The Star Fraction, by Ken MacLeod

the-star-fraction-by-ken-macleodGenre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Published: 1998
Reviewer Rating: threehalfstars
Book Review by Paul S. Jenkins

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Moh Kohn is a mercenary with an intelligent gun. Janis Taine is a biologist researching memory drugs. When Kohn goes to Taine’s laboratory after a raid, the drugs have a strange effect on him, triggering deep memories and setting off a chain of events that takes the pair of them on a wild adventure through the political landscape of a future Britain.

MacLeod’s vision of future politics is drawn in considerable detail, and populated with a number of engaging characters in addition to Kohn and Taine. Young Jordan Brown, for instance, fresh out of his computer-operator job, with a stash of dubious money, meets up with the mercenaries for an adventure of his own. Or there’s Catherin Duvalier, a mercenary with whom Kohn has worked before, only now she appears to have been paid by the other side.

MacLeod’s debut novel is a confident work. The characters are highly believable, the setting fully realised. The plot is intricate and detailed, and a reader probably needs a degree in political science to understand it fully. I got a bit lost toward the end of the book, possibly because my reading of it was broken up, so I’d recommend reading it at a stretch. At the close, MacLeod seems to take an age to tie up the loose ends of his complicated tale, which is probably unnecessary, as he has written two sequels. One to re-read, I think.

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