The Stone Canal

August 4th, 2005
This entry is part of 2 in the series The Fall Revolution

A note to editors or whomever it is who writes the little bits that go at the front of a book before the text begins: Please, please, please list the “Other Books by this author” in publication and/or preferred reading order…particularly when they are a series. I’m not entirely certain that this is what led me to start reading MacLeod’s “Fall Revolution” books beginning with number three and then proceeding next to the second in the series, The Stone Canal, but it seems like a reasonable assumption. At any rate, these stories do stand pretty well each on their own, and perhaps I might even find some interesting insight from reading them out of order as I have. As with The Cassini Division, this is socio-political science fiction, exploring ideas about politics and economics in future worlds where technology and information are so ubiquitous as to render our current systems completely obsolete. This book is helped greatly, however, by having a narrator not nearly so obnoxiously self-righteous as The Cassini Division‘s Ellen May Nguyen. Structurally, the book uses two devices: a multi-character, tight-third perspective set in the “current day” of New Mars and usually focusing on Jon Wilde or Dee Model, bit characters I met in The Cassini Division, and a retrospective first-person account by Jon Wilde reflecting on the life he has lived, beginning with his college days in 1975 Glasgow. There, and later in London, he and David Reid (the future leader of New Mars) talk a great deal about the politics of anarchism, socialism, libertarianism while developing deep friendships and deeper rivalries over women, particularly a young biologist named Annette. Their competition over her drives actions that lead, ultimately, to critical precursors to the singularity, Reid’s rise to power, and the essential plot of the New Mars storyline, which centers around two related issues. Firstly, Dee Model’s quest for autonomy and independence, which is a controversy since she is a human-equivalent artificial intelligence formerly owned by Reid and inhabiting a cloned body…Annette’s body. The other controversy is Jon Wilde’s legal suit against David Reid…for the murder of Jon Wilde. Don’t worry…that all makes sense in context, and it also makes for interesting reading. MacLeod successfully keeps you interested while exploring some pretty heavy subject matter, and this was a much more coherent message than what was transmitted in The Cassini Division. If you like some political theory with your SF fix, this is peanut butter and chocolate. Recommended.

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