Free preview of Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House

I’ve never read an Ian McDonald novel I didn’t love*.As such, I commend unto you this preview of a chapter from Mister Mcdonald’s newest novel, The Dervish House, courtesy of those nice people at Pyr Books.

Continuing his ongoing project of setting near-future sf in developing/non-WASP nations, The Dervish House is set in a Turkey not too far from now, having been recently absorbed into the European Union… plenty of fertile ground for speculation there. A confluence of geography means cultures and ideas have mixed and clashed in that part of the world for millennia, and the sociopolitical state of the Old World suggests it’ll get another turn in the spotlight soon.

There’s a copy of The Dervish House lurking in my TBR pile, and it’s one the ones that keeps whispering to me about how my currently-in-progress reading and reviewing commitments just aren’t as important as I’ve managed to convince myself they are… filthy bookses. They talks to me, they does. Ahem.

So, any other Ian McDonald fans in the house? Or anyone found him not to their taste at all? Tell us why!

[ * Caveat: I’ve not read them all, though. YMMV, etcetera etcetera. But if you can read Desolation Road and genuinely not find it mad charming, you are dead to me. In the nicest possible way. ]

5 thoughts on “Free preview of Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House”

  1. When I attended Interaction in Glasgow in ’05, all the best novel nominees were UK authors. A couple of those novels weren’t available in US editions, so I ended up buying them when I reached London a week before the convention started. I purchased Banks’ ALGEBRAIST and McDonald’s RIVER OF GODS at a bookstore near my hotel. I intended to read both before the voting in Glasgow, and I started THE ALGEBRAIST first. HUGE mistake. We traveled a lot in the week before the convention and I finished the Banks novel, but didn’t get a chance to start RIVER OF GODS. I voted for ACCELERANDO, and Susanna Clarke’s first novel JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL won the Hugo for best novel ( a competent Dickensian period piece, but wholly unworthy of the award, IMO). I didn’t read ROG until I got back to the states, and started gnashing my teeth over the injustice to which I had been party. RIVER OF GODS was head and shoulders above the other nominees. It was undoubtedly the best genre novel of that year, and it was the best SF novel I had read up until that point in the decade. Now that the 00s are over, it’s still in a close tie for best novel of the decade, IMO. I read DESOLATION ROAD when it was published and fell in love. It was amusing, arresting, absurd and lyrical. I read OUT ON BLUE 6 and was less impressed, although it was still a very good novel. I read THE BROKEN LANDS and felt that it just barely missed finding the magical chemistry of DESOLATION ROAD, and then I read KING OF MORNING, QUEEN OF DAY. KOMQOD was a beautifully written book. It was lyrical and intelligent. Sort of a cross between Holdstock and Spenser, but I didn’t ever come to care about the characters or fall under the spell of Irish Faerie. After that it was hit and miss with McDonald. I read TERMINAL CAFE, ARES EXPRESS and EVOLUTION’S SHORE in the mid to late ’90s and early 00s, but managed to ignore the other half-dozen or so novels and collections he compiled during that period. RIVER OF GODS not only hauled me back onto the bandwagon, but has me clamoring to drive. McDonald’s assault on the solipsistic genre assertion, that the future can only happen in Europe and North America, is both welcome and long overdue. McDonald’s subsequent, shorter work in the ROG milieu is as strong and as brilliant as the novel. BRASYL was also an excellent foray into an alien terrestrial culture. If I had nominated or voted the year that BRASYL was eligible, I would certainly have made it my top pick. I’ve traveled in Turkey, and can hardly wait to get my hands on THE DERVISH HOUSE.


  2. I’ve read River of Gods, Brasyl, and I’m definitely looking forward to this one! Great stylist, and full of Big Ideas.

  3. Ian McDonald’s my favorite writer. If you want to find that advance copy a home, I’ll offer it a good one. Failing that, I’ll have to buy one the old-fashioned way in a couple of weeks.

    (His worst book is probably _Out on Blue Six_, and it’s not too bad.)

  4. Yes, except for a couple of three Canadians all of the best SF is coming out of the UK! I think I’ve read most of McDonald’s SF scribble and find that it sticks with me in the most unusual way. Keeps popping back into my head. Brilliant!

  5. Hurrah! I love River Of Gods and Brasyl. Still haven’t read Desolation Road. Can’t wait for The Dervish House.

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