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Newton's Wake: A Space Opera
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Newton's Wake: A Space Opera

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,305 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews

In the aftermath of the Hard Rapture-a cataclysmic war sparked by the explosive evolution of Earth's artificial intelligences into godlike beings-a few remnants of humanity managed to survive. Some even prospered.

Lucinda Carlyle, head of an ambitious clan of galactic entrepreneurs, had carved out a profitable niche for herself and her kin by taking contr
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 2004)
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Ben Babcock
I am so confused. It was all going well until the last few chapters, and then the story metamorphosed into a bizarre garden of shards of reality, and I lost the plot entirely.

Singularity and post-Singularity fiction does not seem to be my friend these days! In Newton’s Wake, the Singularity—which Ken MacLeod refers to as “the Hard Rapture” here—happens, and a vast percentage of the Earth’s population are involuntarily uploaded to machines. The AIs bootstrap themselves into faster-than-light star
Space opera tale of a universe where human society was almost wiped out by machines it created. In the aftermath, there are several groups vying for control and several bear tongue in cheek names to organizations we would recognize.

Apparently, when the machines had almost destroyed Earth, some human chose to stay and fight and the others, believed to be cowards, fled to another galaxy.

Wormholes, which are sort of like short cut tunnels or teleportation, discover these cowards who have created
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: space-opera
Ok, so I really tried. I finished it this morning and I still don't know if i enjoyed it or if I would recommend it to anyone. He's a good writer, with a brilliant imagination. I enjoyed the tech, the world is different to anything I've encountered... but I think it stresses the idea of a space 'opera' too much, it read like a bloody opera. Just too much drama, and too much random unconnected events.

But I'll give MacLeod another chance before finalizing my opinion.
Bryan Alexander
Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a novel I wanted to like much more than I ultimately did.

I like Ken MacLeod's other novels very much. The Fall Revolution series was excellent; I taught one of the books at the end of my British novels seminar. These are richly imagined tales with intricate plots and challenging world-building, combining deep knowledge of left politics with science. I didn't appreciate some of his later titles as much, but liked that way they handled blogging (Learning The World, The Execution Channel).
May 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
Not only is Newton's Wake: A Space Opera bad, it is positively obnoxious. The story is breathtakingly unoriginal and its technology is farcical. When need comes to resurrect two folk singers whose personalities have long since been digitized, the process is thus: (1) dump "two heavy paper sacks labelled 'Human (dry)—Sterile if Sealed,'" into a tank; (2) add water. I shit you not.

Need I say more? But I will. Several of the characters speak in a thick Glaswegian brogue that, when rendered in print
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I was surprised to read a number of negative reviews of this book... very surprised. This is good, classic, entertaining Space Opera with a twist.
We are in a future, post-apocalyptic, Universe. The machines became sentient aka "Terminator" and things just became more interesting (as in the Chinese saying) as a result. Humanity has divided into a number of specialised "clans" and we are asked to join the Carlyles (who control the skein, or interweaving wormhole, which makes travel interesting - n
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book presents an some interesting ideas, but the author has a long way to go to make truly wonderful science fiction. The potential is there.

The story doesn't really seem to start until about halfway through the book. The beginning section provides some information about the world of the book, but it does not provide anything to the story or the characters. It is often muddy, dragging, and really doesn't have a direction.

There is also a story line about singers that seems forced into the boo
Feb 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Newton's Wake by Ken MacLeod has some good ideas and interesting characters within it's pages but in the end it can't find an ending or a villain to cheer for when the good guys possibly win the day.

Taking place in the future where singularities, faster than light travel and backing yourself up before going out on a dangerous mission the story is quite simple: A group of combat archeologists find a world named Eurydice that was cut off from Earth after a devastating war and bit by bit everyone f
Lewis Sellers
Reminded me a bit of Vernor Vinge's _A Fire Upon The Deep_. (A favorite of mine.) For the most part enjoyed the first 80% of the novel. After that though it became unclear what was going on, and more especially _Why_. We are left with soft, dream-like imagery with no real conflicts to speak of. Along that line, the conflict we should be speaking of, the one the novel sets up pieces and relationships for, builds up for most of the work, passes by quickly once it happens, almost a non-event (aside ...more
Philip Dickinson
May 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
The story starts well but spirals into a chaos made of it's own cleverness. It's the science fiction equivalent of a man-drawer...full of curious ideas and interesting bobbins, none of which belong or work together. Ken almost got me to care what happened to Lucinda Carlyle but fell short. I quite like fallible heroes but it's not good when they blunder about ineffectually, not managing to influence their own outcomes positively in the least.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is the proportion of the
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I wanted some chewy scifi (nothing hard enough to require work, just something a bit toothsome). This got the job done – post singularity wormhole explorers playing in the remnants of godlike AI’s, space communists, mass consciousness uploads, etc. Second cousin to Stargate original flavor with a certain Kage Baker-ish soupcon to the protagonist, the faintest touch of the gigglies, and some deliberately terrible folk music as a bonus. Nothing groundbreaking or particularly new or exciting, but i ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it liked it
So this is a difficult review to write. I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but it has some pretty deep flaws, so a pro/con list is probably the best way to do it.

Pro: The setting. This is a fairly original space opera setting in the sense that is captures most of the traditional points of the sub-genre (interesting factions, FTL, grand battles, larger than life machines, etc) but puts a modern spin on them (injects transhumanism, a surprising degree of intellectual/scientific rigor, less accepting
Mike Franklin
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Newton’s Wake is set in a post singularity universe populated by a somewhat quirky collection of four different factions: America Offline – American farmers who escaped the ‘Hard Rapture’ largely due to their being almost entirely disconnected, and who still prefer to farm rather than get involved with technology; the Knights of the Enlightenment – Indian and Japanese martial artists interested in the remnants of post hard rapture technology but wary of it; the DK – descendants of Chinese and Ko ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Unfortunately, I found it very difficult to care about the main protagonist or her goals: we're never given any substantial idea of what came in her life before we meet her during the book's inciting incident, so I couldn't get a handle on her, or find her family's greed-based motives particularly appealing or interesting. And I found it hard to follow the thread of events, even outside the realm of the posthuman, so it was a bit of a slog for me. There's some nice ideas here and there though, a ...more
Pete Young
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Newton’s Wake might be the kind of book that we wish would come to us more often in science fiction, and had MacLeod not almost single-handedly raised the bar of political writing within the genre there could be more than the scant few British SF writers who can keep up with this kind of artistic and very literate satire. And gosh, it’s science fiction too. This is MacLeod’s first proper stand-alone novel and that is essentially a good thing, for if he added much more to the Newton’s Wake univer ...more
Evan Ye
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Characters are ok, they have depth and unique personalities that feel real to me.
Setting was wonderful, the interplanetary skien network, pulsar-bombed planets, and post-singularity society was fun to read about.
The plot lost me - it felt forced at times and I never had a clear idea of why things were happening.
Very slow, dull characters, nothing much happens.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Kind of lost me towards the end, but maybe that was my fault for putting it aside for a week after getting 80% through. But I didn't expect to be so bewildered when I picked it up again.
Peter Pinkney
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great intelligent SF. Macleod is up there with his friend Iain M. Banks-great humour, and good politics. Can't understand some of the poor reviews
Rikhard Von Katzen
A good book. Its themes remind me of the "Singularity Sky" novels by Charles Stross as well as "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson.
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Nice moments, but meandering
Isabel (kittiwake)
Dec 08, 2011 rated it liked it
'Where is here, anyway?'
'We call the planet Eurydice. The star — we don't have a name for it. We know it is in the Sagittarius Arm.’
'No shit!' Carlyle grinned with unfeigned delight. 'We didn't know the skein stretched this far.'
She waved her hands. 'That wormhole, it's linked to lots of others in a sort of messy tangle.'
He stared at her' his teeth playing on his lower lip.
'And you and your colleagues came here through the wormhole?'
'Of course.' She wrapped her arms around herself while
Eoghann Irving
Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I've read and enjoyed Ken MacLeod's early science fiction novels, but somewhere along the way I lost track of his output. Perhaps because he's not as well known here in the US and his books tend to be less visible. So while this book has been out for some years now, I'm only just getting around to it.

I expect MacLeod's work to have a strong political element to it and that isn't really true for Newton's Wake. The various cultures in the book certainly have very distinct political systems but the
Nov 01, 2014 rated it liked it
I think that this is another book that initially caught my eye because of the cover art. I'm always on the lookout for another good space opera, that's not too hard-science-y but not too flaky-fantastical, that describes imaginative life and civilizations, that boldly goes where no space opera has gone before. Newton's Wake gets close to new civilizations but doesn't quite bring them alive, and goes confidently into well-established territory. Still, I enjoyed the read. I think the characters ar ...more
The book was good, but not great. The problem seemed to be that it wanted to be a Big Ideas Action Adventure /and/ a satirical comedy, and didn't quite pull either off very well.

One character had most of the laughs, Ben Ami a playwright who styled himself after Shakespeare and produced amusingly awful plays that were still inexplicably popular. We hear references to plays such as "The Madness of George II, President of America" and his reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet that used genuine anti-
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
From the very beginning of this attempt at an epic space opera I was uncomfortable.

"As soon as she stepped through the gate Lucinda Carlyle knew the planet had been taken and knew it would be worth taking back." How do you assess a planet in an instant? You can't, of course and readers know that.

From the beginning the reader is assaulted with worm hole travel, faster than light space ships (flitters), nanotechnology, artificial intelligence's that can store deceased humans for resurrection and a
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
MacLeod's space opera follows nowadays common threat: the humanity is out there in the space and possesses wondrous technology which it does not fully understand and doesn't even put this understanding very high on its list of future goals. So the humanity stumbles on in an eternal struggle between its various factions a little bit afraid what might lay ahead and some what concerned about what it has created in the past.

So the story follows the many factions of humanity, the ones that were left
Jonathan Bergeron
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well holy shit, I was not expecting this. I had never heard of Ken MacLeod before finding out about Newton’s Wake on io9. For years I kept myself to a small group of authors, only occasionally branching out, and then quickly running back to my cave when those works people love (i.e. Dune) couldn’t hold my interest no matter how hard I tried to read them.

This year has been different, I’ve been trying to read as many different authors as I can. Lots of them have been terrible in my opinion, but I
Mar 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Rob by: io9
Maybe if io9 hadn't pumped up my expectations so much, I would have enjoyed this one more. Not bad—a fun read, in fact—but not one "that will change your life".

Ken MacLeod gives us a fun, rollicking space opera replete with the familiar tropes of faster-than-light ships (bounded by causality laws), wormhole gates (set up as a network for traveling), posthuman minds (bounded by virtual reality prisons), and the fractured competing empires of humankind (in exodus). MacLeod's story borrows a bit fr
Tom Leary
May 24, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: science fictions fans
Recommended to Tom by:
I went into this book looking for an engaging Science Fiction story with multiple interesting story lines which touch on one-another and comprise a while story.

I ended up with a somewhat disjointed story that never seemed to find closure. there were a lot of different characters that I found unmemorable and, consequently, hard to differentiate between. There also seemed to be clear visualizations in the authors mind which I couldn't capture in my own.

Most frustrating was the final description o
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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, c
More about Ken MacLeod

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“Carlyle spread her hands. ‘I speculated that it was the remains of the starship that took the Eurydiceans to the planet. This seems to have been borne out.’ She smiled. ‘It transmitted a defensive virus that contained Microsoft patches.” 0 likes
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