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Ken MacLeod – The Sky RoadThe Sky Road is the forth and final instalment in Ken MacLeod's Fall Revolution Series – a fitting end to the series (although there's always scope to write more into the gaps in the history) if not the best book in it in my opinion.
The book starts with what comes across as pseudo-fantasy and a sex scene (no, come back, it's of survivable quality as such things go), set in a culture/community set on the Scottish West coast which is, on behalf the world at large, bootstrapping its way back into space (see Cosmonaut Keep for a re-visit of that idea). There is quite some history to that world – "The Americans fell, but their Empire lived on as the Possession, until the Deliverer roles in the East and struck it down", to give a key quote. Key protagonist are Clovis colha Gree, a student of History (a slightly suspect occupation) and Merrial, a Tinker/Engineer, both working on the 'ship' which his being built to re-start humanity's path into space after centuries of being Earth-bound,again.

There is a parallel thread around Myra Godwin-Davidova, still in charge of the ISTWR (International Scientific and Technical Worker's Republic – a splinter area from Kazahstan), as she deals with political intrigue, David Reid's Space Merchants organization (mainly bonded labour camps) who are about to make the final push into space, and the advance of the Sheenisov (Chinese/Soviet troops, rolling up Eurasia East to West).
The reader realizes fairly soon that the two strands are not co-temporary, although the relationships and connections only emerge later in the story.

The book uses the earlier three as touch point to fit its threads into the larger picture, although, unlike the first 3 books in the series which kinda inter-twine and form a whole, The Sky Road could actually stand on its own, the references feel, for the most part, bolted on, unnecessary, and didn't really work for me.
It is definitely the funniest book in the series, especially in a lot of the small detail which kept making me grin. Ken seems to have a lot of fun with contemporary Scottish references to places and history, too, including calling, from Clovis point of (historical) view, the Glasgow Underground "one of the Wonders of the Ancient World". I shall refrain from comment. I also found the reversal of having the techies (aka Tinkers) as travelling semi-outcasts plying their trade to the townfolk (I won't spoil your fun of detecting where those came from).
The book also feels like Ken was reaching for more, for something bigger, something more epic, but couldn't – yet? – pull it off in that novel.

Overall this is maybe not the strongest book in the series, but definitely worth reading (well, so is the entire series in my opinion), a recommended addition to everyone's reading pile.


Title: The Sky Road
Series: The Fall Revolution
Series Number: 4/4
Author: Ken MacLeod
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net
Publisher:  Orbit
Publisher URL: http://www.orbitbooks.co.uk
Publication Date: 1999
Review Date: 100522
ISBN: 1857239679
Price: UKP 6.99
Pages: 291
Format: Paperback
Topic: SF
Topic: Space Opera

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