book review: the dervish house

Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House is near-future science fiction set in Istanbul. There are tightly regulated nanobots and tweaked kids toy nanobots and interesting financial scams and terrorist attacks and mythical mummies, a split in half Koran and boats. It’s very good.

One of the things I liked about this one was how it was tied into what I’d almost think of as contemporary times. One of the viewpoint characters (and this being an Ian McDonald book there are a bunch of them) is an old former academic who was a young radical in the 1980s when something bad happened that’s haunted him for the last fifty years. It was a good connection to have.

This book also joins the list of sf about economics that are in fashion these days (I blame Freakonomics). There’s a lot of talk about markets and selling and money in The Dervish House, paralleling all the rest of these books about goldfarming and electronic heists and the way people make money in a new economy. Maybe fiction’s been full of this forever but I feel like I’m reading a lot more about it recently.

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