The Early Days of a Better Nation

Saturday, August 13, 2016



The Realm of the Sentients

Not a bad title, eh? I wish I'd thought of it.

In fact it's for the Edinburgh International Book Festival event where I'll be talking about my latest book, The Corporation Wars: Dissidence tomorrow, Sunday 14 August, 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm.



The book has had some great reviews: in the Scotsman, the Guardian, and from the perceptive Edinburgh blogger Tychy, among others.

One of those others, very gratifyingly, is Warren Ellis:
Edinburgh SF axis. Charlie Stross somewhere in town, Iain Banks in North Queensferry, Ken MacLeod in South Queensferry. All very interested in culture and politics to differing degrees. Ken McLeod is the most outwardly political of the three, as a writer, being an old Trot. He's been playing with different genre models of late, and, in this first book of a trilogy, I wonder if he hasn't decided to try and play a more commercial game.

No more old political forms in this one. Brilliantly, he sets up a world war between Accelerationism and Neoreaction. He starts it in the near future and projects it into the far future and tangles it up with artificial conscious intelligence and a kind of Permanent Late Capitalism and it feels right up to the minute. He's hit the main vein of conversation about locks on artificial intelligence and living in simulations and exoplanetary exploitation and drone warfare and wraps it all into a remarkably human, funny and smartly-designed yarn.

It is, in fact, a king-hell commercial entertainment. It's not a small book, but it rips along on rockets - and makes you feel bad for a guy called Carlos The Terrorist into the bargain. And, yes, it is about politics, framed in a way that is science fictional in that it also speaks to the science-fictional condition we currently live in where such things actually exist as part of the fabric of our slightly insane world. If that makes any sense. Anyway. It's smart and very Edinburgh SF Axis and you will probably like it if you're in the mood for science fiction.


What more can I say? Be there or be square, that's what.

2 Comments:

Ken - did you know any of this? From yesterday's Times. "He [Richard Barbrook, a senior lecturer in politics at the university of Westminster] is also a senior figure in Class Wargames, a group that uses board games to re-enact historical battles to 'train the militants of the cybernetic communist revolution to come' - a reference to the idea of self-regulating control systems for a planned economy".

An echo there of Kantorovitch and Spufford's Red Plenty, surely?

cheers, Fraser.

Thanks, Fraser. I'll follow that up.

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