Saturday, October 21, 2006

Charles Stross: The Clan Corporate

Charles Stross's The Clan Corporate is the first part of a new story in the Merchant Princes series. (See my review of The Family Trade and The Hidden Family.) This segment is reasonably well told, but very inconclusive. Clan opens up some new issues, but doesn't resolve anything. In this installment, Miriam Beckstein finds herself unable to get much done because all the powerful people around her distrust her motivations. She manages to escape their clutches at one point, but digs herself a deeper hole, and ends up even more constrained in her actions. In many ways the subplot dealing with Mike Fleming, and his work helping to unravel the mystery from the government's point of view, was the most interesting part of the book. The government sets up a cross-agency task force, and manages to learn a bit about the abilities of the family members, and even make some initial incursions into their territory. There are connections to the modern anti-terrorist complex, but they aren't explored in any depth.

I didn't notice anything here that would make the book relevant to the Prometheus awards. The writing is good, but since it's obviously the first part of a longer work, and leaves everything up in the air, it's unlikely to attract attention for the writing. And there's no hint of libertarianism; even the explorations of the development of commerce, and the comparisons of the economic effects of different approaches that I liked so much in Hidden Family are missing since Miriam spends nearly all her time stuck in world 2. I recommend continuing to follow the series, but this book isn't much more than a bridge to the next part.

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