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The Cassini Division (Fall Revolution) by…

The Cassini Division (Fall Revolution) (edition 1999)

by Ken MacLeod (Author)

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9572115,531 (3.58)29
A war breaks out in the 24th century between humans and the more advanced post-humans. The latter descend from people who transformed themselves with technology to live a thousand times faster, which accounts for their rapid progress.
Title:The Cassini Division (Fall Revolution)
Authors:Ken MacLeod (Author)
Info:Tor Books (1999), Edition: 1st, 256 pages
Collections:DTB, Read, Your library
Tags:science fiction, 2020 WWE Pick & Mix, R2020

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The Cassini Division by Ken MacLeod

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In many ways, the plot of Ken MacLeod's third "Fall Revolution" novel is like that of a Star Wars movie: it features a protagonist with a painful family history seeking out and recruiting a necessary sage, a further "side quest" that turns out to be integral to the resolution of the main challenge, and a climactic space battle. Even the fact that the main character is a black woman doesn't much distinguish it from the latter-day Star Wars pictures, with their increasingly diverse central cast. What really sets it apart is a genuinely speculative sensibility, as contrasted with the reactionary space fantasy of the Forced films. Replacing the Rebel Alliance with a Cassini Division who protect the anarcho-socialist Solar Union against a post-human presence on Jupiter makes for a very different story. MacLeod's socialist heroes subscribe to what they call "the true knowledge," which is identified--by a "non-cooperative" character who doesn't accept it--with Aleister Crowley's Law of Thelema (albeit with surplus capitalization, 86).

Nor has MacLeod abandoned the complementary anarcho-capitalist setting he has developed on New Mars, at the far side of the wormhole gate created by the ancestors of the Jovians. The theme of disputes over personhood for post-human individuals is carried forward in this book, but where it centered on the notion of slavery in The Stone Canal, it is tied more directly to the issue of genocide in The Cassini Division (as in the first book of the series, The Star Fraction). This book is clearly part of the vanguard of a species of post-cyberpunk space opera for which MacLeod is one of the best representatives.

The chief protagonist is Ellen May Ngewthu, and she is the first-person narrator throughout the book. Ellen is an interesting character, and not a profoundly reliable narrator. McLeod does not offer a documentary rationale for her role as the book's speaker as he has for points-of-view in other novels. It's just a narrative convention, and part of the fast-reading package. Despite the surfeit of new ideas in this book, they build cleanly on the previous volumes, and I read the whole thing with pleasure in a little over two days.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Sep 6, 2018 |
Ken Macleod's third novel sees him becoming more assured with his material and expanding his 'Fall Revolution' sequence to a wide-screen format. At the end of 'The Stone Canal' we found ourselves returned to the Solar System via a wormhole to see what changes had been wrought in human space whilst Wilde and Reid had been building their anarcho-syndicalist new world on New Mars. The action moves almost seamlessly on from that novel, though the viewpoint changes; we follow Ellen May Ngwethu of the Cassini Division, the force tasked with defending Earth and its off-world settlements from the post-human AIs who built the wormhole to New Mars in the first place and dramatically altered Jovian space.

She sets out to recruit assistance in the form of I.K. Malley, who had first defined the physics that made the wormhole possible. We see more of England and London in the post-technological age before travelling to Jovian space, where other AIs are emerging in the cloud-tops of Jupiter itself. Along the way, we see more of Macleod's vision of a socialist future which looks nothing like the sort of society we usually associate with that concept.

In each of the Fall Revolution novels, Macleod has broadened the focus. He has also given us characters with different perspectives on his future societies, both for and against. Each has their own view on their society; what we see is that people will accept the society that they have grown up with, even if they can envisage change. In each novel, we have seen people's different ideas of political structures, how they accommodate living with them, and what they can do to change them. Of course, it helps that the author is able to write his protagonists (mainly) into positions of influence; but there are no cardboard cut-outs here. In the preceding novels, events were forcing change; so it is with 'The Cassini Division'. This is an intelligent novel, but not just a novel of thought and discussion; there is sufficient action and glittery future tech to satisfy. ( )
3 vote RobertDay | Nov 27, 2017 |
Enjoyable and had some interesting ideas. l did feel a little like I'd fallen into something halfway through though, and only later realised that it was the third book in a series ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
i really want this guy to reach for more, if only to match his reputation. ( )
  macha | Jun 18, 2015 |
The Cassini Division
By Ken Macleod
Publisher: Tor
Published In: New York City, NY, USA
Date: 1998
Pgs: 240


Humanity and Earth have seen a lot of history following the Common Era. The Green Revolution sweeps across Earth. Mankind is struck by a series of Plagues which rightly or wrongly get labelled the Green Death. Humanity evolves into Post-Humanity. The Technoviruses sweep through the populace. Post-Humanity escapes Earth. A Sino-Soviet invasion sweeps the Greens from power to try and save Mankind replacing the Green-centric governments of post-capitalist Earth with good communists, who turned out to be “we are what we eat and we eat everything” socialists. The Solar Union arises to lead Mankind. The deep spacers politically and militarily evolve into the Cassini Division, Earth’s defense against the Post-Humans. A line of forts surround Jupiter’s orbit. This is humanity’s frontline against post-humanity. The Cassini Division is the Solar Union’s main line of defense. Punching a wormhole into Jovian space, disintegrating Ganymede, and bombarding the inner solar system with data viruses, Post-Humanity made themselves into enemies of their progenitors. A plan is afoot to remove this threat, but for it to go through, the history, power, and the secrets of what it is to be human must be laid bare. Will either tree of Earth’s children survive?

fiction, science fiction, space opera

Why this book:
The description of the book

This Story is About:
This one is odd. I’ve read the summaries and I have an idea of what it should be about; survival of the species, evolution of Humanity, that type of thing; but it feels like there is something else, something deeper that I haven’t glommed onto yet. What it is to be human. And what would humans do to survive.

Favorite Character:
Ellen is a strong character, driven.
Isambard Kingdom Malley, a drunkard, physicist whose big breakthrough may have lead directly to the Post-Humans blew a wormhole through the remnants of Ganymeade, but who has become a professor teaching the non-conformists outside the Union control how to make and use radios among other things.

Least Favorite Character:
David Reid, killer, mass murderer, runs protections on New Mars

Character I Most Identified With:
I don’t really get a personal feel for any of these characters. Not that they aren’t good characters, but I don’t see my reflection here.

The Feel:
Lots of debate on decisions. The idea comes to the center that all viewpoints are important as long as they aren’t driven by a machine intelligence or copied human brain patterns in a machine. And is a set of brain engrams copied into a self replicating, self repairing machine alive.

Favorite Scene:
The escape from Ealing College when the non-cos decide that they don’t want the spacemen to take Professor Malley away with them. The protoplasmic, shape changing space suit is freaking awesome.
The comet train to Jupiter could have used a bigger, more sci fi, description.

Azores space tower; London wilderness; the Starship Terrible Beauty; Jupiter; Callisto; the Command Committee’s ice cavern HQ; New Mars; Ship City

The pacing is good.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:

Last Page Sound:
I really wanted more bombast in the climax considering what was going on. Even with big doings, it seemed to whimper instead of roar.

Author Assessment:
I would absolutely read more by this author.

Editorial Assessment:
Well done. But could have used a push on the climax of the story.

Did the Book Cover Reflect the Story:
The image is of the Terrible Beauty landing.

Hmm Moments:
Post-Soviet Earthling communism on a large scale in a SF book was a bit of a surprise to me. I’ve seen the closeted communism that eschews capitalism before, but usually not blatant like this.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
glad I read it

Disposition of Book:
Irving Public Library, Irving, TX

Why isn’t there a screenplay?

Casting call:
Angelina Jolie as Ellen May Ngewthu the leader of the crew of the Terrible Beauty.
Emma Watson as Suze the English sociologist in a world that isn’t terribly interested in the self reflection of sociology’s interest in their modern world.

Would recommend to:
genre fans ( )
  texascheeseman | Dec 13, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ken MacLeodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Man is a living personality, whose welfare and purpose is embodied within himself, who has between himself and the world nothing but his needs as a mediator, who owes no allegiance to any law whatever from the moment that it contravenes his needs. The moral duty of an individual never exceeds his interests. The only thing which exceeds those interests is the material power of the generality over the individuality. --Joseph Dietzgen, The Nature of Human Brain-Work
To Mairi Ann Cullen
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There are, still, still photographs of the woman who gate-crashed the party on the observation deck of the Casa Azores, one evening in the early summer of 2303.
'What's with the imperial units?' Malley asked, as we watched and listened to Andrea guiding us in to dock with the ice tanker.

'You'll hear arguments about human scale and intuition and so forth,' I explained, 'but the older and coarser characters in space will sum it up in two words: fucking NASA. Most of the space settlements were built with ex-NASA stock or to NASA spec way back in the early days, and ever since then it's been too much trouble to change. We're locked into it.'

'Yeah,' said Andrea. 'Which is why we are now two point five seven miles from a hundred thousand metric tons of ice. You've just got to love the consistency of it all.'
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A war breaks out in the 24th century between humans and the more advanced post-humans. The latter descend from people who transformed themselves with technology to live a thousand times faster, which accounts for their rapid progress.

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