Re: MacLeod's Cassini Division

From: Andrew Lias (
Date: Tue Oct 03 2000 - 11:19:18 MDT

>Date: Mon, 02 Oct 2000 13:16:12 -0400
>From: Robin Hanson <>
>Subject: MacLeod's Cassini Division
>I read "The Cassini Division" by Ken MacLeod over the weekend. I couldn't
>find any mention of it in the archives at
>though I think I recall some discussion here once.
>It was well written (or maybe it had been too long since I'd read SF and I
>needed a fix). People like us are clearly the bad guys in the book, but it
>was interesting to see what our worse crimes are from MacLeod's

I'd be cautious about jumping to conclusions. MacLeod has publicly stated
that the only intentional moral in the book is that posthumans should
complete their upgrade path before they start to act agressive.

Certainly different characters have different viewpoints, with any number of
characters asserting that the destruction of posthumans is tantamount to
genocide. Even the carbon-chauvanist protagonist comes to agree with that
-- even though that doesn't stop her or cause her to mourn. Certainly,
within the framework of the story, the posthuman civ could be construed as a
genuine and manifest threat.

As for the politics, MacLeod likes to play with political alternatives. In
this sequence of stories, he opts to present two anarchic utopians: one
socialist and one capitalist. Overall (having read the first three books),
both are construed as viable and interesting for the purposes of the story.

My complaints about tCD are that MacLeod never really gave a sense of proper
magnitude with respect to the destruction of the PH's (I have a similar
complaint with respect to the first book in the book in the sequence, The
Star Fraction). An even deeper compaint, however, is that the PHs are
rendered thoroughly inept, both in terms of raw power and in terms of
foresite, in order for the book to reach its conclusion. It's galling
enough when plots are driven by stupid characters, but a plot point that
hinges on stupid and incompetent posthumans (even when they are repeatedly
asserted to have godlike intelligence) simply vexes me. It is a black mark
against an otherwise fine novel, IMNSHO.

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