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Ken McLeod's The Night Sessions

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About halfway through this at the moment. I love McLeod- he's a protege of Iain Banks, and he writes very politicised science fiction. The Star Fraction is the most awesome socialist cyberpunk novel ever (not much competition, I guess...), The Execution Channel is a parallel universe (one in which only the tinfoil hat crowd believe planes crashed into the WTC) take on the War On Terror, the Engines Of Light trilogy begins with a war between the US and the EU and goes on to debate the question of whether a society on another planet which is inevitably going to descend into civil war should do it sooner, before they have really BIG weapons, or later... Oh, and Learning The World is the best of the many Iraq-metaphor sci-fi novels doing the rounds at the moment.

This new one, The Night Sessions, I thought the people of Smeggy's (and Smeggy in particular) might find interesting. It's set in a near-future Scotland in the aftermath of The Faith Wars, and religion is no longer recognised. It's legal, but there's a policy of official non-cognisance- it's ignored by everyone (including the law) except those practising it. I'm not sure how it's going to pan out or if he's making a wider point one way or the other, but it's quite a fascinating premise- it's the truly secular society many on here talk of.

The other interesting strand deals with AI-equipped robots, which have all buggered off to New Zealand, which is also full of Creationists and various strands of fundamentalist Christianity who fled there during the Wars from Europe and the US. There's some great satire involving one of these AIs who has ended up having to be an exhibit in a Creationist theme park, despite being rational and intelligent enough himself to know it's all bollocks.

It's actually a thriller, but there are so many fascinating ideas in it- lots of geek in-jokes, too, but don't let that put you off.

"Pirates and bank-robbers, not lawyers or CEOs. Stockbrokers ain't your heroes"- The World/Inferno Friendship Society

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