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Cosmonaut Keep (Engines of Light) by Ken…
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Cosmonaut Keep (Engines of Light) (original 2001; edition 2000)

by Ken MacLeod

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936139,310 (3.35)11
Member:SystemicPlural
Title:Cosmonaut Keep (Engines of Light)
Authors:Ken MacLeod
Info:Orbit (2000), Hardcover, 308 pages
Collections:Ebooks, Fiction, My Recommendations
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod (2001)

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    Dark Light by Ken MacLeod (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Sames series. The trilogy is more than the sum of the parts.
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Didn't finish - found it dull,confused and implausible. ( )
  SChant | Apr 27, 2013 |
I love the way this starts out, which is in second person POV -- only very briefly, though. After that, the chapters alternate between a world that is not Earth, and a world that is Earth but way in the future. It took me a while to realise how the stories were linked -- Ken MacLeod once again threw me in at the deepend about the socio-political situation, but in this trilogy I picked it up quickly -- and I didn't care for the alternation of first person and third person, which happened every chapter.

I did get to care for the characters, but I definitely felt thrown in at the deep end. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
A god stood in the sky high above the summer horizon, his long white hair streaming in the solar wind. Later, when the sky's colour had shifted from green to black, the white glow would reach almost to the zenith, its light outshining the Foamy Wake, the broad band of the Galaxy.

Two linked stories are told in alternate chapters. One is a first contact story about the meeting between between humans and aliens, while the later story involves the descendants of some of the characters now living on another planet in the Second Sphere, thousands of light years from Earth.

It took me a while to work out that the gods were the microbial aliens who first contacted earth, and to realise that the god with the long white hair in the quotation above must be a comet inhabited by a colony of the aliens.

I also wonder why the gods have populated the Second Sphere with animals and intelligent species from Earth over such a long period, first the Krakens, intelligent giant squid which fly the star ships that trade between the planets, then the dinosaur-like Saurs and two races of pre-humans. And finally humans, snatched from Earth over thousands of years and dumped on the planets of the Second Sphere; lost legions, the inhabitants of cities hidden in the jungles, atlantic fishermen. And finally the cosmonauts who arrived in a ship they had built themselves, from plans supplied by the gods. Maybe all will become clear in the other books of the trilogy. ( )
  isabelx | Mar 30, 2011 |
My catalogue record for this book came from the British Library. Somebody there was having a bad day; or perhaps someone at the publisher supplied bad data. So let's correct some misconceptions at the outset: this is not a "toy or movable book", nor is it about house-cleaning. Still interested ?

Good. Because this is a book about intelligence, technology (its rise and fall and reinvention), alienness, cultural difference and politics. With two love stories, each of a man pursued by two women in two different centuries, intertwined.

Some of these themes - the politics and the musings on human and machine intelligence - are familiar territory for Macleod, and if you've read any of his other work, particularly the "Fall Revolution" series, you'll find much to recognise here. What's also familiar from those books is the device of telling a story that's split in two, with one part taking place in a near future and the other some hundreds of years later. But Macleod takes some of his themes further, and the future part of the story involves humans interacting both with other human groups whose development has taken very different paths, and with aliens who are markedly different in mysterious ways from the humans they mix with.

Some of these themes are explored in more depth than others, and I found some of this frustrating. But this is the first book of a series and it's possible that they are picked up in later books. Macleod retains his ability to tell a political adventure story in which programmers play a central role, and his humour still features and makes the book an even more enjoyable read.

I didn't get the sense of sheer joy I got when I first read "The Star Fraction", but that's probably because the themes, and Macleod's ability to portray political cliques with sharp, observational wit, aren't so new to me any more. He still does it well. ( )
2 vote kevinashley | Dec 6, 2009 |
Not quite sure where to start with this book, this is the first title I’ve read from this author and I must say I found it intriguing. The story takes place in 2 different time lines, one on Earth a few decades from now and the other on another Planet several centuries later which, I have to admit, I found very confusing for the first couple of chapters as I wasn’t quite sure where I was or when. However, after continuing to read pieces of the puzzle start to slot into place, it was interesting to read the authors ideas about the possible political structure and the technology in use on earth post 2040s and the interaction of the humans living with several different species (including Krakens, ‘a God in the Sky’ and Saurs (greys)) in the second timeline. The characters are well described and you soon start to see the similarities of life events between the two main characters as they both struggle to achieve the secrets of Interstellar travel. A political and scientific story that is well written and compelling, but, there is very little ‘action’ in it and if you like the ‘bug hunt’ type alien stories then I’m afraid you won’t find it in this book!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book although I would have liked more emphasis on the ‘First Contact’ in the first timeline. The second timeline was excellent fulfilling my desire to read about the interaction of Human and Aliens, I will certainly be reading the second book in the Trilogy Engines of Light. ( )
  MEMGTaylor | Oct 2, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ken MacLeodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, LeeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martiniere, StephanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0765340739, Mass Market Paperback)

Like a British--specifically, Scottish--counterpart of Bruce Sterling, Ken MacLeod is an SF author who has thought hard about politics and delights in making unlikely alternatives plausible, grippingly readable, and often downright funny.

Cosmonaut Keep swaps between two timelines whose characters share the ultimate goal of interstellar travel. In an uncertain future on the far world of Mingulay, human colonists live in the title's ancient, alien-built Keep--coexisting with reptilian "saurs," trading with visiting ships piloted by krakens, and hiding their laborious "Great Work" of developing human-guided navigation between the stars.

Meanwhile, alternate chapters present a mid-21st-century Earth whose EU is (to America's horror) Russian-dominated with a big red star in the middle of its flag. Rumors of alien contact abound, and computer whiz kid Matt Cairns finds himself carrying a data disk of unknown origin that offers antigravity and a space drive.

Clearly, the later storyline's Gregor Cairns is Matt's descendant. There are ingenious connections and surprises, with witty resonances between their wild careers, their travels, and their bumpy love lives. The foreground action adventure points to a bigger picture and a master plan known only to the godlike hive-minds who built the "Second Sphere" of interstellar culture, and who regard traditional SF dreams of unlimited human expansion through space as precisely equivalent to floods of e-mail spam polluting the tranquil galactic net.

Cosmonaut Keep opens MacLeod's new SF sequence, Engines of Light. It's highly entertaining and intelligent, promising more good things to come. --David Langford

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:25 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When Alexander Cairns made his fortune, he did some gambling - financing interstallar probes to look for other life forms. Now his son has discovered that one of them has sent back evidence of alien intelligence, and a space ark financed by a rival family is obliviously approaching the area.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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