HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod
Loading...
MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9231813,728 (3.67)31
Member:dennymeta
Title:Star Fraction
Authors:Ken MacLeod
Info:ORBIT (LITT) (1996), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work details

The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod

  1. 20
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Noisy)
    Noisy: Anarchy viewed from both sides of the fence. 'Snow Crash' offers the capitalist view and 'The Star Fraction' offers the socialist counterpart.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 31 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I give it a hour, couldnt read anymore. Very poor premiss. ( )
  Kevin678 | Nov 7, 2017 |
Let's do a bit of time-travelling. In early 1990s east coast Scotland, two friends meet to discuss their efforts at writing a breakthrough science fiction novel. One is Iain Banks, already tipped as an up-and-coming, if controversial, young novelist, who is trying to sell a revised version of a science-fiction novel he wrote some time back. The other is Ken MacLeod, who has yet to make his first sale. Over a series of pints, sometimes in a pub in the shadow of the mighty Forth Bridge, they discuss publishing, writing, the awfulness of the Tory government, the possible future course of socialism, the role of 9-to-5 jobs in a modern post-industrial globalised economy and the state of science fiction. The author photograph on the dust jacket back flap of his first novel shows MacLeod as a typical Leftist rough-and-ready activist. And out of this fervent came that novel, 'The Star Fraction'.

It is a cyberpunk take on factionalist Leftist politics in a balkanised 21st century Britain. In 1995, when the novel was published, this was still a possible future (though it would take a major leap of faith to imagine the fragmented far Left achieving the level of boots-on-the-ground presence that MacLeod imagines). Now, more than twenty years on, this reads more like an alternative history, where Tony Benn was a philosopher, not a politician, and a state of open - and semi-legal - warfare exists between the State, a revolutionary army deposed from power by a resurgent monarchy, various statelets and their organs of state control, the USA, the UN, and a patchwork of revolutionary militias and mercenaries. The main protagonist, for example, is a mercenary security operative for the Felix Dzerzhinsky Workers' Defence Collective; other organisations are equally appropriately named. In the 1970s, one British trade union was likened to Beirut; think of the Lebanese civil war and you will begin to understand the complexity of the world MacLeod has created. There are fundamentalist religious groups, political groups, anarchists, all the shades of Leftists you can imagine and special forces of all allegiances and none. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, as someone once said.

The said protagonist carries a modified Kalashnikov for which the phrase "the gun spoke" is, for once, not a metaphor. He gets involved with a research scientist working on neural biochemistry. There are antiheroes and villains, AIs and love stories. It will help the reader if they have at least some familiarity with the British Left; not just the trade union movement and the Labour Party, but other groupuscules and parties, the iconographic texts of the Left and individuals such as Tony Cliff and John Pilger (just two of the journalistic icons namechecked in the book amongst many more). It helps if you know that in some circles, Leo Trotsky is (still) referred to as "the Old Man", or if you can sing the words to "Red fly the banners, O!"

Having said all that, the story itself is reasonably straightforward once you accept the premise of the balkanised Britain, can cope with multiple viewpoint characters, and are happy with what turns out to be a fairly standard cyberpunk plot underneath all the subversiveness. Technology is resolutely mid-1990s, extrapolated, but bears a strong resemblance to the earlier works of William Gibson. The text is riddled with allusions, puns and references. The pace is fast.

MacLeod's later novels calm down somewhat, and in those books he does not wear his political heart so much on his sleeve. But in this first outing, you get the unadulterated raw Left-wing spirit. ( )
3 vote RobertDay | Jun 27, 2017 |
The story was hard for me to follow. Don't know if it was the writing, the style or just hard for me to follow multiple characters. ( )
  gac53 | May 14, 2017 |
Having read a number of Ken MacLeod's more recent books, I've now gone back to his first novel The Star Fraction. Although the emergence of praeterhuman artificial intelligence is key to the plot, the book is far more focused on the political than the technological, and the few retrospective technological clinkers (typical of the cyberpunk of the late 20th century) in no way dampen the political imagination and its relevance to readers more than twenty years after its original publication.

The chief characters of the book are a "security mercenary" and a research scientist, and the setting is a balkanized England of "micro-states" subject to the US/UN after a Third World War of the 2020s. The story is fast-paced, with intrigue predominant over still-present sex and violence, but a prior appreciation of 20th-century revolutionary and imperialist projects is important for the reader's understanding. The villains are a little overdrawn in a way that sometimes verges on the comic, but they are often as absorbing as the protagonists.

This book is tagged as the first in "The Fall Revolution," a set of novels in a shared history, with varying timelines. It falls just a bit short of the work of MacLeod's I read in the "Engines of Light" series, or the standalone Newton's Wake, but it's still very good, and I'm sure I'll go on to read others in the sequence.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Apr 13, 2017 |
Ӕ
  ngunity | Nov 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ken MacLeodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gibbons, LeeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKie, AngusCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Carol
First words
It was hot on the roof.
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0765301563, Paperback)

A Ken MacLeod book is like a crowded college coffeehouse: noisy, bustling, a little rowdy, and packed with enough wild ideas and competing ideologies to leave you reeling. Star Fraction, MacLeod's 1995 debut, is no exception. As the first installment in the Fall Revolution sequence (followed by The Stone Canal and The Cassini Division), Star Fraction established this Scottish author's formidable talent for mixing complex politics and cyberpunk action into smart, funny stories.

MacLeod avoids heady political theorizing by always personifying his ideas in believable, often articulately passionate characters. (Or as one character puts it, "In my experience politics is guys with guns ripping me off at roadblocks.") Star Fraction's putative protagonists--a Trotskyite mercenary, a fugitive university researcher, and a fundamentalist-turned-atheist programmer--are on the run after a chance combination of marijuana, experimental memory drugs, and a self-aware firearm threatens to awaken a powerful AI on the nets, much to the dismay of the Men In Black and the orbital-laser-wielding U.S./UN. (As with all MacLeod plots, don't bother asking--it's a long story.)

With its ultrabalkanized UK and convoluted cast of neo-Stalinists, AI-Abolitionists, Christianarchists, femininists, et al., Star Fraction is MacLeod at his best--even at his first. --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In a turbulent twenty-first-century Britain ruled by an absentee Hanoverian royal family and controlled by US/UN technology cops, security mercenary Mohn Kohn; Janis Taine, a scientist on the run from the US/UN; and Jordan Brown, a teenage refugee from a religious fundamentalist cult, become caught up in a series of events, controlled by a rogue computer program, that could change the world.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.67)
0.5
1 4
1.5 1
2 8
2.5 5
3 59
3.5 21
4 77
4.5 8
5 33

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 128,986,671 books! | Top bar: Always visible