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Creator / Ken MacLeod

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Ken MacLeod is a Scottish science fiction writer. His works include the Fall Revolution series, the Engines of Light trilogy, and numerous stand-alone novels.

The Engines of Light trilogy consists of:

  • Cosmonaut Keep
  • Dark Light
  • Engine City

His novels The Sky Road, Cosmonaut Keep, and Learning the World were nominated for the Hugo Award, and The Cassini Division was nominated for a Nebula.

Went to school with fellow Scottish science-fiction writer Iain Banks, and remained good friends.

Not to be confused with Kevin MacLeod.

Works by Ken MacLeod with their own trope page include:

  • The Fall Revolution seriesnote 

His other works provide examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Lucinda Carlyle from Newton's Wake is a self-described "combat archaeologist." This involves mostly jumping through wormholes and gunning down post-singularity alien robots.
  • Alternative Number System: In Learning the World, the aliens are four-fingered, and count in base 8. When they learn that humans use base 10, their reaction is that having a base that isn't a power of two must be awfully inconvenient.
  • Arc Words: In The Night Sessions: "capitalism with Russian characteristics" (rule of the BIZNESMENI); "boots in the pews".
  • Asteroid Miners: Asteroid miners don't actually make an appearance in Newton's Wake, but the folk duo play some of their work songs.
  • Big Brother Is Watching:
    • A defining element of Intrusion.
    • Played with in The Star Fraction, where one of Jordan's rants points out that Little Brother is watching.
  • Eternal English: Learning The World takes place 14,000 years in the future, by which time it seems virtually certain that English will have changed drastically, in the unlikely event that anything that could be called English still exists at all. Despite this, an important plot point hinges on the fact that the word "bug" could mean either "insect" or "spying device".
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Newton's Wake features both a network of wormholes (called the Skein), and starships with warp drives (which are ridiculously expensive to build, but nonetheless possessed by every major galactic power). Both are based on technology left behind by super-human intelligences after a particularly violent technological singularity.
  • First Contact: The entire plot of Learning the World.
  • Immortal Immaturity: Lampshaded in Newton's Wake; a rejuvenated woman says people like her just get a bit "cannier", and passes the rest of it off as fatigue poisons and neural decay.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: the kraken are an alien race in the Engines of Light trilogy
  • Manipulative Bastard: Not only are Volkov and Matt Cairns in The Engines of Light this, despite their frequent ideological and personal cross-purposes, but the "gods" in their collective relations with the lesser races are Manipulative Bastards.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: Averted in several of his books.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: In Dark Light the characters come to the planet Croatan (Yes, it's where the Roanoke colonists went), where the population is divided into three cultures: "Christians" (Post-Industrial Revolution Victorians), "Heathens" (Autochthonous people with a cottage craft system capable of producing highly complex creations), and "Savages" (Hunter Gatherers who live on the outskirts of the actual civilization). The Heathens have a sort of gender-caste system, where gender is not determined by actual sex, but by conduct and career. The ritual to "become a man" involves the Heathens going out and killing a "Savage".
  • Ruritania: The Former Soviet Autonomous Region of Krassnia in The Restoration Game. The book is mostly set in the present, in which Krassnia is a bit of the Georgia/Chechnya border with its own language and dreams of independence, but has extensive Flashbacks to Krassnia under the Soviets in The '30s and The '80s and as part of the Russian Empire in The Edwardian Era. The name is a Shout-Out to an allegory by J.B.S. Haldane, in which the Republic of Krassnia has "materialism" as a state religion, and this very much informs the character of MacLeod's Krassnia.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: Selkies are one of many varieties of "changed" human in the Engines of Light trilogy.
  • The Singularity: Addressed in several works, including Newton's Wake.
  • Spy Speak: In The Restoration Game, this is how Ross Stewart exchanges briefcases with his Krassnian contact; a brief sign/countersign about cigarettes followed by a complete non sequitur just to be on the safe side.
  • Sinister Surveillance: in Intrusion. Of course, it's all for our own good...
  • Ultraterrestrials: The Engines of Light trilogy is set in the Second Sphere, an area of space colonized by successive waves of intelligent Earth-evolved life forms, starting with hyperintelligent giant squid, and uplifted dinosaurs. Who fly around in saucers and happen to look a lot like grays.
  • Violent Glaswegian: The 'Bloody Carlyles' in Newton's Wake.