Beyond the Hallowed Sky • 2021 • Space Opera novel by Ken MacLeod

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Many Space Operas start off with a colonized galaxy based on Faster Than Light (FTL) travel. There aren’t many which investigate the invention of FTL, and none that I know of is set in our near future. MacLeod produces an interesting combination of SF’s flagship form of traveling with a believable projection of our current political landscape:  the (European) Union, including Scotland, vs. North America plus UK, vs. Russia/China, all featuring post-singularity AIs governing the countries.

But how could FTL technology be produced at all? By time-travel. A genius scientists receives from a future self a specification of an FTL drive, because FTL opens up time-travel. A reclusive group builds the drive into a submarine, problem solved. 

Lo and behold, everyone else has been secretly implemented FTL since 50 years or longer. They even have colonized another planet. 

The novel spreads out to three different locations – one focuses on the Atlantic coast of Scotland where the FTL submarine is built. Another one investigates mysterious forces on that colonized planet outside of our Solar system. And the third one follows a conscious robot spying on the Union’s city within the clouds of Venus. 

The first half of the book dragged on and on, and I was on the brink of giving it up. I simply couldn’t connect to the multiple POVs starting an interesting plot. I liked the ideas in it but didn’t care much for anything else at all. Only in the second half the novel took slightly off, involving a creative form of first contact story.

It might sound crazy, but I think that the next novel might work for me better, now that the characters are established. Given the huge amounts of existing Space Operas, this new series isn’t worth it in my opinion.

Meta: isbn 9780356514796. Published at 25.11.2021 by Little, Brown Book Group UK / Orbit. 

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11 Responses to Beyond the Hallowed Sky • 2021 • Space Opera novel by Ken MacLeod

  1. Ola G says:

    Hmm interesting but not overly feasible. If I remember correctly, KSR tried something similar in 2312, with old Earth countries having national interests on other planets/satellites, and for me it was the weakest element of the novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, it sounds wild, nonetheless

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pdtillman says:

    Pity. Ken MacLeod at his best is awesome. Thanks for your review & caveats.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bormgans says:

    Where to start with MacLeod? I have yet to read him.


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