Ken Macleod was born in Stornoway, Scotland on 2nd August 1954. He graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in zoology and has worked as a computer programmer and written a masters thesis on biomechanics. He was a Trotskyist activist in the 1970s and early 1980s and is married and has two children. He lives in South Queensferry near Edinburgh.
He is part of a group of British science fiction writers who specialise in hard science fiction and space opera. His contemporaries include Stephen Baxter?, Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds?, Adam Roberts?, Charles Stross?, Richard Morgan? and Liz Williams?.
His novels often explore socialist, communist and anarchist political ideas, most particularly the variants of Trotskyism and anarcho-capitalism or extreme economic libertarianism. Technical themes encompass singularities, divergent human cultural evolution and post-human cyborg-resurrection. MacLeod's general outlook can be best described as techno-utopian socialist, though unlike a majority of techno-utopians, he has expressed great scepticism over the possibility and especially over the desirability of Strong AI.
He is known for his constant in-joking and punning on the intersection between socialist ideologies and computer programming, as well as other fields. For example, his chapter titles such as "Trusted Third Parties" or "Revolutionary Platform" usually have double (or multiple) meanings. A future programmers union is called "Information Workers of the World Wide Web", or the Webblies, a reference to the Industrial Workers of the World, who are nicknamed the Wobblies. The Webblies idea formed a central part of the novel For the Win by Cory Doctorow and MacLeod is acknowledged as coining the term. Doctorow has also used one of Macleod's references to the singularity as "the rapture for nerds" as the title for his book Rapture of the Nerds. There are also many references to, or puns on, zoology and palaeontology. For example in The Stone Canal the title of the book, and many places described in it, are named after anatomical features of marine invertebrates such as starfish.
Space Opera by Ken MacLeod
Engines of Light? Trilogy
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