Christopher McKitterick's Reviews > The Execution Channel

The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod
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Sep 27, 10

Read in May, 2008

A brilliant novel: not just a good read (which it is), not just relevant (uncomfortably so), but also brilliantly written. MacLeod is a fine writer, and in this novel his prose really shines - especially starting about half-way through.

This novel explores how the world might react to a series of apparent terrorist attacks that begin with a mushroom cloud appearing over an American air base in Scotland… and things get worse from there. How does the United Kingdom – and the rest of the world – respond? You can imagine. Are these terrorist attacks? A series of horrible accidents? Efforts by various governments to move public sentiment toward war? To enable those governments to impose totalitarian regimes? Through the eyes of a number of related but very different characters, we experience the hysterical reactions of an easily manipulated and fearful public. Characters include a peace protestor who witnesses the explosion, and who gets pulled into the heart of events; her father, who seems to be at the center of a Machiavellian plot that includes a French spy and American CIA agents; a popular conspiracy-theorist blogger, who sifts through diverse and mostly untrustworthy tips from informants who hope to manipulate him in an effort to spread disinformation; and a series of other, deeply real characters integral to revealing the author’s themes.

This is a thriller centered on a chase that follows a countdown to world war. The book ends with a twist that is both surprising but which arises from information planted throughout. The title, by the way, comes from a particularly horrible science-fictional idea that I have no trouble imagining we could see very soon: A pirate channel dedicated to broadcasting executions. When this book was written, it was even more relevant than today... one hopes.

If you haven't read it yet, I heartily recommend that you do.
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