In a balkanized future of dizzying possibilities, mercenaries contend with guns as smart as they are, nuclear deterrence is a commodity traded on the open market, teenagers deal in "theologically correct" software for fundamentalists, and anarchists have colonized a planet circling another star. Against this background, men and women struggle for a better future against the betrayals that went before. Death is sometimes the end, and sometimes something altogether different…
This volume comprises The Star Fraction and The Stone Canal.
About the Author
KEN MACLEOD's SF novels have won the Prometheus Award and the BSFA award, and been shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He lives near Edinburgh, Scotland.
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FractionsThe First Half of The Fall Revolution
By Ken MacLeod
Orb BooksCopyright © 2008 Ken MacLeod
All right reserved.
THE STAR FRACTIONFor CarolACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thanks to Carol, Sharon and Michael for more than I can say; to Iain Banks, Ron Binns, Mairi Ann Cullen and Nick Fielding for reading early drafts; to Mic Cheetham and John Jarrold for pushing me into two more drafts, as well as for being a good agent and a good editor, respectively.All of these knew they were helping me with the book. Those who didn't know include Chris Tame, Brian Micklethwaite, Mike Holmes, Tim Starr and Leighton Anderson, all of whom at different times guided me through the pleasures and perils of Libertaria, that fair country of the mind. If at any time I got lost there, it wasn't their fault.And finally an extra thank you to Iain for his endless encouragement and enthusiasm, and for help with Locoscript (and Dissembler).INTRODUCTION TO THE AMERICAN EDITIONThe Star Fraction is the first of the Fall Revolution books and my first novel. I started writing it with no idea of where it would end up, let alone of making it the start of a series. It still isn't: The four books can be read in any order, and the last two of them present alternative possible futures emerging from that midtwenty-first-century world I imagined at the beginning.In this scenario, a brief Third World War--or War of European Integration, as its instigators call it--in the 2020s is followed by a US/UN hegemony over a balkanized world. The Fall Revolution in the late 2040s is an attempt to throw off this new world order and to reunify fragmented nations. But, as one of the characters says, 'What we thought was the revolution was only a moment in the fall.' His remark has a theory of history behind it.History is the trade secret of science fiction, and theories of history are its invisible engine. One such theory is that society evolves because people's relationship with nature tends to change more radically and rapidly than their relationships with each other. Technology outpaces law and custom. From this mismatch, upheavals ensue. Society either moves up to a new stage with more scope for the new technology, or the technology is crushed to fit the confines of the old society. As the technology falls back, so does the society, perhaps to an earlier configuration. In the mainstream of history, however, society has moved forward through a succession of stages,each of which is a stable configuration between the technology people have to work with and their characteristic ways of working together. But this stability contains the seeds of new instabilities. Proponents of this theory argue that the succession of booms and slumps, wars, revolutions, and counterrevolutions, which began in August 1914 and which shows no prospect of an end, indicates that we live in just such an age of upheaval.This theory is, of course, the Materialist Conception of History, formulated by the pioneering American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan and (a little earlier) by the German philosopher Karl Heinrich Marx. These men looked with optimism to a future society and with stern criticism on the present. Property, wrote one of them, 'has become, on the part of the people, an unmanageable power. The human mind stands bewildered in the presence of its own creation. The time will come, nevertheless, when human intelligence will rise to the mastery over property ... . Democracy in government, brotherhood in society, equality in rights and privileges, and universal education, foreshadow the next higher plane of society ... .'Beam me up. But before stepping onto the transporter to Morgan's 'higher plane,' it might be wise to check the specifications. One constraint on the possible arrangements of a future society was indicated by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. He argued that private property was essential to industrial civilization: without property, no exchange; no exchange, no prices; no prices, no way of telling whether any given project is worthwhile or a dead loss. Given that every attempt to abolish the market on a large scale has led to the collapse of industry, his Economic Calculation Argument seems vindicated. Unfortunately, there's no reason why the Economic Calculation Argument and the Materialist Conception of History couldn't both be true. What if capitalism is unstable, and socialism is impossible?The Star Fraction is haunted by this uncomfortable question. For me, it was acutely felt when I was writing the book in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a socialist, I had become interested in the libertarian critique of socialism. The fall of the bureaucratic regimes of the East found me neither surprised nor sorry.No, what was--and remains--dreadful to contemplate was not the collapse of 'actually existing socialism,' but the catastrophic consequences of the attempt to introduce actually existing capitalism and the apparent inability of the millions who had brought down the bureaucratic dictatorships to assert and defend their own interests in the aftermath.In this novel, these issues are seen through the eyes of characters who are flawed and often mistaken but sometimes heroic. The ideologiesthrough which they try to make sense of it all range from British-style 'industrial-grade Trotskyism' to American-style 'black helicopter' libertarianism. The big questions about history and economics fuel the adventures of angry white guys (and angry black women) with guns, whose actions tip scales bigger than they know. Their world is one where the New World Order is coming to get you, with black helicopters and Men in Black and orbital gun-control lasers.And then there's all the stuff I made up, which begins on the next page.Copyright © 2008 by Ken MacLeod
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Star Fraction. By 2040, the Kingdom of Great Britain lays in ruins divided into independent states due to the policies of the leftist Labour Party. Some of these new entities are no bigger than a few city streets and run by gang-lords while others like the Army of the New Republic control a vast area. Marxist gun for hire physical security expert Moh Kohn, computer scientist Janis Taine, terrorist Catherine Duvalier and teenage atheist Jordan Brown meet when Moh is assigned to protect Janis and her lab from the fundamentalist Stasis who control technology and have ruled that her work needs to be destroyed. After several Stasis assaults, the foursome decide they must take out an evil artificial intelligence if they are to survive.
The Stone Canal. Political rivals Jonathan Wilde and Dave Reid both love Annette, but the former marries her. Over time Jonathan drifts to the extreme left while Dave turns towards the anarchist¿s credo. Their competition grows more heated with Annette still in play. Wilde wakes up near a canal where Jay-Dub the robot informs him he is a clone with the original Wilde's memories downloaded into the replica. Reid runs the Martian colony, but the Wilde clone remembers his rival being there when he was assassinated. Worse Reid has a clone of Annette. Round two is commencing.
This is a reprint of the ¿The First Half of The Fall Revolution¿ with the second part to come soon. The tales retain their fresh creativity though both were published in the mid 1990s. Each is fast-paced with the worlds, a futuristic dismal earth and a Mars colony after a loss in WW III, seem genuine even with clones and AI machines. The additional fun for Ken Macleod fans is to see the leap in skill from his first to second novel as each is entertaining but THE STONE CANAL is much tighter despite containing two major subplots.
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