Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

A second book by Ian McDonald I have read. The book is stylistically similar to Brazyl which I read a few years ago; the writing is very descriptive and heavy with adjectives. The writing itself is very good, but I am not a great fan of this writing style where the style and descriptions are more important than the plot. Not to say that the plot in this book would be insignificant or poor. Ian McDonald seems to place his books on varied countries which are less commonly used in science fiction or in English fiction in general. This time the book happens in the fairly near future Istanbul which could even be considered as a main character of the book.

The book starts with a terrorist attack which seems to be failed – only the woman herself who detonated a bomb died. There seems to be some unusual interest for some of the survivors of the attack, especially for one man who starts to have extremely realistic hallucinations.
Another plotline deals with a hunt for the mystical mellified man – a man who has been mummified with honey, and is supposed to have mythical healing properties. And third plotline deals with emerging nanotechnologies. The connection with those main plot-lines seemed first fairly marginal at the beginning and the book was fairly confusing with many different characters but all things converged fairly well by the end of the book.

I found one stupid mistake - I seriously doubt that it would be possible to make a plea bargain or pay bail in Turkey. Especially plea bargaining is a typical practice which happens only in countries with common law type of justice system; and it is practically unknown in countries with more developed or sensible legal systems. I couldn't either find any evidence that it would be possible to pay bail in Turkey.

Most of the plot lies, and last hundred pages were really entertaining. However, I believe that I prefer Brazyl to this book. The beginning of this book was somewhat too slow and disjointed, and it took too much time to really get inside the events. By the way, somehow the book felt a lot of longer than 410 pages.

I have now read three of the Hugo nominated books. So far none of them has been something really worth of the award. This has probably been the least bad so far.

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