THE STONE CANAL by Ken MacLeod

THE STONE CANAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It’s understandable that Tor chose to make The Cassini Division, this Scottish writer’s splendidly direct, uncluttered, and action-packed third novel, into MacLeod’s 1999 US debut (p. 840); but it’s also annoying—inasmuch as The Stone Canal (his second novel, UK publication 1996) is a direct precursor. Dave Reid and Jon Wilde meet at Glasgow University in the 1970s, and their fates entwine: They become friends, political foes, rivals for the same woman’s affections, and movers and shakers in a 21st-century world of fragmented, polarized societies and incessant wars. Wilde, eventually shot dead (he blames Reid), reawakens 50 years later—death is no longer permanent—in a robot body in space. Bossed by Reid, Jon and others are building a universe-spanning wormhole near Jupiter—but they’re slaves of the “macros,” agglomerations of computerized post-human mentalities living thousands of times faster than ordinary humans. Fortunately, the macros soon destroy themselves, though some survive on Jupiter. In the second narrative strand, four centuries hence, Reid is gangster-in-chief of distant, capitalist-anarchist New Mars. Robot Jay Dub (Wilde, still in his hardware body) clones a copy of his own flesh then liberates Reid’s computer/android sex-slave, Dee Model, whose body is a clone of Wilde’s wife—thus precipitating a struggle between abolitionists (freedom for intelligent machines!) and Reid’s status quo. Another wonderfully knotty, inventive, intelligent yarn, if top-heavy with political minutiae that even dyed-in-the-wool Anglophiles will have a hard time deciphering.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-87053-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2000




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