(I wrote this review many moons ago, but many ppl refused to publish it. I wasn't asking like real life papers, just a few communities and things, none of whom have ever got their papers in gear. So here it is. A very good book.)

Review of Ken MacLeod's "The Star Fraction"

This book is one of my favourite books ever. I thought I'd just say that first off to avoid any accusations of bias, as I freely admit that I am biased towards this book.

Now I've got that over and done with, let's deal with the actual book. This book is about a near distant future, where various things have happened that could (theoretically, and not too far beyond the realms of reason) happen to our current world. Another major war has happened, and the end consequences (in the UK where the book is based) is that Britain has dissolved into a collection of autonomous communities. One of the many people in this new future is Moh Kohn, a security mercenary (and a fifth-generation 4th internationalist). We initially meet Moh defending a science park from attacks by various animal-rights and computer-rights people (cranks and creeps in the local lingo), with the help of his smart, but not-quite sentient gun, which he refers to as the Swiss Army Gun, as it's a fairly powerful computer with all sorts of bolted on miscellaney. In the process of this, he meets up with Janis Taine, a scientist experimenting with memory drugs. After her lab gets raided, she hires Moh to protect her, and they head to one the largest communities, Norlonto (was North London town), which was handed to the space-and-freedom party (Norlonto is once referred to as the 5th colour country.. is anyone else geeky enough to get that little joke I wonder?), of which Moh is technically a member of the party (although anyone can go in or out of the areas, it just happens that Moh has an association with Norlonto). They meet up in a pub with another major character, Jordan Brown (book blurb: a teenage atheist with a guilty conscience and an urgent need to get a life), who is a recent refugee from Beulah City (a Christian area). Jordan helps out Moh in the tracking down of Catherine Duvalier (a.k.a. Cat) an ex-lover of Moh's, who's current employer, Donovan - the founder member of the Carbon Life Alliance (a bunch of AI-paranoids - boo,hiss), has issued a hue-and-cry (a sort of legal threat with added vigilante tones) against Moh for releasing Cat unconditionally (a great offence against her).

Ok, wow that's a lot of stuff, and I'm not even majorly into the book yet.... there's other fun stuff, involving an AI referred to as the 'Watchmaker entity' (additional geeky reference there), and things with Moh and the gun, and all sorts of fun and various geeky references. Oh, and check out the chapter titles. They sometimes makes sense, and sometimes not, but they're all fun. Basically this is a very compact book, there's a lot in it's 300+ pages. Also this is only the first book in a series, covering at least 5 centuries into the future, and starting from about 1970's. There's also the Stone Canal, the Cassini Division and the Sky Road, and possibly more yet to come, though I doubt it.

I think the only thing that I can really say is to just go and buy it, it's really good. I love it, and I came onto it by accident. If you like any sort of futurist sci-fi, you'll love this. It's sort of post-cyberpunk-ish. The closest similar writer is Iain Banks (the two are actually good friends), but without so much of the vast universe stuff in many of the Culture novels (I like those also, but this is more about an physically close urban society, which is also interesting).

We need more books/writers of this vastly high standard. I will write about the other gems I have found at some later point.
Update: UoB's Science Fiction and Fantasy Society has published this in their "Launchpad" magazine. Took them a while...

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