Read Evolution's Shore by Ian McDonald Free Online
Book Title: Evolution's Shore|
The size of the: 1.71 MB
Date of issue: November 1st 1995
ISBN 13: 9780553374353
The author of the book: Ian McDonald
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books:I read this book a few years ago, but was reminded of it today. In looking it up just now I realised that it was also known as Evolution's Shore, but I definitely read the Chaga edition.
The weird thing is that there's a lot to recommend about this book. It's an interesting concept that's full of imaginative elements: a meteorite crashes in Africa, and starts growing. A zone of alien life starts spreading from the impact site, and changing the landscape. It's not dangerous, but the changed zone keeps spreading - and then people realise that animals, people and plants inside the zone are being altered into Something Else.
It's a transhumanist novel, dealing with the ongoing questions of how we define humanity, but also raising big issues like colonialism and power relations. When transformative alien technology - threatening and yet full of such potential as a resource - winds up near Mount Kilimanjaro, it's astonishing how fast Western countries 'step in' to 'protect' the local populace from it. Considering that it's growing, that means forced diaspora on a grand scale, and the course of the novel has the Chaga forcing the evacuation of (from memory) Nairobi.
The secondary characters, together with those who are dealing with the problems of the Chaga, or those who have been changed themselves, are handled with detail and depth.
The concepts of the book are quite strong, and it never falls down by making the Chaga as simple as an alien invasion, or having people get eaten/taken over by shapeshifters from John Carpenter's The Thing.
Those are the book's strengths, and they are admirable.
Where it falls down for me is the characterisation of the protagonists. Gaby McAslin is a blonde, feisty Ulster journalist Out To Find The Truth. At a certain point she encounters a doctor with the UN, who is studying the Chaga and administrating the evacuations - incidentally described as a tall man with a heroic jawline, etc.
I wish to note that I have studied Mills & Boon novels. Mills & Boon novels can be wickedly well-written to take full, witty advantage of their formulas, and can be entirely clever.
Chaga is not one of those novels, and setting a Mills & Boon against the backdrop of such interesting possibilities as the setting represents is maddening: it all becomes about those two characters, framed from Gaby McAslin's point-of-view. The drama! The miscommunication! The betrayal! The complete missmatch between the tone of the characters and the world they exist in!
When that happens, the setting of Chaga becomes entirely irrelevant, because it's All About the Relationship and that could happen almost anywhere.
It's particularly strange when McAslin is set against the character of an African crimeboss who comes across as appropriately dangerous and intelligent: the overwhelming impression is a) that the crimeboss and the protagonist exist in different genres, and b) the protagonist is Going To Die.
I remember there even being a sequence where the protagonist attempts to leave the area, completely abandoning all of the debt and favours she owes to the Scary Crimeboss, because of Love and Passion and such. And that could be justified, if the character were choosing to put Love and Passion above personal danger... except it really feels like she's just forgotten about it because it's inconvenient.
Chaga cannot decide what it wants to be. I applaud it for not turning the Chaga into a black-and-white threat by becoming an action or horror story. However, in absence of a concrete threat, the narrative feels like there is something missing. It currently represents a period of time and great change, all from the perspective of a self-absorbed journalist with little instinct for self-preservation, and then ends without resolving much.
The period of time that involves great change is an excellent place to set a novel, and the concepts which explore that element of the book are very interesting. Unfortunately, it also feels as though the experience of the protagonist significantly eclipses the rich possibilities represented by setting.
Read information about the authorIan Neil McDonald was born in 1960 in Manchester, England, to an Irish mother and a Scottish father. He moved with his family to Northern Ireland in 1965. He used to live in a house built in the back garden of C. S. Lewis’s 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. He debuted in 1982 with the short story “The Island of the Dead” in the short-lived British magazine Extro. His first novel, Desolation Road, was published in 1988. Other works include King of Morning, Queen of Day (winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), River of Gods, The Dervish House (both of which won British Science Fiction Association Awards), the graphic novel Kling Klang Klatch, and many more. His most recent publications are Planesrunner and Be My Enemy, books one and two of the Everness series for younger readers (though older readers will find them a ball of fun, as well). Ian worked in television development for sixteen years, but is glad to be back to writing fulltime.
Add a comment
Read EBOOK Evolution's Shore by Ian McDonald Online free