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The Stone Canal
by Ken MacLeod
ISBN 0312870531 / 9780312870539 / 0-312-87053-1
Publisher Tor Books
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"So it's true what they say: information wants to be free!" But the information in question, in this case, is Dee Model, a sexy, butt-kicking, love-slave android who's just mysteriously become self-aware, eluded her owner, and filed for her own autonomy. And the person making the remark (ironic given that it's a centuries-old reference) is Ax Terminal, a "freelance professional eunuch and part-time catamite," a resident of New Mars, the wormhole-away-from-Jupiter free-market anarchy set up thanks to the fast-folk, an uploaded race of überhumans experiencing reality and evolving at ultrahigh speeds. Android Dee, as it turns out, may have been nudged toward freedom by Jon Wilde, her cloned body's former husband (they met at Glasgow University back in the '70s), who just recently came back from the dead (revived by himself, in robot form) to join in the struggle between robot abolitionists and the malicious boss man of New Mars, David Reid (Wilde's former rival and owner of the sex slave that happens to be a cloned copy of Wilde's former wife). Now this is what great science fiction is all about.
Action-packed, inventive, and satisfyingly weird, Ken MacLeod's Stone Canal (the retroactively U.S.-released prequel to The Cassini Division) lets loose with a steady stream of challenging ideas and novel technology, taking on questions of free will, identity, and the nature of consciousness, all the while telling a bang-up story. Reminiscent of K.W. Jeter's best work, The Stone Canal certainly deserves a look. --Paul Hughes [via]