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Newton's Wake Hardcover – Import, January 1, 2004


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Hardcover, Import, January 1, 2004
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841491756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841491752
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,850,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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.

Customer Reviews

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  • "Characters" 13
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Addison Phillips on July 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Newton's Wake is billed as "A Space Opera", which I guess is supposed to explain why this is a bit of a creampuff of a novel. MacLeod is a deft writer, with a nice ability to turn phrases.
We are dropped into the action and MacLeod does a good job of the "slow reveal" of the characters and the circumstances. We get a good feel for this universe and the folks who inhabit it. We get a variety of characters who's basic humanity is challenged by circumstances: there were trapped as a program, head replaced with a metal head, social pariah, simulation of the original person, etc. And there are little touches (Ben Ami's play about Leonid Breznhev is a hoot).
But... I found some jarring elements here too. We don't get close enough to most of these characters to really care all that much about them. Perhaps it is supposed to be telling that there are no real "bad guys" or "good guys", but the author should have had some stance on the Big Issues he raises, like: if you die and a version of you is brought back to life, it is really you? What if the version of you that is brought back isn't really you, it's just a reconstruction of other people's perception of you? Those are truly interesting questions and MacLeod goes nowhere with them: he asks without developing either an opinion or going near the really thorny bits. We are told more often than we are shown the developments that really matter.
I was annoyed by some "reverse anachronisms" here: things from today that inappropriately show up in this far future time and don't fit. I found the debate about "Returners" vs. "Runners" was ultimately empty, as much of the plot was empty, because the author doesn't seem to feel the motivations.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Spoering on May 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This novel is of a galaxy full of post-human technology, mind back-ups in case of death (with the associated question of identity survival), faster-than-light space travel, Drexler cornucopia macines, and post-singularity war machines. Most of the book centers around Carlyle's Drift, which are a series of wormholes connecting places many light years apart, with Lucinda Carlyle the principle character here. Across interstellar space there are several human factions, in various technological levels, competing with each other, allowing an interesting plot. I won't write about this further as I hate plot spoilers

I will give you my impressions of the book, however. At times, particularly the later one third, the writing seemed kind of vague, sometimes it was disjointed, making it difficult to recall who was fighting who. Perhaps MaCleod was trying to cover ground too quickly. But in the end it all does make sense. It may be that the main message of the novel is that we will always find ways to kill each other, and justify it, no matter how far technolgy takes us. After reading this, you may wonder as I did, what is real and what is'nt? If you enjoy this kind of science fiction, check out the fine novels by Richard K. Morgan.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on August 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The war between Europe and the United States ended abruptly (although not before huge destruction) when the U.S. artifical intelligences jumped the firewalls and subsumed much of the human population. For moments, the hugely grown artificial intelligence was all-powerful, then, it vanished into infinity, too vast to be comprehended or even bothered by the petty wars and struggles left behind. Most of humanity was caught up in the 'rapture.' A few groups, though--America Offline descended from rural out-of-touch farmers, the Knights of Enlightenment--descendents of surviving Japanese and Chinese, Kemokratische Kommunistbund--northern Koreans cut off from computers by their governments isolationism, and a family of Scottish bandits (combat archeologists) who mostly control the tunnels between the stars. When Lucinda Carlyle of the Scots family stumbles across a planet settled by humans who had been on Mars at the time of the Rapture, everything changes. The inhabitants of Eurydice have access to the wormholes between the stars in a new way that puts the Carlyles to shame. But will the new variable in the equation mean war? And even in Eurydice, ancient rivalries between those who wanted to flee the solar system and those who hoped to save the humans forced into the artificial intelligence remain. Now, for the first time, it might actually be possible to realize that dream.

Author Ken MacLeod creates an intriguing universe and populates it with authentic characters and a touch of humor. He calls NEWTON'S WAKE a 'Space Opera,' and it does contain excitement, space travel, and youthful characters attempting to survive terrible mistakes and outrageous odds, but WAKE is much more thoughtful than an old-fashioned space opera.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By isala on April 19, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I did finish it though, which gives it some credit. MacLeod is part of a new breed of Scottish authors that manage to write for both an international and Glaswegian audience. It is as if they primarily write for their home market, but that their writing is so good that outsiders also read their books. Anyway, there is enough material here for everyones taste. Good things first. There are tonnes and tonnes of plots and subplots squeezed into a relatively thin volume - makes for exciting reading. The book is a thinly veiled satire. I do not think, for instance, that it is a conicidence that a band of street-thugs turned interplanetary entrepeneurs has the same name as a company closely affiliated with the present US administration. A company well-known for its bullish business methods.
I could fill the entire review with examples of subtle, and not so subtle, jokes about our present post-2000 "election" society. Hovewer, one group of survivors have created a kind of Hollywood society, where entertainment is the main business, and eternal youth and beauty is available to all. One playwright, somewhat similar to Shakespeare, produces plays about Breznev, Osama bin Laden, and David Koresh. In the descriptions of these plays MacLeod manage to cram more satire about just about the entire US than other writers need an entire book to do.
However, I think that MacLeod enjoyed writing this book too much - it is as he loved the details so much that he never really thought of a coherent story.
I think that if you borrowed the book from the library you might be happier than if you bought it.
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