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Dark Light

av Ken MacLeod

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: Engines of Light (2)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7331622,271 (3.48)16
The Second Sphere is thousands of light years away from Earth - if Earth still exists. For Matt Cairns and the cosmonauts of the Bright Star, this distant corner of the galaxy is their new home. But the Second Sphere is also home to other civilisations, lifted from their worlds by a race of god-like aliens. On Croatan, two of these civilisations live a precarious co-existence, separated by eons of technological advance. The arrival of the Bright Star is an event that may trigger disaster, for this is the first human-crewed starship to arrive at the ancient colony. And all the time, hidden among the stars, the gods are watching. They have always been watching. Find out more about this title and others at www.orbitbooks.co.uk… (mer)
Senast inlagd avNigel.Minton, privat bibliotek, maniakus, AJRannie, skeletor_999, divinenanny, gyme
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    Cosmonaut Keep av Ken MacLeod (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Sames series. The trilogy is more than the sum of the parts.
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This book is the second in the trilogy 'Engines of Light'; it certainly cannot stand on its own, requiring the reader to be reasonably familiar with the events of the first novel, 'Cosmonaut Keep'. A number of reviewers have commented that they feel it suffers from 'middle book syndrome', wherein nothing much happens at considerable length to fulfil the requirement for a trilogy to have a Middle. I'm not so sure about that. This certainly isn't identikit space opera fare; as such, I suspect some people are seeing "Book Two" on the cover and putting their poor reaction to the story down to middle book syndrome.

The thing is this: Ken Macleod has not written a conventional space opera. In book one, we were introduced to the Second Sphere, a distant star system populated by a mix of humans and evolved creatures whose origin was Earth but whose ancestors were all abducted from this world in prehistoric times by alien superbeings, for reasons as yet undiscovered. Also in the Second Sphere are the descendents of the crew of the first human starship to leave Earth. Some of those descendents aren't; a number of the original crew appear to have acquired great longevity. Trade between the worlds ot the Second Sphere is conducted by faster-than-light starships, but having an ftl drive does not excuse those who travel from system to system from the inconveniences of relativistic star flight; centuries can pass between starship visits. Traders' ships are piloted by krakens, one of the evolved ancient species abducted from Earth. Humans are not permitted starflight - until the cosmonaut familiies of the world of Mingulay rediscover its secrets and recommission the only human starship, the Bright Star, to travel to nearby worlds to try to find Answers to all the Big Questions.

'Cosmonaut Keep' was written as one of Macleod's stranded narratives, with two different stories at two different times and places intertwined and coming together at the end (although the reader has to infer this). But that bringing together of the strands means that there is only a single story going forward; the arrival of the Bright Star at the world of Croatan, and the impact that arrival has on local politics and the lives of some of its inhabitants.

In the course of the story, the crew of the Bright Star communicate with two of the godlike entities that can be found around each of the inhabited worlds. What they find spurs them to action; and that action forces change on the inhabitants of Croatan. Those inhabitants have a society divided between an urban, technologically savvy (but roughly mid-20th Century level) society, inhabiting one major, industrialised city; and an isolated, roughly Celtic level society descended from transplanted prehistoric humans who have no access to metals but have evolved a society and an econonic niche based on handicrafts and the manufacture of gliders and sophisticated hot-air balloons. This second society also has a different take on issues of gender identity and assignation. Whether an individual in this society identifies (or is identified) as male or female is dependant on role and status, and not on biology. Macleod plays with these ideas in a very easy way.

The second half of the novel is taken up with the cosmonauts' reactions to what they learn from the planetary superbeings and how they play out those reactions against the political backdrop of Croatan. We are looking here at two characters who are skilled political organisers. It's a Ken Macleod novel, so of course there's radical politics in it, though once more he rings the changes on political organisation and actually shows that organisation in action on the ground.

At the end of the novel, the lives of the POV characters on Croatan are changed. In that, this isn't a typical 'middle book'. At the same time, the characters who came along from 'Cosmonaut Keep' have changed, learnt, and made their decisions about how they take matters forward. There is the continuity of the trilogy. The plot of events on Croatan is self-contained, though I said at the outset that you need to have read 'Cosmonaut Keep' and that remains true because without it, the reader will not understand the motivations of the cosmonaut characters. But the world-building is well handled, and the political machinations have their own momentum.

One criticism: two characters from the first book, who featured fairly heavily in it, are sent off to a university laboratory to Do Important Sciency Things and do not reappear until the end of the novel. It may be that this book didn't need them but that they will be needed in the third volume; but their sidelining is irritatingly obvious.

So, a book which confounds those expecting the obvious. The thrid book promises more encounters with the godlike aliens. ( )
2 rösta RobertDay | Sep 4, 2019 |
The story line of this saga (of which Dark Light is book 2) is so complex I hesitate to even try to outline it. Krakens, humans, saurs, all sentient beings from old Earth were relocated to a solar system on the far side of the galaxy. But why? Well, it appears the gods--that is the complex life forms that have evolved in the vacuum iof outer space have had a hand in that. In the first book the goal is to re-achieve mastery of light speed travel, this second installment addresses the Why Did They Put Us Here? The answer is . . . well, that would be a spoiler, eh? I like the story and many aspects of the characters but there is something about MacLeod's writing style I don't like and find annoying. That would be too many short-hand sentences, that is, rough writing, choppy and often without a subject or verb. I've questioned my periods of confusion about who is fighting whom and why wondering if I'm just stupid but I don't think so. The political piece here mainly human-human and comprised of a socialist/democratic/capitalist debate that crops up in the conflict between some human immortals (to tinker or not to tinker in politics) plus the issue of interstellar trading and the enormous effect the infrequent visits of huge trading ships on the peoples they visit (as well as themselves). Any one of these could have been a fine focus -- I truly think there is too much crammed in here for any one aspect to be analyzed sufficiently. It is also seems improbable to me that the other alien races don't have their own compelling agendas - the books seem very anthropocentric. On the other hand, MacLeod just about pulls it off. Not easy reading is what I'm saying, this is relatively demanding sf many-layered, worth it though. ***1/2 ( )
1 rösta sibylline | Jan 3, 2018 |
In Cosmonaut Keep, the first volume of the trilogy for which Dark Light is the second, there is a distinctive dichotomy of narrative voice around the character Matt Cairns. In this second book, "his" sections are set off by being written in the present tense, while others are in past tense. It's not as clear to me in this case why author Ken MacLeod made that choice, but it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

A lot of this book concerns dilemmas set up by the ethical conflicts created by perspective and timescale. These are a function of relativistic interstellar travel, the mysterious longevity of the cosmonaut heroes, and the longer lifespans of some non-human intelligences. Perhaps this focus of interest played into the differentiation of tenses.

Another key topic is the cultural creation of gender, and the possibility of dissociating it from both organic sexual difference and sexual preference. The demonstrations in this case are centered on the Sky People, descendants of stone-age space emigrants from terrestrial Europe, who have a balloon-and-glider aeronautic technology.

Most of the central characters from the first book continue here, and this second volume is very much a series artifact. Where I was pleased with the sense of completion at the end of the first book, this one would not suit as a beginning or an end. There is not enough exposition to make up for any omission of the setting information and character motives introduced in Cosmonaut Keep, and the little bit of closure that Dark Light seemed to hold out in the final chapter was yanked away at the end.

Still, I enjoyed it all the way through, and will be going on to the final book directly.
3 rösta paradoxosalpha | Dec 26, 2015 |
the characters are kind of thin, I don't really know what's going, but I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ( )
  ansate | Nov 7, 2014 |
In the second book of the Engines of Light series the immortal Earthlings travel to a new planet in the Second Sphere to bring political and economical upheaval to it. Fast pacing and mostly interesting... ( )
  TheCrow2 | Mar 3, 2012 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Ken MacLeodprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Gibbons, LeeOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Martiniere, StephanOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Don't fear that philosophy's an impious way
--superstition's more likely to lead folks astray.

--Lucretius, De rerum natura Book One paraphrased by Joanna Taine
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Ralistron sprawls; from space it's a grubby smudge, staining the glassy clarity of the atmosphere along fifty kilometers of coastline.
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In their short and relatively privileged lives they've never encountered any authority that wasn't light-handed and legitimate, and Matt's pretty sure they don't know how to behave when they encounter the other sort. For himself, he'll try disrespect first, and if that doesn't work, and resistance isn't an option, he'll grovel. The important thing is not to pretend that voluntary consent is involved, either way.
Anyone convicted of a heinous crime may be sentenced to death by public stoning. There is no need to be alarmed by this. The maximum sentence is seldom applied, and when it is, it is usually commuted to death by firing squad.

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The Second Sphere is thousands of light years away from Earth - if Earth still exists. For Matt Cairns and the cosmonauts of the Bright Star, this distant corner of the galaxy is their new home. But the Second Sphere is also home to other civilisations, lifted from their worlds by a race of god-like aliens. On Croatan, two of these civilisations live a precarious co-existence, separated by eons of technological advance. The arrival of the Bright Star is an event that may trigger disaster, for this is the first human-crewed starship to arrive at the ancient colony. And all the time, hidden among the stars, the gods are watching. They have always been watching. Find out more about this title and others at www.orbitbooks.co.uk

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