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The Stone Canal: A Novel (Fall Revolution) [Mass Market Paperback]

Ken MacLeod
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"So it's true what they say: information wants to be free!" But the information in question, in this case, is Dee Model, a sexy, butt-kicking, love-slave android who's just mysteriously become self-aware, eluded her owner, and filed for her own autonomy. And the person making the remark (ironic given that it's a centuries-old reference) is Ax Terminal, a "freelance professional eunuch and part-time catamite," a resident of New Mars, the wormhole-away-from-Jupiter free-market anarchy set up thanks to the fast-folk, an uploaded race of überhumans experiencing reality and evolving at ultrahigh speeds. Android Dee, as it turns out, may have been nudged toward freedom by Jon Wilde, her cloned body's former husband (they met at Glasgow University back in the '70s), who just recently came back from the dead (revived by himself, in robot form) to join in the struggle between robot abolitionists and the malicious boss man of New Mars, David Reid (Wilde's former rival and owner of the sex slave that happens to be a cloned copy of Wilde's former wife). Now this is what great science fiction is all about.

Action-packed, inventive, and satisfyingly weird, Ken MacLeod's Stone Canal (the retroactively U.S.-released prequel to The Cassini Division) lets loose with a steady stream of challenging ideas and novel technology, taking on questions of free will, identity, and the nature of consciousness, all the while telling a bang-up story. Reminiscent of K.W. Jeter's best work, The Stone Canal certainly deserves a look. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

British author MacLeod's second novel to be published in the U.S. (after The Cassini Division) opens on New Mars, a distant planet discovered on the other side of a wormhole, where humans resettled after Earth was decimated by World War III. While New Mars is populated by Earthlings, the planet's real labor is done by the "fast folk," nanotech-based artificial intelligence machines that evolve much more quickly than humans. This stratified world was built unwittingly by Jon Wilde and Dave Reid, who met as socialist-minded university students in Glasgow and became two corners of a romantic triangle that later influenced history in myriad ways. MacLeod weaves the story of the two men's complex relationship along two tracks, past and present. In the past, Wilde and Reid both fell for the same woman; Wilde eventually married her and raised a family. In the meantime, Reid built a powerful high-tech company that could grow no further without some changes in the political climate--changes that Wilde is hired to help create. The fallout from this alliance and from Reid's own hidden agenda ultimately lead to the world war and to a reliance on machine intelligence, as well as to the creation of a world where death is impossible as long as you have a waiting clone and a recent brain backup. Thanks to that resurrection technology, Wilde and Reid face each other as enemies again on New Mars. MacLeod's writing is smooth and sure, full of striking images and breathtaking extrapolations of current technology. It's a pleasure and a challenge to read a book where human potential and human foibles are dealt with as thoroughly as is scientific advancement. Fans of William Gibson and of Iain Banks, in particular, will enjoy this visionary novel. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Filled with memories of his past, the clone Jonathan Wilde arrives on New Mars, where he rediscovers old loves and older enemies. Set in a distant future filled with intelligent machines, cloned humans, and little regard for life or death, this high-impact sf adventure by the author of The Cassini Division delivers a strong dose of violence and graphic sex. First published in Britain, MacLeod's tale of one man's grim journey toward knowledge should appeal to fans of high-tech action and hard-core science. For large sf collections.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

MacLeod's second novel is set earlier than, and in the same future as, The Cassini Division. It concentrates on the centuries-long rivalry between Jonathan Wilde and David Reid, begun when they were student political activists in 1970s Glasgow, and spans the years and the stars to wind up in the anarchist utopia of New Mars. By far the strongest parts of the book concern Wilde's and Reid's early careers; these are full of telling comments on politics and society, and they project an offbeat but not implausible near future. After the story moves off Earth, much of the journey to New Mars seems rushed, and the continuation of the Wilde-Reid rivalry is episodic to the point of disjunction. On the other hand, immortality through cloning, cryogenic suspension, and preserving minds in electronic data banks probably would create just as much confusion as MacLeod envisions and induces. Whatever his lapses in narrative technique, Scotsman MacLeod gratifies with many fine scenes and a vivid, non-American take on the future. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

It's understandable that Tor chose to make The Cassini Division, this Scottish writer's splendidly direct, uncluttered, and action-packed third novel, into MacLeod's 1999 US debut (p. 840); but it's also annoyinginasmuch as The Stone Canal (his second novel, UK publication 1996) is a direct precursor. Dave Reid and Jon Wilde meet at Glasgow University in the 1970s, and their fates entwine: They become friends, political foes, rivals for the same woman's affections, and movers and shakers in a 21st-century world of fragmented, polarized societies and incessant wars. Wilde, eventually shot dead (he blames Reid), reawakens 50 years laterdeath is no longer permanentin a robot body in space. Bossed by Reid, Jon and others are building a universe-spanning wormhole near Jupiterbut they're slaves of the ``macros,'' agglomerations of computerized post-human mentalities living thousands of times faster than ordinary humans. Fortunately, the macros soon destroy themselves, though some survive on Jupiter. In the second narrative strand, four centuries hence, Reid is gangster-in-chief of distant, capitalist-anarchist New Mars. Robot Jay Dub (Wilde, still in his hardware body) clones a copy of his own flesh then liberates Reid's computer/android sex-slave, Dee Model, whose body is a clone of Wilde's wifethus precipitating a struggle between abolitionists (freedom for intelligent machines!) and Reid's status quo. Another wonderfully knotty, inventive, intelligent yarn, if top-heavy with political minutiae that even dyed-in-the-wool Anglophiles will have a hard time deciphering. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"McLeod is writing revolutionary SF . . . A nova has appeared in our sky."—Kim Stanley Robinson

"There is more than a hint of a heroic ethic here, though the hero in question may be more like Milton's Satan than Captain Future. As much fun as [MacLeod's] books provide, it's that fierceness, that seriousness of purpose, that powers their engines and makes me want to read on."—Locus

About 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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