Written towards the end of, and shortly after, the Cold War, Ken MacLeod's "Fractions", is the first half of a four novel series, "The Fall Revolution", exploring humanity's potential political futures. His first novel, "The Star Fraction", is a brilliant near future exploration as to how mankind copes with a fragmented nation state, 21st Century Great Britain, consisting of Marxist societies co-existing uneasily with others, especially with the overarching libertarian ethos of the US/UN world government. Set several decades after a brief World War III which was fought to integrate all of Europe into one state, MacLeod offers an optimistic appraisal of anarchistic rule, as seen through the eyes of his misfit protagonists, most of whom members of an urban terrorist band resisting the rule of the restored British monarchy and its US/UN overlords.
Centuries and many light years later, in MacLeod's second novel, "The Stone Canal", humans and androids share a world - New Mars, still in the midst of terraforming - and struggle to establish equality for both groups, when a mysterious human clone appears, recognizable as the British leader who triggered the Fall Revolution. MacLeod skillfully weaves back and forth between the lives of the original leader in the early 21st Century and his New Mars clone, drawing uneasy social and political parallels between both societies.
There are no real heroes in either half of "Fractions". MacLeod admits that his protagonists are flawed figures, rising occasionally to do memorable, perhaps even heroic, deeds. As characters they seem far more realized than the cyberspace cowboys and other social misfits inhabiting the near future landscape of William Gibson's "Cyberspace Trilogy". While MacLeod is not nearly as graceful a stylist as Gibson, he does a most impressive job as a storyteller, telling two emotionally riveting tales that may be more meaningful as scenarios of potential human futures than as fiction. "Fractions" is an excellent, if long, introduction to this young British science fiction writer's work; a superlative blend of political science fiction and post-cyberpunk technological thriller.
Truly an incredible book, one of my favourites of all time (not just as sci fi) because of intricacy of the world and how amazing I found the principles pushed forward.
The book came in a somewhat poor condition, with pages bent and the glue in the spine having leaked out in such a way that it has permanently bent the shape of the book, stopping the cover closing fully which even for a 2nd hand purchase I was really disappointed with. Otherwise this would be a 5 star review.