Ellen May Ngwethu is a young woman with centuries of experience, no morality and the true knowledge. The world she knows is about to end. The Cassini Division, elite defence force of the Solar Union, sends her on a search for the man whose knowledge could save it. A search that takes her from space to the ruins of London, and back; from the margins of her socialist-anarchist world to its most dangerous edge. The Division's orbital forts around Jupiter are the front line in a centuries-long conflict with post-human AIs, whose intentions are unknown but whose powers once extended to shattering Ganymede and building a wormhole bridge to the far future. Their radio-borne viruses blanket the Solar System, keeping most of its resources from humanity's grasp. But are the post-humans less hostile than they seem?
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With his third novel, Ken MacLeod elaborates on the future timeline from his first two works, The Star Fraction (1995) and The Stone Canal (1996). Most relevant is book two, which established a colony on the remote world of New Mars via a spatial wormhole created by superhumans--transcendent machine-hosted intelligences called the "fast-folk." The original fast-folk crashed from too much contemplation of their metaphorical navels, but their descendants on Jupiter still harass Earth with virus transmissions that have killed off computers and the Internet. Enter heroine Ellen May Ngwethu of the Cassini Division, an elite space-going force created to defend against the fast-folk. Her wild doings in the 24th century's anarcho-socialist utopia make for fun reading--everyone will covet her smart-matter clothing that can become a spacesuit, combat outfit, evening gown, or satellite dish at will. But the Division's political philosophy is brutally tough, with alarming plans to use a planet-wrecking doomsday weapon against "enemies," who may not be hostile at all. In a climax of slam-bang space battle, MacLeod crashes the ongoing ethical debate into a brick wall and leaves you gasping. Witty, skillful, provocative, but just a trifle too glibly resolved. --David Langford, Amazon.co.ukFrom the Publisher:
"The wit and thrust of the book are like a needle shower. It is a joyous tale." --John Clute
"This man's going to be a major writer." --Iain Banks
"Prose sleek and fast as the technology it describes . . . watch this man go global." --Peter F. Hamilton
"A brilliant novel of ideas, frequently funny, always ingenious. Ken MacLeod brings dramatic life to some of the core issues of technology and humanity." --Vernor Vinge
"Ken MacLeod's novels are fast, funny, and sophisticated. There can never be enough books like these; he is writing revolutionary science fiction. A nova has appeared in our sky." --Kim Stanley Robinson
"Fascinating...The kind of high-spirited and thought-provoking romp through the solar system unseen since the heyday of John Varley. And it reads at lightning speed." --Robert Charles Wilson
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