OR: Cosmonaut Keep

A review that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #26:-

COSMONAUT KEEP

Ken Macleod

Orbit, /£16.99

Macleod’s latest novel takes place in a universe where the Russians have conquered Europe and an uneasy truce exists with the USA. Everything is thrown into the melting pot when the Soviets announce that scientists at a base in the asteroids have made contact with aliens. Technological advances beckon, and it’s not clear who will benefit from these, especially when the scientists turn against their political masters. Neatly meshing with this plot strand is a story set on a planet thousands of light years from Earth, where the human survivors of a starship landing try to recover lost technology and take their rightful place in a universe teeming with diverse alien lifeforms.

This is billed as ‘Book One of The Engines of Light’ and it shows, with much of the plot only sketched in and more questions asked than get answered. Macleod does enough work to make for a rewarding read though. Much of the book’s appeal lies in its fascinating setting. On the one hand a socialist Earth, with both sides of the ideological coin shown in a novel distinguished by its political nous, par for the course with this writer. On the other we have a vast universe with gods, krakens, saurian and humans living in a harmony of sorts, plus a tantalising hint of a solution to the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. It’s too early to guess where Macleod is going with this or to assess its value, but certainly he provides the reader with incentive to find out.

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