Ian McDonald (British author)

Ian McDonald is a British science fiction novelist, living in Belfast. His themes include nanotechnology, postcyberpunk settings, and the impact of rapid social and technological change on non-Western societies.

Early life

Ian McDonald was born in 1960, in Manchester, to a Scottish father and Irish mother. He moved to Belfast when he was five and has lived there ever since. He lived through the whole of the 'Troubles', and his sensibility has been permanently shaped by coming to understand Northern Ireland as a post-colonial society imposed on an older culture. He became a fan of science fiction from childhood TV, and began writing when he was 9.


McDonald sold his first story to a local Belfast magazine when he was 22, and in 1987 became a full-time writer. He has also worked in TV consultancy within Northern Ireland, contributing scripts to the Northern Irish Sesame Workshop production of Sesame Tree.
McDonald's debut novel was Desolation Road, which takes place on a far future Mars in a town that develops around an oasis in the terraformed Martian desert. He published a sequel, Ares Express, in 2001.
Published between 1995 and 2000, the novels Chaga and Kirinya, with the novella Tendeléo's Story, form the 'Chaga Saga', which chronicles the effects of an alien flora introduced to Earth, and also analyses the AIDS crisis in Africa. The protagonist is Ulster journalist Gaby McAslin, whose outsider's eye both observes the African landscape and sees what the "UN quarantine zone" is doing to Kenya and Kenyans. Gaby's story, with that of her daughter, continues in Kirinya. Tendeléo's Story is seen through the eyes of a young Kenyan girl who escapes to the UK, only to be deported back to Kenya as an unwanted alien.
McDonald's River of Gods is set in mid-21st-century India; it won the BSFA award, and was nominated for a Hugo Award and a Clarke Award. Brasyl is set in the 18th and 21st centuries in Lusophone South America; it won the BSFA award, and was nominated for a Hugo Award and the Warwick Prize for Writing. McDonald began his Everness series of young adult fiction novels in 2011 with Planesrunner. He said in a 2014 interview, "I didn't want to get stuck doing the same SF books over and over, successful though they may be. I didn't want to keep writing books about the developing economy of the year—India, Brazil. I could feel myself getting trapped in that." He has written two Everness sequels, Be My Enemy, and Empress of the Sun.
McDonald published ', the first volume of a proposed science fiction duology, in 2015. It explores the dangerous intrigue that surrounds the five powerful families who control industry on the Moon. McDonald said of the novel in August 2014, "I’m still writing about developing economies, it’s just that this one happens to be on the Moon." Before critics called the novel "Game of Thrones in space", McDonald himself dubbed it "Game of Domes" and "Dallas in space". Luna was optioned for development as a television series before its release. The sequel, ', was released in March 2017. A third novel, Luna: Moon Rising, was released in March 2019. McDonald previously published the novelette "The Fifth Dragon", a prequel to Luna in the same setting, in the 2014 anthology Reach for Infinity.
McDonald's Time Was, a time travel romance novella about two men, was released in April 2018.



/Swecon 2011 in Stockholm.

''Desolation Road'' series