It all began thirty years ago on Mars, with a greenperson. But by the time it all finished, the town of Desolation Road had experienced every conceivable abnormality; from Adam Black’s Wonderful Travelling Chautauqua and Educational ’Stravaganza (complete with its very own captive angel), to the Astounding Tatterdemalion Air Bazaar. Its inhabitants ranged from Dr. Alimantando, the town’s founder and resident genius, to the Babooshka, a barren grandmother who just wants her own child – grown in a fruit jar; from Rajendra Das, mechanical hobo who has a mystical way with machines to the Gallacelli brothers, identical triplets who fell in love with – and married – the same woman.
“Ian McDonald’s Desolation Road is one of my most personally influential novels. It’s an epic tale of the terraforming of Mars, whose sweep captures the birth and death of mythologies, economics, art, revolution, politics… Desolation Road pays homage to David Byrne's Catherine Wheel, to Ray Bradbury's entire canon and to Jack Vance, blending all these disparate creators in a way that surprises, delights, then surprises and delights again.” – Cory Doctorow (Boing Boing)
“McDonald’s first novel, it absolutely bowled me over when it came out, and while I have read everything he’s published since, and admire all of it and like most of it, this remains my favourite... some of the most beautiful prose imaginable… If you ever want to demonstrate how different science fiction can be, what an incredible range and sweep of things are published with a little spaceship on the spine, Desolation Road is a shining datapoint, because it isn’t like anything else and yet it is coming from a knowledge of what the genre can do and can be and making something new out of it.” – Jo Walton (Tor.com)
“This is the kind of novel I long to find yet seldom do. Desolation Road is a rara avis... Extraordinary and more than that!” – Philip José Farmer
“Flavoured with a voice that blends the delightful prose of Jack Vance with the idiosyncratic stylings of Cordwainer Smith, this novel is, most of all, about the dusty town of Desolation Road in the middle of the red Martian desert. Episodic in scope, it would also work as short stories. An elderly couple get lost in the infinite space of their garden, a baby growing in a jar is stolen and replaced with a mango, a man called The Hand plays electric guitar for the clouds and starts the first rain for one hundred and fifty thousand years.” – SF Site