- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (7 Aug. 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1841490601
- ISBN-13: 978-1841490601
- Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 2.9 x 18 cm
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 543,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Stone Canal: A Fall Revolution Novel (Fall Revolutions) Paperback – 7 Aug 1997
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This man's going to be a major writer (Iain M. Banks)
Plenty of clever surprises... a compelling read (STARBURST)
MacLeod's ideas are always interesting and his descriptive prose is elegant, deceptively simple and extremely vivid (SFX)
MacLeod's offbeat imagination and witty narrative make this a rewarding read (NEW SCIENTIST)
The acclaimed second novel in the Fall Revolution sequence.See all Product description
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The story on New Mars initially concerns an android that has walked out on her owner and claimed self-determination; and a human clone, Jon Wilde, that has been brought into existence by another android for reasons as yet unknown.
The story before New Mars concerns Jon Wilde's (that is, the original Jon Wilde) life on earth and his involvement in the whole New Mars journey.
Both threads start simple, and stay simple for about 5 seconds. After that the weft becomes increasingly entwined and tangled, although never beyond understanding.
This novel is second in the sequence that began with The Star Fraction, and in terms of storyline, there is no connection. The common link is the interest in politics, power games, factions and fractions.
MacLeod has a profound understanding of the political game and of human interraction, and his enthusiam shines through his writing. In fact, The Star Fraction was more politics than sci-fi. The balance swings over towards sci-fi this time and the story is more enjoyable for it.
Where MacLeod's first novel showed promise, this, his second, shows distinct talent.
I found this novel a great improvement over Star Fraction - MacLeod's writing skills have certainly developed, and the human characters are rendered in a far more realistic manner (I found Moh Kohn, the main character in Star Fraction, to be little more than a communist Case). The juxtaposition of the modern-day storyline with the far future is most effective, though if you aren't interested in the politics of the future you may find the novel a little tedious. I myself find MacLeod's politics fascinating, and his exploration of how advanced technology, electronic intelligence and space colonisation will affect the political climate of the 21st century is far more authentic than many other authors who deal with the same themes (ie John Barnes, Neal Stephenson etc). Unfortunately MacLeod hasn't yet learned how to seriously grip a reader in the same way as his friend Mr I M Banks, but it would be unfair to expect that much of him. MacLeod's work stands on its own two feet, and very effectively at that!
Wilde is a character reminiscent of Abelard Lindsey in Bruce Sterling's "Schismatrix". Like Lindsey he survives through political and social upheaval, inadvertently influencing many followers who come to view him as a libertarian anarchist messiah. However, there the resemblance stops. Where Sterling's novel is a complex analysis of a bewildering array of metaphysical concepts, with a cosmological climax, "The Stone Canal" is more prosaic and parochial, but none the worse for that.
There are some sophisticated political and scientific ideas being bandied around - from free market anarchism al la extreme Thatchersim, worker's stateism and British Republicanism, to wormholes, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. Cyberpunk with a very British feel. However, the novel falls apart when what appears to be the main narrative falls by the wayside to Wilde's reminiscences of his life, and leaving the characters that were emerging as central to play only a minor role in an apparently rushed dénouement.
That said, MacLeod is a very promising author - this book has masses of ideas, almost casually dropped in as asides, which lesser authors would have made the basis of a whole novel! In this way he is much like Iain Banks, but he lacks his old friend's characterisation skills, and dark plotlines. However, he plays with social and technological idea in way that Banks never could - one can only wonder what kind of novel they could write if they came together! In time I would not be surprised to see MacLeod become a major SF writer.
All in all an interesting novel, and an essential read to anyone who has enjoyed his other novels (although I would heartily recommend reading them in the order in which they were written if you ever hope to make sense of it all! ).
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Not sure if its the same book - iy takes forever (1/2 the book) to get a decent story going and the Sci-Fi is...Read more