The Cassini Division

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Overview

Ellen May Ngewthu is a young woman with centuries of experience, a soldier and leader of the Cassini Division, the elite defense force of the utopian Solar Union. Here in the twenty-fourth century, the forts of the Division, in orbit around a mysteriously transformed Jupiter, are the front line in humanity's long standoff with the unknowable post-humans—godlike and remote beings descended from the people who transformed themselves with high technology centuries ago... "The post-humans' capacities are unknown... ...
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Book Club. Hardcover w/DJ. NEW. DJ is new/fine. Stored in sealed plastic protection. No pricing stickers. No remainder mark. No price clip. No previous owner's markings. In the ... event of problems we guarantee full refund. 1999. Book Club. Hardcover w/DJ. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Ellen May Ngewthu is a young woman with centuries of experience, a soldier and leader of the Cassini Division, the elite defense force of the utopian Solar Union. Here in the twenty-fourth century, the forts of the Division, in orbit around a mysteriously transformed Jupiter, are the front line in humanity's long standoff with the unknowable post-humans—godlike and remote beings descended from the people who transformed themselves with high technology centuries ago... "The post-humans' capacities are unknown... but we know they disintegrated Ganymede, we know they punched a wormhole into Jovian space, and we know that the very surface of the solar system's largest planet has been altered by their incomprehensible artifacts. Worst of all, we know that they have been bombarding the solar system with powerful data viruses for generations..." Now Ellen has a plan to rid humanity of this threat once and for all. But she needs to recruit the right people to her cause—and convince them to mistrust the post-humans as much as she does.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
British author Ken MacLeod finally arrives on U.S. shores with The Cassini Division, a novel full of deeply insightful speculation and super spy-type action, all with a dark and fantastical edge to it. MacLeod toys with the conventions of the crime thriller and hard science fiction to brew the kind of tale authors like K. W. Jeter and Michael Marshall Smith have been making more and more popular over the last several years. Setting the pace and tone for a new kind of enriching blend, MacLeod's work proves to be an engaging and electrifying mix of old-fashioned adventure merged with politico-speculative fiction. The Cassini Division is an offbeat but informative novel that shows a provocative understanding of left-wing politics, anarchist beliefs, and nouveau techno-hip extrapolation.

After suffering several great setbacks in the early 21st century, including plagues, the fall of capitalism, and a virus that makes computers and communication ineffectual, Earth has waded through its recent dark age. Breakthroughs in medicine have given humanity much greater longevity and, although the alien computer virus has destroyed most of our common technology, new devices and implements seem to be on the horizon. Anarchy more or less rules the planet, and even though the "Union" does have its rules that everyone must provide for the common good, such policies are easily broken or overlooked. Ellen May Ngewthu is a soldier of the Cassini Division, an elite space-going defense force that does its best to fight the Outwarders, or "Fast Folk." The Outwarders are a group ofsuperhumancomputer geeks who've somehow "downloaded" themselves to a much faster evolutionary scale, and who now live within the envelope of Jupiter as godlike entities.

Ellen travels to Earth in order to convince Jon Wilde, a clone with the memories of a long-dead man who spent time beyond the Malley wormhole, to join in her efforts to put an end to the Outwarder threat. Failing that, she attempts to earn the trust of Dr. Isambard Kingdom Malley himself, so that he might help her travel beyond the wormhole to a colony on New Mars. With her smart-matter clothing that can reshape itself from a spacesuit to a monkey to an evening gown, she encounters a village of nonconformists who still practice capitalism; this group does its best to stop her from taking Malley. Ultimately, the question falls as to whether the Outwarders are actually enemies or are merely doing what they think is best for Earth. Will the Cassini Division, the self-appointed last guard of planet Earth, attempt communication or are they paranoid enough to simply implement their bizarre plan to destroy the so-called Fast Folk?

Ellen's adventures are a fascinating mixture of outright action and philosophical quandaries, as all primary characters make a stand for their own political views. The author is fair in his portrayal of the many different factions, and his even-keeled approach to the story line keeps the novel perfectly balanced between humanity's courage, paranoia, and belief in intrinsic human rights. MacLeod embraces dramatic tension from several sources, whether personal conflict, political attitude, or a soldier's stance on a moral dilemma.

The provocative nature of MacLeod's work is that each of his protagonists believes him- or herself to be in a position of moral certitude over the others, when in fact they are all merely struggling to get along. Keen sociological observations are notable here, made even more impressive because the energy level of MacLeod's prose is kept constantly full-throttle for the maximum effect. The reader can't help but become drawn into an intricate series of enthralling scenes and their ever-present political foundation, as well as the thoughtful contemplation of our social setting and the need to be held responsible for our actions no matter what the circumstances.
—Tom Piccirilli

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A rare but successful fusion of hard SF, space opera and serious political speculation, this is the third novel from MacLeod, who's Scottish, but his first to be published in the U.S. The story takes place in a 24th-century Sol system still recovering from a near-catastrophic clash between humanity and post-humanity, the latter a society of godlike, possibly insane former humans who have uploaded themselves into computers and set up their own civilization on Jupiter. At the center of the narrative stands Ellen May Ngwethu, commander of the spaceship Terrible Beauty and an officer in the Cassini Division. This semiautonomous military organization operates as Earth's frontline defense against the dangerous and enigmatic post-humans. Society on Earth, based on a unique combination of socialist and anarchist beliefs, has achieved a high degree of environmentally responsible prosperity in recent years, but the post-humans on Jupiter are an ever-increasing threat. As the forces of the Cassini Division prepare to destroy the post-humans without warning, Ngwethu finds herself on a dangerous mission through a wormhole to reestablish contact with another potential enemy, the long-lost, libertarian-capitalist interstellar colony of New Mars. Despite heavy doses of political theory, MacLeod generally manages to keep the first half of his novel moving at acceptable speed, aided by solid prose, a strong protagonist and some fascinating bits of high tech. The latter half of the tale, which features a battle in space, complete with comets used as superweapons, is more lively. This is an enjoyable and ambitious novel, and hopefully presages the American publication of MacLeod's earlier work. July FYI: MacLeod's first two novels, The Star Fraction and The Stone Canal, each received the Prometheus Award from the Libertarian Futurist Society. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
As an agent of the elite Cassini Division, Ellen May Ngewthu conceives of a bold plan to stop the incursions of godlike posthumans, whose arrogance nearly destroyed humankind and whose existence still threatens the safety of the Solar Union. Set in the 24th century, MacLeod's third novel features nonstop action and a tough-as-nails protagonist. Large libraries should consider this title for their old-style sf adventure fans. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Russell Letson
...[A]n intelligent and inventive book that combines space adventure, alien contact, and utopian inquiry....Part of what pulled me through the book was my curiosity about how..."totally pessimistic and cynical" givens could lead not to a Hobbesian jungle but to a world of peace and plenty.
Locus
Salon
Science fiction's freshest new writer…MacLeod is a fiercely intelligent, prodigiously well-read author who manages to fill his books with big issues without weighing them down.
Kirkus Reviews
Third novel, but first to reach these shores, from Scotland resident MacLeod. In the 24th century, Ellen May Ngwethu's Cassini Division patrols space around Jupiter, preventing excursions by the Jovians. In past centuries, you see, post-humans who transformed themselves with nanotechnology went crazy and almost destroyed human technical civilization with computer viruses, diseases, and mind-controlling memes. The surviving post-humans took up residence inside Jupiter, while the new, socialist-anarchist Solar Union developed virus-proof, non-electronic nanotechnological Babbage computers. Others, slaves of the post-humans, escaped the conflict through a wormhole to New Mars. Here, first-person narrator Ellen profoundly distrusts the Jovians and also suspects that the capitalist-anarchist New Martians possess downloaded copies of post-humans who, if woken, could pose the same threat as the Jovians (they live a thousand times as fast as humans and so have progressed unimaginably far). Ellen needs to control the wormhole, which was created by the post-humans from physics described by I. K. Malley. She grabs Malley from his tiny enclave on Earth, but he refuses to help her wipe the Jovians out without first attempting to communicate with them. The beautiful, ethereal Jovians respond through a consensus construct, providing information and reassurances. Ellen isn't convinced, though, and proceeds with her plans to bombard Jupiter with comets before taking her ship though the wormhole to New Mars. The New Martians are contemptuously confident that they can handle the Jovians, and they propose to go back through the wormhole to trade with them! So, if the comets strike and Ellen is wrong, anentire advanced civilization will die. But if the comets are diverted, and she's right, the Jovians will destroy humanity and enslave the survivors. Deliciously ironic, brilliantly imagined, MacLeod's witty and intelligent yarn packs a tremendous wallop. More, please!
From the Publisher

"Ken MacLeod is writin revolutionary SF. A nova has appeared in our sky."--Kim Stanley Robinson

"Deliciously ironic, brilliantly imagined, MacLeod's witty and intelligent yarn packs a tremendous wallop. More, please!"--Kirkus Reviews (pointer review)

"A brilliant novel of ideas, frequently funny, always ingenious. Ken MacLeod brings dramatic life to some of the core issues of technology and humanity."--Vernor Vinge

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312870447
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 7/16/1999
  • Series: Fall Revolution
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken MacLeod holds a degree in zoology and has worked in the fields of biomechanics and computer programming. His first two novels, The Star Fraction and The Stone Canal, each won the Prometheus Award; The Cassini Division was a finalist for the Nebula Award; and The Sky Road won the British Science Fiction Association Award and is a finalist for the Hugo Award. Dark Light continues the world of his fifth novel, Cosmonaut Keep. Ken MacLeod lives near Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2000

    Strange and Interesting

    This is a quirky and interesting book-- so quirky that it's hard to summarize accurately, but it involves a menace to Earth, an adventure through a distant wormhole, a military force quite different than _anything_ you've ever seen, and a first contact, of a sort, between civilizations that have been separated for centuries. One exciting ride, for sure!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2001

    not exactly...

    Another Heinlein Hellacious Honey. The rest seems to follow naturally. I have long since given up the idea that there are only two sides to any story. I think this author should, too.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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