- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st U.S. ed edition (January 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312870531
- ISBN-13: 978-0312870539
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Stone Canal Hardcover – January, 2000
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"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
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.
Top customer reviews
That said, by no means skip this book if you haven't read it already. It is in many ways more entertaining than "The Cassini Division", although I found it packed less of a punch intellectualy. Even so, this is a smart book, written by a very smart author. It looks at society in a way that no other SF I am aware of does. As I said about its companion "The Stone Canal" is more of a political/moral tale hidden in SF clothing. It is a truly original, outstanding work that stands both on its own merits, and as a prequel to "The Cassini Division".
Cons: None whatsoever
"The Stone Canal" takes place in the same future universe Mr.MacLeod's previous novels have described: a post-Singularity Solar System infested with uploaded 'Fast Folk,' anarcho-capitalist escaped slaves in their extra-solar breakaway republic, Marxist mercenaries and orbital armies protecting the nano-technological 'climax community' utopia that Earth has become . . .
I won't give away the plot. As with all his books to date, the story line is delightfully unpredictable (even though the broader details have become as familiar to his readers as the inevitability of a Greek tragedy). As with his other titles, 'The Stone Canal' is an almost punnish reference to one of Mr. McLeod;s scientific and/or political in-jokes; in this case, a reference to the quasi-organic structure of ShipCity on New Mars, where the novel takes place.
Reviewers have noted that Mr. McLeod is well read, but they haven't gone far enough. There are so many off-handed references to so many sources in his work, that you would have to go back to Joyce or Robert Anton Wilson to find another writer that is as densely layered and detailed, or so rewards the reader's devoted attention..
This is cyberpunk, or even post-cyberpunk. It is unique, original, and literary in the quality of writing. The story is fast-paced enough to satisfy the need for a quick, easy read. Yet, if you let it, you could easily be sucked in to this kaleidoscope of ideas for many pleasant hours.
* * *
Pearce Hansen is the author of STREET RAISED, now available for the Kindle at Amazon