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The Execution Channel

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  977 ratings  ·  94 reviews
It's after 9/11. After the bombing. After the Iraq war. After 7/7. After the Iran war. After the nukes. After the flu. After the Straits. After Rosyth. In a world just down the road from our own, on-line bloggers vie with old-line political operatives and new-style police to determine just where reality lies.
James Travis is a British patriot and a French spy. On the day t
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Tor Books (first published 2007)
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3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  977 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Hertzan Chimera
Sep 03, 2011 rated it liked it
I'd like to have given this 4 (even 5) stars but The Execution Channel swindled the reader.

I know, I know, it's a book about the back-stabbing global three-letter chess game being run LIVE on 'your planet(tm)' but still ... one thing I hate more than anything is a broken pact with the reader.

Come out and tell him sraight, "I don't fucking like you, and this is gonna hurt," as all real novelists should. Or, suck up to him like you're giving the best head you've ever given.

Put out or shut mouth.

Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
An unpleasant parlor game is to wonder what the world would be like if all the nasty trends of the day were to persist into the coming decades. If this sort of thing interests you, then Ken MacLeod has a book for you. The Execution Channel is set in a unpleasant future of frequent torture, limited civil rights, environmental degradation, refugee crises, terrorist attacks and the use of nuclear weapons. The book starts off with a nuclear detonation at a Scottish air base. That attack is quickly f ...more
Christopher McKitterick
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 – re
David Collins
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it
The friend who lent me this book in hardback has been telling me for years about this whole wave of leftist Scottish science fiction writers whose works he's been reading on Kindle. I don't have or want a Kindle, but I was intrigued, so I borrowed this copy. I hope the other works are better. The Execution Channel has great moments, but it left me bitterly dissatisfied.

Beyond the book-jacket summaries, this is a story of information, disinformation, and how in the modern age you cannot believe a
Ryan Shoemaker
Feb 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Only my stubbornness in finishing something I've started allowed me to complete this mess of a book.
S.B. Wright
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this book after hearing Ken MacLeod speak on Galactic Chat. I think in general terms we share some political and social views so I was interested to see if this played out in his work. I have also been impressed with most of the Scottish writers I have read, regardless of genre.

So, for a man who is known for writing sci-fi ( a contemporary and friend of Iain Banks) he writes a damn fine techno-thriller.

It's after 9/11. After the bombing. After the Iraq war. After 7/7. After the Iran w
Morgan Dhu
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
For three-quarters of the book, it reads like a taut and politically cynical spy thriller that has the reader holding tightly onto the plot lines of key protagonists James Travis and his daughter Roisin, while spies, coubter-spies, counter-terrorists, conspiracy bloggers and disinformation experts obscure what it really going on. Then comes the foreshadowed but unexpected science-fictional ending that leaves all the other plots and theories in the dust.

The precipitating moment to all of this is
Jul 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Gordon by: Martin Glen
Interrupted The Backroom Boys to take The Execution Channel on a trip.

Surprisingly good. I'm often surprised by Ken MacLeod - he writes clearly, wittingly and sometimes irritatingly Scottish. His irritations also sometimes roll over into technology (like his erstwhile peer Charles Stross) in this book but he mostly keeps it in check.

An alternate "now/future" book, not pleasant to the Americans at all and very correctly and righteously frustrated at the injustices of the "current/real" world at l
Kelly Rice
Jun 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Imagine, an entire TV channel dedicated to broadcasting executions from around the world to keep people in line. A future so bleak that online bloggers are the heroes. Right there you've got two cornerstones in any quality piece of dystopian fiction. I've never been one for spy/thriller fiction but I figured I'd give this a shot. I'm a sucker for dystopian fiction and with a title like 'The Execution Channel' it's gonna be awesome, right?

You know that old cliche about not judging a book by its c
Kevin Rhoads
Oct 10, 2014 rated it liked it
An excellent voice for the confused nature of news and reality in the now and near future. However upon reflection the core storyline makes sense all the way up until the end.

At which point the novel's focus on the minutia of daily life is broken by the author's insistence on the "Same as it ever was" nature of human existence even amid world changing events.

In the end the story feels like it will amount to something, only to reverse this feeling in the closing pages.

The reader feels led along a
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technothrillers
The greatest shaggy dog story ever told.

I am convinced that The Execution Channel is not so much a story, as it is a snapshot, of a world both bleaker and terribly promising compared to ours. Set in an alternate present of a War on Terror gone far worse than ours, we watch the war get even worse through the eyes of several disparate Anglo-Americans hopelessly entangled with the events. The key viewpoint characters include a pacifist British student involved with antiwar protesters who accidental
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An explosion devastates an American base on Scottish soil, and three members of the Travis family, though scattered, are suspected by the government. As they elude capture, they try to figure out what really happened through the Net. But it's not clear whether the explosion was an accident or an attack, and if an attack, by what country or dissident group. Some people even think that the Americans took out their own base. And other groups take advantage of the confusion to extend the chaos.

Frank Burns
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a re-read but it turned out I had very little memory of the original read. I wanted to fill in the gaps in my Ken MacLeod reading and this was the last of that. This was all over the shop so I understand why it never stuck in my head. The spy sub-plot was too obtuse, some of the character's motivations poorly mapped and it just ends with no real resolution. There are parts that stand out and the title concept, The Execution Channel, is genius but the story itself is average. Hence my th ...more
Geoff Battle
The Execution Channel never really delivers on its promises. The plot is convoluted, the characters not particularly likeable and the narrative style makes it hard work to read. The final third picks up some pace, which will help you get to the end, however it is not a satisfying read. The actual plot elements should have produced an action thriller, however MacLeod shows his preference for politics and misses the mark. There is some good hints at sci-fi in there, however they are not a solid en ...more
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: currently-owned
A good read but slightly disappointed. Fall revolution series hooked me completely but Execution Channel failed to deliver in the end. Don't get me wrong it is frighteningly disturbing now nearly 10 years after its first release. especially given Trump and Brexit.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
So one is forced to wonder in the current climate, is this what post Brexit Britain will look like
Typically dark McCleod. He is the flip side to the light socialist utopia his friend Banks wrote about. Thought provoking
Katya Bacica
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
... what.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
one of the worst books I've read in a long time
L. Farmer
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
An undervalued author. Really rather good. Give him a try why don't you?
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite effective but uneven alternate world political thriller.Ending is a clear homage to the great James Blish.Ken Macleod is a gifted writer,but I'm still waiting for his masterpiece.
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in September 2007.

Sometimes the line between science fiction and contemporary thriller is a thin one. The Execution Channel is set very slightly in the future, as many thrillers are, but the science fiction elements are minimal and (to my mind) detract from what could have been a fine thriller. The cover strapline tells us that in the book "the war on terror is over ... and terror won"; I don't think this is quite an accurate summary of the novel's contents.
Dec 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who want to believe
Recommended to Alan by: If I told you, then I'd have to kill you...
The Execution Channel is full of surprises—which is more than I can say for the Execution Channel in the book, whose televised fare is all too predictable: human beings in authority, torturing and killing other human beings. Not much to hang a book on. Fortunately, the Execution Channel itself makes up only a small part of The Execution Channel.

We're visiting the near future again as MacLeod's thriller opens. Roisin Travis is a member of a peace group monitoring the activities on an obscure RAF
Jun 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian Cunningham
Apr 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
I first encountered Ken Macleod with his first contact novel, Learning the World, and enjoyed the timeliness of his technological/social extrapolations and the small-l libertarian sensibilities of his characters. The Execution Channel provides both of those, with a healthy dose of espionage thriller added in. Goodreads somewhat spoils the first major twist of the novel with its "Lists with this book", and the second twist is heavily foreshadowed earlier in the text, but I'm still not going to re ...more
Roger Bailey
This book was purported to be science fiction, but at first I doubted it. It seemed to me to be more of an espionage thriller. I liked it. It was an exciting read, but it just did not seem to be science fiction. Then there came a point in which there was some discussion of how Al Gore barely won over George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election. Okay, it was an alternate history novel. That is usually classified as science fiction. There are some who think it should be classified as a genre ...more
Robin Cicchetti
What if Al Gore won the election, not G.W.? What if the 9/11 attacks hit Boston, and not the World Trade Center? What if the war on terror is over, and the terrorists won?
This political thriller had a very exciting start, but drifted into meandering intrigue. Set in Britain, it sets a realistic premise for a world that has returned to nuclear brinksmanship, except now there is a new and far more destructive weapon based on particle theory. The science was as interesting as the spy games played b
Sheikh Bake
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read all of MacLeod’s early work and felt that he deserved all the accolades that came his way. I had not read any of his more recent work, and I was glad to see some novels at Foyle’s in London.

In "The Execution Channel," MacLeod turns away from cosmic conflicts between socialist and capitalist planets to offer us a view of an alternate future post-9/11 where the terrorists had much more success in terms of disrupting the West. This is a torn world in heavy tension, and things seem to be gett
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]A departure from MacLeod's previous space-opera stamping grounds, this is a thriller set in the present or near future of a slightly alternate earth - Gore was elected in 2000, 9/11 hit Boston, and the War on Terror resulted in military operations in Iran and Central Asia as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. Secret technologies, disinformation through blogging, and confused but lethal rivalry between intelligence services all play a part, but th ...more
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I've read two other Macleod novels (Restoration Game and Night Sessions) and they were published by Pyr, which is a nifty indie fantasy/sci-fi publisher that publishes british authors in the US. they first published, for example, the "First Law" trilogy of Abercrombie. anyway, "The Execution Channel" was published by Tor, a big-time major US publisher of Fantasy and Sci-Fi (Brandon Sanderson, etc.), and the book reads like it has been give the homogenous polish of big-time editing, kind of smoot ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
A book club book. I started it assuming it was sci-fi, but it turned out to be near-current sci-fi, so it ended up reading more like a spy or espionage novel with some outlandish elements rather than full fledged sci-fi. I thought it was ok, but not great. I wasn't in the mood for this kind of book as i was finishing it up, which is more my problem than the author's. Still, it made it seem like a bit of a slog to get through. Some aspects of the book were very funny, but the bottom line was that ...more
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Ken MacLeod is an award-winning Scottish science fiction writer.

His novels have won the Prometheus Award and the BSFA award, and been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He lives near Edinburgh, Scotland.

MacLeod graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in zoology and has worked as a computer programmer and written a masters thesis on biomechanics.

His novels often explore socialist, c