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A New Force in the Universe
Britain's own Ken Macleod gives us another provocative novel filled with high-energy prose and plenty of all-out action in a bizarre future realm. The Sky Road is a darkly offbeat tale that is a complex and enticing brew of radical politics and adventurous science fantasy.
In the turbulent future, society is a mixed bag of cultural chaos and utopian ideologies. Countries have broken into much smaller city-states that constantly clash with one another. Several different political systems continue to function among the general anarchy and slave labor of the times. The Sino-Soviet Alliance, an alternate UN, and the Mutual Protection society are warring with one another and advancing across the globe. Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are sometimes helpful and occasionally harsh and merciless. In 2059, the ancient Myra rules a region called the International Scientific and Technical Worker's Republic. In an effort to find military allies, Myra attempts to trade the remaining stock of her nuclear arsenal, but she's at a loss to determine who her true enemies are.
Centuries later, Clovis colha Gree, a young Scottish student existing in a future Utopia, is a part-time worker on a project to construct the first spaceship in hundreds of years. Since an odd event known as both "the Fall" and "the Deliverance" the world has been much more simplistic, tranquil, and agrarian-based, as the Deliverer (Myra) altered the course of the planet. Clovis falls in love with the lovely Merrial, a tinker who is one of the handful of scientists allowed to use computers and other high technology. In an effort to complete his project, Clovis investigates the history of the Deliverer and finds that his and Merrial's journey leads to dark secrets and dangerous sciences that might endanger the world, if it doesn't get them killed first.
The Sky Road is the fourth in Macleod's loosely threaded series begun in The Star Fraction. The intricate story here is twin-pronged, as the reader follows the events of Myra in the 21st century, and then as we witness the results of the "past" some hundreds of years later. Macleod is an expert at keeping the suspense factor high, even with two plots running such different courses. In his new novel he offers the reader a beautiful and simpler world, but also shows us the price of Utopia, combining political cynicism and profound philosophical quandaries into a fascinating masterwork.
Tom Piccirilli is the author of eight novels, including Hexes and Shards, and his Felicity Grove mystery series, consisting of The Dead Past and Sorrow's Crown. He has sold more than 100 stories to the anthologies Future Crimes, Bad News, The Conspiracy Files, and Best of the American West II. An omnibus collection of 40 stories titled Deep into That Darkness Peering has just been released by Terminal Fright Press. Tom divides his time between New York City and Estes Park, Colorado.