2007

Ian McDonald
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59102-543-6


May 17-19, 2006

Marcelina watched them take the car on Rua Sacopã. It was a C-Class Mercedes, a drug dealer's car, done up to the tits by the Pimp My Ride: Brasileiro design crew with wheel trim and tail and blue lighting that ran up and down the subframe. Subwoofers the size of suitcases. The design boys had done a good job; it looked a fistful more than the four thousand reis Marcelina had paid at the city car pound.

One time they passed it: three guys in basketball shorts and vests and caps. The first time the looking time. A second time, this time the checking time, pretending to be interested in the trim and the rosary and Flamengo key-fob hanging from the mirror (sweet touch) and was it CD multichanger or a hardpoint for MP3?

Go, my sons, you know you want it, thought Marcelina in the back of the chase car in a driveway two hundred meters up hill. It's all there for you, I made it that way, how can you resist?

The third time, that is the taking time. They gave it ten minutes' safety, ten minutes in which Marcelina sat over the monitor fearing would they come back would someone else get there first? No, here they were swinging down the hill, big pretty boys long-limbed and loose, and they were good, very good. She hardly saw them try the door, but there was no mistaking the look of surprise on their faces when it swung open. Yes, it is unlocked. And yes, the keys are in it. And they were in: door closed, engine started, lights on.

"We're on!" Marcelina Hoffman shouted to her driver and was immediately flung against the monitor as the SUV took off. God and Mary they were hard on it, screaming the engine as they ripped out onto the Avenida Epitácio Pessoa. "All cars all cars!" Marcelina shouted into her talkback as the Cherokee swayed into the traffic. "We have a lift we have a lift! Heading north for the Rebouças Tunnel." She poked the driver, an AP who had confessed a love for car rallying, hard in the shoulder. "Keep him in sight, but don't scare him." The monitor was blank. She banged it. "What is wrong with this thing?" The screen filled with pictures, feed from the Mercedes' lipstick- cams. "I need real-time time-code up on this." Don't let them find the cameras, Marcelina prayed to Nossa Senhora da Valiosa Producão, her divine patroness. Three guys, the one in the black and gold driving, the one in the Nike vest, and the one with no shirt at all and a patchy little knot of wiry hair right between his nipples. Sirens dopplered past; Marcelina looked up from her monitor to see a police car turn across four lanes of traffic on the lagoon avenue and accelerate past her. "Get me audio."

João-Batista the soundman waggled his head like an Indian, the gesture made the more cartoonish by his headphones. He fiddled with the mixer slung around his neck and gave a tentative thumbs-up. Marcelina had rehearsed this-rehearsed this and rehearsed this and rehearsed this-and now she could not remember a single word. João-Batista looked at her: Go on, it's your show.

"You like this car? You like it?" She was shrieking like a shoutygirl-presenter. João-Batista looking pityingly at her. On the car cams the boys looked as if a bomb had gone off under their Knight Rider LEDS. Don't bail, Lady Lady Lady, don't bail. "It's yours! It's your big star prize. It's all right, you're on a TV game show!"

"It's a shit old Merc with a cheap pimp from graphics," Souza the driver muttered. "And they know that."

Marcelina knocked off the talkback.

"Are you the director here? Are you? Are you? It'll do for the pilot."

The SUV veered abruptly, sending Marcelina reeling across the backseat. Tires squealed. God she loved this.

"They decided against the tunnel. They're taking a trip to Jardim Botânica instead."

Marcelina glanced at the satnav. The police cars were orange flags, their careful formation across Rio's Zona Sul breaking up and reordering as the chase car refused to drive into their trap. That's what it's about, Marcelina said to herself. That's what makes it great TV. Back on the talkback again.

"You're on Getaway. It's a new reality show for Canal Quatro, and you're on it! Hey, you're going to be big stars!" That got them looking at each other. Attention culture. It never failed to seduce the vain Carioca. Best reality show participants on the planet, cariocas. "That car is yours, absolutely, guaranteed, legal. All you have to do is not get arrested by the cops for half an hour, and we've told them you're out there. You want to play?" That might even do for the strapline: Getaway: You Want to Play?

Nike vest boy's mouth was moving.

"I need audio out," Marcelina shouted. João-Batista turned another knob. Baile funk shook the SUV.

"I said, for this heap of shit?" Nike vest shouted over the booty beat. Souza took another corner at tire-shredding speed. The orange flags of the police were flocking together, route by route cutting off possible escape. For the first time Marcelina believed she might have a program here. She thumbed the talkback off. "Where are we going?"

"It could be Rocinha or up through Tijuca on the Estrada Dona Castorina." The SUV slid across another junction, scattering jugglers, their balls cascading around them, and windshield-washers with buckets and squeegees. "No, it's Rocinha."

"Are we getting anything usable?" Marcelina asked João-Batista. He shook his head. She had never had a soundman who wasn't a laconic bastard, and that went for soundwomen too.

"Hey hey hey, could you turn the music down a little?"

DJ Furação's baile beat dropped to thumbs-up levels from João-Batista.

"What's your name?" Marcelina shouted at Nike vest.

"You think I'm going to tell you, in a stolen car with half Zona Sul up my ass? This is entrapment."

"We have to call you something," Marcelina wheedled.

"Well, Canal Quatro, you can call me Malhação, and this América"-the driver took his hands off the wheel and waved-"and O Clono." Chest-hair pushed his mouth up to the driver's headrest minicam in the classic MTV rock-shot.

"Is this going to be like Bus 174?" he asked.

"Do you want to end up like the guy on Bus 174?" Souza murmured. "If they try and take that into Rocinha, it'll make Bus 174 look like a First Communion party."

"Am I going to be like a big celebrity then?" O Clono asked, still kissing the camera.

"You'll be in Contigo. We know people there, we can set something up."

"Can I get to meet Gisele Bundchen?"

"We can get you on a shoot with Gisele Bundchen, all of you, and the car. Getaway stars and their cars."

"I like that Ana Beatriz Barros," América said.

"Hear that? Gisele Bundchen!" O Clono had his head between the seats, bellowing in Malhação's ear.

"Man, there is going to be no Gisele Bundchen, or Ana Beatriz Barros," Malhação said. "This is TV; they'll say anything to keep the show going. Hey Canal Quatro, what happens if we get caught? We didn't ask to be in this show."

"You took the car."

"You wanted us to take the car. You left the doors open and the keys in."

"Ethics is good," João-Batista said. "We don't get a lot of ethics in reality TV."

Sirens on all sides, growing closer, coming into phase. Police cars knifed past on each side, a blast, a blur of sound and flashing light. Marcelina felt her heart kick in her chest, that moment of beauty when it all works together, perfect, automatic, divine. Souza slid the SUV into top gear as he accelerated past the shuttered-up construction gear where the new favela wall was going up.

"And it's not Rocinha," Souza said, pulling out past a tanker-train. "What else is down there? Vila Canoas, maybe. Whoa."

Marcelina looked up from her monitor, where she was already planning her edit. Something in Souza's voice.

"You're scaring me, man."

"They just threw a three-sixty right across the road."

"Where are they?"

"Coming right at us."

"Hey, Canal Quatro." Malhação was grinning into the sun-visor cam. He had very good, white big teeth. "I think there's a flaw in your format. You see, there's no motivation for me to risk jail just for a shit secondhand Merc. On the other hand, something with a bit of retail potential ..."

The Mercedes came sliding across the central strip, shedding graphics' loving pimp job all over the highway. Souza stood on the antilocks. The SUV stopped a spit from the Mercedes. Malhação, América, and O Clono were already out, guns held sideways in that way that had become fashionable since City of God.

"Out out out out out." Marcelina and crew piled onto the road, traffic blaring past.

"I need the hard drive. If I haven't got the hard drive I haven't got a show, at least leave me that."

América was already behind the wheel.

"This is sweet," he declared.

"Okay, take it," Malhação said, handing monitor and terabyte LaCie to Marcelina.

"You know, you kinda have hair like Gisele Bundchen," O Clono called from the rear seat. "But curlier, and you're a lot smaller."

Engine cries, tires smoked, América handbraked the SUV around Marcelina and burned out west. Seconds later police cars flashed.

"Now that," said João-Batista, "is what I call great TV."

* * *

The Black Plumed Bird smoked in the edit suite. Marcelina hated that. She hated most things about the Black Plumed Bird, starting with the 1950s clothes she wore unironically in defiance of trend and fashion (there is no fashion without personal style, querida) and that nevertheless looked fantastic, from the real nylon stockings, with seams-never pantyhose, bad bad thrush-to the Coco Chanel jacket. If she could have worn sunglasses and a headscarf in the edit suite, she would have. She hated a woman so manifestly confident in her mode, and so correct in it. She hated that the Black Plumed Bird could exist on a diet of import vodka and Hollywood cigarettes, had never been seen taking a single stroke of exercise and yet would have emerged from an all-night edit radiating Grace Kelly charm and not skull-fucked on full-sugar guaraná. Most of all she hated that, for all her studious retro and grace, the Black Plumed Bird had graduated from media school one year ahead of Marcelina Hoffman and was her senior commissioning editor. Marcelina had bored so many researchers and development producers over Friday cocktails at Café Barbosa about the stunts and deviations the Black Plumed Bird had pulled to get head of Factual Entertainment at Canal Quatro that they could recite them now like Mass. She didn't know the mike was still live and the guys in the scanner heard her say ... (All together) Fuck me till I fart ...

"The soundtrack is a key USP; we're going for Grand Theft Auto/Eighties retro. That's that English new romantic band who did that song about Rio but the video was shot in Sri Lanka."

"I thought that one was 'Save a Prayer,'" said Leandro, moving a terracotta ashtray with an inverted flowerpot for a lid toward the Black Plumed Bird. He was the only editor in the building not to have banned Marcelina from his suite and was considered as imperturbable as the Dalai Lama, even after an all-nighter "'Rio' was shot in Rio. Stands to reason."

"Are you like some ninja master of early eighties English new romantic music?" Marcelina sniped. "Were you even born in 1984?"

"I think you'll find that particular Duran Duran track was 1982," the Black Plumed Bird said, carefully stubbing her cigarette out in the proffered ashtray and replacing the lid. "And the video was shot in Antigua, actually. Marcelina, what happened to the crew car?"

"The police found it stripped to the subframe on the edge of Mangueira. The insurance will cover it. But it shows it works; I mean, the format needs a little tweaking, but the premise is strong. It's good TV."

The Black Plumed Bird lit another cigarette. Marcelina fretted around the door to the edit suite. Give me it give me it give it just give me the series.

"It is good TV. I'm interested in this." That was as good as you ever got from the Black Plumed Bird. Marcelina's heart misfired, but that was likely the stimulants. Come down slowly, all say, and then a normal night's bed; that, in her experience, was the best descent path out of an all-nighter. Of course if it was a commission, she might just go straight down to Café Barbosa, bang on Augusto's door with the special Masonic Knock, and spend the rest of the day on the champagne watching roller boys with peachlike asses blade past. "It's clever and it's sharp and it hits all our demographics, but it's not going to happen." The Black Plumed Bird held up a lace-gloved hand to forestall Marcelina's protests. "We can't do it." She tapped at the wireless control pad and called up the Quatro news channel. Ausiria Menendes was on the morning shift. Heitor would probably call her midday for a little lunch hour. The scuttling fears and anxieties of a middle-aged news anchor were the very un-thing she needed this day. A fragment seemed to have fallen out of her brain onto the screen: Police cars pulled in around a vehicle on the side of a big highway. São Paulo, said the caption. Cut to a helicopter shot of military cruisers and riot-control vehicles parked up outside the gate of Guarulhos Main Penitentiary. Smoke spiraled up from inside the compound; figures occupied the half-stripped roof with a bedsheet banner, words sprayed in red.

"The PCC has declared war with the police," said the Black Plumed Bird. "There are at least a dozen cops dead already. They've got hostages in the jail. Benfica will start next and then ... No, we can't do it."

Marcelina hung by the door, blinking softly as the television screen receded into a tiny jiggling mote at the end of a long, dim tunnel buzzing with cans of Kuat and amphetamines, Leandro and the Black Plumed Bird strange limousines playing bumper-tag with her. She heard her voice say, as if from a fold-back speaker, "We're supposed to be edgy and noisy."

"There's edgy and noisy and there's not getting our broadcast license renewed." The Black Plumed Bird stood up, dusted cigarette ash from her lovely gloves. "Sorry, Marcelina." Her nylon-hosed calves brushed electrically as she opened the edit suite door. The light was blinding, the Black Plumed Bird an amorphous umbra in the center of the radiance, as if she had stepped into the heart of the sun.

"It'll blow over, it always does...." But Marcelina had contravened her own law: Never protest never question never plead. You must love it enough to make it but not so much you cannot let it fall. Her chosen genre-factual entertainment-had a hit rate of a bends-inducing 2 percent, and she had grown the skin, she had learned the kung-fu: never trust it until the ink was on the contract, and even then the scheduler giveth and the scheduler taketh away. But each knock-back robbed of a little energy and impetus, like stopping a supertanker by kicking footballs at it. She could not remember when she had last loved it.

Leandro was closing down the pilot and archiving the edit-decision list.

"Don't want to rush you, but I've got Lisandra in on Lunch-Hour Plastic Surgery."

Marcelina scooped up her files and hard drive and thought that it might be very very good to cry. Not here, never here, not in front of Lisandra.

"Oh, hey, Marcelina, say, sorry about Getaway. You know, that's such bad timing...."

Lisandra settled herself into Marcelina's chair and set her shot-logs and water bottle precisely on the desk. Leandro clicked up bins.

"Isn't that always the business?"

"You know, you take it so philosophically. If it was me, I'd probably just go and get really really drunk somewhere."

Well, that was an option, but now that you've mentioned it, I would sooner wear shit for lipstick than get wrecked at Café Barbosa.

Marcelina imagined slowly pouring the acid from an uncapped car battery onto Lisandra's face, drawing Jackson Pollock drip-patterns over her ice-cream peach-soft skin. Lunch-Hour Plastic Surgery this, bitch.

* * *

Gunga spoke the rhythm, the bass chug, the pulse of the city and the mountain. Médio was the chatterer, the loose and cheeky gossip of the street and the bar, the celebrity news. Violinha was the singer, high over bass and rhythm, hymn over all, dropping onto the rhythm of gunga and médio then cartwheeling away, like the spirit of capoeira itself, into rhythmic flights and plays, feints and improvisations, shaking its ass all over the place.

Marcelina stood barefoot in a circle of music, chest heaving, arm upheld. Sweat ran copiously from her chin and elbow onto the floor. Tricks there, deceivings to be used in the play of the roda. She beckoned with her upraised hand, suitably insolent. Her opponent danced in the ginga, ready to attack and be attacked, every sense open. To so insolently summon an opponent to the dance had jeito, was malicioso.


Excerpted from BRASYL by IAN McDONALD Copyright © 2007 by Ian McDonald. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Cory Doctorow
"I will read anything that man writes-he is the most underappreciated genius working in the field today." --(Cory Doctorow, author of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town; coeditor, boingboing


Meet the Author

Ian McDonald is the author of many science fiction novels, including Desolation Road, King of the Morning, Queen of the Day, Out on Deep Six, Changa, and Kirinya. He has won the Philip K. Dick Award and the BSFA Award, been nominated for a Hugo Award, and has several nominations for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. He lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Visit Ian McDonald online at ianmcdonald.livejournal.com

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Brasyl 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too much reliance on jargon and the author's mash up of slang terms derived from three languages. I finished only because I hoped for a break in the monotony and a reveal at the end. Sadly disapointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
vito More than 1 year ago
Having brilliantly exploited the Indian subcontinent and the Ganges in "River of Gods" Mr. McDonald, somewhat less successfully, works with the Amazon basin and Brazil in this novel. The three story lines are compelling; the merging of them at the conclusion seems a bit forced. As with the glossary of local terms added to "River of Gods", the list of Portuguese words here is helpful but somewhat incomplete, and the repeated need to refer to it grows tedious. Still, a good read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 2006 Brazil, TV ¿Lady of Production Values¿ Marcelina Hoffman sets up scenes so her viewers can see genuine reality. She has recently learned that soccer goalie Barbosa, whose failure to block a shot at the 1950 World Cup gave the victory to Uruguay, still lives her plan is to place this loser on trial for causing one of the bleakest moments in the country¿s heritage. Instead her reseach investigation leads to some weird unexplained happenings as her doppelganger seems to want her dead. --- In 2032, Edson de Freitas runs a talent agency for losers, but earns a better living as a thief in a world where surveillance rules. Edson falls in love with Fia Kishida, an expert on security coding and computational physics in a multiversal continuum. His investigation into his beloved leads to some weird unexplained happenings as a doppelganger of Fia seems to have committed murder. --- In 1732 Father Luis Quinn and French scientist Robert Falcon arrive in Brazil on a quest to find Father Diego Goncalves, who has allegedley created an empire in his image of Christianity deep in the flood-forest. Their investigation leads to weird unexplained happenings as a doppelganger of ¿Our Lady of the Flood Forest¿ seems to have committed genocide. --- BRASYL is not an easy book to read yet worth the time for those in the audience who prefer a complex cerebral science fiction thriller that makes a strong case that quantum physics relativity of reality is a multiplier of a universal computer program. The story line uses Brazilian historical events and elements from the mysery genre to tell three tales of a multiverse in which time is relative to the individual, but within a group becomes collective. Multifaceted and incredibly intricate, as eras are rotated until they converge into ¿Our Lady of All Worlds¿, readers will appreciate this discerning look at an alternate way to interpret ¿I think there for I am¿. --- Harriet Klausner