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Publisher's Summary

August 15th, 2047. Happy 100th Birthday, India....

On the eve of Mother India's 100th birthday, 10 people are doing 10 very different things. In the next few weeks, all these people will be swept together to decide the fate of the nation. From gangsters to government advisors, from superstitious street-boys to scientists to computer-generated soap stars, River of Gods shows a civilization in flux - a river of gods.

River of Gods is an epic science fiction novel, as sprawling, vibrant and colourful as the sub-continent it describes. This is a novel that blew apart the narrow Anglo- and US-centric concerns of the genre, and ushered in a new global consciousness for science fiction as a whole.

©2012 Ian McDonald (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A long and winding river

McDonald has become well known for setting his stories outside of the traditional Euro-American context of most science fiction, and the effect is to lend an air of the exotic and strange to the near future he imagines. This novel, set in a balkanized India at the middle of the century, follows that pattern. Be warned that it starts slowly with a subplot that is somewhat removed from the main action, and it takes a long time to really get to the meat of the science fiction that drives the story. Like all McDonald novels it is very well written, with language that is often surprising in the way that good poetry can be, but it also flows languidly, just like the Ganges River from which it takes its title, taking its time to gather together the life streams of its many complicated characters. This is only sporadically a book of intense action and high excitement, but it is thought provoking and well crafted, with a nice twist at the end to resolve the major mystery at its heart. In the process it wrestles with big themes about the nature of intelligence and the meaning of life, drawing extensively from the cultural history of India and Hinduism in the process. Indeed, one of the major negatives about listening to this book rather than reading it is that you don’t have access to the excellent and informative Glossary included at the end. The narration is generally excellent, although Jonathan Keeble isn’t consistently good at American accents. All in all this is definitely worth a listen.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great philosophy, technology, story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely. It's rare to find a book about India, let alone a science fiction book. As an anthropology student of the subcontintent, I was pleased that McDonald just jumped into use of terms like bindi, crore, etc. without explanation (it wasn't until I hit the glossary at the end that I realized it even existed -- one of the few limitations of audio books).

What did you like best about this story?

The philosophy of self and the great portrayal of India.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would have happily done so. I usually listen to books on my commute, but I found myself putting on my headphones at home whenever I could steal a few moments to listen.

Any additional comments?

I have a huge issue with readers (and directors!) who let pronunciation issues slip through. It seriously irked me that McDonald's phonetic shortening of "artificial intelligence" to aeai got pronounced as "ah-ay-ee". It's Ae-ai. Æ-I. A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Someone should have caught that and made a correction the first time it was uttered so strangely. It's like the director didn't even read the book.Keeble's performance was otherwise great -- doing distinct voices and accents for that many characters is more than admirable and I look forward to finding more books read by him.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • troy
  • Texas
  • 08-31-12

It's an interesting concept

Set in the near future artificial intelligence is emerging. There are different generations getting more and more advanced and regulated.

This specific story has so many mosaic pieces that it began to feel like a collage of stories layered in. If it was structured differently as a collection of novellas all taking place in one world, the layers wouldn't be so loosely connected.

The metaphysical warping of the space time continuum altering the perception of straight progression of cause and effect, was an interesting application... but in my cynical mind, I could also see it as a corner the author backed himself into.

It was an interesting concept overall.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Remarkable Vision of the Future

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The performance is remarkable. The reader brings to life characters speaking a variety of not only Indian accents but also American and Scottish.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

What does Jonathan Keeble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Jonathan Keeble brought the characters to life.

Any additional comments?

While it is a remarkable vision of the future and a very insightful extension of current social, political, and technological trends, it contains several quite graphic episodes of violence and torture, scenes which made me fast forward twice a few minutes and finally put the book down before I was half finished.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Thank Goodness For The Performance!

Any additional comments?

If it weren't for the different voices of the reader, I would have been lost with all the names!... Was an interesting story but not really for me, I just really didn't get some of the plot twists, I just went "huh"?...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I have no idea what's going on here

I generally listen to audiobooks while I'm working on home improvements or doing something else so I'm not just sitting quietly focusing on the story. That being said I can follow a story just fine and have done so many hours. This story, however, jumps around so much that I have no idea what's going on. There are 4 simultaneous stories? 5? I don't know and they are not compelling enough for me to go back and try to stitch together. The reader is great. No complaints about the production.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Outstanding, intriguing, and provocative

Thoroughly enjoyed, especially certain characters and concepts, yet I found myself having to look up definitions for many non-English words. Although informative and enlightening, the process was at times a wee bit irritating. I will recommend this book to friends.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Loved the book, hated the narrator

This novel takes place in Varanasi. The name of the city is mentioned every few minutes. The narrator confidently mispronounces it every single time (Varah-nay-zee if you're curious).

Additionally, most of the plot points revolve around AIs. McDonald anglicizes this as *aeais*. Again, this word is among the most common nouns in the book. The narrator mispronounces it "eye-ehh" for some reason.

Five minutes of research would have vastly improved this 21-hour effort. Instead, you're reminded every thirty seconds that the narrator couldn't give a damn about the performance.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Bollywood meets GITS: SAC

The audiobook format holds you captive to the author's excessive sex fantasy oversharing, but the story itself is not half bad.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping, intricate and beautiful

This is MacDonald at his most poetic, visionary and articulate. A Joycean tour of Indian culture, physics, artificial intelligence theory and the human heart, set in the near future.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel
  • 03-17-13

An Indian feast

This is a book that pulls in many aspects of India - the Hindu gods, the bureaucracy, the pace of life in the cities, technological research, cricket, the caste system and waiting for the monsoon - as a setting for an exciting near-future sci fi novel full of believable characters caught up in destiny and fighting to understand how we can come to terms with the evolution of computers and AIs.It is compulsive listening with amazing narration by Jonathan Keeble. A delicious length allowing the listener to get to know the characters and become drawn in to the multi stranded story. And if you like this one then try Ian McDonald's 'Brasyl' - another humdinger, this time set in Brasil.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Aiken Drum
  • 02-28-15

Sublime.

Truly fantastic love India love S/F . This is our future. Ian McDonald modern genius.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • russ
  • 06-01-18

loved it! good story, took me back to India.

really good story & ending. shame about the reader who didn't know the Indian words

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Clay Baker
  • 12-04-16

Very good

Dystopian India of the future featuring sinister AI and slow ageing genetically engineered "Brahmin" children. Also features space, ancient artefacts, non gendered humans and Indian Deckard (with marital problems)

Also sufficiently light on plot holes that I can't bring any to mind which really is saying something.

Narrator was amazing. Ok, this is my first audio book, and maybe I need to get used to listening to a bloke describe a sex scene from a woman's perspective, but whatever. I think he did a great job of the accents and making people sound different to each other.

I didn't feel amazingly emotionally energised afterwards, which is how I like to feel after enjoying fiction, but my memory of this is better than most science fiction I've read. Some great set pieces too.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ian Jamison
  • 10-05-16

Simply brilliant - pity about pronunciation.

Would you listen to River of Gods again? Why?

This is a fantastic story, brilliantly put together, and quite stunning in it's range. It's generally well read in an exciting way.
There are a number of real issues with pronunciation, which will grate on the ear if you;ve been to Varanasi, or visited a Shiva temple - but I'm being very picky with that. It's a super job.