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THE SKY ROAD by Ken MacLeod

THE SKY ROAD

By Ken MacLeod

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-87335-2
Publisher: Tor

Another in MacLeod's future series, this one a sort of prequel to The Stone Canal (Jan. 2000) with at least one character in common. Centuries after the Deliverance, in which Myra Godwin averted global war and possible human extinction, humans are again reaching into space. In Scotland, historian/scholar Clovis has taken a summer job as a welder on a primitive spaceship powered by antique fusion engines. Beautiful Merrial takes him as her lover; she's a Tinker, a clan of scientist-engineers who've preserved some of the ancient knowledge: they build seer-stones (optical computers) using poorly understood nanotechnology. Merrial says the ship may be in danger, and the Tinkers need information hidden away in the Deliverer's ancient files at Glashu. Clovis, who's writing a biography of Myra, agrees to help. They access an ancient computer containing Myra's artificial intelligence, Parvus, but Merrial insists on stealing the files. As a result, Clovis loses his studentship and his job. Meanwhile, in the Balkanized 21st century, Myra must wheel-and-deal to prevent disaster, her one advantage an orbiting stockpile of old nuclear weapons coveted by the dangerous, seemingly unstoppable Sheenisov with their weird, invulnerable Babbage computers. But running the Sheenisov, Parvus learns, is the General, a rogue AI with its own agenda. In order to Deliver the world, Myra may have to destroy it.

MacLeod's quietly and steadily setting forth a remarkable future history: this entry's politically still on the heavy side, but fascinatingly and refreshingly different.