Spring is in the air!
This is a full-length novel set in McAuley’s “Jackaroo” universe, previously the setting of some short stories early in his career.
In the Near Future(tm), the alien Jackaroo appear over an Earth ravaged by climate change, economic collapse and rampant nuclear terrorism - The Spasm. They offer humanity free transport to fifteen habitable planets via wormhole gates. There are no strings attached (well our space program is ended, but it’s not clearly forbidden as it is in the previous stories).
Humanity has a new chance. Just like the countless other civilizations the Jackaroo have assisted in the past.
The gift planets are rife with artifacts left over from the “Elder Races”, not all of them benign or useful. For every fast-growing coral useful to constructing dams against the rising oceans, there’s a new drug spreading havoc. People have the chance to emigrate and start a new life on a new world, where they promptly fall back into a life of crime or start McDonald’s franchises.
Our protagonists come in contact with an alien eidolon, a ghost left in an artifact from the planet Mandala, and are caught up in a race against time to reach a dig site out in the planet’s outback… where something’s coming through…
I’m a huge fan of McAuley and really enjoyed this book. It’s an artful blend of first contact, humans vs alien and police procedural, and it takes a while to figure out how the two strands of the story is intertwined.
Big props to my local library for ordering this book basically as soon as it appeared in stores!
Search this site for the term: mcauley.
A good overview of that most dramatic period of the French Revolution. Andress puts it into the context of foreign war and domestic insurrection.
The Revolution casts a long shadow, and Andress does a good job explaining why. After 225 years, we take constitutional government and the separation of church and state for granted. But the French nation went from quasi-medieval absolutism with a de-facto Catholic state church to radical republic and official dechristianization within a few years. All this was lubricated by hectoliters of blood and the complete suspension of due process.
No wonder the existing powers of Europe viewed this much as they later viewed the Bolsheviks (themselves conscious imitators of the French) and pulled out all the stops to oppose the Revolution.
Also interesting is that the designation of “Terror” as an official policy wasn’t a later calumny, but actually the official name.
The revolutionaries were also horrible misogynists. Politics was not for women, in fact individuals like Mme Roland were especially singled out and vilified.
A superlative historical novel. As in her later Wolf Hall, Mantel does a creditable job inhabiting the inner minds of her characters.
I’m simultanously listening to Mike Duncan’s most excellent Revolutions podcast which is a great help in grasping the wider history of the Revolution. Just as in Wolf Hall, Mantel expects you to have a better grip of history than perhaps you remember from school.
A superlative general history of some now vanished states in Europe. From the well-known (Burgundy, Aragon) to the obscure (Etruria, Rusyn), Davies discusses their history and compares their fates.
The book is thought-provoking, as it makes clear that not all nations are destined to lead long lives. Davies is convinced for example that the UK will break apart, citing the example of how Ireland extricated itself during the 20th century.