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1. Fractions: The First Half of The
2. Dark Light
3. Engine City (The Engines of Light,
4. The Highway Men: Reprint (Sandstone
5. Cosmonaut Keep (The Engines of
6. Divisions
7. The Execution Channel
8. The Night Sessions
9. Learning the World: A Novel of
10. Newton's Wake : A Space Opera
11. The Star Fraction (Fall Revolutions
12. The Stone Canal: A Novel
13. The Cassini Division
14. The True Knowledge of Ken MacLeod
15. Seeds of Change
16. The engines of light
17. Die Cassini- Division.
18. The fall revolution
19. Cassini Division
20. Binary 5: The Human Front / A

1. Fractions: The First Half of The Fall Revolution
by Ken MacLeod
Paperback: 640 Pages (2008-10-28)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$3.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765320681
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

In a balkanized future of dizzying possibilities, mercenaries contend with guns as smart as they are, nuclear deterrence is a commodity traded on the open market, teenagers deal in "theologically correct" software for fundamentalists, and anarchists have colonized a planet circling another star. Against this background, men and women struggle for a better future against the betrayals that went before. Death is sometimes the end, and sometimes something altogether different…

This volume comprises The Star Fraction and The Stone Canal.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Smart, quirky, funny SF with a point of view (not an attitude)
Ken MacLeod is a peerless purveyor of speculative fiction with a bite.An intellectual, fiercely partisan, aggressively funny, British writer, MacLeod gets in your face with his politics -- but makes it palatable by writing about characters you really care about.On top of that, he manages with the Fall Revolution series to create a satisfying puzzle whose pieces all fall together in his final novels of the series (collected as "Divisions"). For the fullest effect, read "Fractions" and "Divisions" together to appreciate how MacLeod spans light years of space and geologic eras of time while stitching together a satisfying yarn about super-long-lived characters linked - and divided - by friendship, love, ideology, and enmity.Oh yeah, and by nanotechnology, steam-punk cybernetics, the Singularity, and rip-roaring space opera.

"Fractions" combines the first two novels of the Fall Revolution series, "The Space Fraction" and "The Stone Canal."MacLeod focuses on a different character in each of his novels, while having the same core personalities appear either in the foreground or background of each of the other.In "The Star Fraction," we are introduced to a war-torn Britain that has been shattered by competing ideologies -- oh, yeah, and by some almost accidental nuclear blasts.We follow some armed-to-the-hilt mercenaries, psychedelic memory researchers, space enthusiasts, and left leaning revolutionaries as England tries to shrug off the latest Restoration.Despite deep discomfort with the notion of artificial intelligence, the protagonists end up unleashing the Black Plan of the Fourth International.

In "The Stone Canal," one of the fringe characters from "The Star Fraction" takes center stage.Using a slightly disorienting device of bouncing between late 20th Century/early 21st Century Britain and a world called New Ares centuries and light-years away, MacLeod tells a tale of love, jealousy, ideology, and the nature of consciousness.We encounter space entrepreneurs, robots, androids (and gynoids!), super-evolved humans, and wormholes, but MacLeod keeps the story grounded by following some compelling, but deeply flawed characters whose struggles span centuries and light years, and even frustrate death itself.

These novels showcase some of the best speculative fiction of the Nineties by an author who really delivers the goods.

5-0 out of 5 stars elephant & castle
Until2008, I had not heard of Ken Macleod.I happened upon a hardbound copy of The Execution Channel and I was hooked on his relevant characters and credible plots, no matter how fantastic his premise.I rushed to pick up his latest works to follow his succession but found the new TOR paperback edition of Fractions: The First Half of the Fall Revolution to be the most recent published work I could find.It turned out, not surprisingly, a new American edition of two of his earlier works The Star Fraction and The Stone Canal.One need only read them to understand their conspicuous absence from American Mid-west mainstream book sellers (whether by capitalistic apathy or overt neglect we'll never know.) I had missed out on a truly invigorating new science fiction writer for quite some time.Macleod is a smart and inventive writer with a flair for the political pariah.Like many Americans I always gave more weight to Solzhenitsyn than Engles, however he writes us sympathetic heroes no matter your preference, mind the gap.

Although these are independent novels they seem to be less, alternate futures of the human race but rather distinctive vantage points of a surprisingly coherent, and optimistic British view of the Horizon very much in the tradition of Constable or Turner.Refreshingly dismissive of the US hegemony, we are witness to a future lovingly Anglo-Euro centric `new world order'.I am often trapped by contemporary terrestrial sci-fi into the `clairvoyant/prophet/savant' debate over future of tech and trade but I comfortably got lost in Macleod's knowable universe. I am anxious to pick up the second half of the revolution and finish the quartet.

5-0 out of 5 stars a complex political classic
I read the two original books that are in this compilation years ago, and now just enjoyed reading them again.

The Stone Canal contains one of my favorite science-fiction sequences of all time. It takes the ghost in the machine literally. Spoiler alert: waking up inside the construction robot and hacking the pleasure AI is just classic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Provocative, Exciting First Half to Ken MacLeod's "Fall Revolution"
Written towards the end of, and shortly after, the Cold War, Ken MacLeod's "Fractions", is the first half of a four novel series, "The Fall Revolution", exploring humanity's potential political futures. His first novel, "The Star Fraction", is a brilliant near future exploration as to how mankind copes with a fragmented nation state, 21st Century Great Britain, consisting of Marxist societies co-existing uneasily with others, especially with the overarching libertarian ethos of the US/UN world government. Set several decades after a brief World War III which was fought to integrate all of Europe into one state, MacLeod offers an optimistic appraisal of anarchistic rule, as seen through the eyes of his misfit protagonists, most of whom members of an urban terrorist band resisting the rule of the restored British monarchy and its US/UN overlords.

Centuries and many light years later, in MacLeod's second novel, "The Stone Canal", humans and androids share a world - New Mars, still in the midst of terraforming -and struggle to establish equality for both groups, when a mysterious human clone appears, recognizable as the British leader who triggered the Fall Revolution. MacLeod skillfully weaves back and forth between the lives of the original leader in the early 21st Century and his New Mars clone, drawing uneasy social and political parallels between both societies.

There are no real heroes in either half of "Fractions". MacLeod admits that his protagonists are flawed figures, rising occasionally to do memorable, perhaps even heroic, deeds. As characters they seem far more realized than the cyberspace cowboys and other social misfits inhabiting the near future landscape of William Gibson's "Cyberspace Trilogy". While MacLeod is not nearly as graceful a stylist as Gibson, he does a most impressive job as a storyteller, telling two emotionally riveting tales that may be more meaningful as scenarios of potential human futures than as fiction. "Fractions" is an excellent, if long, introduction to this young British science fiction writer's work; a superlative blend of political science fiction and post-cyberpunk technological thriller.

4-0 out of 5 stars retains their fresh creativity
The Star Fraction.By 2040, the Kingdom of Great Britain lays in ruins divided into independent states due to the policies of the leftist Labour Party.Some of these new entities are no bigger than a few city streets and run by gang-lords while others like the Army of the New Republic control a vast area.Marxist gun for hire physical security expert Moh Kohn, computer scientist Janis Taine, terrorist Catherine Duvalier and teenage atheist Jordan Brown meet when Moh is assigned to protect Janis and her lab from the fundamentalist Stasis who control technology and have ruled that her work needs to be destroyed.After several Stasis assaults, the foursome decide they must take out an evil artificial intelligence if they are to survive.

The Stone Canal.Political rivals Jonathan Wilde and Dave Reid both love Annette, but the former marries her.Over time Jonathan drifts to the extreme left while Dave turns towards the anarchist's credo.Their competition grows more heated with Annette still in play.Wilde wakes up near a canal where Jay-Dub the robot informs him he is a clone with the original Wilde's memories downloaded into the replica.Reid runs the Martian colony, but the Wilde clone remembers his rival being there when he was assassinated.Worse Reid has a clone of Annette.Round two is commencing.

This is a reprint of the "The First Half of The Fall Revolution" with the second part to come soon.The tales retain their fresh creativity though both were published in the mid 1990s.Each is fast-paced with the worlds, a futuristic dismal earth and a Mars colony after a loss in WW III, seem genuine even with clones and AI machines.The additional fun for Ken Macleod fans is to see the leap in skill from his first to second novel as each is entertaining but THE STONE CANAL is much tighter despite containing two major subplots.

Harriet Klausner
... Read more

2. Dark Light
by Ken Macleod
 Paperback: Pages (2004)

Isbn: 1841491098
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (14)

3-0 out of 5 stars More opera, less politicking addition
Cosmonaut Keep was a steady read, unexceptional in many ways. The characters were many yet the pages were sparse, which confused as to who was who and where allegiances laid. Now with Book 2, the political science fiction goes onto the back burner a little bit while a more generous space opera takes places. Dark Light is a necessary sequel to Cosmonaut Keep and it also improves the storyline, which some sequels nowadays can't seem to do. It's not an epic sequel compared to the likes of his Scottish counterpart Peter F. Hamilton. Altogether, when compared to Hamilton and, fellow Scot, Iain M. Banks, MacLeod pales in their shining light. MacLeod is digging his own little niche with the Engines of Light series however and the stamina that the book produces is sufficient enough to garner some money and time to delve into the third book, Engine City.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
Dark Light is the second of a trilogy, and this book is where you see more of the point of having the two different threads in the first book.

The characters in the first novel have a type of immortality treatment, so a few of them are hanging out on a planet that Matt takes the Bright Star ship to, and their destinies becomed intertwined.

Along with the local political manipulation that said long lived guys have been up to in the meantime.

Not as interesting as the first novel.

3-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointing.
Sequels are always difficult to write: you want to be fresh yet keep your fans satisfied.MacLeod seems to pull a George Lucas, writing the second book of the "Engines of Light" series only to fill the gap from the better "Cosmonaut's Keep" and the finishing "Engine City".I found "Dark Light" a bit of a let down; the plot and meat of the story could have been told in half the space, that other half filled with stoddy, dated political explorations...it took me twice as long to read this book than I would have normally, finding myself putting the book down mid-chapter as I lost interest.
Another complaint: two of the main characters (and most interesting) also disappear inexplicably from the first quarter of the book, just reappear in the denouement.There is only a throwaway line of where they were and their inactivity through this period was completely out of character.
Here's hoping the third and final installment is more of a page-turner.

2-0 out of 5 stars Significantly weaker than Cosmonaut Keep
Matt and Gregor Cairns, with Elizabeth in tow, use their new light drive to travel to the planet Croatan (as in "gone to...") where they get embroiled in the local political scene, along with fellow Cosmonaut Grigor Volkov. They manage to communicate with two "gods," the alien intelligences that live in asteroids and comet nuclei, and discover that all the sentient species (i.e., saurs, krakens, and hominidae) are involved in some Great Game being played between the gods. Upon learning this, Volkov and Cairns return to Croatan to play a Great Game of their own by trying to influence the political future of the various peoples there, ostensibly in preparation for a coming alien war.

All in all, Dark Light makes a pretty disappointing follow-up to Cosmonaut Keep. MacLeod tells the story as a straight-forward narrative, instead of by interweaving multiple plot/timelines. While I appreciate his desire to try something different here, this story simply lacks juice. The new characters, including Stone and Slow-Leg from Croatan's prehistoric ("heathen") sky people and some "Christians" from Rawliston, are nowhere near as compelling as those sketched in Cosmonaut Keep (or in other works by MacLeod). Finally, the plot is simply not that interesting; instead of being a stand-alone work, it seems that Dark Light is merely a transitional novel between books 1 and 3 of the trilogy.

The book is not completely without merit, though. MacLeod's prose is still finely crafted, with many puns and double-entendres scattered throughout. As well, the machinations of Volkov and Matt Cairns are absolutely fascinating to those interested in libertarian, anarchist, socialist, and/or communist politics.

On its own, this is a so-so novel, but after reading the first few pages of its sequel, Engine City, I think that sticking with the trilogy as a whole will be worth it.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Like a ripple in a stream"
Charming, well-written, and often funny, this followup to "Cosmonaut Keep" is, umm, lightyears better than its clunky predecessor.

Well plotted, with memorable characters and interesting issues, especially about gender (prepare to be challenged), you'll probably get so wrapped up in the multiple POV tale that maybe you'll even forgive the author's goofball politics.

So flip a Greatful Dead CD onto the old player, turn on your reading light, open the book, and enjoy! ... Read more

3. Engine City (The Engines of Light, Book 3)
by Ken MacLeod
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (2004-01-05)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$24.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765344211
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

For ten thousand years Nova Babylonia has been the greatest city of the Second Sphere, an interstellar civilization of human and other beings who have been secretly removed, throughout history, from Earth.
Now humans from the far reaches of the Sphere have come, to offer immortality-and to urge them to build defenses against the alien invasion they know is coming.

As humans and aliens compete and conspire, the wheels of history will lathe all the players into shapes new and surprising. The alien invasion will reach New Babylon at last-led by the most alien figure of all.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Actually better than the first two books!
My expectation of the third book of the Engines of Light series was low. I had read the previous two novels over the course of two years and was unimpressed by either of the two; both receiving a mediocre three star rating. This rating stemmed from the fact that the storyline was boring, involved in banal politics and lacked character familiarization. Book three, Engines of Light pushes much of this aside, thankfully.

It's widely said that MacLeod's novels are `politically challenging' and `intellectually ambitious' or so the inside cover wants you to believe. Besides the Engines of Light series, I have also read his stand-along novel Learning the World which was even more boring than the first two books of the aforementioned series. Yes, they are `politically challenging' but it is not the type of science fiction which I prefer (what exact type that is is nearly impossible to define.). But within the pages of Engine City I found a world richly detailed, reminiscent of a steampunk novel. And although the previous two novels lacked characterization, I found myself attached to two characters- Matt and Volkov, which just may be latent fondness of the characters themselves. The entire rest of the cast can be heaped into a large generic pile, as far as I'm concerned (though I admit a liking to the tokin' dinosaur Salasso).

The book began a great pace, earning it a 4-star start. A bit of muddle interrupted a slim percentage of the novel before the pace picked up again into a 4-5-star rating. I might have even ranked the book 5-stars if it hadn't had been for two key factors (because bad news travels in pairs [or in the case of celebrity deaths, it travels in threes]). The series would definitely been better if it had been edited in such a way to abridge the 800 pages or so series into a nice 500-600 pages single issue, much like Hamilton or Reynolds would have done in one of their voluminous tomes. The separation between the forgettable novels casts a dark shadow onto the finale. The last reason Engine City gets 4-star rating is its continuation of dismal characterization. I can't remember personalities or relate to or even remember the bloody names of most of the cast, except those individuals mentioned above.

But where the novel shines in its tainted umbra is in the wholeness of its completeness. I feel satisfied with the way the pieces have come together, while at times I didn't understand which pieces were which (because of the two-year reading span). Event the writing seemed to have improved, as I chuckled or reflected a few times when reading passages like "The window was open but the bar was open," or "Black-furred flying squirrels pawed through it like demonic rescue workers," or "When the box is large enough, even the greatest minds sometimes have difficulty in thinking outside of it."

NOW, only if the entire series could be condensed or abridged into 500-600 pages would the series itself earn 4-stars, rather than a collective 3-star rating. I have a number of MacLeod novels in my library to still read, so I have not been deterred from reading the rest of this bibliography.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
The story picks up again, and steps up a notch.It is not only the locals and known beings they have to worry about.It seems there is a large conflict elsewhere, and new recruits are always needed for the fighting.

Other branches of this conflict just like to make stuff, and change people.Given that a lot of people don't like change, serious and deadly problems abound for a lot of the characters.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Satisfying Ending
This is one book I thoroughly enjoyed. Each chapter was packed with new ideas and unexpected plot lines that drived the story forward; and despite the rich content, the pacing was executed just right. I have to admit I was afraid that the series might end badly, especially after reading the second book in the trilogy (Dark Light). Alas, my fears were unfounded, and Ken Macleod delivered briliantly!

The series had made a lot of use of, and reference to, popular alien culture - from "grays" to flying saucers. However, it was thankfully *not* about that particular popular culture, despite the superficial resemblance. It is about human potential, about inner drives - both human and extraterrestrial, about change, about history repeating itself, and about the wide unknown universe.

All in all, it was an interesting and fun journey through a universe filled with conscious asteroids, saurs (alien grays), kraken starships, utopian societies, future-historic events, and the down-to-earth familiar characters that shaped this future history.

The Engines of Light is the first work I've read from Mr. Macleod, and I should say it makes me look forward to reading his other novels.

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing conclusion to a flawed trilogy
Reading the preface to this, the third volume in The Engines of Light trilogy, buoyed me after I completed the lackluster second volume, Dark Light. This novel seemed like the redemption of the trilogy (in the same fashion as Star Wars III). Alas, my optimistic assessment of the novel began to unravel as I was a quarter of the way in.

The "octopod" aliens whose future invasion was central to developments in Dark Light have arrived. These octopods, called Multis, Multipliers, or Spiders, are fractal in nature; a roughly human-sized representative of the species comprises smaller, self-similar individuals. These smaller Spiders can break off and grow into adults themselves or even be introduced into the system of a human in order to work nanoscale improvements (such as instant healing and immortality).

The reception that awaits the Multis is mixed, as should be expected by anyone who read Dark Light. Matt Cairns and his people adapt to the Multis and vice-versa, while the people of Nova Babylonia (who have undergone a revolution and fragmented into separate nation-states) responded to the alien arrival with nuclear weapons in space. The aliens make it through the defenses anyway, with the help of the Bright Star Cultures (the descendants of Cairns and other cosmonauts), the krakens and saurs panic and disappear, someone nukes New Babylon (Volkov? The gods?), and the ultimate crime, theicide, is committed.

If that all sounds confusing, that is because this novel, and the trilogy as a whole, WAS confusing. Reading it was like watching a firework launching into a beautiful trajectory only to come apart into thousands of different shards, and thinking to oneself, "I have to pick up those pieces."

In truth, the novel was fun to read (more fun than Dark Light) but the entire arc of the story, such as it was, became far too convoluted to resolve adequately. The ending was less a disappointment and more a head-scratcher; I did not understand what MacLeod had been trying to say with the trilogy.

That said, I must give kudos to MacLeod for creating in the Multis some of the more, well, alien aliens that I have encountered in SF. Perhaps MacLeod could do something in future works to explore the culture and history of the Multis. That would be fascinating.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not a strong finish....
Ken MacLoeds books are usually a complex but ultimately satisfying read. The first two books of this trilogy fitted into that description but this third book, Engine City, missed the mark. I found myself skipping through pages which is something I usually never do. It seemed like this was a very disjointed finish to a story that had started out really well in books one and two.

I look forward to his next work...although may not a trilogy. ... Read more

4. The Highway Men: Reprint (Sandstone Vista Series)
by Ken MacLeod
Paperback: 80 Pages (2006-03-13)
list price: US$9.42 -- used & new: US$4.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1905207069
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The weather has gone crazy and the war has spread to China. Jase, Euan and Murdo are laggers: forced workers in a future Scotland. The laggers are helping to lay a new power line in the Highlands. Ailiss, a young woman from a secret settlement in the frozen hills, is going to strain their loyalties to breaking point - and beyond. ... Read more

5. Cosmonaut Keep (The Engines of Light, Book 1)
by Ken MacLeod
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2002-01-07)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765340739
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Matt Cairns is a 21st-century outlaw Programmer who takes on the shady jobs no one else will touch. Against his better judgment, he accepts an assignment to crack the Marshall Titov, a top-secret orbital station operated by the European Space Agency. But what Matt will discover there will propel him on an extraordinary and quite unexpected journey.

Gregor Cairns is an exobiology student and descendant of one of Terra Nova's first families. Hopelessly infatuated with a lovely young trader's daughter, he is unaware that his research partner, Elizabeth, has fallen in love with him. Together, Gregor and Elizabeth confront the great work his family began three centuries earlier-to rediscover the secret of interstellar travel.

Ranging from a gritty near-future Earth to a distant alien world, Cosmonaut Keep is contemporary science fiction at its highest level, a visionary epic filled with daring individuals seeking a place for themselves in a vast, complex, and enigmatic universe.
Amazon.com Review
Like a British--specifically, Scottish--counterpart of Bruce Sterling, Ken MacLeod is an SF author who has thought hard about politics anddelights in making unlikely alternatives plausible, grippingly readable, andoften downright funny.

Cosmonaut Keep swaps between two timelines whose characters sharethe ultimate goal of interstellar travel. In an uncertain future on the farworld of Mingulay, human colonists live in the title's ancient, alien-builtKeep--coexisting with reptilian "saurs," trading with visiting shipspiloted by krakens, and hiding their laborious "Great Work" of developinghuman-guided navigation between the stars.

Meanwhile, alternate chapters present a mid-21st-century Earth whose EU is(to America's horror) Russian-dominated with a big red star in the middleof its flag. Rumors of alien contact abound, and computer whiz kid MattCairns finds himself carrying a data disk of unknown origin that offers antigravity and a space drive.

Clearly, the later storyline's Gregor Cairns is Matt's descendant. There areingenious connections and surprises, with witty resonances between theirwild careers, their travels, and their bumpy love lives. The foregroundaction adventure points to a bigger picture and a master plan known only tothe godlike hive-minds who built the "Second Sphere" of interstellarculture, and who regard traditional SF dreams of unlimited human expansionthrough space as precisely equivalent to floods of e-mail spam pollutingthe tranquil galactic net.

Cosmonaut Keep opens MacLeod's new SF sequence, Engines of Light.It's highly entertaining and intelligent, promising more good things tocome. --David Langford ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars grows on you
Book started out without really detailing the basic constructs in any detail. surprisingly, the farther along you got into the story the characters solidified and started to have some meaning and depth.
basically this book reminded me greatly of an early Iain M. Banks.But it was good, really. somehow I am convinced that ken McLean must have a rather huge taste for 'hemp', or 'cannabis', as he mentions it about every 5 pages.
if you like space opera, that develops engaging characters and flows well, get this.

3-0 out of 5 stars Decent, Interesting Sci-Fi
Interesting, and a worthwhile read, but it didn't knock my socks off. It was well-crafted, with alternating chapters taking place in two different times and locations, only slowly letting the reader see how they are connected. Clues for understanding what was going on in one area were given in the other, which was clever, but I found the corresponding changes between first- and third-person a little jarring. The near future is thoroughly detailed and felt like a believable world, but the politics were so complicated I felt it slowed the story down, and I enjoyed the distant future more. It did leave me intrigued about the sequel, and I think overall it's good and engaging sci-fi.

3-0 out of 5 stars Political science fiction lags a bit
MacLeod, being a Scottish sci-fi author, must be compared to his Scottish sci-fi colleagues: Peter F. Hamilton and Iain M. Banks. Now Hamilton and Banks are huge names in the Space Opera scene, so maybe MacLeod thinks being associates can get him a foothold into sci-fi or into space opera. However, where Banks and Hamilton succeed I find that MacLeod fails. It's not a spectacular failure, mind you, but it's simply not on par with Banks' plots or Hamilton's action. MacLeod focuses on political science (which bored me to no end) yet keeps the technology and cast relationships strong enough to carry me through to the end. For being such a short novel (compared, again, to Banks & Hamilton) the number of relationships and the expanse of cast confused me. Perhaps there were too many people for the amount of pages. The first book is decent enough to warrant a reading of the second book and, perhaps the third book if I can be strung along.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
This novel has two threads.The first a near future thriller revolving around secret spaceflight technology and contact with aliens, and the dangers inherent in this activity.The politics of who should control such tech and information also make up an important part.

The other stream is set in the reasonably distant future on a planet that actually has humans coexisting with aliens.One particular wealthy family is looking into technological research on a long term scale, trying to improve their situation.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good series, but something's always missing.
I think it's called an end. Each book of both series tends to fade away at the end and the last book of both series don't seem to pull it together any better.

That said, the topics are all great reading, the characters all work well, the talent is clearly there. I think it's just a stylistic decision not to wrap the stories up (I didn't say neatly) that leaves me wondering a week or month later if I had actually finished reading them.

Odd. I will still read everything this author puts out there anyway. Maybe I'll develop a taste for the case of the quiet denoument in time. Or out of it. ... Read more

6. Divisions
by Ken MacLeod
Paperback: 496 Pages (2009-05-26)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$1.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 076532119X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

This volume comprises The Cassini Division and The Sky Road.

The Cassini Division:
In the 24th century, post humans, god-like descendents of humans who transformed themselves with high technology, have warped the very fabric of the solar system for unknowable reasons. Ellen May Ngewthu has a plan to rid humanity of these beings, but she must first travel the entirety of the Solar Union, convincing others that post-humans are the threat she knows they are...

The Sky Road: Her rockets redundant, her people rebellious, and her borders defenseless against the Sino-Soviet Union, Myra Godwin appeals to the crumbling West for help as she faces the end of the space age. And, centuries in the future, as humanity again reaches into space, a young scholar could make the difference between success and failure. For his mysterious new lover has seduced him into the idea of extrapolating the ship's future from the dark archives of the past.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Satisfying Conclusion to "The Fall Revolution"
Ken MacLeod accomplishes something extraordinary with "The Fall Revolution" ("Divisions" comprises the final two novels of the four-part series, "The Cassini Division " and "The Sky Road."The first two novels are collected as "Fractions.").MacLeod delights in smashing worlds and leaping through wormholes, but never loses his connection to a finely wrought collection of compelling characters who make appearances in some or all of these novels.Whether MacLeod is following a headstrong, super competent star ship commander (one of MacLeod's many strong female characters), or the diabolical but affable strongman of New Mars, MacLeod really cares about his characters, and the reader is compelled to think seriously about each person's (or robot's) point of view.

In "The Cassini Division," we follow the adventures of Ellen May, as she dickers with super-evolved, post-human Jovian intelligences, and follows her destiny through the Malley Mile (a wormhole that delivers her to the New Mars that we first encountered in "The Stone Canal").MacLeod gets to play with space opera cliches while guiding the reader through some serious investigations into the nature of artificial intelligence, human consciousness, and the allure (and dangers) of the Singularity.

In "The Sky Road," MacLeod manages through some sleight of hand to take us to an alternate reality, a post-nuclear future where the "outsiders" are not who you think they are.Britain has suffered through spasms of ideological struggle and the effects of nuclear conflict (as well as the onslaught of computer viruses that seem to spell the end of civilization).Out of the rubble, the citizens of a small Scottish town are building a starship using some of the same skills that launched iron steamships like the Titanic (but presumably with better materials).The hero, a student of history moonlighting as an apprentice welder, takes up with a glamorous "tinker," but he finds himself in hot water as his dalliance with the tinkers threatens to make him an outcast not only among his fellow workers but at the university as well.MacLeod switches back and forth between a late 21st century saga of nuclear deterrence and a new Mongol horde, and a far future where echoes of orbital nukes and fiendish artificial intelligences still reverberate.Amazingly, MacLeod is able to wrap up a lot of loose ends from the three preceding novels in a satisfying way, while exploring human relationships, love, rivalry, and nuclear power politics.

Each of these novels can stand on its own, but for the greatest effect, read "Fractions" and "Divisions" together.Ken MacLeod will not disappoint.

4-0 out of 5 stars well written military science fiction tales
Casini Division. By the twenty-fourth century technology has changed many humans into almost Gods.However, a dispute between the humans and the post-humans devastate the planet.The post-humans move off planet but hostilities remain high as a cold war continues though most of the open hostiles have somewhat abated.In that climate, the Casini Division that protects earth plans an assault to eradicate the Post-humans who pose a threat from space.Spaceship Commander Ellen May Ngewthu of the Casini Division seeks an alliance with the interstellar colony New Mars before the post-humans can do so.

Sky Road.In the twentieth century former Communist American expatriate Myra Godwin-Davidova leads her tiny high-tech socialist paradise while others want to conquer it.Her only hope to protect her people lies in obsolete nuclear weapons hidden years ago in the planet's Earth orbit.Several centuries later Clovis colha Gree lives in a utopian world in which violence is non existent; the rustic community fears electronic devices as they remember what happened during the Fall that some insist it was the Deliverance.Now the scientific tinkers are constructing a controversial spaceship; the first since Maya had to decide nuclear war or not.

This is a reprint of the "The Second Half of The Fall Revolution" published in the mid 1990s.Each entry is fast-paced, but focuses on a dismal future for mankind that is cleverly tied back to the politics of the late twentieth century although some might detest the clearly Anti-American stance.The tales are well written with the military battles in space incredibly vivid and the key cast members coming across as fully developed.Although it pays to at least read THE STONE CANAL before this pair of novels, fans will appreciate the dark science fiction thrillers CASINI DIVISION and SKY ROAD.

Harriet Klausner
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7. The Execution Channel
by Ken MacLeod
Paperback: 288 Pages (2008-06-10)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0031MA86A
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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It's after 9/11. After the bombing. After the Iraq war. After 7/7. After the Iran war. After the nukes. After the flu. After the Straits. After Rosyth. In a world just down the road from our own, on-line bloggers vie with old-line political operatives and new-style police to determine just where reality lies.
James Travis is a British patriot and a French spy. On the day the Big One hits, Travis and his daughter must strive to make sense of the nuclear bombing of Scotland and the political repercussions of a series of terrorist attacks. With the information war in full swing, the only truth they have is what they're able to see with their own eyes. They know that everything else is--or may be--a lie.
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Customer Reviews (21)

2-0 out of 5 stars Alternative history at its worst
"The Execution Channel" is nothing more than an updating of "1984." The themes are the same - control of information including redirection through misinformation, continuing wars, a granny state that not only decides what is good but legislates it. There the similiarity ends. And the title has nothing to do with the story.

"1984" has one protagonist. "The Execution Channel" is so chock full of characters, it is difficult to determine which character to bond with. "1984" is written in straightforward language. "The Execution Channel" has the prissy English so adored by the British literati and McCleod peppers his writings with obtuse alphabetical abbreviations known only to those living in the UK.

There are simply too many characters to remember, too many scenes to link together, too much information to digest in the rush to a conclusion. Then, the conclusion is so wild, it boggles the imagination.

Other reviewers have remarked that "The Execution Channel" is a return to McCleod's "anger" without specifying what they mean. If by that, they refer to the idea of misinformation driving history, this idea is somewhat far-fetched. There are many contemporary books based on the premise that misinformation causes in wars or near wars. Among these are "TSAR" by Alex Hawke.

The whole storyline of "The Execution Channel" was much too much for me. I finished it but only with difficulty.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thats why its called programing
Easily the best account I have read of how news is controlled and spoon fed to the masses in the brave new world of the digerati. Slipped in under the guise of fiction The Execution Channel has more truth about current events than you'll find on the front page of the Times.Also refreshing was an ant-American bias that gives us the feelings of people that have been roughly used by post 9/11 America.Scratching a yank seemed to have birthed a raging fascist bully.Its time someone stood up to us before we loose it totally. I admire Macleod for doing this since writing off(and mocking-how dare)the US scifi market is an almost certain career death kiss. What happened to Macleod's drive for fame and fortune.Is nothing sacred?

4-0 out of 5 stars It's pronounced "Rosheen"
Published in 2007, during G.W. Bush's second term, Ken MacLeod's THE EXECUTION CHANNEL is an indictment of the British government's buy-in on the American "Global War on Terror" and a lament that the British people let it happen. It is also a warning about the damage we do when we abandon our core principles out of fear, and when we lie to ourselves so much that we can't tell the difference between fact and fantasy. Or, rather, when we let *them* (the government) do those things to themselves and to us.

The novel kicks off with an apparent nuclear explosion on a Scottish air base, followed by a series of bombings that destroy oil refineries and heavily traveled highway overpasses throughout the UK. Among those caught up in the chaos are IT professional James Travis and his peace activist daughter Roisin. Travis is a man so disillusioned with his country that he opts to spy for France. As we are told,

"He had no special regard for France. The thing he liked about France was that it was French. The thing he hated about England was that it wasn't English. This had nothing to do with race or religion or nation or politics, as far as he could see. ... At some point England had simply failed itself." (p. 201)

For Travis, his sense of England's failure is linked both due to his wife's death in a flu epidemic, which he attributes to government negligence (shades of Katrina), and also to "the hollow justifications for the attack on Iran which he'd been so sure that the [House of] Commons would see through," and the lack of public protest when they didn't. Mostly, though, his decision to spy was based on anger at "being kept in the dark" by the government. "You keep me in the dark? Very well, I will walk in darkness and strike in darkness."

This thread of the novel is indeed dark; Travis efforts may have inadvertently facilitated the bombings, and his daughter's efforts to get out the truth--to dispel the darkness--about the initial explosion get her tortured and come close to starting a war. Worse, both of them contribute to the institutionalized government paranoia that leads to the torture and murder of Roisin's brother Alec.

On the other hand, what makes the novel a good read are the efforts of Travis, Roisin, and an American blogger named Mark Dark to outwit the authorities, discover the truth, and deliver it to the public. There are chase scenes, ingenious disguises, and clever subterfuges that fool, at least for a time, the ever-more-powerful governmental technologies of surveillance (omnipresent CCTV, face recognition software, credit tracking, GPS in cell phones, quick DNA testing, etc.). Particularly amusing is the interplay between a U.S. government contractor hired to spread disinformation about the U.K. attacks, and Mark Dark, a racist (he calls Muslims "sand Nazis") kid who blogs out of his mother's basement.Amusingly, the contractor is never told what the truth is and could easily hit upon it by accident.

Although MacLeod is clearly a Lefty -- I think it's safe to call him a Left-Libertarian -- he makes an effort here to simply be an advocate for what most Brits and Americans think their countries should stand for. They shouldn't launch wars against countries that haven't attacked them, or torture people, or detain people indefinitely without charge, or lie as a matter of government policy. He doesn't blame the Americans for everything, as some have charged; the American authorities may be nastier and more brutish than the British, but the Brits are equally short-sighted and equally responsible for what happens. Neither does he place the blame specifically on Bush or on particular political parties; he doesn't excuse anybody. He may be, like his character Travis, genuinely puzzled about how we came to this pass.

The reasons to read this book even if you don't like MacLeod's politics are (a) even though it is far from MacLeod's best novel (I would pick THE STAR FRACTION), it is MacLeod's best written to date, and (b) because it is entertaining, with good action, a sympathetic central character in Roisin, and a keep-'em-guessing mystery. The dénouement, which is surprising and difficult-to-swallow (or even make sense of). I would recommend it to fans without hesitation and to the rest of the world with minor reservations.

One last note: This novel does not read as if it was written for Americans. It wasn't. If you're not willing to look up how "Roisin" is pronounced (it's an Irish name, pronounced "Rosheen") or research what "fnar fnar" means ("har har," essentially), or if you think that anything that happens in Scotland is beneath your notice, don't read this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Lies, Damn Lies And Media Manipulation
The Near Future: the geopolitical map of the world has been redrawn by the events of an alternative September 11th which didn't involve passenger planes, the world trade center or New York. China, France and Russia have become uneasily allied against an increasingly imperialistic Anglo-American alliance and all are caught in an escalating loop of disinformation, half-truths and lies. Against the backdrop of an apparent Nuclear detonation at a Scottish USAF base, IT engineer and reluctant spy James Travis turns fugitive and finds himself in a race against time to secure an exit strategy for himself and his family after his cover is blown by persons unknown. Before he can do either he will have to decipher the truth behind the detonation, the real agendas of the governments involved and the increasingly bizarre agit-prop concerning experimental weaponry testing that is running rife as the hands of the Nuclear clock move ever closer to midnight. 'The Execution Channel' owes more to the espionage genre than science fiction and its to Ken Macleod's credit that he resists the urge to spoon-feed the details of his near future world to the reader or indulge in the notorious cliché of new world order conspiracies that have become so inextricably linked to thrillers of this type recently. The escalating events of the novel, as in the real world, are driven by the mistakes and mis-steps of its protagonists which makes for a far more interesting read and a far more realistic interpretation of how government and media manipulation of conspiracy theories and political ideology can backfire horribly. Refreshingly, he also refuses to resort to shoot-outs or overt apocalyptic bombast during the course of the novel - a choice which seems to have disappointed a readership expecting more obvious thrills. The overall effect of the novel is something akin to that of a low-key Len Deighton novel with a more overt socio-political agenda. Good stuff, though definitely not for those who expect more 'Sturm und Drang' from their genre novels.

3-0 out of 5 stars Poor Execution.
That's a little harsh, one thing this book did have me doing is staying up until half 2 in the morning reading it because I wanted to know what happened. Which I have not done for a long time, so kudos for that. The overall premise of the feel and look of the setting of the book would for me be not unlike that gritty futuristic realism portrayed in the film "Children of Men" and that was the dystopic filter my minds eye threw over this book as I was reading it. The book kicks off nicely, but as other reviewers have pointed out, the eponymous Execution Channel never really is explained fully and could really be dispensed with. The plot rather disappears into a mish mash of paranoia at the end, which again might have been the authors' intention. It isn't crisp enough to make a decent film out of, for which those who loved this book will be grateful. One thing the book does do quite well, is raise issues regarding the way that we are slaves to information, and although we have literally at our fingertips more information than any other generation of humans alive, the actual value of that information may be worthless. Or am I just some government spook trying to confuse you? This book certainly isn't a waste of money, but it falls short of being really quite an important book. ... Read more

8. The Night Sessions
by Ken MacLeod
Hardcover: 324 Pages (2008-10)
-- used & new: US$20.39
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Asin: 1841496510
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A bishop is dead. As Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson picks through the rubble of the tiny church, he discovers that it was deliberately bombed. That it's a terrorist act is soon beyond doubt. It's been a long time since anyone saw anything like this. Terrorism is history ...After the Middle East wars and the rising sea levels - after Armageddon and the Flood - came the Great Rejection. The first Enlightenment separated church from state. The Second Enlightenment has separated religion from politics. In this enlightened age there's no persecution, but the millions who still believe and worship are a marginal and mistrusted minority. Now someone is killing them. At first, suspicion falls on atheists more militant than the secular authorities. But when the target list expands to include the godless, it becomes evident that something very old has risen from the ashes. Old and very, very dangerous ... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Strong characterisation, plot and an understated question about consciousness
I loved the Asimov robot novels, which in so many ways were germane to our thinking on robots. Then for a while some robot stories became a little familiar, even predictable. Not any more, this novel asks challenging questions about consciousness, even `specism'.

The crime whodunit plot unfolds in a style a little like Peter Hamilton's Greg Mandel series and reminds me of how differently some Brits (and Scots) write crime. The novel has strong characterisation, plot and exploits its Edinburgh setting well. I'll be reading more of MacLeod.
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9. Learning the World: A Novel of First Contact
by Ken MacLeod
Hardcover: 356 Pages (2005-08-04)
list price: US$37.20 -- used & new: US$22.02
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Asin: 1841493430
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The great sunliner 'But the Sky, My Lady! The Sky!' is nearing the end of a four-hundred-year journey. A ship-born generation is tense with expectation for the new system that is to be their home. Expecting to find nothing more complex than bacteria and algae, the detection of electronic signals from one of the planets comes as a shock. In millennia of slow expansion, humanity has never encountered aliens, and yet these new signals cannot be ignored. They suspect a fast robot probe has overtaken them, and send probes of their own to investigate. On a world called Ground, whose inhabitants are struggling into the age of radio, petroleum and powered flight, a young astronomer searching for distant planets detects an anomaly that he presumes must be a comet. His friend, a brilliant foreign physicist, calculates the orbit, only to discover an anomaly of his own. The comet is slowing down ... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

2-0 out of 5 stars Unfocused with weakly linked parallel stories
I've read a load of British sci-fi from the likes of Stross, Asher, Hamilton, Banks and Reynolds. Each and every time I've picked up one of those novels, I was impressed with the plot (like Reynolds' Revelation Space), the prose (like Banks' entire Culture series), the power (like Asher's Spatteryjay series) or the shear depth (like Hamilton's Commonwealth series). MacLeod is a fellow Brit like the lads above, but he doesn't make a name for himself... over than the fact that he drops some of the same names I've listed above.

There are two parallel plots in Learning the World which follow are fairly straight forward; no flashbacks, no backtracking, no reverse chronology.

One plot consists of mankind traveling between the stars for hundreds of years. The book starts in the year 14,364 and spans just the next 12 years. In these 12 years they discover a solar system that may have a planet which can support life, a young girl writes a `biolog' (pretty much a blog) which many people begin to read and reflect upon and finally a division makes itself apparent when the `ship generation (the young)' and the founders (the elders) begin to clash on what to do with the new found system.

The second plot is about the aliens on that speculative planet. They are bipedal, winged, furry, like to drink booze and tea, eat meat and have a cultural much like mankind. The culture is so alike that it hardly even seems alien, as is they're technology which is similar to mankind's 1900's technology. The aliens even have science fiction, which they call `engineer's tales.' One additional note: they also seem to be a bit Scottish!

The relationship between the two plot lines is weak. There's little or no cause-and-effect at times between the two. What happens on the alien planet (the effect) has no cause (from the human generation ship). Only towards the last 15% is there any cause-and-effect, which is also the same time where the two plots merge. It's a long, long drag of a read before you get to that point... which is just like MacLeod's Dark Light series: a long, boring plot which resolves in a mediocre, yet happy ending.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ken MacLeod's first contact novel
Ken MacLeod has written some excellent novels. I particularly like his Fall Revolution books. Those books were intelligent, completely unlike anything I'd read, and at times were a screaming, supercharged ride. However, I remember his Engines of Light books as though they were a series of interesting scenes strung together to make novels.
In this novel of first contact, the pace is a bit slow, at times, and MacLeod jumps over what sounded like some very interesting parts of the story in order to get to the end. Nothing's wrong with the story. In fact, I was happy to find that this novel stood on its own, but had MacLeod chosen to do so, there were lots of other interesting bits that he could have written and decided not to.
A few other reviewers felt that the story was choppy. Well, the story is covering a lot of ground and a fair span of time. If you wanted 4 or 5 novels on the subject, like a lot of other authors feel pressed to do in order to sell more books, fine. But, you'd still be waiting for book 3, while we all know now how it turns out (WHAT! We find out what happens by only purchasing ONE BOOK?!?!? AMAZING!!!).
I find MacLeod's political bent interesting, and I appreciate the extra dimension it gives his books. Again, this may not be to everyone's liking, especially those who just want things to get complicated, people to fight, and stuff to explode. If you are looking for something a bit more intelligent, give MacLeod a chance. He tells a good story, and his are usually positive without being obvious or simple-minded. Unlike what a few reviewers said, this novel is actually quite spare with the politics, and this may be a good place for readers new to MacLeod to start.

And who complains about people getting together to talk stuff over and find solutions? Someone who lives under a rock, doesn't acknowledge or have peers or colleagues, and is either told what to do or never discusses anything, I would guess. MacLeod's characters are likable, and they do what a lot of educated people do: they think about things and discuss them. Perhaps the mere suggestion of political activism is anathema to some Americans, these days. How sad. At a time when we need people more engaged in actual debate, calling our politicians on bad choices, and pushing for better solutions, an author who suggests such a thing gets lambasted for it. I wonder if this is because the author is Scottish and occasionally voices communist views (common in Europe), or if it's due to intolerance of politics and change, in general. In any case, if that's NOT you, then pick up one or more of MacLeod's books and feed your brain.

5-0 out of 5 stars Really interesting read
I really enjoy the perspective MacLeod displays in his writing.I found this novel in particular to be one of his best, andmost enjoyable to read.The novel starts slow but for a tale of this scope I'd say it's necessary.One aspect of the novel was especially surprising to me.I kept having a sense of impending doom about the political situation on the Ground and the aliens interaction with their less developed brethren.But in the end I was merely projecting our thoughts and fears onto a people who'd always been free of the yoke, and noble, and not too terrible at all.MacLeod got me on that one.Well done.

I read science fiction for the ideas and MacLeod has a few great ones in here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely Enjoyable
This is the 2nd Ken Macleod novel I've read.The first was NEWTON'S WAKE (3/2005), which was a bit of a "space parody", and which I found enjoyable.LEARNING THE WORLD (10/2005) is a more serious book, which I found extremely enjoyable.

LEARNING THE WORLD follows the travels of an interstellar ship, which takes hundreds of years to cross the voids between the stars; and, as such, doesn't rely on the FTL "tricks" of most modern SciFi books.This situation makes the story seem much more realistic... and, I'm beginning to view much of the FTL-based books out there as a branch of SciFi that approaches "fantasy".

Our interstellar travellers become the first humans to encounter intelligent life on another planet... and there the fun begins...

4-0 out of 5 stars Learning the world
This book was a little differnt than the usual scifi first contact story. The story focus on the instellar starship But the sky,my lady! The sky! and its inhabiants and what happens when they fnally run into other intelligent life after 4000 years of travel. There are some interesting ideas in the book about what would happen if a generation of people used to always being plugged in suddenly had that taken away, along with suddenly losing their purpose in life due to running into a planet they couldn't colonize.

The book is a little out there with the techno babble and dealing with stuff that doesnt exist. But it does look at some interesting ideas a little differntly.
This book does remind me of another called Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo. Not as dark but dealing with some of the same ideas. All in all a good read. ... Read more

10. Newton's Wake : A Space Opera
by Ken MacLeod
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2004-06-01)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$11.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000C4SFRE
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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ith visionary epics like The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, and Cosmonaut Keep, award-winning Scottish author Ken MacLeod has led a revolution in contemporary science fiction, blending cutting edge science and razor-sharp political insights with pure, over-the-top interstellar adventure. Now MacLeod takes this heady mix to a new level with a stunning new SF masterwork-Newton's Wake. In the aftermath of the Hard Rapture-a cataclysmic war sparked by the explosive evolution of Earth's artificial intelligences into godlike beings-a few remnants of humanity managed to survive. Some even prospered. Lucinda Carlyle, head of an ambitious clan of galactic entrepreneurs, had carved out a profitable niche for herself and her kin by taking control of the Skein, a chain of interplanetary star-gates left behind by the posthumans. But on a world called Eurydice, a remote planet at the farthest rim of the galaxy, Lucinda stumbles upon a forgotten relic of the past that could threaten her way of life ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

2-0 out of 5 stars Intentionally bad? or Accidently bad?
Usually when an author crams so many ideas into a novel, it reflects the author's bubbling imagination and scarcity of outlets. Not all these ideas have to be worked out in full, only just enough so that the reader understands the basic concepts to the ideas and their inclusion in the greater scheme of things. MacLeod has included many concepts into his novel Newton's Wake but fails in connecting the reader to his thoughts.

MacLeod has had two relatively mediocre sci-fi series and a handful of equally-as-mediocre stand-alone novels. The wide premise of Newton's Wake would lead one to believe that the book is part of a series but is actually only a stand-alone novel which feels very much like it was condensed from 740 pages to the current 370 pages. Even if the novel were to be expanded I doubt that it would be any more interesting than reading about breeding techniques of pygmy goats. I seriously have no idea how MacLeod could have produced a novel of such boredom even though it's chalked full of good ideas.

Where did MacLeod go wrong? Well, right from the start. There are too many human factions which are all equally as vague in goal and creed, including the Japanese-esque Knights of Enlightenment, the farming sect of America Offline [god-awful pun] and some other schlepping sects which hardly require more than a sentence to describe. Atop this lame cocktail of humanity is the sour cherry which is the hardest bit of it all to swallow- Winter and Calder, the reincarnated musical duo and their benefactor the dramatist Ben-Ami. Maybe MacLeod didn't know that the sci-fi sub-genre of `space opera' doesn't need to have an actual opera in it! Nor does it need incomprehensible song lyrics about the raise and fall of whatever-the-hell-the-plot-was-about.

Newton's Wake: how does the title apply to the novel? Search engine me! It gets one extra star simply because I like all of MacLeod's ideas taken by themselves. Post-Rapture humanity and the separate sects and exploration of the skein could have been taken in a better direction. How did it all go so wrong?

2-0 out of 5 stars I had hoped for more than silly accents and an uninspiring plot
Having recently stumbled upon space operas I did a little research and Macleod's name popped up, so when I saw Newton's Wake used I snatched it up.It was shortly in that I realized this is certainly not that great of a sci fi book.

The plot was very forced, a square peg trying to fit into a circle.Nothing really flowed.We see war machines and wait and wait to see why they are even in the plot (with the exception of adding a background story) only to see them glanced upon, almost as a side note.The characters are forced into roles and stereotypes in order to add flavor to the story and show the different human colonies all over the galaxy.

The Carlyles, for example, have this horrid accent that Macleod persists in writing by spelling everything wrong.Lucinda only speaks with an accent half the time, if that, and how is this explained?Oh, the accent kicks in when she is under stress.Yet she would be stressed and have the accent, be relaxed, it didn't matter.All it ultimately did was break the flow of the narrative and dialogue so that it distracted the reader as they had to stop and try and see what was being said.Macleod also used ah, and like, and you know throughout the dialogue that was intended to give the dialogue a more natural feel, and ultimately did the same thing as the forced scottish accents.

I certainly am not going to judge Macleod on this one and will find one of his more well known books, but Newton's Wake didn't really sit too well for me.In the end I found that I didn't care what happened to Lucinda or the other characters.I wouldn't recommend the book, not sure about the author yet.

2.5 stars.

1-0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly disappointing
A thoroughly disappointing read. This novel should be used in creative writing classes as an example of how NOT to write a book.

The basic theme is how different groups struggle in a post-man vs. machine future, both against themselves and the remaining machines. A major subplot deals with two major factions of humans that have been kicked off Earth, those that want to remain off-Earth ("Runners") and those who wish to return ("Returners"). Irritatingly, this subplot fizzles out midway through the book, only to resurface in an incoherent ending.

The author has the Scottish protagonists speak in a thick Scottish brogue half the time, and perfect American English the other half of the time. There's a throwaway line to explain this in the book, saying Scottish people revert to their native brogue under pressure, which appears to be an editing cop-out.

The plot develops in fits and starts, with huge jumps in action. Eric Flint can manage these sort of transitions, Ken Macleod sadly cannot.

Cutesy names are another Macleod distraction. There is a faction called "America Offline" (obviously a play on AOL) and powerful weapons called....wait for it...search engines.

About two-thirds of the way through the book there is a lengthy and confusing major battle. You're not sure who to root for because there are four separate factions, none of them especially well defined (or likeable, for that matter). It ends abruptly with the appearance of a spaceship with the name of a Chinese restaurant (the "Happy Dragon").

The main battle is so confusing that the major characters spend the entire next chapter discussing What Just Happened Here. You almost get the feeling an editor insisted that the author write a summary and explanation so his readers won't be thoroughly lost.

The ending is rather anticlimatic, I suspect most readers will have lost interest in the majority of the characters buy this time.

Macleod made a name for himself writing epic science fiction sagas spanning multiple volumes. This attempt to tell a condensed story in a single volume ultimately fails.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disjointed story
I went into this book looking for an engaging Science Fiction story with multiple interesting story lines which touch on one-another and comprise a whole story.

I ended up with a somewhat disjointed story that never seemed to find closure.there were a lot of different characters that I found unmemorable and, consequently, hard to differentiate between.There also seemed to be clear visualizations in the authors mind which I couldn't capture in my own.

Most frustrating was the final description of humanity.I had a hard time understanding exactly what had happened, even after a re-read of certain sections, and the closing seemed to be quickly composed.A final coda is included to describe the lives of each of the main characters and explain the current state of humanity, but this still remained elusive to me and I've come away not really understanding, or even wanting to understand, the authors premise.

If the story had been more engaging I could have overlooked the confused closing.I'm also sure there are many other people who would find the story interesting, it simply didn't hold my attention and seemed to push too much against hard science without explaining how things have happened nor how events will end.

4-0 out of 5 stars New world meets old problems
Like the subtitle indicates - this novel carries grand ambitions of bringing you into a wast and incredible setting, with driven characters and fantastic sets making up the back drop.

A few memorable bit pieces, some over the top political swipes - and a well put togheter setting for musing on the trancendence of time, space and life.The book is well enough written to just skim like an airport novel, but still has some of the touchstones of great SF: current concepts taken to their logical extreme, wast new worlds only hinted at in their complexity, and concepts that can keep you up at night pondering their implications - and how you would react, should they come to pass. ... Read more

11. The Star Fraction (Fall Revolutions Series)
by Ken MacLeod
Paperback: 480 Pages (1996-09-05)
list price: US$14.45 -- used & new: US$9.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1857238338
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
In a newer world order where the peace process is deadlier than the wars ...Moh Kohn is a security mercenary with a smart gun, reflexes to die for and memories he doesn't want to reach. Jamis Taine is a scientist with a new line in memory drugs, anti-tech terrorists on her case and the STASIS cops on her trail. Jordan Brown is a teenage atheist with a guilty conscience, a wad of illicit cash and an urgent need to get a life. Between them they've started the countdown to the final confrontation, as the cryptic Star Fraction assembles its codes, the Army of the New Republic prepares its offensive and Space Defence lines up its laser weapons for the hour of the Watchmaker ...Amazon.com Review
A Ken MacLeod book is like a crowded college coffeehouse: noisy, bustling, a little rowdy, and packed with enough wild ideas and competing ideologies to leave you reeling. Star Fraction, MacLeod's 1995 debut, is no exception. As the first installment in the Fall Revolution sequence (followed by The Stone Canal and The Cassini Division), Star Fraction established this Scottish author's formidable talent for mixing complex politics and cyberpunk action into smart, funny stories.

MacLeod avoids heady political theorizing by always personifying his ideas in believable, often articulately passionate characters. (Or as one character puts it, "In my experience politics is guys with guns ripping me off at roadblocks.") Star Fraction's putative protagonists--a Trotskyite mercenary, a fugitive university researcher, and a fundamentalist-turned-atheist programmer--are on the run after a chance combination of marijuana, experimental memory drugs, and a self-aware firearm threatens to awaken a powerful AI on the nets, much to the dismay of the Men In Black and the orbital-laser-wielding U.S./UN. (As with all MacLeod plots, don't bother asking--it's a long story.)

With its ultrabalkanized UK and convoluted cast of neo-Stalinists, AI-Abolitionists, Christianarchists, femininists, et al., Star Fraction is MacLeod at his best--even at his first. --Paul Hughes ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

1-0 out of 5 stars Post-apocalyptic UK in anarchy - AI to rule the world
In a world after third World War, under the control of combination of the US and UNforces, a hunky guy Moh Kohn --a security expert with an unnervingly intelligent Gun --gets a new contract. A scientist Janis Taine, researching how memory can be enhanced had his laboratory compromised, needs his expertise. The Stasis, the UN technology Police, considers Janis' study as a step on an illegal technology which must not continue. Under Moh's protection Janis' lab is abandoned and she is delivered to Norlonto, the anarchic area of London. At the same time Jordan Brown, a young atheist computer expert, encounters Black Planner -- an entity of the net -- an AI coalesced from the combined networked computing power of the world. The tree of them group in Norlonto. Moh starts to recall slowly his father's programming work, Dissembler, a fancy financial software. Their only refuge is from the terrorist Army, if it still exists. Moh father's programming legacy is the long needed key to be turned to eradicate the power of ruling Hanoverians, the capitalists, and their allies (like Space Defence) all over the world.

The background takes place in 21th century UK where anarchy is manifested in different violent factions that each have their own idea of ideology. AI rules the world, the Space Defense controls the orbital lasers to point to anything that threatens the established order. The Religious fundamentalists, Neo-Marxist and other micro-states have a bite of the world to rule as they wish; within their perimeter, naturally. Revolutions, radicalism, Christian anarchism, libertarianism and overall political satire and mockery of rules of society is the hallmark of the story. Idioms and language is tangled within the political commentary in this AI-revolution where people have no clear purpose; they exists solely for the purpose of existentialism; be whatever you want, believe anything and change to whatever utilitarianism is needed at a time. The tone of the story is quite hilarious, upbeat, witty and sharply intelligent. The ending is not quite up to the political machinations leading to the climax. This is book 1 in the Fall Revolution series. Others are: The Stone Canal (book 2, 1996), The Cassini Division (book 3, 1998) and The Sky Road (book 4, 1999)

One (1) star. Written in 1995, this novel could be read as a ground breaking cyberpunk novel which combines post-apocalyptic finesse, doomsday AI in a political ecology. The politics vocabulary isthick as a black smoke. It's not an odor that invites you to sniff, but a reluctant inhale that gets one coughing. The sentences are packed with information, like datagrams, they are short and wander out like cryptography. The writing makes the characters purely virtual, irrelevant, as there really is no tangible personality in them, or in the society around. Forget discerning the plot. The ideas is the reality in this show. Quoting the writer: "It's a story about a man who gets killed, but his gun goes on fighting". In a sense this is accomplishment in itself for a writer to be able to show that this kind of literature is even possible. A tribute to that. If goofiest ideas; intense level of info dump that explores communism, socialism, and libertarianism is not your thing, you may want to pass this one. A very dense read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A real pageturner...
But unless you're familiar with leftist politics, especially British leftist politics, many of those pages will be Wikipedia pages.I don't consider that a drawback - it is a sign of a book that is very much connected to the real world and has much to say that you have not considered before.However, even with the Web at my disposal, Banks and Macleod's fondness for blimps mystifies me.

More seriously, I don't know of anything else quite like this, and it should not be missed.I recommend you follow it with The Stone Canal, and reserve judgment on the politics until you have read both.I would have given this 4.5 stars, but Amazon made me choose between 4 and 5.

1-0 out of 5 stars Unintentionally hilarious
There's no real reason to take this novel seriously.Two dimensional characters wander around doing things that are difficult to care about.Wild coincidences abound, I mean really absurd coincidences where everybody just happens to know each other and their father.The wild events of the ending happen with no explanation and with little relation to the events of the novel.

Dialogue was horrible, not resembling the way anybody actually talks.Character relations seemed to be a weird parody of how people actually get to know each other.Between that, the author's grating habit of dropping the names of famous science fiction novels into the work, and his frequent recycling of William Gibson amongst others, one got the feeling the author knows a lot about science fiction and not much about anything else.

But the "science" was campy fun.Nobody expects science fiction to get the future correct, so I can't really blame the author for this.However, the characters of 2050 are still using an early 1990s version of technology.People complain about their astronomical phone bills.Characters get their information by either looking on Usenet, gopher (remember that?), or possibly by stacking up a whole rack of TVs.Phone booths are still big, but in the future they do video.VR suits even makes a few appearances, ha ha.

2-0 out of 5 stars Tedious
This novel, why mimicking finer cyberpunk fair, becomes overburdened with far-fetched unlikeable characters with an overly heightened political sensibility... Also, the story is muddled and overly contrived, an interesting idea poorly executed. In the end, the novel becomes tedious drudgery with little relief.

I sincerely hope the author's finer works are more refined and mature, but I think I'm throwing in the towel on Mr. McCleod.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
In this fragmented and fractured world artificial intelligence research is no-no, at least mostly, as far as the everyday people go.

A mercenary and a couple of others from one of these micro-organisations get involved in a plot involvingsome fancy financial software and other problems, not least of which is their own gear.

MacLeod's element of taking the piss is certainly in evidence here.

... Read more

12. The Stone Canal: A Novel
by Ken MacLeod
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2001-03-15)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$22.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812568648
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Life on New Mars is tough for humans, but death is only a minor inconvenience. The machines know their place, the free market rules all, and only the Abolitionists object.

Then a stranger arrives on New Mars, a clone who remember his life on Earth as Jonathan Wilde, the anarchist with a nuclear capability who was accused of losing World War III. This stranger also remembers one David Reid, who now serves as New Mars's leader. Long ago, it turns out, Wilde and Reid had shared ideals and fought over the same women.

Moving from 20th-century Scotland through a tumultuous 21st century and outward to humanity's settlement on a planet circling another star, The Stone Canal is idea-driven sci-fi at its best., making real and believable a future where long lives, strange deaths, and unexpected knowledge await those who survive the wars and revolutions to come.
Amazon.com Review
"So it's true what they say: information wants to be free!" But the information in question, in this case, is Dee Model, a sexy, butt-kicking, love-slave android who's just mysteriously become self-aware, eluded her owner, and filed for her own autonomy. And the person making the remark (ironic given that it's a centuries-old reference) is Ax Terminal, a "freelance professional eunuch and part-time catamite," a resident of New Mars, the wormhole-away-from-Jupiter free-market anarchy set up thanks to the fast-folk, an uploaded race of überhumans experiencing reality and evolving at ultrahigh speeds. Android Dee, as it turns out, may have been nudged toward freedom by Jon Wilde, her cloned body's former husband (they met at Glasgow University back in the '70s), who just recently came back from the dead (revived by himself, in robot form) to join in the struggle between robot abolitionists and the malicious boss man of New Mars, David Reid (Wilde's former rival and owner of the sex slave that happens to be a cloned copy of Wilde's former wife). Now this is what great science fiction is all about.

Action-packed, inventive, and satisfyingly weird, Ken MacLeod's Stone Canal (the retroactively U.S.-released prequel to The Cassini Division) lets loose with a steady stream of challenging ideas and novel technology, taking on questions of free will, identity, and the nature of consciousness, all the while telling a bang-up story. Reminiscent of K.W. Jeter's best work, The Stone Canal certainly deserves a look. --Paul Hughes ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

1-0 out of 5 stars Starts strong and then dropps off
This book has two narrative threads: the current time (and recent past) and the distant future. The future thread starts strong and then drops off rapidly towards the mid of the book. The other thread is incredibly boring right from the start. The two main characters (one in two copies) are complete jerks and I was unable to identify with either side in the ensuing struggle.

What makes this even worse is the generous use of tired old clichés and flat characters that like to act inconsistent. What I also found especially repulsive is that everybody everywhere always smokes, without this adding any value to the story. For a time I thought that this might be a satiric element. But if it is the author failed to make it work as well.

Bottom line: While some good ideas went into this work, the workmanship is shoddy and the two-thread organization does not work. Initially I thought this was a good book, but after about 150 pages I felt ripped off. Far below McLeod's usual quality level.

2-0 out of 5 stars A would-be Heinlein copycat?
Almost to the end, this novel reminded me of Robert Heinlein's writings (the best of them, I mean). Then it crashed in the last few pages, so I am a little dissatisfied with it.
The plot is heavy with Comunist, Socialist and Anarchist messages, presented by either cynics or idealists. As I grew up in a Comunist dictatorship, none of them impressed me, nor ever would... so I had to put them aside and try to enjoy the action. And I did, most of the time.
Jon Wilde is ressurected by a sentient machine he'll soon learn is an earlier imbodiment of himself. Then he discovers his late wife's body walking around with a robot intelligence inside, a world where his name is revered, an old friend and rival hunting him and a plot for the destruction of all sentient machines... for starters.
The interesting part was a bit about "fast people", minds so far evolved that they live an accelerated existence in nanite bodies... but they never had a major part to play, so the thrill went away pretty fast.
An almost Heinlein-type of story. Not Heilein-like enough, though. Too bad...

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, action-packed, though-provoking, but...
This was really a very interesting book to read! Lots of interesting ideas, mixing hard sci-fi with political aspects in a way that is very rare to find around. It may get sometimes I little boring with all the discussions about politics and the life of an anarchist, but there are some parts that you really can't leave the book aside without feeling guilty for not knowing what is coming next.

The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that sometimes the abilities of the characters seem a little too "supernatural". Sometimes when you get a book where characters are portrayed as human being and then suddenly they are just too good to be a human being, it does feel strange. Some people like it, I just didn't feel confortable with it. Personal opinion.

4-0 out of 5 stars Love never dies
Picking up this book mainly as a fluke, I was not expecting the story that awaited me.The most fascinating thing is the reality of thought and dialogue, mixed together in a intricate web of fiction, both of the historical brand (a large chunk is set in 1970's Scotland) and the all too alarmingly realistic future brand.The story revolves around two men, David Reid and Jon Wilde whose political views and ideals have set the course of the world, and have built a centuries long rivaly between them.
The text reads remarkably well, and even when lost in the mire of politcal thought (it is recommended that the reader have at least a basic knowledge of communism, socialism and capitalism) the text is rich enough and REAL enough to carry through.Switching from one point of view to the next is not just jumping from character to character, but shooting from first person to third to the camera man if this were a movie.
The only drawback about this book is the breakneck speed at which it ends.But the ending is not diminished by it.
I recommend this story to anyone looking for Science Fiction that is believable, no matter how unbelievable it really is.

4-0 out of 5 stars intelligent, deep, imaginative, well written
Out of the first five books Ken Macleoud has had published only the last one 'Cosmonauts Keep' I will never reread. All of the first four are well worth rereading, the mark of a good book.
'The Stone Canal' has the great structure Macleoud does so well, of alternating chapters telling the story from centuries past of the character's. While the next chapter carrys on in the present and so on.
It was KM who advised Bank's of this for his great 'Use of Weapons' novel. Back to the Stone Canal. It's packed with ideas, intensity and thriller like page turning. It could easily fall back into a revenge and killing book. Let's face it the main character has many good reasons to kill Reid. It's about myths, love and reality. It's fun and smart. Macleoud doesn't have the same strength and depth in description as say Banks or Dan Simmon's at their best but he writes very good books, compressed, full of twists, ideas and smart characters. ... Read more

13. The Cassini Division
by Ken MacLeod
Mass Market Paperback: 320 Pages (2000-08-15)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$1.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812568583
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Ellen May Ngewthu is a soldier and leader of the Cassini Division, the elite defense force of the utopian Solar Union.Here in the twenty-fourth century, the forts of the Division, in orbit around Jupiter, are the front line in humanity's long standoff with the unknowable post-humans godlike beings descended from the men and women who transformed themselves with high technology centuries ago.

The post-humans' capacities are unknown . . . but we know they disintegrated Ganymede, we know they punched a wormhole into Jovian space, and we know that the very surface of the solar system's largest planet has been altered by them.Worse, we know that they have been bombarding the inner solar system with powerful data viruses for generations.

Now Ellen has a plan to rid humanity of this threat once and for all. But she needs to convince others to mistrust the post-humans as much as she does. In the process, much will be revealed--about history, about power, and about what it is to be human.
Amazon.com Review
With his third novel, Ken MacLeod elaborates on the futuretimeline from his first two works, The Star Fraction (1995) andThe Stone Canal (1996). Most relevant is book two, whichestablished a colony on the remote world of New Mars via a spatialwormhole created by superhumans--transcendent machine-hostedintelligences called the "fast-folk." The original fast-folk crashedfrom too much contemplation of their metaphorical navels, but theirdescendants on Jupiter still harass Earth with virus transmissionsthat have killed off computers and the Internet. Enter heroine EllenMay Ngwethu of the Cassini Division, an elite space-going forcecreated to defend against the fast-folk. Her wild doings in the 24thcentury's anarcho-socialist utopia make for fun reading--everyone willcovet her smart-matter clothing that can become a spacesuit, combatoutfit, evening gown, or satellite dish at will. But the Division'spolitical philosophy is brutally tough, with alarming plans to use aplanet-wrecking doomsday weapon against "enemies," who may not behostile at all. In a climax of slam-bang space battle, MacLeod crashesthe ongoing ethical debate into a brick wall and leaves yougasping. Witty, skillful, provocative, but just a trifle too gliblyresolved. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
Defend the solar system, brothers.

The Cassini Division is an organisation that is ready to 'kick posthuman arse', as they put it.A key strategic asset is a wormhole, and the Division realises that anything evolving quickly could appear.It gets a lot less simple than this as societies on Mars and in the Jupiter area come into conflict, as well as Divisions within the division and your garden variety humans

One woman and the crew of a ship have to decide what sort of carnage they are willing to inflict on others for preservation, along with some strange consequences of their actions.

1-0 out of 5 stars If you've never put a sci-fi book down, no matter how bad; try this one...

For some odd reason, I felt compelled to do a search for reviews on this book I picked at random in the library. In all my 35+ years of reading sci-fi and fantasy, I can't recall more than a couple of books I'd put done incomplete.

I am about 2/3's the way through this one, and may or may not complete it.While diametrically opposed to Macleaod's politics, I felt I should give it a read nonetheless so as to be somewhat 'liberal' in giving it a chance.

That said, I have to agree with SouthFried's review on the whole. This book, even if part of an ongoing series gives the reader very little incentive to go back or forward to the se/pre-quel.The story meanders between plot and borderline propoganda, with nary a thought for continuity.Maybe some of his other books are tighter and on-beam, but if this is the caliber, I'd say many a college writerwould surpass.

I've heard mention of one of MacLeaod's contemporaries who's written something called the "Lazy Gun", hopefully it will be less of a propoganda exercise in wishful 'what ifs' than this.

I think I'll have to go back to the remaining Terry Pratchet or Aaron Elkinson's I've yet too read.Idealism has its place, unfortunately it just doesn't cut it with sci-fi.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great story, dumb ideas
I am very surprised by the hostile reviews to this engaging novel.I suppose many could be put off by the socialist orientation of the author and the story.I agree that at times the book reads like a propoganda piece for the Socialist International.I am certainly no socialist, very much the opposite as some of my other book reviews will attest.To describe this as a novel of ideas is correct.Many of them are dumb, unrealistic, and totally discredited ideas.So what, the story was great and in spite of my hostility to these ideas I loved it.It just requires a little suspension of disbelief.It also helps to know where Macleod is coming from upfront.The socialism bothers less if it is expected.

I agree with several of the other reviewers, do not start this series with this book.If you do start here you may be confused at times.

If you are easily annoyed by politics and political ideas you disagree with, this book and this author, are not for you.If you can enjoy a good story and can look past some pretty loopy ideas you will enjoy this series.

3-0 out of 5 stars Clash of Civilizations
Compared to Ken MacLeod's later work, "Cassini Division" (1998) is a little underwhelming. The main ideas involve the clash of civilizations: the anarchic-socialists (from whose perspective the book is narrated), the uploaded post-Singularity consciousnesses of Jupiter, a capitalist anarchy on the far-flung planet New Mars (accessible only via tricky wormhole travel) and the non-cooperators left on Earth, who haven't joined in any of the parties.

That's most of the problem, really. The plot seems like more of an excuse to examine all these societies than an interesting story in its own right. The author doesn't quite seem to pay enough attention to the main plot threads. Generally speaking, I found it a bit hard to read and a bit too easy to put down.

There are some interesting narrative tricks here: the entire story is told from a first person POV, and only one person's, to boot. However, the "present tense" parts of the story are told in past-tense voice, and the flashbacks (sometimes inserted in such a ways as to kill narrative momentum instead of helping it) are told in present-tense voice. An odd choice that doesn't seem to make much difference.

The parts where he's actually examining the societies are admirable: fairly balanced, showing the upsides and downsides of all of them. However, it sometimes seems unsubtle, more like a sledgehammer than you'd like. Also, the narrator is not the most sympathetic person you've ever met. So if you're interested in Ken MacLeod, I might recommend skipping this one and heading for his later works: the Engine of Light series or (the much more enjoyable) "Newton's Wake."

1-0 out of 5 stars Pretty bad.
I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. The back cover looked interesting, so I thought "why not?"

I guess there's a Sci-Fi subculture out there that is looking for future socialist/communist societies that they can believe and hope in. I think this is the driving force for those who give this book good reviews. Any exploration into future socialist society has an attraction for them.

Hey, I can understand that. Tho, I'm on the other end of the spectrum, and look for books that portray what a freer, liberty loving society might look like in the future. I can understand those on the "other side" of my political views looking for books that may validate their beleif's. So, even if I disagree with the political viewpoint, I still can appreciate it.

But, this book was just not good. The story was cluttered and confusing to read. As one reviewer put it..."It takes itself too seriously for satire, but too much fluff for serious sci-fi."

Character development was abysmal. There is not one character you can really identify with, or like. The political make-up of the differing societies is never really explained, so you never really understand how things are really working. Heck, half the time it seems the characters have no clue either...but, they are sure adamant about it. For those looking for ideas and concepts for the socialist utopia (hey, I'm also looking for ideas for a capitalist one), they ain't in this book.

The underlying premise of the book could be interesting. Humans develop, or evolve, into more machine than organic...and the humans, still organic, pit themeselves against these "futuristic" humans.

Could be interesting...but, it isn't.

Lotta gratuitist drunkin' sex. Silly and sophomoric ideas and dialogue. Ammoral people and actions. This is just a bad book, written poorly and confusingly.

Several people here have said that there is a prequel book to this that if you didn't read it, you'll be totally lost and confused.

They're right...I sure was.But, I don't think I'll be getting the prequel to try and understand better what I read. Cuz, what I read, and DID understand, I didn't like.

And it would sure help, if the author let you know that this was a series. Geesh. Absolutely nothing printed on the book cover even hints at this being part of a series or continuing storeyline, and that you should buy x book first. Seriously confusing... Sorta like the book itself. ... Read more

14. The True Knowledge of Ken MacLeod (Foundation Studies in Science Fiction)
 Hardcover: 136 Pages (2005-03)
list price: US$30.00
Isbn: 0903007029
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15. Seeds of Change
by Tobias S. Buckell, Ken MacLeod, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, K. D. Wentworth, Jeremiah Tolbert, Jay Lake, Ted Kosmatka, Blake Charlton, Mark Budz
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2008-08-19)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$9.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0809573105
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Imagine the moment when the present ends, and the future begins - when the world we knew is no more and a brave new world is thrust upon us. Gathering stories by nine of today's most incisive minds, Seeds of Change confronts the pivotal issues facing our society today: racism, global warming, peak oil, technological advancement, and political revolution. Many serve as a call to action. How will you change with the future?These nine stories sow seeds of change across familiar and foreign territory, from our own backyards to the Niger Delta to worlds not yet discovered. Pepper, the mysterious mercenary from Tobias S. Buckell's Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin, works as an agent for change - if the price is right - in "Resistance." Ken MacLeod envisions the end-game in the Middle East in "A Dance Called Armageddon." New writer Blake Charlton imagines a revolutionary advance in cancer research in "Endosymbiont." Award-winning author Jay Lake tackles technological change and the forces that will stop at nothing to prevent it in "The Future by Degrees."Other stories by K.D. Wentworth, Jeremiah Tolbert, Mark Budz, Ted Kosmatka, and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu range from the darkly satirical to the exotic. All explore the notion that change will come. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice collection
I'll start with an introduction pulled from the Seeds of Change web site to give you a taste of what this anthology is all about:

"Imagine the moment when the present ends, and the future begins-when the world we knew is no more and a brave new world is thrust upon us. Gathering stories by nine of today's most incisive minds, Seeds of Change confronts the pivotal issues facing our society today: racism, global warming, peak oil, technological advancement, and political revolution."

A heady claim, to be sure, but Seeds of Change delivered, for me, seven out of nine times.

That calls for an explanation: There are nine stories in total; two of them didn't do it for me, and I had to stop reading. But of the seven stories I did finish, I found each of them both entertaining and thought-provoking. That's a rare combination, IMO. Often an author will go too far into the literary realm, which is all well and fine when one is looking for that sort of thing. But these days I'll take entertaining over literary nine times out of ten. It was a pleasant surprise that Seeds of Change provided both, and probably why I found it such an easy read.

Of the seven stories I completed, the most entertaining were those by Jay Lake, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, and Ted Kosmatka. Tobias Buckell was up there as well, but I found his Pepper story contribution a bit of a letdown. Perhaps I'd gotten too used to the character's zombie butt-kicking ways from Sly Mongoose that to see him thoughtful and almost introspective threw me. On the other hand, this anthology is about change, so seeing things in a different light may be what it's all about.

Seeds of Change scores a ten on quality of writing. Regardless of what I might have thought about a story's theme or characters, the authors each come through with a wholly engaging style. That goes for the two stories I didn't finish as well.

For the record, those two were "A Dance Called Armageddon", by Ken MacLeod, and "Artists Aren't Stupid", by Jeremiah Tolbert. There was nothing inherently wrong with either story. The oration simply wasn't doing it for me. At my age (I'm 38), that's enough for me to give it a pass.

But that fact takes nothing away from the anthology. If you're looking for a healthy dose of thought-provoking literature leavened by a hefty shot of entertainment to put an exclamation on these final summer days, I highly recommend Seeds of Change.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Endosymbiont" by Blake Charlton is one of the nine stories that make up the science fiction anthology Seeds of Change
"How did my body die?" asks 14- year- old chemo patient Stephanie of Jani, a pediatric resident at a virtual San Francisco Children's Hospital. By now, the reader is fully aware that author Blake Charlton has taken us into the dystopian world of virtual medicine, where patients' minds can be reset at the sound of a word, technophobes worry about "posthumans" gaining too much power and abusing it and neuroprocessors take over the brain in a dead body, turning people into "endosymbionts", the equivalent of a bacteria that borrows life by feeding off its host organism. The precocious, knowledge-hungry Stephanie embarks on a cyber quest for truth that involves "unprogramming" a nurse, seeing a "cyber shrink" that breaks the rules of psychoanalysis by threatening to "delete" patients (what shrink doesn't wish they could sometimes?) and concocting a Borgesian, pre-existing plan for allowing neuroprocessors to endocytose morality. Little does Stephanie know yet what a key role in her own farfetched idea she'll play.In yet the last and most important symbiosis of the story, her plan will engulf her turning her into a martyr of the moral neurotech evolution that promises to make the world a better place. The symbol for this interdependency is perhaps best illustrated by the ubiquitous image of the snake eating its own tail that opens and closes the narrative and reinforced by the last name "Mandala", a Buddhist circular diagram, emblem of cosmic order and harmony. Charlton is skillful at making the perfect circularity of these recurrent motifs transcend the thematic aspect to contaminate, like the bacteria at the heart of the story, the textual structure:opening and closing with the same image the story itself becomes a perfect circle that envelops us. The young author crafts a thought-provoking story at the intersection of medicine and technology but manages to bring both fields of knowledge in manageable doses for the lay reader.Our consciousness as readers is thus momentarily uploaded too, and we are forced to suspend our disbelief to imagine a possible, alternative world that may not reside too far into our future.

4-0 out of 5 stars very thoughtful
I definetly enjoyed the 9 short stories. They all took an issue that resonates today and brought it to a futuristic level.

4-0 out of 5 stars Seeds of Change Review

Seeds of Change is an anthology that contains nine short stories confronting issues that our society faces today such as: racism, global warming, peak oil, technological advancement, and political revolution.All with a Science Fiction twist.This is a book that activist will enjoy, and if as readers, we don't understand the problems our world faces, Seeds of Change can really open our eyes to them.I really enjoyed what John Joseph Adams has done here.As an author and editor he has put this information out there in an entertaining way, in an attempt at making people more aware.

The authors are knowledgeable about the issues, and have taken the time to write intelligent Scifi stories for readers to enjoy.Seeds of Change is a fantastic addition to anyone's book collection, and I highly recommend it to all readers to check it out.John has also put together a great website for Seeds of Change that contains three free stories (with excerpts of the rest), as well as interviews, author bios, and a book trailer featuring dramatized excerpts of each story and an original musical score.http://www.seedsanthology.com/Don't forget to go there and check that out :)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection projecting current issues or paradigm shifts into the future
This collection edited by slush god John Joseph Adams contains stories of paradigm shifts in the future (this review is based on an Advanced Reader Copy; the anthology is scheduled for release late August 2008). From his introduction:

"I asked the contributors to this anthology to write about paradigm shifts - technological, scientific, political, or cultural--and how individuals and societies deal with such changes. The idea is to challenge our current paradigms and speculate on how they might evolve in the future, either for better or for worse."

Many of the stories, instead of being about future paradigm shifts, are projections of current issues or ailments (racism, global warming, corporate spies and piracy) into the future but also contain new shifts brought about by new technology and ethical issues about usage (how should we or even should we not) of these new technologies.

The anthology starts with a bang, with a story of future prejudice.Of the nine stories Endosymbiont by Blake Charlton, Spider the Artist by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachuand Drinking Problem by K.D. Wentworth were my personal favorites.

* N-Words by Ted Kosmatka; eloquently captures the passion and pain of past and current prejudice and echoes them onto a future where a certain type of clones have become the latest persecuted ethnics.
* The Future by Degrees by Jay Lake; a solution is developed for efficient energy usage (little waste heat, high efficiency) and everyone will kill to get it;
* Drinking Problem by K.D. Wentworth; DNA coded one-per-customer-per-lifetime beer bottles with AI chips and various conversational modes make this story more horror than scifi for a committed beer drinker like myself.
* Endosymbiont by Blake Charlton; virtual medicine plus the ability to upload people's consciousness into "nueroprocessors" are the technology that supports Blake Charlton's story of creating a new type of post-human. The main character is a young girl who was suffering from cancer, and was the first "uploaded", before the technophobes pushed through laws governing such creatures, to make sure they didn't pull a Terminator and take over the world. This was a superbly written story revolving around well-defined characters with excellent science to back it up.
* A Dance Called Armageddon by Ken MacLeod; the fifteenth winter of the Faith War, a reminder of the never-ending struggle between Christianity, Muslims and Jews fighting for who's interpretation is most correct, and a reminder that though only a small percentage of us are there, wars affect us all. Nice description of the Sony Ericsson Cyber-sight upgrade glasses as well.
* Arties Aren't Stupid by Jeremiah Tolbert; genetically manufactured classes of "humans", some braniacs, some tin-men, some thicknecks and some arties (artistic), break out their mold, freeing themselves and inflicting change upon the order of their world. The wording of the conversation got in the way a little (arties aren't stupid, but they do talk funny), but the story was quite excellent.
* Faceless in Gethsemane by Mark Budz; if you could have surgery to remove the impression of faces, would you? What would you see, and how would not jumping to first impressions about how someone looked or what color their skin is change you? There is an air of prejudice and persecution in this story that I'm not sure I agree with (would people really protest because other people modified how they perceive other's faces?) but the concepts are interesting, the story well written...and it reminds me of when I rubbed my closed eyelids and saw colors and visions (Mr. Budz, I thought it was just me.)
* Spider the Artist by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu; a beatutifully written story about man (woman) and machine, set what Nigeria is and may continue to become: a country raped and pillaged for it's oil, where it's people lose hope but continue somehow to search for hope...and find it amongst the aritificially intelligent keepers of the pipelines. Music soothes the savage AI beast, it seems.
* Resistance by Tobias S. Buckell; Pepper, of Mr. Buckell's Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin and the forthcoming Sly Mongoose, is hired to take out the dictator of a techno-democracy. Similar to a society in Sly Mongoose, this world (Haven) gave everyone a vote on everything; but they tired of that and created AI's to vote as they would. Then the AI's created the ruler "Pan". Was it their own vote, or did the AI take over? The only Pepper story I've read with a low (zero) body count.

... Read more

16. The engines of light
by Ken MacLeod
 Hardcover: 791 Pages (2003)
-- used & new: US$14.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739432982
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17. Die Cassini- Division.
by Ken MacLeod
 Paperback: Pages (2002-12-01)

Isbn: 3453863267
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18. The fall revolution
by Ken MacLeod
 Hardcover: 710 Pages (2001)
-- used & new: US$23.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739421220
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19. Cassini Division
by Ken MacLeod
 Paperback: 320 Pages (1998-08-06)

Isbn: 0099240327
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20. Binary 5: The Human Front / A Writer's Life
by Ken MacLeod, Eric Brown
Paperback: 197 Pages (2003-02-13)
list price: US$12.40 -- used & new: US$21.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0575075058
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
THE HUMAN FRONT is a sparkling SF alternate history story set in world that has been fighting WWIII since 1949. Leading a guerilla campaign against the Western Forces is the heroic, myhtic figure of Joe Stalin. And above the battlefields flying saucers fill the skies. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars When Does Right Go Wrong?
MacLeod has shown a fine sense of how to blend political philosophy with storytelling in his prior works. No less so here, with this tale of an alternate history where WWIII began in 1949, where Joe Stalin is the people�s revolutionary hero, atomic weapons have been used in many more places than Hiroshima, and the Americans are flying some very strange bombers with even stranger pilots.

The book follows John Matheson from a young boy through early manhood, tracing his awakening to the political facts of life. And like many young people, the inequalities and suffering that much of world must live with are open sores that he feels he can and should do something about. This is the entry point for MacLeod's exposition of political/revolutionary solutions, along with some rather sharp satire of figures that are almost deified in our world ("Hey, hey, JFK, how many kids did you kill today?"). These answers will disturb your sense of the correctness of the status quo, perhaps make you realize that there is merit in other political philosophies than your own. Very little of this is presented directly, but is rather shown as an normal outgrowth of Matheson's development and learning, from his days in school and college and later as a member of the revolutionary group The Human Front. MacLeod's envisioned world is believable, and its contrasts with our own highlight just how much the world's and your personal condition depends upon chance happenstances and events beyond any one individual's control.

All of this, about the first fifty pages, is excellent writing, but at the end of the book MacLeod turns away from what should be the logical conclusion to the story and instead chooses what felt to me like a dues-ex-machina resolution, (even though MacLeod has carefully planted clues to this early in the book), and a far too happy one at that. For me, this ending greatly lessened the strength of his earlier points. Those familiar with the various science-fictional treatments of alternate time-line scenarios will recognize in this ending an attempt to rationalize the paradoxes inherent in disturbing the past and will see parallels with books like Asimov's The End of Eternity and Dick's The Man in the High Castle, but what is missing from this ending is a proper resolution to the political questions raised in the earlier portion of the book.

Perhaps this novella should have been given a longer treatment, expanded to full novel length, and with this extra room there would have been space to fill in what I feel was missing to this ending.As it is, I feel that MacLeod has presented a sharply realized different world that can illuminate many of the problems of our world, but hasn�t really finished his story within that world.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating blend of genres and ideas
First off, this isn't a typical Amazon title, rather it is the product of PS Publishing, which puts out limited, signed editions by various science fiction and fantasy authors. Specifically, "The Human Front" was limited to 400 hardcover and another 500 paperback copies, all of which have long since sold out from the publisher. That said, there are copies available on the internet, and fans of alternate history will definitely want to track this one down.

As I alluded to above, "The Human Front" is Ken MacLeod's take on alternate history, but anyone who knows MacLeod knows it will be anything but conventional. Actually, it does start off conventionally enough: it's the early 1960's and World War III has been raging with varying degrees of ferocity since 1949. Joe Stalin is a romanticized guerrilla fighter in the model of Che, and the Soviet Union has been beaten down to the point where the allies have installed a government in Petrograd.

Macleod rather cleverly juxtaposes roles in this world; in addition to Stalin, JFK is reviled as a butcher ("Hey, Hey, JFK, how many kids have you killed today?"). By so doing, he obliterates the myths of the past, and rather shrewdly, points out that historical interpretation is largely a function of the circumstances in which one lives, or more simply, a result of how the past turned out. While he is no apologist for Stalin (by any stretch) he creates a plausible reality where he is revered as a pragmatic, dedicated revolutionary, rather than reviled as a butcher. Thus removed from our known context he can create an absurd inversion that nonetheless sheds light on how we view our own heroes.

However, instead of following this believable alternate reality to a logical conclusion, MacLeod throws a curveball in the main character, John Matheson's, enigmatic encounter with one of the U.S.'s strange disc shaped bombers. Although the next twenty pages of narrative are fairly conventional, MacLeod has set the stage, and everything thereafter is tainted by this puzzling mystery.

To go any further would spoil the plot, but suffice it to say that the novel takes numerous bizarre twists before arriving at a fascinating ending. Specifically, unlike most Alternate History, which revels in an outcome discrete from reality, MacLeod attempts to reconcile his world to our own in a manner reminiscent of Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle". The mechanism of this reconciliation is completely original without being outlandish, and the statement made is simple but profound. In essence, MacLeod is arguing that we are all victims of circumstance, that, generally speaking, shaping the world's destiny is beyond the individual. Thus, it is left to each of us to live as best we can, in the hopes that the cumulative result is something better than where we started. At the same time, unlike much Alternate History, (and particularly what one would expect from such a politically conscious writer) MacLeod isn't entirely displeased with the path history has taken, and actually seems to find it better than many of the alternatives.

MacLeod packs more into the seventy-five pages of "The Human Front" than most authors do in novels four times as long. He has blended so many genres, I've lost count, and it's almost unfair to categorize it as Alternate History, in spite of the fact that it won the Sidewise Award for best Short Form Alternate History in 2001. Rather, MacLeod created a true SF hybrid, that evokes the best of many different themes. At the same time, he has written a character driven novel that explores some interesting themes around meaning and purpose. Ultimately, this is a work of literature in which the content far surpasses what one might expect from the length.

Jake Mohlman ... Read more

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