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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever, witty, and very enjoyable
This is a very fast moving novel indeed - in fact that is my only serious criticism - at times it almost feels rushed, and as a consequence some characters never fully develop, and certain plot elements jar. Also, some of the events and characters probably would make full sense only if you have already read MacLeod's earlier two novels, 'The Star Fraction' & 'The...
Published on 3 Mar 2001 by Steven Fouch

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ten thousand light years from home
Ellen May Ngwethu is our narrator for the duration of this nerveless space saga which manages a vast structural background and a political past ranging thousands of years into the future. It is cool stuff and has a consistency with other Macleod output describing the exit of humans from Earth and their adventures all over this and neighbouring galaxies. The science is...
Published on 16 Dec 2010 by Eileen Shaw


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever, witty, and very enjoyable, 3 Mar 2001
By 
Steven Fouch "fouch26" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassini Division: Book Three: The Fall Revolution Series: A Fall Revolution Novel (Paperback)
This is a very fast moving novel indeed - in fact that is my only serious criticism - at times it almost feels rushed, and as a consequence some characters never fully develop, and certain plot elements jar. Also, some of the events and characters probably would make full sense only if you have already read MacLeod's earlier two novels, 'The Star Fraction' & 'The Stone Canal' (especially the latter). Certainly, there are subtleties that allude to both earlier novels that give a different take on the whole story.
That to one side, this is refreshingly clever, insightful, and witty SF. The technologies may have been seen before in other guises by numerous contemporary SF writers (nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence gone rouge, difference engines, arcologes, etc., etc.). What MacLeod excels at however is an ability to create a credible, alien worldveiw. This story is essentially about a clash of anarchist world views, one socialist, but also deeply nihilistic and pessimistic about the human condition, the other highly capitalistic, individualistic, and almost naÔvely optimistic. Against this is the potential threat of possibly hostile, possibly benign Artificial Intelligences which may or may not represent the next step in human evolution.
It is a measure of his success that the human societies are credible, and their conflicts understandable. In Ellen May Ngwethu he also gives us a central character whose world view is very different to our own, and which is at times morally repugnant to our modern liberal western sensibilities. Her society the Solar Union in its egalitarianism and communitarianism may be superficially reminiscent of the Odonianism of Ursula le Guin's 'The Dispossessed', Iain M. Bank's 'Culture' or Peter F. Hamilton's Edinists, but its basis is very alien to the original blessing naiveté of most socialist utopias.
Above all else, the book has a sparkling, self referential wit. The chapter headings, for example are all titles of classic SF Utopian, Dystopian and disaster novels over the last century (even giving a sideways wink to his old pal Iain Banks in the process). Jokes at the expense of Arthur C Clarke are not too infrequent (never a bad thing in my book), and there is an almost camp sensibility to some of the action and dialogue (especially in the early chapters set on Earth).
A very clever book that keep you guessing to the end, throwing enough curve balls to keep you on your toes, and with enough action, adventure and character to make for a very enjoyable read. But do read his other novels first if you can!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ten thousand light years from home, 16 Dec 2010
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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Ellen May Ngwethu is our narrator for the duration of this nerveless space saga which manages a vast structural background and a political past ranging thousands of years into the future. It is cool stuff and has a consistency with other Macleod output describing the exit of humans from Earth and their adventures all over this and neighbouring galaxies. The science is highly speculative and often amusing and there are battles, replicant take-overs by the Jovians, body-responsive space suits and a quiet recommendation for light gravity sex.

As before (with, for e.g. Learning The World), humanity is immortal, though contentious concerns have arisen about so-called `copies', especially when there might be some doubt about the destruction of the original human. I feel Ken Macleod will explore this uncertainty in future novels. This novel pits capitalism against communism (in their evolved forms, which might not be as predictable as you think), together with a far superior race of beings about to provide a catalyst that might settle some old scores among the Division's flattened hierarchies. As always the ideas are presented engagingly. Characterisation is just about okay, though he has written better about human motivation. It read a little flat to me this time around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong stuff, 25 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Ken MacLeod is, among other things, writing about a future in which science fiction -- SF as art form, as political discourse, and as dream -- has actually existed in the world. The central scene of The Cassini Division is a flashback to an argument, back in the 21st century, between an advocate of posthuman transcendence, and a critic of that ideal. The critic gets in the first blow, dismissing the Singularity as "the Rapture for nerds." The heroine, witnessing this, realizes that she and her friends are advocating the Asimovian, Star Trek dream of the Federation, against the would-be posthumans, the partisans of the Singularity. MacLeod knows that, at root, Star Trek is a Communist dream, and just as The Stone Canal was a sympathetic examination of libertarian utopia, The Cassini Division is a novel about communism...complete with a hilarious confrontation, at the end of the book, between his communist military cadre and the denizens of a libertarian free-market enclave. (Judiciously, both groups get in their share of good lines.)
MacLeod is a wily polemicist and just as you think you have him nailed down, he extrudes a pseudopod in some unexpected direction. For those who like their SF argumentative and challenging, he's a welcome kick in the head -- one of the most genuinely Campbellian SF writers now working.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced future fiction, 11 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cassini Division: Book Three: The Fall Revolution Series: A Fall Revolution Novel (Paperback)
Ken MacLeod write this book almost as if it had been written in collabaration between Iain M Banks and Karl Marx. This is not a particularly long book but it covers a lot of background including the history leading up to the time and the politics and technology of the time. This makes it very fast paced. If you skip a page, you'll probably miss a major plot event. The heroin/narrator of the book constantly gives her opinions. This is very much an integral part of the story. Whilst you may be rooting for this character, you will also find some of her views disagreable. A good book but not a great book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spaceships...sentient ship suit, 7 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Cassini Division (Hardcover)
The Cassini Divison is beyond doubt a sci-fi lover's dream. Spaceships. Alien races who need nuking. Almost sentient spacesuits that can change swiftly from combat gear to pyjamas and a duvet. Not to mention Ellen's quick thinking mind which gets her into trouble as well as out of it.

What appealed to me here was the fact that Ellen isn't developing her abilities, she already knows how to use her special suit. It's how she explains her world to her target, and the female who tags along with him. Through their experiences thoughts on morality and ethics are discussed at length. Life on board a spaceship has both highs and lows, all of which are delved into.

I definitely want a spacesuit. It has a mind of its own: tailoring clothes usually to the wearer's choice. Lace, trousers, dress - any material and any outfit can be created within a few seconds. No need for a wardrobe. Dirt is absorbed into the suit. Any unwanted particle is also absorbed into the suit. It can even - no, I mustn't tell you about what it can do to a person's soul. You'll have to read for yourself :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Real SF not fantasy. Well written. Great technology., 8 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cassini Division: Book Three: The Fall Revolution Series: A Fall Revolution Novel (Paperback)
MacLeod writes hard SF that is strong on technolgy, has well developed characters and story line, is witty and beautifully written. If you thought computer viruses could get to be problem you ain't seen nothing yet and his imaginative projections about nano-technology are marvellous. All in all, good SF and good literature. Knocks the sort of Fantasy ... that masquerades as SF these days into a cocked hat. If you like Iain M Banks books you'll love this guy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars an exhilarating read - good sci-fi re-invented., 22 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This is the latest of three set in a future where the main cultural/political divide amongst humans is between libertarian socialists - anarchists really - and anarcho-capitalists. There are also some post-humans driving the plot and the conflict. The story works on the same scale as Heinlein or Asimov but with radically fresh politics to either.
The author also has a sense of humour - some blandly reported observations from our future had me laughing out loud and pestering my friends with soggy retellings.
The vision is big and the detail sharp. No surprise that the books come with a generous recommendation from Iain Banks. Good news for anyone who's started to find science fiction formulaic or unstimulating.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nano-tech success, 2 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cassini Division: Book Three: The Fall Revolution Series: A Fall Revolution Novel (Paperback)
Fast paced, action packed book full of enjoyment. I managed to finish this book in 6 days, which is quite an achievement. I liked it all, from the ruins of London, to Ngwethu's Ship, The Terrible Beauty. The ideas surrounding this book are inciteful. I can't wait for a sequel (from either Ellen or the Solar unions point of view).
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining, gripping and imaginative read., 16 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cassini Division: Book Three: The Fall Revolution Series: A Fall Revolution Novel (Paperback)
A great plot done justice by the superb development of characters and gradual uncovering of secret agendas. This is good SF in that it always remains plausible, and combines a healthy amount of dry wit to boot! Buy it, it's worth it.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 8 Sep 2001
This review is from: The Cassini Division: Book Three: The Fall Revolution Series: A Fall Revolution Novel (Paperback)
Enjoyable, and indeed fast moving. A review of your basic Sci-Fi thing at the moment: AI, GE, VR. The story is told in the first person, which is unusual, I think, for a sci-fi of 240 pages - which may account for any perceived oddities in the book.
Has a weird ending.
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