January 01, 2006

The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod

a rocket on its launchpad in a field of blackSee if we can finish up the reviews for 2005 here. This story is told in two timelines. The first is far in the future following a major global disaster where Clovis, a history graduate student, meets a woman, Merrial, while he's working a summer job building the first spaceship to be launched following the disaster. Merrial is a "tinker," a member of the small subculture that still mucks about with computer technology and software. The second timeline is before the disaster and follows Myra Godwin-Davidova, the People's Commissar for Social Policy, Prime Minister Pro-Tem, and acting President of the International Scientific and Technical Workers' Republic, an entity existing somewhere in the vicinity of Kazakhstan.

The two threads are connected, of course, but how exactly is not revealed until mid-way through the book. I really liked the Clovis and Merrial thread from the beginning, but had a hard time getting traction with the Myra thread until the connection became clear (the connection wasn't really a surprise, but there was enough ambiguity about it that I didn't want to make any assumptions). MacLeod does a wonderful job of writing characters with realistic grey areas. It's not always clear who's acting in good faith. The characters themselves have to muddle through with best guesses about each other's motives. Reading a book where this is true points out how rarely books are written this way. It seems a much more interesting and honest way to tell stories about humans to me.

This book is the fourth in MacLeod's Fall Revolution series. I didn't read them in order, and it doesn't seem to be necessary to do so. I can see that rereading them in different orders is likely to throw different characters and parts of the narrative history into the spotlight. And they're worth rereading both for the characters and the fascinating future history MacLeod put together.

Posted by jeffy at January 1, 2006 05:24 PM
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