Review of 'Cosmonaut Keep'

Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod
1st book in the 'Engines of Light' series

A small space opera told from two perspectives: We have Matt Cairns a high-tech project manager in late 21st century Scotland with a bit of a thing for Jadey, an American that falls into problems with the socialist government. Matt stumbles across a plan for an advanced spacecraft that appears to have been designed by aliens. A trip to Area 51 and, perhaps, space is in the cards…The other story takes place further in the future on a planet periodically visited by traders travelling amongst the stars. It is here we meet Gregor Cairns who is a student studying the nervous systems of squids which has a surprising link to navigation that he scarcely understands. Gregor studies alongside Salasso, a Saur, and Elizabeth who he completely fails to see is deeply infatuated with him. It is these two stories that are interleaved with alternate chapters which converge closer and closer to the conclusion.

The characters here are all quite believable if not a bit expository – Matt and Gregor certainly serving as a window for the reader to the worlds and events unfolding around them. This is not altogether a bad thing as there is a lot going on. The political stuff, I must admit, was not as appealing to me as it appears to the author. However, the SF aspect was certainly more appealing and very well presented indeed with believable and interesting situations throughout. This is not, however, a book of tremendous action as things are told on a solar-system scale so events take time to unfurl…But patience is certainly rewarded.

Obviously setting things up for the two subsequent books with several threads left hanging, Cosmonaut Keep, is a good beginning to the Engines of Light series and is deserving of a read for fans of hard SF and, of course, Mr. MacLeod.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2010-05-15

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: 2000

Other reviewed books by Ken MacLeod: