Jason Pettus's Reviews > The Night Sessions

The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod
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really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi, dark, subversive

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I was a big fan of Ken MacLeod's last book with Pyr, the fascinatingly unique day-after-tomorrow political thriller about central Asia, ancient mythology, and MMOs used for revolutionary purposes, The Restoration Game; but this newest is a big step down from that one, a book that that similarly aims conceptually high but unfortunately falls flat most of the time. In fact, it takes a big suspension of disbelief even to swallow the premise and get past page one -- that after losing a "holy war" with Muslim countries over dwindling oil supplies in the near future, spurred by conservative Western politicians using fundamentalist Christian propaganda to sell it all to the public, the US and Western Europe are taken over by radical-left socialists who literally ban all public mention of religion ever again; and that although those radical days are over and a more stable government has started normalizing society again, there is still a deep cultural precedence for Christian worship being a semi-secret underground activity that in Orwellian style is not even officially recognized by the government as existing, even going so far as to insist on addressing church officials as "doctor" instead of "reverend" or "bishop." That's a pretty big freaking pill to swallow, which you have to do for the rest of the book to make sense, essentially a sneaky detective thriller set within this alt-history, concerning murders within this shadowy underground Catholic community and who might be committing them for what purposes. Interesting in its way, I myself found it just not as well-written as his previous novel, and full of the kinds of ultra-hacky genre-novelist stuff that makes me want to sometimes claw my own eyes out with so many of these midlist SF titles (such as the whole subplot taking place among the packed but silent danceclubs that have seemingly been made out of every old cathedral and mosque in existence, where "VJs" [virtual DJs, get it?] pump the music directly into people's heads and throw around enhanced-reality special effects across the room with their hands "Minority Report" style, while everyone watches along with their virtual-reality "iThink" glasses, UGH, UGH, enough, MacLeod, enough). Only for the extra-committed genre fan, although all of you should like this well enough.

Out of 10: 8.2
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Reading Progress

April 14, 2012 – Started Reading
April 14, 2012 – Shelved
July 5, 2012 – Shelved as: sci-fi
July 5, 2012 – Shelved as: dark
July 5, 2012 – Shelved as: subversive
July 5, 2012 – Finished Reading

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