Thursday, December 20, 2001

Title: Sacrifice Of Fools
Author: Ian McDonald
Publisher: Vista

Andy Gillespie has just taken part in a botched hit as part of a loyalist hit squad when the news that the aliens have arrived comes through. While he in prison he encounters one of the aliens who have been assigned to Belfast as a settlement, and in the process swears to dedicate his life to helping the Shian people. Regardless of this and the alien people in general, Northern Ireland still remains polarised by the troubles - which causes problems for the Shian who want to have their say in the country they are now living in, especially when they won't take sides. Gillespie finds himself thrown in to the deep end when the Shian family he has been working for are brutally murdered - he becomes prime suspect, but with the reaction in the Shian community itself there is clearly something more going on than meets the eye.

Ian McDonald does something particularly cunning with Sacrifice Of Fools I feel. Using the troubles in Ireland to give a picture of what it is like to live against this polar background for some, where everything is always about taking sides - regardless of whether it is appropriate. The use of an alien race particularly illustrates this matter, especially when there are parallels made to more earthly immigrants in the process. At the same time being able to flesh out an alien culture/language to the degree that he does is interesting in itself. With the addition of the murders and the investigation that goes with that there is also a touch of crime fiction as Andy tries to put all the pieces together. All together a strong mix of elements that make for an enjoyable and original read.

December 2001

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