Ken MacLeod [PDF epub] The Night Sessions
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Ut other eviewers similar comments on other editions of this book suggest it was in fact intentionalI m not a fan of procedurals in general but hoped the sci fi elements of this book would be enough for me to enjoy it They weren t This is probably Ken Macleod s best book to dateIn previous novels Macleod has tackled Trotskyism The Star Fraction he has created a society that implements Nozick s brand of Libertarianism outright The Stone Canal and he has explored the war on terror The Execution ChannelIn this book he moves his sights to eligion The attacks of September 11th 2001 become the opening salvo in the Faith Wars wars
That The West Did Notthe west did not The backlash against eligion is severe with the police pursuing a Boots in Pews policy throughout the UK as all eligion is persecutedAs usual for MacLeod and the other new Scottish hard SF authors the novel is primarily set in Scotland MacLeod s use of the familiar to him always serves to give his work a sense of ealism and grounding that provides good counterposition with the strong SF elements of the story in this case the development of global warming and AIInterestingly the book also shares a view of the development of the internet with Charles Stross Halting State in fact the non singularity near future authors view of the intertubes seems to be converging on convergence so to speakThe best fiction no matter it s setting always speaks to the eader about their world as it is now The very best can do this through millenia because they deal with the generics of human nature Science fiction is not like this it ages apidly and painfully However when it is fresh and appropriate as this is it s elevance can be startling Nobody can ead this book without a sense of foreboding as so much of it feels painfully possible DNF Confusing plus Nasty Religion and Eight Deadly Words you can ask Disappointing Not for me To the ecycle pile it goes I liked the near future world of this book and the exploration of what a society in the middle of a big backlash against eligion would look like The physical layout of the book bugged me the scenes would change abruptly and completely with no visual indicator so I had many wait what moments The ending was also kind of unsatisfying the I think about it the less I understand how the A B of the book leads to the C of the conclusion In fact the conclusion is sort of like a 4 not only jumping some steps but on a different calculating system altogether Can you imagine a future where eligious fundamentalists have caused so much damage that the world embraces a politics of adical secularism marginalising all faiths and denominations by effectively failing to ecognise their existenceSounds like paradise on Earth ight So speaks a confirmed atheist anyway This is the society Ken MacLeod conjures up in The Night
SESSIONS A WORLD PARTIALLY RAVAGED BYa world partially avaged by Faith Wars or Oil Wars dependent on which side you were on but still on its feet still ich in technology if not in theologyNear future large scale technology incudes a pair of space elevators and a sky full of soletas huge disks used to combat global warming by covering the sun at scheduled times causing eclipsesThe domestic web tech may be crudely named from a satirical standpoint iThink for iPad Ogle for Google but everything is convincingly extrapolated and well utilised within the plot when Macleod casually drops in eferences to eyeball video uploads and surveillance midge swarms you instantly know what he s talking aboutThen there s the obots Some help the police some work on the space elevators others have gone into hiding ejected by their human creators precisely because of their humanoid appearance What would happen if hiding ejected by their human creators precisely because of their humanoid appearance What would happen if got eligiousNot that all the people have given up on eligion or eligious bigotry especially in Scotland and America where covenanters and creationists fail to give up the ghost When a priest is killed in Glasgow they and other dissident groups turn up in the investigation headed up by DI Adam Ferguson a veteran of the God suads police task forces that were assigned to harass eligious institutions during the Faith WarsI ead five or six of MacLeod s novels prior to when I started to eview books on Goodreads and liked all of them to one degree or another He s strictly workmanlike as a writer of prose his characters are purely functional defects he than compensates for with his wealth of ideas unconventi. Religion from politics In this enlightened age there's no persecution But the millions who st. .
I saw a description on this book as scifi police procedural which is pretty accurate Although I thought it had depth than just a straight up whodunnitThe story is set in a future world that has been forged by a great war I know you ve seen this before but wait there s It s not your typical nuclear destruction although tactical nukes were used but the world was not destroyed You see these wars were called The Middle East Wars or Faith Wars These wars were followed by The Second Enlightenment eligion has been ejected especially in the political ealm while eligion is not banned or believers persecuted all faiths have been moved to the periphery of society I know some folks don t like to ead anything that has eligious undertones but I would encourage you to try this book I never found it preachy in any way It does paint a pretty stark picture of all types of fundamentalismWe are introduced to DI Adam Ferguson who is investigating the bombing of a Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcentercom I am the original author of this essay as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being eprinted illegallyI was a big fan of Ken MacLeod s last book with Pyr the fascinatingly uniue day after tomorrow political thriller about central Asia ancient mythology and MMOs used for evolutionary purposes The Restoration Game but this newest is a big step down from that one a book that that similarly aims conceptually high but unfortunately falls flat most
of the time In fact it takes a big suspension of disbelief even to swallow the premise and get pastthe time In fact it takes a big suspension of disbelief even to swallow the premise and get past one that after losing a holy war with Muslim countries over dwindling oil supplies in the near future spurred by conservative Western politicians using fundamentalist Christian propaganda to sell it all to the public the US and Western Europe are taken over by adical left to the public the US and Western Europe are taken over by adical left who literally ban all public mention of eligion ever again and that although those adical days are over and a stable government has started normalizing society again there is still a deep cultural precedence for Christian worship being a semi secret underground activity that in Orwellian style is not even officially ecognized by the government as existing even going so far as to insist on addressing church officials as doctor instead of everend or bishop That s a pretty big freaking pill to swallow which you have to do for the est of the book to make sense essentially a sneaky detective thriller set within this alt history concerning murders within this shadowy underground Catholic community and who might be committing them for what purposes Interesting in its way I myself found it just not as well written as his previous novel and full of the kinds of ultra hacky genre novelist stuff that makes me want to sometimes claw my own eyes out with so many of these midlist SF titles such as the whole subplot taking place among the packed but silent danceclubs that have seemingly been made out of every old cathedral and mosue in existence where VJs virtual DJs get it pump the music directly into people s heads and throw around enhanced eality special effects across the oom with their hands Minority Report style while everyone watches along with their virtual eality iThink glasses UGH UGH enough macleod enough only for the extra committed genre enough Only for the extra committed genre although all of you should like this well enoughOut of 10 82 I can t emember the last time I bothered finishing a book I liked this littleMuch of my dislike comes from too many or too few details There were a lot of threads interwoven throughout this police procedural and although the author tied them all together the crimes feel spread out than necessary it didn t follow that the perpetrator would go from Crime A and Crime B to Crime Z Other unexplained details include the space elevators and soletas which cast a shadow over the entire novel but their function and value are never adeuately epresented The eligious aspects are adeuately explained but I feel like it euires some significant background knowledge to appreciate themFinally I found it incredibly disruptive that changes in scenes flowed ight from one paragraph to the next There was no break between a character in a bar and another in a police station or a character suddenly talking to someone who wasn t there a moment ago I assumed this was a printing error as what author would be this hostile to his eaders The first Enlightenment separated church from state now the second Enlightenment has separated. Onally leftist politics and occasional Flickers Of HumourI Can T of humourI can t of another sci fi writer who would switch the accepted Western narrative to the extent that the Christians become the dangerous eligious fanatics the obots become the adicalised suicide bombersThis was the second time I had ead The Night Sessions and I liked it a lot still
I WILL TRY AND REREAD AT LEAST THE EXECUTIONwill try and eread at least The Execution and Newton s Wake again soon for eviewsOh and also for the sheer enjoyment of them I think the last Ken Macleod book I ead was either Star Fraction or The Cassini Division And Night Sessions Definitely Night Sessions definitely t be my last It only took a few pages before I felt something loosening up in my chest because the pages were speeding past and I knew I was in safe hands This was a thoroughly engaging tale despite the oops momentsThough this book is great science fiction it is also a demonstration of how there ain t nothing that dates so uickly as science fiction Here we have as an essential plot driver medical technology based wholly on embryonic stem cells a oute already being abandoned for adult stem cells We also have global warming of the GoreHansen school abandoned by the first for carbon trading profit and preached with such hysteria by the second that a man in a white coat is edging closer a syringe full of Thorazine concealed behind his back But of course we must never forget this is fictionI think I was hooked properly the moment a main character peered out of his aeroplane window to observe a space elevator and despite the SFX uote on the front The modern day George Orwell I found this very optimistic in tone The victory of secularism over eligion could be described as extreme optimism and the sfnal future full of such great techno toys to play with is another form Macleod did an excellent job of projecting how information technology might be used by a future police force and eally you gotta love the lead detective s three limbed obot called Skulk short for Skullcrusher A worthwhile ead this Stay with it through the odd prologue which you e not going to believe this has a New Zealand eligious fundamentalist flying to Edinburgh to meet others of his ilk and ending up in a bar being picked up by a transvestite Trust me eally because in a few pages you e going to be dropped into a police procedural Oh look I thought an experienced Lothian Police officer with a bright female proteg e Hello Inspector Rebus But no Rebus s bacon oll has been eplaced by an ostrich tikka and he has a obot colleague The obot is bright and snarky No wonder Neal Asher gave this book a good eview Skulk could have been one of his OK here we have police obots there we have two space elevators on that side we can spray a cloud of midges under a door and elay out a picture But over there we have a classic murdered bishop and there are the fundamentalists again This looks like a good ide And it is MacLeod tells a smooth story and carries us ight along at a good pace There are some slower bits while a eligious tension is explained but we always get moving again in time Some things turn out not to be what they seemed and away we go The eligion part of the setting is interesting It seems that the world finally decided to eject eligion because it had caused so many wars The separation of church and state has become complete But the book is not about that it s just the setting and a chance for the author to do some social commentary or perhaps it s just a bit of it could go THIS way to make his setting distinctive and give some points to build a plot on As it is in so many SF books the ending seems a bit ushed and a bit forced but I will give it credit for not ending in what I thought to be the most likely esult Recommended The Night Sessions is packed with interesting concepts but it also a very efficiently written book MacLeod packs into the 260 odd pages of this novel that some books double that size carry One of the few negative aspects of the novel is that some of it is glossed over very uickly Stuff that would have deserved a closer look That didn t stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book however From what I ead online The Night Sessions is not generally egarded as MacLeod s strongest books Obviously I can t say anything sensible about that but if it gets better than this his best must be very good indeed That to ead list just keeps getting longerFull Random Comments evie. Ill believe and worship are a marginal and mistrusted minority and now someone is killing them.