Hopeland by Ian McDonald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I fell hard for this one. I fell deep into this one.
I can totally understand why some may not, but for me, it just worked.
First, the language. I've always been a fan of Ian McDonald, but he really pulled out all the stops, giving me a loving taste of Mysterious London a-la Gaiman or even Alan Moore, keeping it fast paced and quirky and delightful. Add a little magical realism with the Brightborn family - wonderfully musical and cursed by luck, and the Hopeland family, ideologically adopted, totally electrical street performers, and many, many thousands strong across the world.
While it has a little romance and a little tragedy, I don't really see this as a genuine star-crossed lovers kind of romance. Not at all. Their lives are beautiful, whether they are together or apart. This is more of a FAMILY saga, one that keeps developing, adapting, growing stronger even while the world changes so much.
And that's where the real core of this novel comes to play: The world itself, from the early early days of the Hopeland people to where we really follow our MCs in the early 2010's, and how they grow older, change to the ecological disasters and upheavals deep into the 2030's and beyond.
Yes, there is a future history here, too, but it's not the science fiction aspect that I loved most -- it was the amazingly optimistic view of humanity.
I found myself marveling at the idea of Hopeland -- a community that accepts anyone, of any mindset, race, orientation, ANYTHING -- that prides itself on being a Family of choice -- that just does WHATEVER THAT WORKS.
It's the adaptability, the optimism, the insistence that they will be strong and around, helping each other out 10,000 years in the future. Easy to join, impossible to leave, because family is always there for you.
Truly. It's rather beautiful. Especially today, when it feels like everything is falling apart, this kind of sheer optimism rather destroys me.
And it's this, more than anything, that makes me say, "Hey! Ya'll! You should read this! We should make this happen!"
Plus, becoming a ball of lightning for shits and giggles is hella awesome.
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