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Cosmonaut Keep [Mass Market Paperback]

4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Cosmonaut Keep" is a page-turning, memorable and enchanting start to Ken MacLeod's "The Engines of Light" space opera science fiction series of novels, successfully recycling such time-worn tropes of science fiction like first contact and the role of computerized technology in a near future human civilization. MacLeod courageously takes us on a centuries-spanning journey through time and space as seen through the eyes of 21st Century outlaw freelance computer programmer Matt Cairns and his direct descendant, Gregor Cairns, an exobiology student and citizen of the remote human colony world of Terra Nova. Cairns is assigned the task of breaking into the computer network of the secret European Space Agency space station Marshall Titov, soon after a mutiny occurs, with the station's scientists seizing control of it from the station's military crew, shortly after making First Contact with an alien race possessing the secret to interstellar travel. Cairns finds himself confronted unexpectedly with his family's historical legacy, even as he tries to woe the daughter of a young trader, not realizing that his research partner Elizabeth has fallen in love with him. Together, with the assistance of their alien Saurian friend Salasso, they seek discovering again, the secret to interstellar travel. This is a novel rich in fantastical imagery, from the arrival of a gigantic starship to stumbling upon the surprisingly rich, almost human, family life of Salasso and his Saurian family and friends. Though MacLeod is a gifted storyteller and a fine prose stylist in his own right, readers should prepare themselves for the frequent, quite substantial, jumps in space and time as he shifts his focus from Matt Cairns to Gregor Cairns; that, however, is merely a minor criticism for what I regard is among the most intelligent, well-conceived, and well-written space opera science fiction in contemporary Anglo-American science fiction literature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of something big Jan. 11 2002
The first book in MacLeods Engines of Light series and the first thing that he has written since the Fall Revolution series.
It's clear to see that MacLeod has had better time for planning before he started this series - the universe seems better structured and the foundation a lot more stable than it did in The Fall Revolution. MacLeod seems a lot more secures as he shows us glimpses of his universe.
This book has two story lines. One telling the tale of how man found faster-than-light travel and one about a marine biologist (and his friends) on the planet of Mingled. And then there's the gods to connect them.
MacLeod is better than ever in this book.
Unfortunately he looses it a bit the sequel (Dark Light), but that's another story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another strong effort from Macleod May 13 2001
Once again, Ken Macleod has produced an original, intelligent work of science fiction in "Cosmonaut Keep". As usual, he has created a world that is by turns familiar, in other words it has its basis in a plausible future Earth, and completely bizarre. The bizzare aspects, in this isntance, being an earth-like planet that is home to humanoid (and regular) dinosaurs, native humans, and humans from Earth, and starships piloted by giant squid.
Much like his previous books, Macleod has filled this one with quirky, conlicting (and conflicted) politcal theories. It is in this regard that he shines as one of the smartest authors around today. He writes with the authority of a polical scientist, but never comes across as dogmatic. I suspect that in real life he is left of center, but the politcal philosophies his characters espouse are really just vehicles to drive the plot.
Finally, one positive, one negative. On the positive side, the characters in "Cosmonaut Keep" are Macleod's best yet. They show a level of depth that is just amazing; a level I didn't find in his previous works. On the negative side, "Cosmonaut Keep", like Macleod's other novels is told in alternating time periods. This proves to be a very creative way to intertwine seemingly disparite storylines, but it is handled poorly in the first half of this novel. Macleod should have been more careful in the details he reveals, as I found myself hopelessly confused 50 pages in. In the end all becomes clear, but this is a tough novel to get into as a result.
Ultimately, though, "Cosmonaut Keep" is a smart, entertaining beginning to what promises to be a great series. Enjoy!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Macleod's authorial mid-life crisis? May 3 2001
What's happening to Ken MacLeod?
It seems to be a kind of authorial mid-lfe crisis for SF authors that they have to write a three-volume space opera or they won't feel complete. Some of these are superb though: for example, Peter Hamiliton's 'Night's Dawn' sequence and Paul J. MacAuley's recent trilogy. Macleod's (at least judging by this first volume), doesn't measure up.
Despite having reservations about his ability to really sustain a story, and his often wooden or stereotyped characters, I've always enjoyed his books, not least because of their determinedly idiosyncratic left-wing politics and situations. This one is also enjoyable enough, and has some great individual scenes (in particular the dinosaur-herding-by-flying-saucer bit), but it is too much of the same: parrallel stories (again), beautiful dark-haired heroines (again) etc. And, some of the devices needed to keep the plot going just make you go "D'oh!". I also found the nearer future story-line featuring a group of very dull computer hackers and their friends, uninvolving.
I was left feeling unsure whether the whole thing wasn't meant as parody, and perhaps that the author wasn't sure either. Oh well...
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