Making the trains run on time, part 2

The Sky Road, Ken MacLeod

The other kind of comfort reading is left-wing Scots sf novels. For some reason it has taken me a couple of years to get around to reading this, the fourth book in his Fall Revolution series, I think because I was worried that he couldn’t top The Cassini Division. I didn’t find it to be quite as maniacally fun as the latter book, but it was still enjoyable, and it left me with the feeling that the whole point of the series was to give him the opportunity to depict as many different anarchist utopias as possible. The Sky Road adds a sort of anarcho-steampunk future to the anarcho-socialist and anarcho-capitalist futures in The Cassini Division, although it has to resort to an alternative timeline to fit them all in.

Ken has a knack for pulling out all the stops and ending his books on a rousing climax which hits this sentimental old sf fan right in the guts: The Sky Road concludes with a wonderfully moving image which I won’t spoil.

I’m used to Ken’s politics making me uneasy, so I’m not surprised that there was a creepy bit in The Sky Road where the narrator talks about how in the bad old days (ie now) the place was full of ‘usurers’ and I felt for a second like I was back reading about Ezra Pound. The only other excuse for this post’s title is that the book has a pretty a good joke about the English rail system.

The political queasiness is why I only intermittently visit his blog, but this recent post about how he used Njal’s Saga as part of the basis for the anarcho-capitalist society in The Stone Canal is pretty good.

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