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The Cassini Division (Fall Revolution) Mass Market Paperback – August 15, 2000
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The post-humans' capacities are unknown . . . but we know they disintegrated Ganymede, we know they punched a wormhole into Jovian space, and we know that the very surface of the solar system's largest planet has been altered by them. Worse, we know that they have been bombarding the inner solar system with powerful data viruses for generations.
Now Ellen has a plan to rid humanity of this threat once and for all. But she needs to convince others to mistrust the post-humans as much as she does. In the process, much will be revealed--about history, about power, and about what it is to be human.
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The Cassini Division is a group within the leaderless organization that defends humanity from various threats, such as the "fast folk", post-humans who occupy Jupiter and are the reason that computers aren't used for radio communication: the fast folk take over all radio and then the computers. They learn and grow exponentially fast and are very, very dangerous.
The Cassini Division has weapons poised all over Jupiter to keep them there. Naturally, this book is about something that may upset that little balance, and the socialist order, too.
I enjoyed the story-telling pace, the characters weren't just cut-outs (especially the evil capitalist--you knew there would be at least one, didn't you?) and the fast folk were frightening. Also, SPACE OPERA! never a bad thing.
In The Cassini Division an on-line version of the protagonist Jon Wilde has travelled back through the Malley Mile wormhole to Earth with his computer companion, Meg to discover an earth transformed through the consequences of longevity and whose technology has been transformed out of all recognition as a consequence of computer viruses spawned by the "fast folk"-computer nerds who uploaded themselves and now live at an accelerated rate of evolution within the envelope of the planet Jupiter. Jon Wilde and Meg are themselves downloaded into flesh on reaching Earth and spend much of the novel looking for ways to get back through the Malley Mile to the human colony they have left behind in the hope that they can integrate the two cultures of Earth and New Mars. The snag is that the technology to remake the connection lies with the fast folk, whose last major project was to bombard earth with computer viruses and trigger the collapse of computered society. Earth now runs its computations through Babbage engines and avoids the use of radio waves. Orbiting around Jupiter, the last residence of the fast folk, is the Cassini Division, a space force with the self-appointed mission to protect earth.
If the above sounds like the ingredients of a cheap thriller, that is because they are, but Ken MacLeod, as the masterful writer he is, manages to avoid most of the pitfalls and the novel is both exciting and politically thought provoking. In The Cassini Division we get to see an anarcho-socialist society in action complete with conscientious objectors who live in small, capitalist enclaves. The socialism which earth has adopted assumes and in fact relies on the expectation that every citizen will apoint him or herself to the role which in their personal view most assists society at a particular moment: this can involve simply serving refreshments in an airport canteen as one is passing through, or choosing to take part in one of the political forum which attempt to run the planet.
The issue at stake in The Cassini Division is whether or not the representatives of earth will attempt communication with the fast folk of Jupiter in order to find the route through the Malley Mile, or whether the Cassini Division, the self-appointed guardians of earth will go ahead with their secret plot to destroy the fast folk. Much of the novel is taken up by the attempts of most of the protagonists to convince Ellen May Ngwethu of the Cassini Division that she is paranoid and about to commit genocide. Ellen knows she is about to commit genocide, as like the protagonists in Xenocide she believes the human race cannot tolerate any species potentially superior to human beings. McLeod's protagonists truly believe themselves to be morally correct and to be acting in the best interests of their society but his work contains a very simple and powerful moral message, crucial to, but rarely associated with anarchism: you are responsible for your own actions and for their consequences.
Oh yes, and I'm never going to trust a Salon.com book review ever again.
Most recent customer reviews
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