Desolation Road

Desolation Road

by Ian McDonald

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.Ian McDonald is the author of many science fiction novels, including King of the Morning, Queen of the Day, Out on Deep Six, Changa, Kirinya, River of Gods, Brasyl, and Cyberabad Days.

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This is not to say that I think Ian McDonald was in any way aping them or merely writing some kind of amalgamated pastiche, but there were elements to his tale that made both authors names spring to mind. I was reminded of Crowley primarily in the poetic prose and gently fable-like aspects of the story which called to mind some elements of my favourite Crowley work Engine Summer. There is also the fact that this is a generational epic, telling the story of Mars from the perspective of the families that make up the founding members of the tiny habitation of Desolation Road and their descendants, not altogether unlike Crowleys own generational epic Little, Big, though I enjoyed McDonalds efforts far more than Crowleys in this case. I imagine that the whole point of magical realism is that the author is incorporating elements of the unreal or magical into what is otherwise everyday life and thus creating a juxtaposition that is saved from being jarring by the poetic way in which the story is written. This can certainly apply to _Desolation Road_, but McDonalds novel does seem to differ in one significant element: here we have a science fiction tale set in a world whose basic accepted tenets are already well beyond the everyday experiences of what we perceive as a normal life and I think the real surprise is simply the way in which McDonald expresses himself as opposed to the elements themselves. Whether they learn to master the chronodynamics of time and space, become the greatest snooker player the universe has ever known, or commune with the numinous machine powers that created the world to become cybernetic saints the people of Desolation Road find that their small-seeming lives can lead to great world shaking events.

Si tenemos algo de paciencia y nos dejamos llevar, si somos capaces de disfrutar de la pequeña maravilla que es cada capítulo, asistiremos a todas las situaciones que ese Marte puede ofrecer: viajes en el tiempo, asesinatos, la vida entera.

La novela nos cuenta una historia del futuro en Marte, aunque no se trata de un Marte al estilo Kim Stanley Robinson o Greg Bear; estaría más cercano a las Crónicas marcianas de Ray Bradbury. De esta manera, entre la ciencia ficción, el surrealismo, la sátira y la novela fronteriza, el conjunto convierte Camino Desolación en todo un clásico.

When I first started reading this book, I thought, "Oh, how delightful." McDonald has succeeded in taking the Wild West and transplanting it onto Mars. The book starts getting confusing, and with every chapter gets more and more confusing, until I can't tell who the characters are anymore, how they are related to any of the other characters (wife, daughter, granddaughter, adopted daughter, etc. That's not to say that there weren't little gems tucked in those chapters - there were still passages I liked and paragraphs I liked and concepts I liked, but they were buried up to their eyeballs in crazy-confusing-stuff-that-I-don't-understand. It's fair to note that I am not a.) an engineer or b.) a person who usually reads science fiction.

Its a great story, although McDonald tends to meander a bit despite the brevity of some of the chapters, and the second half of the book, when the focus shifts from the little episodes of the townspeople to the greater factions working in and around the town proper, loses some of the magic and starts to feel a bit dull. But the library had a sense of humor and sent me an older edition, with the original cover, and almost put me off reading it altogether.

McDonald combines the story telling techniques of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with the weird future fables of Cordwainer Smith and Jack Vance (the fable like story telling of all three authors isnt as different as one would think).

El pueblo arranca su existencia con todos estos personajes fundacionales, que, como en un western del planeta Marte, dan vida a un pueblo pionero en un páramo desértico al borde de una vía férrea camino de la ciudad Paraíso. La prosa de McDonald es de una gran belleza desgranando los originales nombre de gentes y lugares de Canino Desolación y describiendo las situaciones a las que se enfrentan en el marco de un Marte soñado, terraformado por ROTECH. Las vidas de los habitantes de Camino Desolación se van entrecruzando a partir de las primeras generaciones de nativos del pueblo. Los recuerdos Una lectura fascinante y original que me ha mantenido hechizado por su extraña belleza.

Esta es una de esas lecturas que por un lado me ha encantado, pero por otro ha llegado a desesperarme. Por cierto, aviso que esta no es una lectura para todo el mundo y que si después de 50-60 páginas no os ha enganchado, es mejor que lo dejéis.

S. Lewiss childhood home but has since moved to central Belfast, where he now lives, exploring interests like cats, contemplative religion, bonsai, bicycles, and comic-book collecting. Ian worked in television development for sixteen years, but is glad to be back to writing fulltime.