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Stone Canal

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Turtleback
  • Publisher: Demco Media (February 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0606209271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0606209274
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 11.4 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

British author MacLeod's second novel to be published in the U.S. (after The Cassini Division) opens on New Mars, a distant planet discovered on the other side of a wormhole, where humans resettled after Earth was decimated by World War III. While New Mars is populated by Earthlings, the planet's real labor is done by the "fast folk," nanotech-based artificial intelligence machines that evolve much more quickly than humans. This stratified world was built unwittingly by Jon Wilde and Dave Reid, who met as socialist-minded university students in Glasgow and became two corners of a romantic triangle that later influenced history in myriad ways. MacLeod weaves the story of the two men's complex relationship along two tracks, past and present. In the past, Wilde and Reid both fell for the same woman; Wilde eventually married her and raised a family. In the meantime, Reid built a powerful high-tech company that could grow no further without some changes in the political climate--changes that Wilde is hired to help create. The fallout from this alliance and from Reid's own hidden agenda ultimately lead to the world war and to a reliance on machine intelligence, as well as to the creation of a world where death is impossible as long as you have a waiting clone and a recent brain backup. Thanks to that resurrection technology, Wilde and Reid face each other as enemies again on New Mars. MacLeod's writing is smooth and sure, full of striking images and breathtaking extrapolations of current technology. It's a pleasure and a challenge to read a book where human potential and human foibles are dealt with as thoroughly as is scientific advancement. Fans of William Gibson and of Iain Banks, in particular, will enjoy this visionary novel. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Filled with memories of his past, the clone Jonathan Wilde arrives on New Mars, where he rediscovers old loves and older enemies. Set in a distant future filled with intelligent machines, cloned humans, and little regard for life or death, this high-impact sf adventure by the author of The Cassini Division delivers a strong dose of violence and graphic sex. First published in Britain, MacLeod's tale of one man's grim journey toward knowledge should appeal to fans of high-tech action and hard-core science. For large sf collections.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Picking up this book mainly as a fluke, I was not expecting the story that awaited me. The most fascinating thing is the reality of thought and dialogue, mixed together in a intricate web of fiction, both of the historical brand (a large chunk is set in 1970's Scotland) and the all too alarmingly realistic future brand. The story revolves around two men, David Reid and Jon Wilde whose political views and ideals have set the course of the world, and have built a centuries long rivaly between them.
The text reads remarkably well, and even when lost in the mire of politcal thought (it is recommended that the reader have at least a basic knowledge of communism, socialism and capitalism) the text is rich enough and REAL enough to carry through. Switching from one point of view to the next is not just jumping from character to character, but shooting from first person to third to the camera man if this were a movie.
The only drawback about this book is the breakneck speed at which it ends. But the ending is not diminished by it.
I recommend this story to anyone looking for Science Fiction that is believable, no matter how unbelievable it really is.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one of those uncommon books that immediately caught my interest from page one and kept it, the characters and their relationships and development done on the 'fly' as the pages flowed, superior writing indeed. The plot switches back and forth from the year 1975 and the following years, up to the late 21st century, and later on another planet. Two friends, one a socialist and the other an anarchist (quite opposite world views actually which is thought provoking) later become rivals and later both find themselves on a planet called New Mars many decades later, and the outcome of their rivalry is decided there, the story of how they got to New Mars is quite interesting, involving some speculative science which will someday likely take place, including topics such as biostasis, mind uploading and downloading with computers, cloning, nanotechnology,etc....
I gave this novel four instead of five stars due to the fact that Ken Macleod included here way too much of a dose of English politics for my taste (he lives in Scotland) and as most people know, English politics are nearly incomprehensible to outsiders!!! But overall, this is cutting-edge science fiction well worth reading. Macleod's later novel THE CASSINI DIVISION extends from this novel.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the second MacLeod book I've read, and once again he impresses me with his breadth of concepts, original ideas, depth of political insight, and rigorous plotting. Told as a dual time-line story structure, one based on the immediate continuation of our current world (with a large overlap with the time-frame of The Star Fraction), and the other as a (real time) far future colonization of a new planet, united in the person of the protagonist, Johnathan Wilde, the two story lines slowly merge into one coherent whole that provides a good explication of his entire future universe. And his universe is filled with mind-boggling societies and technologies, from self-aware robots working towards some rights in a human society, to using the resources of Jupiter to build a worm-hole whose other end is literally at the end of time and the universe, to computer entities (the 'fast folk') originally modeled on humans whose thought processes become so fast that waiting for things to happen in the physical universe becomes excruciating ennui, to a society where murder is punished by fines for the 'lost time' of the victim until he can be re-incorporated in a new body-clone.
But although this book has all these great ideas, I found I didn't like this one as much as the Star Fraction. I think one of the major reasons for this was his depiction of his far-future colony. While several great details were introduced about this society, like the 'abolitionist' movement, an anarchistic and computer aided court/legal system, a mix of robot and human territorial infrastructures, what was missing was the fact that Wilde does not actually get to 'live' in this society.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I originally found out about Ken MacLeod through some interviews with Iain Banks, one of my favorite authors of both sci-fi and non-genre fiction. And my first foray into his universe was The Stone Canal.
While The Stone Canal is a relatively short book, it's absolutely packed with ideas and is not a light read by any stretch of the imagination. The plot follows two distinct time-lines giving readers a history of the events that happen in the more distant future portion of the book. While the basis of all conflict in the novel (and the others in this 'universe') is the practice of communism, the arguments and diatribes by the characters and some of the events themselves seem tedious. It is idea-driven science fiction but the over-explanation of these ideas slows the action of the book down making it tedious in places.
I have the rest of the books in this series and I'm eager to read them. However I do hope that MacLeod allows the overriding political concepts behind his novels to remain in the background and let his other very creative and brilliant ideas shine in future works. So I give The Stone Canal five stars for creativity, some great characters and wonderful world-building but three for the uneven pacing of the book. Hence the four stars.
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