The Cassini Division
|Publisher:||St Martins Pr|
Ellen May Ngewthu is a young woman with centuries of experience, a soldier and leader of the Cassini Division, the elite defense force of the utopian Solar Union. Here in the twenty-fourth century, the forts of the Division, in orbit around a mysteriously transformed Jupiter, are the front line in humanity’s long standoff with the unknowable posthumans—godlike and remote beings descended from the people who transformed themselves with high technology centuries ago.
The posthumans’ capacities are unknown…but we know they disintegrated Ganymede, we know they punched a wormhole into Jovian space, and we know that the very surface of the solar system’s largest planet has been altered by their incomprehensible artifacts. Worst of all, we know that they have been bombarding the solar system with powerful data viruses for generations.
Now Ellen has a plan to rid humanity of this threat once and for all. But she needs to recruit the right people to her cause—and convince them to mistrust the posthumans as much as she does.
Her quest will take her to the mid-Atlantic towers of Solar Union Earth, to the green ruins of London, and, in the farthest reaches of human space, to the long-separated libertarian colony of New Mars. In the process, much will be revealed—about history, about power, and about what it is to be human.
With his third novel, Ken MacLeod elaborates on the future timeline from his first two works, The Star Fraction (1995) and The Stone Canal (1996). Most relevant is book two, which established a colony on the remote world of New Mars via a spatial wormhole created by superhumans—transcendent machine-hosted intelligences called the “fast-folk.” The original fast-folk crashed from too much contemplation of their metaphorical navels, but their descendants on Jupiter still harass Earth with virus transmissions that have killed off computers and the Internet. Enter heroine Ellen May Ngwethu of the Cassini Division, an elite space-going force created to defend against the fast-folk. Her wild doings in the 24th century’s anarcho-socialist utopia make for fun reading—everyone will covet her smart-matter clothing that can become a spacesuit, combat outfit, evening gown, or satellite dish at will. But the Division’s political philosophy is brutally tough, with alarming plans to use a planet-wrecking doomsday weapon against “enemies,” who may not be hostile at all. In a climax of slam-bang space battle, MacLeod crashes the ongoing ethical debate into a brick wall and leaves you gasping. Witty, skillful, provocative, but just a trifle too glibly resolved. —David Langford, Amazon.co.uk