The Sky Road

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod.

Macleod The Sky Road

In this novel, MacLeod again presents two linked narratives in different times. In this case, the one in the farther future is told by a historian, and it soon appears that the earlier story is the history that he is attempting to research and write. But tension is maintained for the reader by the fact that with each of these proceeding by their own internal chronology, what the characters in the twenty-first-century story don’t know seems to be exactly what goes without saying in the later period, when everyone knows it and takes it for granted. It’s a clever and effective structure. I think this is also the most Scottish of the four “Fall Revolutions” books.

In notes referred to the author, it is alleged that this final book of the series takes place in a continuity divergent from the second and third, because of an event in the second book that is somehow inconsistent with The Sky Road. I can’t figure it. Portions of The Stone Canal (the second book) take place both before and after the far-future narrative setting of The Sky Road. I see them all integrating well enough, though; there are explicit links to all three of the other books here, and at least cameo appearances of their principal characters.

Although The Sky Road was written and published last, its far-future portions serve to bridge narrative gaps between the other books, particularly helping to account for how the anarcho-socialist Earth society of The Cassini Division (the third book) came into existence. Now having read all four books in publication sequence, I think they could be equally enjoyed in any order whatsoever.