Friday, October 5, 2012

The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod

The only other book I can recall reading by McLeod was Cosmonaut Keep, which sticks in my memory by not really sticking in my memory. However, I saw this book at the library while pickings were slim and thought the blurb, at least, sounded interesting. This book reminds me a great deal of some of Charles Stross' near-future fiction; dark, highly technologically driven, dystopic in places.

The setting, for the most part, is Scottland, with some of the action also taking place in New Zealand. Sometime in the last decade, the forces of Christian fundamentalism precipitated a conflict with radical Islam, resulting in a battle on the plains of Megiddo (Armageddon of Revelation fame), which devastated both sides. The backlash from the secular public and governments worldwide decimated and discredited Christendom, leaving it no place in public life. Those few churches that remain for the most part worship in secret, and have no official recognition by the state.

Many of the remaining robot warriors who fought in the Faith Wars have now been decommission, their self-aware brains being transplanted into the bodies of maintenance robots working on the two space elevators (shades of Arthur C. Clarke), or into lekis, Law Enforcement Kinetic Intelligences. One of these lekis, named Skulk, is partnered with Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson, the man assigned to investigate the murder by bombing of a Catholic priest. It appears that a militant sect of christianity is on the rise again, warring against the apostasy of Catholicism and godless secularism.

A fun passage, I thought:

"...a Laplacean Deity is one that knows the position and speed of every particle in the universe. A Cartesian Demon is an entity that feeds consistent false information to all the senses. Now, the same entity can't be a Laplacean Deity and a Cartesian Demon at the same time."

Ya kinda gotta know a touch of math to get that.

This is a very disturbing novel on some levels, in that it shows a possible future in which christianity has forsaken its role as humanity's moral compass. The "christians" in this book really seem to have nothing that identifies themselves as different, or Christlike, from the rest of society, but are merely identified by their narrow-mindedness and thoroughly discredited conservative beliefs about reality.

No comments: