Science fiction and fantasy
by Ken MacLeod
Matt is a software manager by profession. Ken MacLeod also used to be a programmer. Unfortunately it shows, and Cosmonaut Keep is saturated with geek-speak. At points it reads like a cross between Neuromancer and a computer science text-book.
Jadey and Matt don't work as characters. I barely knew who they were and what they might do next, so it's hard to care about them. Reading Cosmonaut Keep is a very disjointed business, with action in the two different timelines having an entirely different feel. Matt's life is frantic, dangerous and political. Whereas Gregor lives in a more alien yet less immediately threatening environment, civilised yet astonishing. Although Gregor, Elizabeth and Salasso are more engaging characters to read about, there's little sense of danger for them.
The book begins and ends with passages written in the second person, the portion about Matt is written in the first person, and Gregor's bit is in the third. This regular jump of perspective is clumsy and confusing. Book one of the Engines of Light leaves a lot of unanswered questions that we can only hope that the rest of the series will clarify. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but more than that it's not clear why the reader should care about what is taking place.
That's not to say that Cosmonaut Keep is without merit: MacLeod has invented richly imagined new worlds that are a pleasure to explore. His vision is not stinted, and there's plenty of political intrigue that has you wondering what side everyone is on. It's a good read, but not one that rises above the mass of recent space opera to become a must-read.
If you like this, try:Polar City Nightmare by Katherine Kerr and Kate Daniel
This is the second novel in the Polar City series.
House Of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
Millions of years into the future, the fate of the galaxy may depend on the lost memories of a damaged robot.
Salt by Adam Roberts
People set off on a journey to colonise a planet of salt, and make a new life for themselves.
Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Ken Macleod