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The Star Fraction Paperback – July 5, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (July 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765301563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765301567
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Ken MacLeod book is like a crowded college coffeehouse: noisy, bustling, a little rowdy, and packed with enough wild ideas and competing ideologies to leave you reeling. Star Fraction, MacLeod's 1995 debut, is no exception. As the first installment in the Fall Revolution sequence (followed by The Stone Canal and The Cassini Division), Star Fraction established this Scottish author's formidable talent for mixing complex politics and cyberpunk action into smart, funny stories.

MacLeod avoids heady political theorizing by always personifying his ideas in believable, often articulately passionate characters. (Or as one character puts it, "In my experience politics is guys with guns ripping me off at roadblocks.") Star Fraction's putative protagonists--a Trotskyite mercenary, a fugitive university researcher, and a fundamentalist-turned-atheist programmer--are on the run after a chance combination of marijuana, experimental memory drugs, and a self-aware firearm threatens to awaken a powerful AI on the nets, much to the dismay of the Men In Black and the orbital-laser-wielding U.S./UN. (As with all MacLeod plots, don't bother asking--it's a long story.)

With its ultrabalkanized UK and convoluted cast of neo-Stalinists, AI-Abolitionists, Christianarchists, femininists, et al., Star Fraction is MacLeod at his best--even at his first. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

First published in Britain in 1995 and the start of a new series, this fine SF political thriller explores the fascinating possibilities of a future world (2040s London) in which traditional Labour Party leftist policies have contributed to the country's ruin. Never mind that this vision may be a bit dated in the wake of Tony Blair's New Labour victory of 1997. Marxist security mercenary Moh Kohn and computer expert Janis Taine, later joined by "femininist" terrorist Catherin Duvalier and Jordan Brown, a teenage refugee from an evangelical commune, seek to defeat a sinister artificial intelligence that threatens to act as a doomsday machine. With a host of peculiar friends and enemies and just as many action scenes in odd places (try a gay ghetto whose militia is known as the Rough Traders), this quartet will keep readers interested if occasionally confused right through the last battle against the Hanoverians (the absentee royal family) and the Men in Black (the U.S./U.N. technology police, or Stasis). The political scenario needs (and receives) a good deal of background explanation, allowing American readers in particular to better appreciate such curious political entities as the Space and Freedom Party and the Felix Dzerzhinsky Workers' Defense Collective. In general, MacLeod (The Cassini Division) is more adept at world building than at narrative, but he also possesses the rare talent of attracting readers who won't necessarily agree with the political agenda implicit in his fiction. This novel promises well for the rest of the series.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

The plot is very fast-paced, almost too much so.
Patrick Shepherd
Perhaps it was me, but I made an assumption that the length and detail at which the politics were explored would have some impact in the end-game.
Mr. W. Hardy
Too many things happen without much explanation, and the author seems to be looking for that.
Michel Goldstein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Horton on August 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Star Fraction is Ken MacLeod's first novel, only now being published in the States. It is set in the same "future history" (or "future histories") as The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, and The Sky Road. (The books can in general be read in any order.)
MacLeod is a very politically savvy writer, and his books are full of politics, but the politics is almost always expressed through action, or it is an integral part of the setting. In other words, the books aren't lectures: they are, rather, books that are about politics in interesting ways, ways that are integral to their themes. And I should add that besides being about politics, the books concern interesting future technology (especially computer technology and Artificial Intelligence), and they are centered on believable and likable characters. And they have rollicking plots, as well.
The Star Fraction follows several characters through a revolution of sorts in 21st Century Great Britain. As the novel opens, the UK of our time has undergone several political upheavals, and is now "balkanized" into quite a few different, nominally independent, political divisions. These include the "Hanoverians", apparently the closest thing to a controlling force on the island; the "Army of the New Republic", the remnants of a liberal/socialist republic which apparently succeeded the Kingdom of our present time; a number of basically independent "mini-states", some occupying only a few blocks of territory, with wildly different political organizations.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr. W. Hardy on June 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book partly on the strength of the reviews on this site and the UK sister site (hmmmmmm), and the fact it kept appearing on my recommended list. However it did not live up to my (generally easily satisfied) expectations.
Let's be fair about this, some of the ideas and thought that evidently went into the creation of Star Fraction were impressive. It's the implementation that I've a problem with, and that made this book just another "also-ran".
The plot and character development felt rushed and erratic at times. At a few points I found myself wondering what was going to happen next, and asking myself if I really cared or not. It all felt a bit thin and two dimensional. Perhaps it was me, but I made an assumption that the length and detail at which the politics were explored would have some impact in the end-game. They didn't, unless I missed something blindingly obvious. Or perhaps that was the point - that the politics were irrelevant to the outcome (in which case, why bother with them at all).
I also thought that he failed to capture the 'feel' of north London, even allowing for the fact that it had become something of a splintered entity.
There were parts which reminded me of William Gibson, and a lot of the style was more than a little reminiscent of the great Iain M. Banks. I think that Ken would be better trying to concentrate on a style of his own and attempt to leave behind the large influence of other (and IMO, better) sci-fi authors.
I honestly believe this guy does have some talent, and this will flourish with a little more focus, but then ... what do I know.
So Mr. MacLeod, for your end of book report you get an average grade C, and a "Kenneth is capable of better".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michel Goldstein on June 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
First of all, I do recommend this book to everybody that enjoys some near-future what-if books that mixes politics, artificial intelligence possibilities, and loads of technology.
The good things about it would first be the ability to really shape a very interesting reality, very well built characters, many thought-provoking discussions, in the political, social and technological fields. In a way the story is very believable (maybe not in 40 years), and very fast paced.
Now the reason why I didn't rate it a 5 stars is that sometimes it becomes too "thick". Too many things happen without much explanation, and the author seems to be looking for that. I remember finishing the first chapter of the book and just thinking to myself "What? What is going on here?". Little by little you start to get used to the acronyms, the political system, and the pace of the book and then it becomes really interesting. Just be ready for this "shock" if you plan on reading it.
For now I'll move into a new book and then go back and read another of his Fall Revolution series books. Now that I know what he is talking about maybe it will be easier to finish the next one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on December 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Those who like the safe, the normal, the everyday commonplace should not read this book, as it is certainly anything but. Macleod creates a world where the US/UN is the bad guy, where England is divvied up into many semi-autonomous city-states, each of which have their own idea of what the perfect society should be, and most of whom are at gun-point loggerheads with all the others, where the Net is pervasive and invasive, and may just be the locus of the real world power, a conscious AI, and where your ideas and assumptions about anarchy, communism, socialism, and capitalism will be stood on their head.
The main characters of Moh Kohn, mercenary extraordinary, Janice, bio-chemist, Jordan, programmer and rebeller against the purantistic creed of his birth society, and Catherin, idealist and Kohn's former lover, are well realized and interact with each other and the rapidly changing socio-political environment in believable manners.
The plot is very fast-paced, almost too much so. At the beginning of the book we are dropped into this wildly different future with very little explanation of where you are or what the overall world picture/history is or how it got that way. The casual reader who is not steeped in science fiction, in being able to accept things as they are presented, and hold his questions in abeyance will probably feel lost and confused. These items are really not explicated in cohesive detail till near the end of the book, with bits and pieces presented all along the way, as the reader is carried along pell-mell through this odd society with each twist and turn of the plot.
Stylistically, most of the prose is fairly prosaic, which gets the job done and is normally unobtrusive.
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