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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kept me interested
I am pleased that Ken McLeod is back on form, and Night Sessions kept me interested. The concept of a world after a pogrom against all religions will horrify some readers and appeal to others. (No more Thought for the Day!). The plot is an entanglement of religious conversion of AI, underground Covananters and high tech sabotage. As is usual, Ken McLeod educates the...
Published on 30 Aug. 2008 by Robert

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's Rebus ?
I'm sorry but when I read this book I couldn't get Inspector Rebus from my mind. It was set in the near distant future after the faith wars and grandson of Rebus was trying to solve the alledged murder of a priest. The pub bit was classic Rebus.

If you haven't read any of Ian Rankins book you will probably be able to read this with cross-contamination from...
Published on 14 Mar. 2011 by joppie


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kept me interested, 30 Aug. 2008
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I am pleased that Ken McLeod is back on form, and Night Sessions kept me interested. The concept of a world after a pogrom against all religions will horrify some readers and appeal to others. (No more Thought for the Day!). The plot is an entanglement of religious conversion of AI, underground Covananters and high tech sabotage. As is usual, Ken McLeod educates the reader. All in all, I enjoyed this book, it was a fun read and the only reason I did not give it five stars was that I thought it tailed off a bit at the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Kens Best, 23 Aug. 2009
This review is from: The Night Sessions: A Novel (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this latest novel by Ken Macleod. In my opinion one of his best since writing the Star Faction. The characters are fleshed out with depth and interesting back stories. The plot is detailed with plenty of action and enough well thought out tech to keep the pace going.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Storming!, 10 Aug. 2008
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O.k. - let's try and set the scene a bit here. In Edinburgh, years after the end of the Faith/Oil Wars and the Second Enlightenment. Someone sets off a bomb that kills a priest. Enter Detective Inspector Ferguson.

So - is it sci-fi or is it a 'whodunit'? Well, it's both, of course. But the sci-fi ideas in this book just keep building up and up. The soldiers went to the wars with their battle mechs. Some of these battle mechs became self-aware. After the war, these K.I.s (Kinetic Intelligences) find roles in society, as police, as space workers and so on. Also, along with K.I.s', there are A.I.s and a police computer commonly referred to as Paranoia.

Add to all this the remnants of Dominionists, Dispensationalists, Covenantists and other religious extremists, plus a wild and high-tech club scene, space elevators, a totally mobile and integrated web, sharp dialogue, a very well written narrative that just keeps steaming along and you've got a wonderful book.

Ken Macleod's last book The Execution Channel was good, but this is better; this is back to the complexities, the extrapolations of current events, the chaotic realism of The Star Fraction and is all the better for it. Thank-you Mr Macleod!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Compelling Fictional Condemnation of Fundamentalist Religion, 19 Nov. 2012
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Night Sessions: A Novel (Paperback)
What if robots found GOD? This very question lies at the heart of Ken MacLeod's near future science fiction novel, "The Night Sessions", one of the most compelling fictional condemnations of fundamentalist religion I have read, which is, not surprisingly, one of MacLeod's best novels. "The Night Sessions" illustrates the importance of science fiction as a literary genre rooted in ideas, as a fictional condemnation of the worst aspects of religious fundamentalism, and one quite critical too of anti-religious fundamentalism expressed by some atheists. In a near future slowly recovering from the worst aspects of man-made global warming, religion has been rendered almost invisible, barely tolerated by government as a result of the "Second Enlightenment" separating faith from politics, in the aftermath of so-called "Faith Wars" which have rendered part of the Middle East radioactively uninhabitable. Only a relative few, mainly religious fundamentalists, dare practice openly their faith, even as they are greatly distrusted and despised by most of the public. A young New Zealand robotics engineer - and skeptical creationist - finds himself the object of religious devotion during a brief visit to a Scottish Fundamentalist Protestant Christian Church, stunned to hear that his lay preaching has attracted not only the attention of, but also, ample devotion from robots who view him as a latter day prophet. One year later, Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson investigates an Edinburgh church bombing and the murders of two priests, finding evidence which points initially to zealous anti-religious atheists as the likely culprits. As he delves further into his investigation, Ferguson encounters references to an obscure 18th Century radical Scottish Protestant Christian sect and the potential ties between it and a plot to destroy the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean space elevators. Replete with the realism seen in Lynda La Plante's "Prime Suspect" television series and the best of Elmore Leonard's crime fiction, MacLeod offers readers a most tantalizing glimpse into a technologically advanced near future that so eerily resonates with today's all too prevalent religious strife, especially its religiously-inspired terrorism; that he does this in a surprisingly terse mix of crime fiction, thriller and science fiction, is ample testimony to his excellent storytelling and prose, demonstrating why he remains one of today's most compelling and insightful writers of literary science fiction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but left some question marks, 24 July 2013
This review is from: The Night Sessions: A Novel (Paperback)
This is a detective story set in what is called the near future. Normally you would think that the world has changed some but not a lot in a short time but not here. There has been a type of World War between secular and religious forces with all religions (!) on one side! This all started with 911 and as a result all religions are more or less destroyed with a few survivors here and there. After this there were some type of Civil War in the US. On top of this Man Kind has invented fully sentient robots, two space elevators and a very advanced communication system allowing you to see what other people look at through their contact lenses! Considering all of this the concept of "near" future seams a little stretched...

But if you accept this there is an interesting detective story of an almost classical type in the book. We meet an advanced police force trying to figure out two odd murders with the help of high tech equipment. Mr MacLeod writes well and the various people in the story comes across as "real" people even if it is hard to accept some of their background. The Police officers have a background as torturers and some type of killers (as I have understood it) and still they are supposed to work in law enforcement.

I found the book to be interesting but at times frustrating since so many odd details were never explained in a satisfactory way. How the world could turn against Christians and wage war against them as a result of 911 felt very odd and it just left you hanging there. How the world could afford to create a high tech future after several devastating wars was an other. Somehow I got the feeling that all the politically correct forces in the world won and created their dream state.

Mr Macleod has maybe put to much details and background into a story that did not need it.

But it was well worth reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!, 25 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Night Sessions: A Novel (Paperback)
It's more than a little deplorable that such a quality and thought-provoking read took so many years to become available on this side of the Atlantic. Indeed, Ken MacLeod's The Night Sessions originally came out in 2008 in the UK. I'm aware that science fiction doesn't quite sell the way it used to. But considering the amount of genre crap on the market today, one would think that a novel as good as this one would get an American publisher more rapidly.

I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that the more devout American Christians are portrayed in a negative light. . .

Here's the blurb:

A bishop is dead. As Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson picks through the rubble of the tiny church, he discovers that it was deliberately bombed. That it's a terrorist act is soon beyond doubt. It's been a long time since anyone saw anything like this. Terrorism is history.

After the Middle East wars and the rising sea levels, after Armageddon and the Flood, came the Great Rejection. The first Enlightenment separated church from state. The Second Enlightenment has separated religion from politics. In this enlightened age there's no persecution, but the millions who still believe and worship are a marginal and mistrusted minority. Now someone is killing them.

At first, suspicion falls on atheists more militant than the secular authorities. But when the target list expands to include the godless, it becomes evident that something very old has risen from the ashes. Old and very, very dangerous. . .

I found the premise of the work to be fascinating. In a future in which the Faith Wars resolved the Middle East problem and rid the world of the fundamentalist islamic issue, if at a terrible price, and which led to the First and Second Enlightenment that separated religion from everything else, I feel that Ken MacLeod created a very believable post-war world. The worldbuilding is intelligent, thoughtful, and daring. Add to that a storyline in which self-aware robots find God and you end up with a book that's impossible to put down!

There are no lies in religion. There are apparent facts that are illusions. There are words to be taken figuratively. There are ideas that are symbols of deeper truths. There are no lies. The people who sent me to the Middle East told us we would destroy an evil empire. They didn't lie, either.

For the most part, the characterization is pretty solid. Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson and his robot partner Skulk are at the heart of this investigation, yet the supporting cast of disparate characters gives this work many more layers. One thing that I found off-putting, however, is the author's habit to jump from one POV to the next without any apparent break in the narrative. Still, the plot captures you in such a way that the POV shifts don't take anything away from the overall reading experience.

The pace is great and there is never a dull moment from beginning to end. The Night Sessions is as smart as it is entertaining. MacLeod challenges readers with thought-provoking ideas and never takes the path of least resistance. My only complaint would be that we don't learn enough about the Faith Wars and their aftermath. And yet, that would probably have required a number of info-dumps that would have killed the rhythm of the novel. As things stand, this book is a page-turner.

Considering the social, political, and religious issues the West is currently dealing with, Ken MacLeod offers a look at a potential near future in which mankind realized how different belief systems can corrupt societies.

Highly recommended!

Check out Pat's Fantasy Hotlist!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Where's Rebus ?, 14 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The Night Sessions: A Novel (Paperback)
I'm sorry but when I read this book I couldn't get Inspector Rebus from my mind. It was set in the near distant future after the faith wars and grandson of Rebus was trying to solve the alledged murder of a priest. The pub bit was classic Rebus.

If you haven't read any of Ian Rankins book you will probably be able to read this with cross-contamination from another autor.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aliens, 11 Aug. 2008
By 
Tony P "Tony" (North East England) - See all my reviews
This book reminded me, as if I needed it, of how alien the religionist (sorry, can't think of a better word) mindset/world-view is.

Ken MacLeod is very good in this novel at showing us some of the inner workings of such people (those who have allowed themselves to be taken over by the "virus meme" that is religion). The main character (an ex-'God Squad' copper) has to deal, as tactfully as he can, with such people as he tries to figure out who/what/why.

My only complaint, as is common with me and Ken MacLeod novels, is the ending. I'm just not convinced that the Kiwi lay-preacher would have flipped in the way that he did. I would have expected him to cling to his world-view, no matter what evidence was put before him (Ur). And as for the last couple of pages...

Apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and recommend it to anyone, although god-botherering creationists may be offended by it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion and robots do not mix..., 29 Oct. 2009
By 
A. J. Poulter "AP" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Night Sessions: A Novel (Paperback)
This book takes place in 2021, in Edinburgh, where I live, and Rotorua, New Zealand, which I visited when I worked for four months in Wellington. The only incongruity I spotted was the lead character, DI Adam Ferguson, jumping on and off trams in a variety of locations in Edinburgh, which now seems unlikely given the recent cutbacks in the planned routes. The 'night sessions' link these two locations, as they are sermons, given in the morning in New Zealand but listened to live in the evening in Scotland. John Richard Campbell, who gives these sermons, is a free-thinking theologian, who contemplates, among other things, whether intelligent robots can have souls. This is more dangerous than might be expected, as the world is now resolutely secular, after a nuclear exchange in the Middle East. Space is slowly being tamed, aided by two ocean-based orbital elevators. DI Ferguson earned his spurs in the police in the period which saw churches dis-established, and believers dispersed, sometimes by force. A murder of an ex-Catholic priest leads to an escalating series of incidents for DI Ferguson to investigate, aided by his robot sidekick Skulk (an ex-war droid). It seems as though an obscure religious sect are trying to bring on the "end of days", according to some printed religious tracts found in the few remaining churches in Edinburgh. It is no coincidence that the anniversary of 9/11 is nigh. Unlike Ken Macleod's previous novels, politics takes a back seat to religion, and the result is an excellent police-procedural/thriller, with an unexpected twist as to motive. There are plenty of throw-away clever details, such as the need to back up hackable/volatile crime scene digital data with hand-written notes and drawings. If trams might not be ubiquitous in 2021 Edinburgh, at least global warming will have kicked in, so that one can arrive at the airport "to be welcomed by a hot Scottish summer"!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you saved?, 28 Sept. 2010
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Night Sessions: A Novel (Paperback)
In a world containing conscious, religiously inclined robots that can be backed up and incarnated in new bodies, this question is ambiguous, and the ambiguity representative of a delightfully playful book that juggles ideas of consciousness, determinism, religion, heresy and science.

In a near future world, the Faith (or oil...) Wars have happened, culminating in a final battle (with tactical nukes) at, of course, Megiddo (the Biblical Armageddon). However, the world has survived, up to a factor of global warming. It has, though, turned against faith, given the crimes committed in its name. After a period of active persecution, religions are tolerated, but regarded with suspicion - and it wouldn't take much to revive the God Squads and put boots back in the pews.

So it's concerning when Christians in Edinburgh begin to be murdered, and DCI Adam Fergusson is soon on the case, accompanied by his leki, a (self) conscious robot (and Faith Wars veteran). In one mode this is an excellent detective story following Fergusson as he tracks down the killers (Christian sect? neo-Gnostics who believe the world is a simulation? anti-religious terrorists?). In another, it is a page turning thriller, as we see an audacious conspiracy exposed. At the same time it is, of course, thought provoking SF, and it manages to encompass the splits and schisms of centuries of Scottish church history too. All while remaining readable on every page.

Really, really good.
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