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Dark Light [Paperback]

Ken MacLeod
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 24 2002 Engines of Light
The Second Sphere is thousands of light years away from Earth - if Earth still exists. For Matt Cairns and the cosmonauts of the Bright Star, this distant corner of the galaxy is their new home. But the Second Sphere is also home to other civilisations, lifted from their worlds by a race of god-like aliens. On Croatan, two of these civilisations live a precarious co-existence, separated by eons of technological advance. The arrival of the Bright Star is an event that may trigger disaster, for this is the first human-crewed starship to arrive at the ancient colony. And all the time, hidden among the stars, the gods are watching. They have always been watching. Find out more about this title and others at www.orbitbooks.co.uk

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From Amazon

With his sharp, fast-paced, challenging novel Dark Light (sequel to the Prometheus Award-nominated Cosmonaut Keep in the Engines of Light series), Ken MacLeod reaffirms why he is science fiction's hottest new writer at the turn of the millennium.

From the days of the dinosaurs, mysterious aliens have been transporting earthly life forms across the galaxy to the worlds of the Second Sphere. Here, the descendants of humans abducted from the Stone Age and from colonial America coexist with dinosaurs--and with the saurs, their intelligent descendants, who are technologically superior to the humans. This arrangement is disturbed by the arrival of nearly immortal (but far from indestructible) humans from 21st-century Earth--men like Matt Cairns, who have no desire to let the secret of interstellar flight remain in the hands of the inscrutable, almost godlike aliens.

In addition to the Engines of Light series, MacLeod has written the Fall Revolution quartet: The Cassini Division (a Nebula Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist); The Star Fraction (a Prometheus Award winner); The Stone Canal (also a Prometheus Award winner); and The Sky Road (a Hugo Award finalist and recipient of the British SF Association Award). --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this worthy second installment in MacLeod's Engines of Light series (after 2001's Cosmonaut Keep), human beings and a few other intelligent planetary species now know themselves to be little more than playthings, manipulated at will by the Powers Above. These virtually transcendent beings live for millennia in such out-of-the-way places as the Oort Cloud, the Asteroid Belt and magma beneath planetary crusts. Matt Cairns, once a citizen of 21st-century Edinburgh, has found himself apparently rendered immortal and transported to the Second Sphere, an interconnected web of civilizations located thousands of light-years from Earth. The humans and two other advanced species who inhabit the Second Sphere, saurs and krakens, are the descendents of intelligent beings kidnapped from Earth over the ages by the Powers Above for inscrutable reasons. Having broken an embargo on human-controlled interstellar flight, Matt and his friends travel to the planet Croatan in search of answers to the mystery behind the Second Sphere's existence, but it soon becomes clear that their presence may well trigger a planetary revolution. This middle book in what will be at least a trilogy doesn't stand well on its own, so readers are advised to begin with Cosmonaut Keep. The novel features several interesting alien species, some fascinating speculations on the relationship between sex and gender, and MacLeod's trademark mix of radical socialist and libertarian politics. Both novels are worth reading but not quite up to the high mark established by his previous series, The Fall Revolution. (Jan. 16)Association Award and is a finalist for a Hugo Award.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
RAWLISTON SPRAWLS; from space it's a grubby smudge, staining the glassy clarity of the atmosphere along fifty kilometers of coastline. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By fastreader TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I skipped a bunch of pages but I'm sure they would not have rescued this disaster.

Characters are shallow and not well developed but rather just thrown into the mix.

Plot line is confusing and made no sense.

As this is book two in the series it appeared that you had to read book one to understand what was going on as it was not revealed in this book two.

Unfortunately this is not how to write a series of books. Each book must be able to stand on it's own without the reader having to go back to previous books. In this regard this book is a total disaster.

To see how a series ahould be written you can pick up any series book from Jack Campbell or Ian Douglas and immdediately you are engaged with the characters and plot line regardless of having read any previous books in the series.

NOT recommended
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By John Kwok TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"Dark Light" is a compellingly readable sequel to "Cosmonaut Keep" in Ken MacLeod's "The Engines of Light" space opera science fiction series of novels, reaffirming his status as one of the most critically acclaimed, relatively new, writers of Anglo-American science fiction. The crew of the former European Union space station - now starship - "Bright Star", led by Matt Cairns' descendant Gregor Cairns and his Saur pilot and friend Salasso, voyage to the nearest solar system next to Terra Nova - Gregor's home world - the relatively primitive Croatan. Finding themselves at the mercy of the Rawliston Port Authority which has impounded the "Bright Star", Matt Cairns, Salasso and several others take matters into their own hands by taking the starship on a voyage to meet the "GODS", hopefully to find answers explaining why the "Second Sphere", the region of interstellar space nearest Earth's solar system, has been seeded with life from Earth, especially the intelligent krakens (giant squid) and Saurs. What they find are answers which have the potential of changing forever, the very essence of human-colonized worlds within the Second Sphere itself, realizing that humanity, the krakens and Saurs may be pawns in a galaxy-spanning series of wars amongst the GODS themselves. Meanwhile, both Matt Cairns and his old friend - and fellow cosmonaut - Grigory Volkov become mired in local politics, culminating in a revolution that may transform Rawliston's relationship with its neighbors, the almost primitive, Native American-like Sky People. Once more MacLeod demonstrates his excellent prose and storytelling craft; I found "Dark Light" impossible to put down. Without question "Dark Light" is yet another memorable novel from one of the finest literary talents in contemporary Anglo-American science fiction literature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Motivation is the key... April 15 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Matt Cairns, Gregor Cairns and the rest of the crew of the Bright Star have left Mingulay and visited their nearest star system, right next door. But they all have different reasons for going. Not everybody is doing it for the trade.
This second book in a the series is about motivation. What IS Matt after? What are Volkov's plans? What do the saur's want? What are the motivations of the krakens and, more importantly, what do the gods want?
And what happens when Matt decides to go and ask the gods themselves?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Middle-of-Trilogy book Dec 23 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was in many ways superior to Cosmonaut Keep, the first in the trilogy. While the first book had good characters, world building and wild speculation, it used an irritating technique to keep key information from the reader. Of course, it was obvious to most of us that one of the main characters was the ancestor of another, and what might likely happen as a result. I was left waiting around for the two plot lines to converge long after I guessed.
Dark Light dispenses with the two-track plotting and the concealment of information. It throws in several new worlds and societies, a great big wodge of fascinating political specualtion, and more good character development. It also ends with enough of a kick to keep you going to the next book. Well worth the time, with 50 per cent less frustration.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Those who have read COSMONAUT KEEP should find this a worthwhile continuation. I liked it better than the first book, myself, because of the increased political and theological speculation.
Especially fascinating is MacLeod's concept of the Gods and their relationship with humanity. Not highly recommended to extreme conservative religionists.
I did find myself mired down a couple of times in the political dissertations. However, MacLeod basically tells a good story. How good a story it is depends, I suppose, on the concluding book in the series. But these first two are interesting enough and I'm getting to better like the characters, and so I will be reading the final installment.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I enjoyed Cosmonaut Keep, the predecessor to this book, and I thought the ideas presented to be provocative and engrossing. Dark Light, however, adds very little to the previous story. Yes, the same characters exist in the book (although Gregor and Elizabeth have merely bit parts), and it's in the same universe, but the story is droll and not-at-all sci-fi.
If you're interested in how socialism works or the benefits of different styles of democracy, read this book. If you are looking for characters confused by their gender identity (are you a man or a woman? It depends on your actions), you may like this book. If you want interesting SCI FI, however, steer clear.
I found myself actually skimming paragraphs and daydreaming through far-too-long treatises on formation of political parties, all the while waiting for something interesting to happen. There is a very small payoff that continues the story when they visit "the gods", but it is a paltry fraction of the book's text. I don't know if the next book will deliver a more interesting, but I won't be rushing out to buy it. Disappointing.
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