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Newton's Wake: A Space Opera

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,422 ratings  ·  136 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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3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,422 ratings  ·  136 reviews

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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
Dirk Grobbelaar
Resurrections had to be sponsored. It was a big responsibility, bringing people back from the dead. This was one reason why it wasn’t done very much.

A novel with some nifty ideas, but which did not quite generate a corresponding level of excitement.
I suppose it has to do with what rings your bell. In my case I can only speculate. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I didn’t get super-excited about all the cultural and social quirks of the Eurydiceans, or about all the “Returner” vs “Reformer
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
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
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
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
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
Aug 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: MacLeod fans
Recommended to Susanne by: internets
Shelves: sff
Ended up with only 3 stars because it starts to drag around the half-way mark. I hugely enjoyed the beginning, I liked the concept and the posthuman history - I like having me my post-singularity explained and shown in sprinkled detail.

But once the Lamont plot strand kick in, I'd have wished for a more speedy execution. Everything just seems to take too long - a sign that I'm getting impatient and not being invested enough in the story.

I couldn't bring myself to enjoy the Ben-Ami/Winter/Calder s
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
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A tale of Glaswegian gangsters in space, set in future where Earth has been evacuated and left to the war machines. Now all that's left are a sect of Japanese ninjas, Korean industrial communists and a family of neds from the east-end of Glasgow who control the wormhole gate nexus. Well, at least they did until one of them stumbles upon a whole new world.

I quite liked the story although MacLeod's frequent use of the Glesca dialect did start to get a bit wearing.
May 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, 2013-read
Slightly disorientating at first due the the unfamiliar universe, technology and dialect used but once things become more familiar it picks up pace. Interesting read with a focus on the aftermath of singularity and effect of post-human cultures.
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I felt it threw me in at the deep end a bit, as Macleod seems to do a lot, but I loved it.
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
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked it, even as I'm pretty sure that a good 15-20% of it was over my head.

A few hundred years after 'the hard rapture' when a bunch of AI became sentient and killed a huge percentage of the human race before departing for parts unknown, the humans that remain have spread out into the galaxy. The groups they have formed each have their own ends, goals, and methods. The Carlyles are an extended family/gang of scottish space pirates who use their monopoloy of a series of gates called the Skein
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, space-opera
Centuries ago, sentient war machines devastated the Earth. A group of settlers escaped and colonised the planet Eurydice. Now the war is long over and those who stayed in the solar system have started to expand again. They find Eurydice and a lot more than they bargained for.

Wormholes, FTL that somehow prevents causality violation, societies with differing paradigms and Scottish combat archaeologists from Glasgow. What's not to like? Lucinda Carlyle is our main POV character, a member of the Car
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.
Christopher Teggatz
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book starts out interesting but fizzles. I literally couldn’t force myself to finish it. Also the author evidences an ethnic hatred for Americans which is not a big deal, but irritating, as in, you’re smart enough to write books but not smart enough to deal with prejudice, eh?
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this one well enough. There were some moments that dragged (no individual plot threads, but a few scenes) and sometimes the tech just had to be forgiven for it's silly nature. Other than that I mostly had fun with this little space opera.
Kevin Huff
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A nice little space opera. Deals with a lot of themes I enjoy. Space travel, worm holes, rouge ai, the singularity and the like. Pretty good twist of an ending but I just wish there were more to it than just this one book. The universe is cool and there's a lot more I'd like to hear about.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this a number of years ago. It didn't stick with me too well so I don't have much to say about it. I think what stood out was the description of Cyber War being unseen, I think I read this around 2004 or 2005 and it seems to be coming to pass.
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
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.
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.
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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
“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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