Divisions Paperback – 26 May 2009
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About the Author
KEN MACLEOD's SF novels have won the Prometheus Award and the BSFA award, and been shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He lives near Edinburgh, Scotland.
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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.
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.
Never a disappointment in his books, there is always a lot to walk away with.