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The Star Fraction

(The Fall Revolution #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,565 ratings  ·  112 reviews
Moh Kohn is a security mercenary, his smart gun and killer reflexes for hire. Janis Taine is a scientist working on memory-enhancing drugs, fleeing the US/UN's technology cops. Jordan Brown is a teenager in the Christian enclave of Beulah City, dealing in theologically-correct software for the world's fundamentalists-and wants out.

In a balkanized twenty-first century,
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 5th 2002 by Tor Books (first published September 1995)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  2,565 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just one of my favourite books ever. Cracking UK-based future politico-punk, complete with left-libertarian communes and AI inception in a Balkanised Britain. Superb.
Tom Nixon
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I might be overdosing on Ken Macleod by this point in the summer but it's such a good feeling. And with The Star Fraction, you arrive at his first novel and the start of his Fall Revolution sequence. Set in a balkanized Britain of the mid-21st century, The Star Fraction tells the story of security mercenary Moh Kohn who along with scientist Janis Taine is fleeing the US/UN's technology cops. Jordan Brown is a teenage atheist in the Christian fundamentalist of Beulah City that wants out.

I've been trying to read this for a couple of years, and this was my third and last attempt. The first problem the first time around was that it wasn't what I'd expected (having been recommended by Iain M. Banks I was expecting something more operatic). The second time through I just couldn't commit. This time around those first two problems held, and then my inability to engage with any characters (I made it halfway this time, so had more time to get to know them) killed it for me. There was ...more
May 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: cbr4
The Star Fraction is an extremely divisive novel. Partly by design and partly by subject matter. Any book that delves so deeply into the grit and grime of political and economic ideologies is going to be uncomfortable for some of its readers. With that as a given, MacLeod goes and shoots himself in the foot by avoiding picking a side in the end, leaving leftists unfulfilled and members of the right just horribly angry.

If this review does happen to inspire you to read this, I highly encourage
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I seek out genuinely "left" sci-fi and fantasy (Iain Banks, Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin, etc.) and this one was on China Mieville's list of "Fifty Fantasy & Sci-Fi Works that Socialists Should Read". But Star Fraction is much more political than believable. It reads in parts like the wet dream of a left-newspaper seller, with obscure Socialist splinter groups (the "Last International") occupying key positions in world history. There's ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi
‘The Star Faction’ gave me a pleasant feeling of nostalgia, reminding me of all the cyberpunk that I read during my teenage years. Not surprising, as it was published in 1995. Although the focus on convoluted left wing politics gives it an original twist, there’s also a lot of this sort of very familiar business:

"All right," he said. He stood and stretched and grinned at all of them. “I’m gonna need a terminal, my gun, the drug samples, some anti-som tabs, and half a pack of filter joints.” He
Mohammed Abdi Osman
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
After a slow start to this book i couldnt imagine it would end being a smart political near future SF that became much better. It had compelling characters, interesting cyberpunk elements and political ideas,world that made you think. Surprisingly strong for a debut novel.
Sahil Raina
I did not like this book. I found it to be problematic in at least two ways:

1) it replaced science fiction with techno-babble; and
2) it latched onto one, extremely unlikely, world-view and just ran with it.

First, I like science fiction; I do not like techno-babble, which is what parts of this book often became. I remember parts where the author talked about "genetic search algorithms" and other techno-babble type stuff just to throw such words around. Why not just say search? I found that
Nov 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: owned-books
Probably, the worst sci-fi book I've ever read. Boring, and with a near future quite difficult to believe. The story makes no sense. I didn't feel anything for anyone of the characters but indiference. I force myself to finish it, but at the end I skipped the last couple of chapters, enough is enough.

I bought this book following the recomendation of the late Iain Banks, whose books I really enjoyed. Obviously that recommendation was based on his friendship with Macleod and nothing else.

I'm not
Aaron Adamson
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
This was an incredibly dense read. Prepare to navigate your way through every variant of communism, capitalism, socialism, and most other -isms you can think of as you follow the characters through this book. If you do, though, it's certainly worth it.

There's one big idea that I've never thought was sufficiently explored in any sci-fi novel I've read: specifically, the significance of memes as self-interested packets of information that seek to propagate themselves throughout human culture.
I got about 25 percent thru the audiobook, then switched it off.

Pros : Well written dialog and non-dialog. Pretty good world-building and human character development. There were some interesting SF ideas introduced but ...

Cons: Way too much political discussion, mostly, centering on the feverish in-fighting among dozens of factions (communist, socialist, libertarians, anarchists and every combination of these). It got really tiring, really fast. There was a sprinkle of some interesting SF ideas,
Luke Burrage
Clearing out my "currently reading" shelf of books that I abandoned. This one I started reading thinking it was a followup to a different book... but it wasn't.

I got a good 50% of the way though it though. Not sure why, because nothing about it was exactly captivating. Something to do with unionising construction workers? Boring!
Jan Jackson
Nothing special. The characters were no more than shapes, and the politicising heavy-handed and overdone. The gun could have been interesting, but it wasn’t developed. Sort of Iain M. Banks crossed with David Lynch. I won. It didn’t.
A jumble of leftist political ideas without anything too credible to hold them together.

I found the story quite difficult to follow, and the relevance of what was happening at each moment was hard to estimate. It wasn't William Gibson difficult though: MacLeod is nowhere near as good a writer as Gibson. Rather, the writing was just confused and constantly interrupted by his attempts to insert flavour into it and the characters, and/or to make some political joke. But this didn't work for me –
Storyline: 1/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 3/5

This was one of those rare cases where it would have been better to have read an author interview before starting the book. I delight in creativity and surprises to the extent that I usually don't read synopses and always avoid reviews. There was a lot of creativity and some good surprises, but I spent most of the book in a fugue trying to figure out why any of it mattered.

In many ways I should have connected with The Star Fraction. I like
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it
There are a lot of neat ideas in this book, but I think I could've used about 100 more pages of exposition to understand more about the situation of the world. All I really gathered was that it's full of tons of tiny political factions, and I have to admit that I'm not that well-versed in political theory, so sometimes it felt like there were a lot of inside jokes that just went way over my head. ^^;; The plot is incredibly fast-paced and occasionally brutal at dragging the characters along with ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: next-in-line
Norlonto had the smell of a port city, that openness to the world: the sense that you had only to step over a gap to be carried away to anywhere. (Perhaps the sea had been the original fifth-colour country, but it had been irretrievably stained with the bloody ink from all the others.) And it had also the feel that the world had come to it. In part this was illusory: most of the diversity around them had arrived much earlier than the airships and space platforms, yet her and there Kohn could ...more
Jennifer Collins
From the beginning, MacLeod's novel is bound up in political ideologies, philosophy, and various factions of rebels and idealists. And, at heart, this is the problem within the novel. More important than plot or character, it seems that MacLeod wants to explore ideas and logical progressions from historical changes, as wrapped up in Marxist philosophy, socialism, and capitalism. Nothing works, and the characters and scientific developments along the way are alternately stuck in the middle or ...more
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
Perhaps this soars after the first quarter (and I've read some reviews that suggest it improves), but I'm not into it after 25%, and life is short, and I probably won't live to read all the books I would really really have liked, so my patience is limited.

What didn't work for me? Too many viewpoint characters (I'm a quarter in, and some we've only seen once), uneven plotting, lengthy incomprehensible flashbacks (let alone a drug-induced memory-enhancing trip), and a lack of sense of purpose: I
Buzz H.
Oct 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: f-sf
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It reminds me a little of Neuromancer, but that seminal classic moves in fourth and fifth gear. The Star Fraction operates in first and, if you're lucky, second. And it's really the pacing that did this novel in for me. I loved the world and the ideas. The characters were not bad. But the pacing was glacial and cluttered. I ultimately made it only halfway through before putting this one down.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cassini Division, one of the
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting read. When it starts off, it just throws you right into a complex world and political situation, trusting that you can figure it out all by yourself. And you can, with a little bit of work, and it's worth the work.

While at times I feel this was *super* heavy on the socialism theoreticizing and dialog, it is relevant to the story, and does help you understand the reasons behind "current" events.

The plot is multi-threaded and complex, and the characters are similarly complex and
Fraser Simons
“…It bordered Norlonto in a high-intensity contrast between freedom and slavery, war and peace, ignorance and strength. Which was which depended on whose side you were on.”

Another world war and multiple revolutions set the stage for The Star Fraction. The world is balkanized, allowing for many different factions and groups to claim space, their ideological viewpoints fermenting in a cycle that merely shuffles power around in the same oppressive structures we see today; albeit taken to
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
In a world with autonomous city-states constrained only by A Militarised United Nations With Gigantic Space Lasers, Socialist revolutionaries turned mercenaries worry about the singularity. (Maybe not fair?)

I appreciated that the protagonists have different, morally-ambiguous political outlooks, loosely allied against a common enemy of sorts. I also enjoyed a plot point hinging on a character trying to think of an anthem that revolutionaries and Christians alike can get behind (view spoiler)
May 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
A book that manages to be clever while failing to be interesting. As other reviewers have noted, this is a very political book, but not in the sense of actually engaging with substantive issues. Instead MacLeod has grafted several strains of left-of-center politics and their endless in-fighting onto a light science-fiction environment, and then--well--then nothing. That's basically it. This is not a bad book, but it's hardly a good one either.

I suppose there's some entertainment to be had in
After listening to the story for some time, I came to the conclusion that it would have been great stuff some 20 years ago. As a matter of fact, this is quite close to the real release date of the book: 1995. I've got no idea why it took almost 20 years to release the audio book.
As a result nowadays some of the "fresh" ideas on AI and social structures do not appear that fresh anymore. Most of them have been "reinvented" and told several times by other authors during the last two decades. Some
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A decent book, but I found it incredibly hard to get into. Too much going on so it was very difficult to follow it all. Not surprisingly, by the end of the book it was sorted out, but still, I like to get into books, and I couldn't with this one. I will not be likely to read more in this series.
Steven Werber
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
So this is politi-punk and I've never read anything like it. After you get over the fact that you'll have to look up nearly all his political terms and deal with the fact that the first 100 pages is essentially a prelude, it really pick up!!
May 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wasn't really into it. I think it was well written, although there are alot of parentheses and sentences strung together with commas.
Frank Ashe
If this hadn't been written in the 1990s I would have thought it was set in post-Brexit UK. :-)
Jordan Robertshaw-Jowett
Very interesting topics are touched on, but I think it's relatively poor, and more than a bit self-indulgent.
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Goodreads Librari...: Correction 1 12 May 02, 2019 12:44PM  

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Ken MacLeod is an award-winning Scottish science fiction writer.

His novels have won the Prometheus Award and the BSFA award, and been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He lives near Edinburgh, Scotland.

MacLeod graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in zoology and has worked as a computer programmer and written a masters thesis on biomechanics.

His novels often explore socialist,

Other books in the series

The Fall Revolution (4 books)
  • The Stone Canal (The Fall Revolution, #2)
  • The Cassini Division (The Fall Revolution, #3)
  • The Sky Road (The Fall Revolution, #4)
“Intellectually he understood perfectly what the problem was: guilt and doubt, the waste products of innocence and faith, inhibited him and filled him with self-loathing even at his own weakness in trying to be free of them.” 1 likes
“Do AIS dream in electric sleep?

He hoped it had nanosecond nightmares.”
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