Monday, 13 October 2008

Review: "Night Sessions" by Ken Macleod

Having thoroughly enjoyed "The Execution Channel" and most of Ken Macleod's novels, I was excited to pick up a copy of "Night Sessions" on a recent trip through Inverness.

"Execution Channel" is a novel of the near-future, post 9-11. Terror, torture, surveillance, paranoia are intertwined in a near enough future that's eerily familiar. "Night Sessions" sets its sights a little further into the future, and yet seems no less relevant to the world around us.

The chief obsession of "Night Sessions" is religion, and Macleod tackles the material with his usual deep sense of history and fantastic imagination. The world has literally been to Armageddon, and still bears the scars of the "Faith Wars". A large portion of the world has reacted by rejecting religion nearly altogether. The Edinburgh in which "Night Sessions" is largely set has most traces of religion scrubbed from its public life. Churches are converted to public halls and bars. Religion still exists, but the police go out of their way not to be aware of their activities. It's a kind of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which permits religion to exist in the shadows of a secular society without attracting its wrath.

I won't go into anything further to avoid spoiling it. This is a genre-hopping novel, a sci-fi crime thriller steeped in the history of religion, and a great read. Highly recommended.

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