The Night Sessions
I have just finished reading Ken MacLeod's latest book, The Night Sessions. I really enjoyed Ken's last book, The Execution Channel and I am a great fan of his Fall Revolution series, so I was really looking forward to The Night Sessions. I was not disappointed. Ken revisits some of the themes and technological innovations of the Fall Revolution novels whilst exploring the new area of religious belief and motivation. So we have self conscious machines and artificial intelligences, a 24-7 online society and moves towards expansion of human civilization into space alongside the aftermath of "Faith Wars" and the global marginalisation of religion, creationist exiles from a US civil war conspiring in New Zealand and underground Christian fundamentalists conspiring in a hi-tech Scotland dominated by Russian capitalists, booming green technology and space industries, war weariness and sexually liberated hedonism! The action largely takes place in an Edinburgh at once recognisable and remote and a New Zealand of natural beauty, philosophical absurdity and technological wonder. A key part of the plot is an attempt to "techno-fix" climate change.
Like The Execution Channel, the new book is part detective story, part philosophical enquiry, but it is also a lovingly crafted depiction of a future world shaped by climate change, the aftermath of the "Armageddon" result of current conflicts and developing technologies, seen from the point of view of ordinary and extraordinary people.
As with his dissection of the political life and evolution of left sects and cults in the Fall Revolution series, Ken here looks at the life of churches in decline and the development of fundamentalism, re-occurring just when everyone thinks it has been defeated. This mirrors our modern experience. Religious conflicts, and class or national conflicts filtered through a religious frame had begun to seem very old fashioned and irrelevant even just 15 or 20 years ago. Yet now, by accident or design, religion and fundamentalism are hardly out of the news and are ascribed as causes to many events, even where Occam's Razor would suggest a much more easily understandable and basic causation.
Ken MacLeod again succeeds in bringing us a novel that not only entertains and amuses but asks serious questions of us all, enlightens and educates. I heartily recommend The Night Sessions to lovers of science fiction, politics, detective fiction or just those in search of a good read.
The other good news is that we are promised a new book entitled The Restoration Game in 2009.