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Newton's wake a space opera by Ken MacLeod

Newton's wake a space opera (edition 2005)

by Ken MacLeod

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7581612,240 (3.34)24
Title:Newton's wake a space opera
Authors:Ken MacLeod
Info:London Orbit 2005.
Collections:Your library

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Newton's Wake by Ken MacLeod


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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I read this some years ago--perhaps when it first appeared, and remembered a very different novel, one that was atypical of MacLeod. This one is a very different take on some of his recurring themes, like the conflict between artificial intelligences and human communities and radical politics. There is a playful quality about this novel that I enjoyed very much, as well as a fast-moving and surprising plot. ( )
  nmele | Jan 2, 2015 |
I loved this book. I felt it threw me in at the deep end a bit, as Macleod seems to do a lot, but I loved it. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
I loved both Ken MacLeod's Fall Revolution tetralogy and Engines of Light trilogy but this, the first standalone novel by him that I have read, was a bit of a disappointment. I think MacLeod is likely one of the most intellectually brilliant authors writing Science Fiction today, and he definitely has one of the most fertile (and bizarre) imaginations, but both those things seem to be getting in the way of making a Newton’s Wake live up to his previous work. While the novel is packed full to overspilling with utterly brilliant, jaw-dropping ideas, there is not much in the way of story or characters or even theme to hold them all together. It’s like MacLeod had a bunch of them left over from his earlier novels, and did not quite know what to do them, so he just stuffed them into the next best container he had handy. While the result resebmles a grab bag more than it does a novel, it does have its charms and while not as mind-boggling as his previous stuff it still is enjoyable to read - the excerpts from The Tragedy of Leonid Brezhnev, Prince of Muscovy alone are worth it.
  Larou | Jul 4, 2012 |
Like a lot of reviewers, it just sort of drifted off for me at the end. Interesting, fun to read, but felt unresolved.

Perhaps because I read this just a couple months after reading three Charles Stross books in a month, this felt like a less-successful knockoff of the Eschaton concept. Wikipedia tells me they came out around the same time (this a little later), so maybe this is just a less-successful stab at the same general idea that seems to have been floating around the UK around 2003... ( )
  infinitebuffalo | Mar 12, 2012 |
'Where is here, anyway?'
'We call the planet Eurydice. The star — we don't have a name for it. We know it is in the Sagittarius Arm.’
'No shit!' Carlyle grinned with unfeigned delight. 'We didn't know the skein stretched this far.'
She waved her hands. 'That wormhole, it's linked to lots of others in a sort of messy tangle.'
He stared at her' his teeth playing on his lower lip.
'And you and your colleagues came here through the wormhole?'
'Of course.' She wrapped her arms around herself while the thermal elements in the undersuit warmed up. 'You didn't know this was a gate?'
Armand shook his head. 'We've always kept clear of the alien structure' for reasons which should be obvious, but apparently are not.' He pointed a finger; the sweep of his hand indicated the horizon, and the hilltop henges. 'We took the circle of megaliths to be a boundary indicator, left by the indigenes. Today is the first time in a century that anyone has set foot within it. We keep it under continuous surveillance, of course, which is why your intrusion was detected. That and the signal burst. It went off like a goddamn nuclear EMP, but that's the least of the damage.' He glared at her. 'Something for which you will pay, whoever you are. What did you say you were?'
'The Carlyles,' she reiterated, proudly and firmly.
'And who're they, when they're at home?'
She was unfamiliar with the idiom. 'We're at home everywhere,' she said. 'People have a name for the wormhole skein. They call it Carlyle's Drift.'

This is an enjoyable space opera, but overall I found it a bit confusing. There is a lot going on and things like the political differences between the Returners and Reformers were never explained clearly enough. The implications of backing yourself up on a regular basis so that you could be resurrected if you died were touched upon, but never resolved. Now as she sat in the monorail shuttle facing the Armands and holding her knees together to stop their trembling, she felt the same horror. James Winter and Alan Calder were not uploads or downloads, or even resurrectees. They had prosthetic personalities. They had false memories. Without reliable human memory there could be no identity, no continuity, no humanity. The idea affected her like motion sickness. Although Lucinda was panicked when she discovered that Winter and Calder had been resurrected from the little that remained of their brains after they died in a car crash with their missing memories reconstructed from information about them that was held on computer, she soon convinced herself that there wasn't any problem after all. Even though when the resurrected Lucinda read a letter her dying self had written to her, she could tell that the original Lucinda was different, having been changed by the experiences she underwent after her last back-up.

The conclusion appears to be that 'memories maketh the man'. If you see yourself as a person then you are one, whether you are alive for the first time or have been resurrected from a back-up, whether you are a back-up of a real person living in a virtual reality, or a construct of a human being living in that same virtual reality. But in my opinion, although Lucinda #2 may think she is the same person as Lucinda #1, seeing them both as one continuous Lucinda, Lucinda #1 is dead and gone, to an afterlife, reincarnation or nothingness. There is no continuity of Lucinda-consciousness for her.

Don't you find it annoying when the person who wrote the back cover blurb has obviously not read the book. "Lucinda Carlyle, head of an ambitious clan of galactic entrepreneurs, had carved out a profitable niche for herself and her kin by taking control of the Skein, a chain of interplanetary star-gates left behind by the posthumans. But on a world called Eurydice, a remote planet at the farthest rim of the galaxy, Lucinda stumbled upon a forgotten relic of the past that could threaten her way of life." If they had read even the first chapter, they would have known that Lucinda is not the head of the Carlyles; she is a youngster of 24 and the mission to Eurydice is her first as team leader of a squad of combat archaeologists. ( )
1 vote isabelx | Apr 28, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ken MacLeodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, LeeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martiniere, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Charlie and Feòrag
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As soon as she stepped through the gate Lucinda Carlyle knew the planet had been taken, and knew it would be worth taking back.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 076534422X, Paperback)


In the aftermath of the Hard Rapture-a cataclysmic war sparked by the explosive evolution of Earth's artificial intelligences into godlike beings-a few remnants of humanity managed to survive. Some even prospered.

Lucinda Carlyle, head of an ambitious clan of galactic entrepreneurs, had carved out a profitable niche for herself and her kin by taking control of the Skein, a chain of interstellar gates left behind by the posthumans. But on a world called Eurydice, a remote planet at the farthest rim of the galaxy, Lucinda stumbled upon a forgotten relic of the past that could threaten the Carlyles' way of life.

For, in the last instants before the war, a desperate band of scientists had scanned billions of human personalities into digital storage, and sent them into space in the hope of one day resurrecting them to the flesh. Now, armed, dangerous, and very much alive, these revenants have triggered a fateful confrontation that could shatter the balance of power, and even change the nature of reality itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:21 -0400)

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