All posts for the day December 18th, 2007

Book review: The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod.
The style of this book is better than that of the other books I’ve read by MacLeod, but not good enough for the style alone to be sufficient reason to read it.
I was disappointed that the substance was not very thought provoking. Unlike the typical MacLeod novel, it is set in a society too similar to ours to stretch our imaginations much, and sufficiently less pleasant to be somewhat depressing.
Much of the book is commentary on the current “war on terror”. I agree with a lot of that commentary, but only a few aspects of the commentary have much value.
The most important way in which this novel stands out is that it portrays most characters as people who expect to be the kind of leaders that conspiracy theorists imagine the world to be run by, but regularly end up as more realistic people whose battle plans don’t survive contact with the apparent enemy. And there’s a good deal of realistic “fog of war” type uncertainty over who the enemy is.
MacLeod deserves a good deal of credit for avoiding a number of biases that make typical novels popular but unrealistic, such as making the protagonists better than human. Unfortunately, the results confirm that this kind of realism interferes with the enjoyability of novels.