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The Star Fraction    by Ken MacLeod order for
Star Fraction
by Ken Macleod
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2001 (1995)
* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This is the first novel in the highly praised Fall Revolution series, which continued with The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division and The Sky Road. If you are a science fiction afficionado, and have not yet read Ken Macleod, start with The Star Fraction and read the others in sequence. This is particularly desirable if you have been raised in the North American culture: Macleod's future world is founded on a very different philosophical basis, and a very different political morality.

Moh Kohn is a mercenary in a balkanised near-future England, broken up into small, fiercely independent communities held together by sometimes wildly eccentric religious or political beliefs. His father was a computer genius whose revolutionary programs are still in use worldwide, but Moh cannot forget how his parents were assassinated. Jordan Brown is a teenager in the fundamentalist Christian enclave of Beulah City, producing theologically correct software. His principles are limited; he will do anything necessary to steal enough money to get him out of Beulah.

Janis Taine is a scientist who has made a breakthrough in memory-enhancing drugs, but is in danger from the Stasis, a group under the US/UN hegemony which controls scientific development. To be safe she must reach the anarchic enclave of Norlonto, and for that she needs Moh's help. Moh accidentally comes under the influence of her drugs, and receives a mind-shattering influx of data from the computer network, through the mysterious Watchmaker. He and Janis become involved in the counterrevolution of the ANR, whose Socialist republic had been betrayed, forcing them into guerrilla action against the Hanoverian puppet rulers.

This is diamond-edged and highly sophisticated science fiction, which Maclean's wit and intelligence makes extremely readable. The Star Fraction cannot be too highly recommended.

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