The Execution Channel
Ken MacLeod
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Buy *The Execution Channel* by Ken MacLeod

The Execution Channel
Ken MacLeod
288 pages
June 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The Execution Channel may be the most terrifying book you read this year. The events narrated within this story of a near-future terrorist attack in a world held hostage by the twin vice grips of militant rebels and government war hawks - are deeply disturbing, all the more so for their complete plausibility. MacLeodís prose, to-the-point and at times quite abrupt, is an evocative depiction of the lives of several individuals consumed by a society held hostage by wars fought as much by bloggers as by governments.

The novel follows multiple storylines as it delves deeper into the mystery of a nuclear attack on the United Kingdom from an unknown organization. Spies, information warriors and innocents are all involved in a plot which, to be honest, can be a little evasive if one doesnít work to pin it down. But all the confusion lends a panoramic view to the story, allowing us to get a full picture into a world the characters ó and normally, we ó donít fully understand.

This isnít a novelization of 24. MacLeod doesnít frighten with the easy tools of pandering to fears and playing off of biases. Instead he demonstrates why our fears about the world are for the most part inadequate. While Jack Bauer is primarily interested in telling us why should be afraid of what we donít understand, MacLeod and his host of flawed, fractured protagonists provide evidence for just what we should be afraid of, precisely through this panoramic. Just like the 9/11 and Iraq war events of the recent past, we can only understand their full scope when we see the big picture.

MacLeod employs some mildly fantastical elements in his plot, most notable the Execution Channel from which the novel derives its title. As if Fox News wasnít bad enough, this multinational network depicts all executions, all the time (sadly, whatever advertisements go in between arenít mentioned). The mentions of these near-future elements contribute well to the panoramic MacLeod has worked so hard to build.

ďDisinfoĒ ó the novelís version of government-fueled agitprop ó may sound like a buzzword out of hand, but MacLeod brings these concepts and all their disturbing implications to life. The war to control and regulate the flow of truth and lies through media outlets is just as real and dangerous as wars between nations. The Execution Channel chronicles both without an ounce of sympathy for our paranoia.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Max Falkowitz, 2009

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