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Engine City: Engines of Light Book 3 Paperback – 4 Sep 2003


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Frequently Bought Together

Engine City: Engines of Light Book 3 + Dark Light: Engines of Light Book 2 + Cosmonaut Keep: Engines of Light: Book One: Bk.1
Price For All Three: £27.29

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (4 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841492035
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841492032
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.5 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 332,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Since graduating from Glasgow University in 1976, Ken MacLeod has worked as a computer analyst in Edinburgh. He now writes full-time.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Engine City completes Ken MacLeod's "Engines of Light" trio of sophisticated, politically astute space operas. Previous volumes were Cosmonaut Keep and Dark Light.

MacLeod has lots of fun with UFO conspiracy theories, since here the saurian-descended "Alien Greys" with their antigravity saucers actually exist. So do hairy Bigfoot-like primates, sea-dwelling selkie folk, and other legends. Planetary fossil records are a misleading mess, thanks to tampering by the "gods".

These gods are hive-mind intellects, vast, cool and irritable, occupying comets and asteroids. They have long been transplanting intelligent species across space, and playing them off against one another, just to keep the noise down--the dreadful racket of radio broadcasts and space exploration. "Their first and last commandment is: do not disturb us."

The mixture of human and other races dumped in the Second Sphere, a far-off galactic region, is up to potentially disturbing activities: an accelerating growth of technology and interstellar trade. Are rumours of octopod alien "Multipliers" mere disinformation, or are these the Gods'-appointed nemesis for the human-led Bright Star Cultures and their commercial empire? Some long-lived cosmonauts, surviving from book one, hope for peaceful diplomatic relations. One, an unreconstructed Russian veteran, urges a massive arms programme on the world of Nova Terra. Everyone, but everyone, is in for surprises.

The twisty narrative has many cheery asides, such as the naming of a flotilla of human-built UFOs: "Matt's suggested names (Rectal Probe, Up Yours, Probably Venus, Strange Light, No Defence Significance) were all rejected..." Or a saurian's patient explanation that antigravity was useless for building their equivalent of the Pyramids, which required enormous ramps of close-packed earth, miles of rope, and tens of thousands of workers: "But when you tell people that, they don't believe you."

Towards the finale on Nova Terra, events are complicated by heavy weaponry, alien symbiosis, a programme of "guerrilla ontology" featuring literal "Men in Black" and devastating intervention by one of the gods. For excellent self-defensive reasons, the Bright Star Cultures class the killing of Gods (theicide) as a heinous crime. The provocation, however, is great...

A highly enjoyable conclusion to a fizzy, fast-moving but persistently intelligent trilogy. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Ken's books are always a delight to read ...I heartily recommend the entire series to anyone who has not yet begun them. As anyone who has read Ken's earlier work, such as the STAR FRACTION or the CASSINI DIVISION will know he creates excellent novels full of SF for the more demanding reader, venturing into the effects of new technologies and ideological and political ways of thinking, elevating the novels way above the normal 'space opera (level (fun as they are). Absorbing and fascinating, I couldn't stop reading this.')

THEALIENONLINE ('The modern-day George Orwell')

SFX ('A hectic ride, through slaloms of audacious complexity, irreverent ingenuity and paradox as purposeful as it is playful')

GUARDIAN ('Magnificent . a series you'd be wise to follow from the start')

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 7 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
Following the (mostly) planet bound political chicanery of Dark Light, Engine City returns the series to the stars.
Without giving too much away, the story expands on the 'alien threat' and the rift between Matt Cairns and Volkovs political ambitions. There is action aplenty, political intrigue and a satisfying conclusion (although one which also leaves it open for further novels to explore).
The main characters are by this time familiar and their motivations and actions are all consistent with the previous novels.
It's a sign of a good series that you care about the characters and are perhaps a little sad when the story is over and I felt that was true in this case.
One criticsm I have had of KM in previous works was that I didn't think his descriptive powers were quite up to the breadth of his imagination, however that was not the case in this novel.
Overall a good book and a good point to end the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 4 Dec. 2002
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this final book in his Second Sphere series. You get a sense that the author enjoyed putting together the plot from all the SF cliches, whilst not creating a cliche SF novel. The tone has been lighter in this series than the first, and this is continued in this novel, but he avoids turning the various plots into comedy pieces.
At times the world he describes seems shallower than in his earlier books, but that is probably because he is creating new societies here, and not just future versions of our own.
It's another good novel from Ken Macleod, let's hope he'll quickly write another.
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Format: Paperback
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]).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Perry on 6 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
Had this been a stand-alone book, i think i'd have loved it, but coming after the superb first two instalments it was a little disappointing. The action takes place some time after the end of Dark Light (in relative time anyway), but MacLeod lets the plot threads go a bit and toward the end it seems rather contrived and unsatisfactory. Surprising, as he manages timelines so well in the Fall Revolution novels, which are far more complex.
Still, well worth reading.
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By Parsifal on 12 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
The thing I like about Macleod is that his science is at least beleivable, if mankind does ever get to the stars it is more likely we will take the MacLeod route than by driving a horse and cart through that rather inconvenient theory of relativity with warp drives and wormholes etc. He is more serious than his equally brilliant compatriot Iain M Banks; I see another reviewer has used 'space opera' to describe the trilogy, but I think that demeans it, I think Macleod is writing more in the serious British tradition of Clarke and Wells. OK, Macleod is a socialist as well as a Scot and one does get that rather turgid mixture of "Karl Marx meets John Knox" cropping up now and again in his political bits but then one can skip them. Just one thing though, I just cannot relate the title to the story, maybe that's me missing the point!
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