Thursday, 20 September 2007

Review: "The Execution Channel" by Ken MacLeod

By a happy coincidence, a friend of mine recommended a book by Ken MacLeod ("Newton's Wake") a while before I interviewed for and ultimately accepted a position in Scotland. It turns out I now live in the birthplace of the author (Stornoway), which is convenient, as the public library has a fair number of his works. In the last few months, I've read "Newton's Wake", "The Highwaymen", "The Stone Canal", "The Sky Road", and "Learning the World", and have enjoyed all of them.

So I was pleased to discover his newest book, "The Execution Channel" on the stands at a book store in Inverness. Like "Black Man" by Richard K. Morgan (see my earlier review), "Execution Channel" focuses on a closer slice of the future, a future that leads outward from 9/11, 7/7, and the daily headlines.

MacLeod's work is always ambitious and nuanced. He has a good sense of how to present technology as a constant part of our present and future lives. This was a satisfying part of previous works, and "Execution Channel" is no different. From blogspace and its impact on media relations to surveillance and its varied effects on society, MacLeod thinks through issues in a way that is satisfying. I've never found myself asking "why didn't they do this?" when reading his work, which is a pleasure if your suspension of disbelief requires a bit more imagination to sustain.

I will resist the urge to go into too much detail, as I sincerely wish to avoid spoiling the experience for anyone else. Suffice to say, if you like his previous work, or are a fan of nuanced Science Fiction with a great ear for technology, character and politics, "Execution Channel" is worth checking out.

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