The Dervish House: 06/16/17
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald is a thriller with science fiction trappings. It's won a bunch of awards but it wasn't the right book for me.
Someone is terrorizing the streets of Istanbul. Someone is setting off bombs. Others believe they can see Djinn before the explosions. Six very different people spread across the city each hold a piece of the puzzle.
An ensemble cast can work in the context of science fiction. Pratchett and Baxter certainly pulled it off in their Long Earth series. But a lot of times, an ensemble cast brings to mind disaster story. Instead of seeing different pieces of the story to get a gestalt view, one begins to expect them to die off one by one.
The second problem is the setting. Istanbul is an old city with a rich history. But it's also a modern day city. It's old enough to have gone through two name changes. But it's not an exotic playground. Yet that's how it's often treated in western fiction.
Buried under all the establishment of Istanbul as ancient, exotic, magical city, is a genuinely interesting story involving nanotechnology. There's just one wee problem. There's a better, shorter story that covers the same ground without all the racism: Big Hero 6.