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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful handling of the "tricky" second novel in a series.
The tricky second novel in any series is fraught with pitfals all of which MacLeod avoids skillfully. MacLeod's skill in characterization and plot development are displyed to good effect in Dark Light. If I could offer any constructive criticism it would be that MacLeod spins off ideas that would merit further deveolpment with such frequency that I found myself wishing...
Published on 2 Jan 2002 by Peter A. Dawson

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I found his use of the present tense in narrative annoying.
I don't remember him using the present tense for description and narrative in his other books, but his use in this book I found both destracting and annoying.
My favourite parts of his earlier works were those set in near future earth (often somewhere in Britain), so I can only hope that he gives us more of that in the future.
Published on 3 Feb 2002


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful handling of the "tricky" second novel in a series., 2 Jan 2002
By 
Peter A. Dawson (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) - See all my reviews
The tricky second novel in any series is fraught with pitfals all of which MacLeod avoids skillfully. MacLeod's skill in characterization and plot development are displyed to good effect in Dark Light. If I could offer any constructive criticism it would be that MacLeod spins off ideas that would merit further deveolpment with such frequency that I found myself wishing for a book twice or thrice the size to fully explore all of them. I suppose that I am complaining about taught prose that leaves you wanting more which means that Ken, Mic and Tim have done their jobs rather well, not much of a complaint if truth be told.
The alternating timelines of Cosmanaut Keep have been dispensed with in favour of a linnear narrative which may make for easier reading for some. Criticism has been leveled at MacLeod in the past for the alternate political views expressed in his novels, while they are still present in Dark Light they are much less overt and are presented alongside many of the philosophical arguments behind those political systems, which is not nearly as dry as it sounds (what, you expected New Labour, Blair, Brown et al to get you to the stars?).
I should also make it clear that the naming of a heretical anthropologist in the novel had nothing to do with me but the honour was bought in an auction at a SF convention by Guy Dawson and not myself (More's the pity!).
I find it increasingly perplexing that Macleod continues to be nominated for the Clark prize and continually fails to win, especially as he seems to have developed a corollary to Clarks law that states if any sufficently advanced technology is indistiguisable from magic then the holder of the technology is probably ripe for worship from any lesser civilization.
As an author MacLeod has always been and continues to be very good value in all respects and Dark Light is no exception...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating speculation that does require some patience, 11 Mar 2003
By 
Neal Reynolds (Indianapolis, Indiana) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dark Light: Engines of Light Book 2 (Paperback)
Those who have read COSMONAUT KEEP should find this a worthwhile continuation. I liked it better than the first book, myself, because of the increased political and theological speculation.
Especially fascinating is MacLeod's concept of the Gods and their relationship with humanity. Not highly recommended to extreme conservative religionists.
I did find myself mired down a couple of times in the political dissertations. However, MacLeod basically tells a good story. How good a story it is depends, I suppose, on the concluding book in the series. But these first two are interesting enough and I'm getting to better like the characters, and so I will be reading the final installment.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, 9 Aug 2003
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This review is from: Dark Light: Engines of Light Book 2 (Paperback)
i read this book in a single 14-hour sitting, which gives you an idea of what a page-turner i found it.
it's much improved over Cosmonaut Keep. the main charaters are much more active, and i love the way the sections from the POV of the 200+ year old Matt Cairns are all written in the present tense - it gives a very strong sense of a man out of time.
the politics in the book is very academic (and a bit dated), but interesting nonetheless. the idea of political systems as technology that can be introduced with just as potent effect as internal combustion deserves exploration; it's a shame that many people will turn their noses up at it because it doesn't gel with their own views.
so, not quite five stars; the eulogising of the "heathens" rings quite false, it would have been more convincing if a more balanced picture of their society was portayed. also i thought it was implausible that there should be such racial tension between humans, and yet little evident between different species. still, those are pretty minor considerations in a good book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The trilogy develops well, 1 Jan 2004
By 
Andy Dingley "andy_dingley" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dark Light: Engines of Light Book 2 (Paperback)
Less sf this time and more of a politicial / social thriller, this is the second volume in the trilogy begun by Cosmonaut Keep. The cosmonauts have made their journey and arrived in a stable society, a society based on tight control of space travel and that certainly doesn't welcome a change to the status quo.
It's typically Ken MacLeod - particularly the way that a grass-roots trade union movement can solve all intergalactic-strife. This time he takes an interesting slant on gender politics too.
It works well as a stand-alone novel, although I think Cosmonaut Keep preserves its novelty better if read first. I'm certainly looking forward to Engine City.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Continuing the trans-galactic romp, 7 Mar 2003
This review is from: Dark Light: Engines of Light Book 2 (Paperback)
With this second book in the series, it's clear that Macleod's Engines of Light series is plotting a different course than the one you might expect from the author of the Fall Revolution series of novels. In Cosmonaut Keep, the first novel of the series, Macleod's picture of life in a Communist dominated European Union of 2049 seemed to be following the same path as his earlier novels, but that was counterpointed by the life of the Cosmonaut Families of Mingulay and his introduction of the worlds of the Second Sphere, gradually linking the two stories together and then launching off into a world where SF cliches had become real and dangerous.
Dark Light does follow on directly from Cosmonaut Keep, but it also stands as a novel in its own right - you could read it on its own, but it's a lot more fun to have read Cosmonaut Keep first - with Matt Cairns again centre stage, but this time perhaps even more out of his depth than he was first time around, trying to find his way among the plottings of various human groups on the world of Croatan, while also attempting to take the Bright Star into space to communicate with the 'gods' and find an answer as to why the Second Sphere exists in the first place.
Dark Light still has the political element that has helped to distibguish Macleod from so many of his contemporaries, but it's coupled with a striking narrative and an engaging plot, which makes this definitely worth reading and I, for one, can't wait for the final part - Engine City.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Close, but no cigar (yet!), 22 Jan 2002
By 
Steven Fouch "fouch26" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Well, after being somewhat disappointed by "Cosmonaut Keep" this was a bit of an improvement, but still not quite all it could be. More happens, more revelations, and setting the scene for what looks to be an epic conflict at both the ideological/human, and cosmic levels. Thus far, not so bad.
But, and I know I've said this before, it really does feel like re-treading old territory, both from MacLeod's earlier work and from the wider SF stable. There's a bit of Brin's "Uplift" series; here's a bit of LeGuin-esque eccentric anthropology; this bit has a revolution as in the "Star Fraction", and here are two immortals with a half friendship, half grudge match feud as in "The Stone Canal".
As ever, MacLeod does manage to play with popular cultural images (the dope smoking Grey is one he sends up gently and beautifully), and political ideas (mostly on the left) get an airing again. These remain his strongest points
The major area of weakness for me was in character development. Some of the characters are left in a state if suspended animation (two of the main characters from the first book seem to almost totally disappear), the romantic sub-plot is dismissed casually, and some of the motivations of characters seem to have changed between books (notably Lydia who suddenly seems to have developed the hitherto foreign notion of sexual jealousy for no adequately explained reason). OK, so MacLeod was never a great character writer, but he is better than this!
But, despite the gripes, there is enough to make me want to carry on reading - certainly more than there was in the first book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The auld cosmonauts keep right on interfering..., 7 Nov 2013
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Lots of solid MacLeod standards here - different levels of cultural development rubbing up against one another, powerful traders, some meaty paranoia about the intentions of the Gods and a healthy dose of socialism. There is a rather neat inversion of the cultural relationship between sex and gender, too, which is genuinely refreshing and which elevated the score by one star all on its own.

The downsides? Not many. This is well-constructed and well-written stuff. Perhaps the author's preference for working with a large palette of actors dilutes things a little - it would be nice to get to know a smaller cohort a little better - and one could wish that the cosmonauts themselves were more sympathetic characters. And (although it feels a mean stab) it would be nice to read about some differently constructed societies; Ken MacLeod does seem to gravitate towards libertarian socialist entrepreneurs, commercial anarchies and turbo-charged stone-agers. All very fine things, but it would be good to see his skills and imagination extended in other directions sometimes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Addition to The Engines of Light Space Opera, 11 Jan 2013
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dark Light: Engines of Light Book 2 (Paperback)
"Dark Light" is a compellingly readable sequel to "Cosmonaut Keep" in Ken MacLeod's "The Engines of Light" space opera science fiction series of novels, reaffirming his status as one of the most critically acclaimed, relatively new, writers of Anglo-American science fiction. The crew of the former European Union space station - now starship - "Bright Star", led by Matt Cairns' descendant Gregor Cairns and his Saur pilot and friend Salasso, voyage to the nearest solar system next to Terra Nova - Gregor's home world - the relatively primitive Croatan. Finding themselves at the mercy of the Rawliston Port Authority which has impounded the "Bright Star", Matt Cairns, Salasso and several others take matters into their own hands by taking the starship on a voyage to meet the "GODS", hopefully to find answers explaining why the "Second Sphere", the region of interstellar space nearest Earth's solar system, has been seeded with life from Earth, especially the intelligent krakens (giant squid) and Saurs. What they find are answers which have the potential of changing forever, the very essence of human-colonized worlds within the Second Sphere itself, realizing that humanity, the krakens and Saurs may be pawns in a galaxy-spanning series of wars amongst the GODS themselves. Meanwhile, both Matt Cairns and his old friend - and fellow cosmonaut - Grigory Volkov become mired in local politics, culminating in a revolution that may transform Rawliston's relationship with its neighbors, the almost primitive, Native American-like Sky People. Once more MacLeod demonstrates his excellent prose and storytelling craft; I found "Dark Light" impossible to put down. Without question "Dark Light" is yet another memorable novel from one of the finest literary talents in contemporary Anglo-American science fiction literature.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 9 Mar 2003
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The second part of a trilogy always has an difficult task - most of the concepts aren't entirely new, but the story can't be bought to an end either.
This volume deals pretty well with both, and is very readable as a self contained story. The contrast of futuristic and outdated is interesting, and the social agenda lives up to the usual MacLeod leftism.
Whilst the story is rounded of nicely, it does leave you hungry for more and wanting to move on to volume 3, Engine City
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 20 Aug 2014
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Ken is a Socialist SciFi Legend! Brilliant
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Dark Light: Engines of Light Book 2
Dark Light: Engines of Light Book 2 by Ken MacLeod (Paperback - 24 Oct 2002)
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