Descent by Ken MacLeod

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Descent by Ken MacLeod

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Clever, funny, captivating and predicting a very possible sounding future, Descent is a fantastic read - not just a great Science Fiction novel, but a great work of storytelling that would appeal to both those who love the genre, and those less inclined to it
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Orbit

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In the relatively near future, two schoolboys climb a hill near their small Scottish town. They encounter some sort of craft, that emits a white light and knocks the boys out for several hours. It's only later that one of the boys, Ryan, realises he was abducted by Aliens.

Or was he? Ryan doesn't really know, and neither does the reader. However, as we follow Ryan growing up, from student to professional, it's clear the 'abduction' has had a serious effect on him. And what does the mysterious man called Baxter have to do with all of it?

I haven't read Science Fiction in quite a while, despite being rather obsessed with it as a teenager. Growing older, I think I longed for stories that were about people, rather than just big ideas, or intergalactic space battles and the like. MacLeod however, has written a book that is an intimate study of a character, whilst mixing in conspiracy theories, mysteries, and a future that seems immensely real and quite likely - and so is all the more chilling for it.

I can't state enough how gripping and exciting I found this book - I spent a Saturday morning curled up devouring it, and raced through in order to find answers to the mysteries raised, and to see what would become of Ryan. Was I satisfied? Immensely. I came to care about all of the characters who appear regularly throughout, and I genuinely wanted to know what had happened to Ryan, a character who is damaged, troubled, slightly stalkerish, but always likeable.

I was also hugely impressed with how MacLeod imagine the fashions of the near future. Modern Victoriana may not seem the most obvious choice, but the reasons given here make perfect sense. On top of that, MacLeod's Scotland is incredibly vivid - given that this book is set in the near future, those who know Scotland, particularly Edinburgh, will find it brought to life in great detail here.

In fact, it's difficult to find a part of this book that isn't well thought out, and excellently executed. In fact, part of me wishes it wasn't being marketed as Science Fiction - as whilst Science Fiction readers will love the intelligent predictions and intriguing theories, I think non-science fiction readers will be gripped by the sense of mystery, fantastic characterisation and superb place setting.

Huge thanks to the publishers for this copy - a great read.

I can't not recommend Science Fiction without mentioning Iain M Banks. The late, great author wrote a huge amount of wonderful science fiction - Surface Detail is a cracking read

Buy Descent by Ken MacLeod at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Descent by Ken MacLeod at

Buy Descent by Ken MacLeod at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Descent by Ken MacLeod at


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