When an author finds a formula for success, it’s hard to alter it. Ken MacLeod took his well-honed combination of political intrigue, capitalist idealism vs. socialist idealism, the threat of global annihilation, inventive technology, internet savvy, and relational complications and applied it to a first contact story that “explains” the advent of light-speed travel. The result is Cosmonaut Keep. Interesting and creative as it is, the book still feels like microwaved material left over from his Fall Revolution series (which I highly recommend). Yeah, I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as the first three books of that series; and then he has the nerve, at the novel’s end, to use the jump to light speed as a metaphor for the uncertainty of life. “You press what you hope is the right switch, and you—jump, becoming light.” It is an uncharacteristically sentimental moment for a writer I have found to be among the most intellectually stimulating and thoughtful in current science fiction.