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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The revolution is over, but it's just begun..., 18 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Descent (Hardcover)
There is no Conspiracy. But there are plenty of conspiracies. Starting out almost like Famous Five meets E.T. by way of The X-Files and early Star Trek, Ryan Sinclair ('Sinky') and his mainly best pal Calum ('Duke') have a strange (but classic) UFO type experience, up on the hills above Greenock.

The ramifications of this play out over the following years as they grow up, go to university, meet Sophie and Gabrielle, get jobs and live lives. All set against a backdrop of a society in seemingly mild but chronic disarray, of the 'Big Deal' (international nationalisation of all banks), low-tech revolutionaries in running shoes and top-secret avionics companies. Their lives become entwined and complicated by visits from occasional Men in Black, secret evidence of 'genetic speciation' and references to Neanderthalers, all mixed in with a bit of marital intrigue.

Set slightly in the future; as the time goes by the growing ubiquity of drones (both state and commercial), smart phones and tablets plus the economic and political upheavals, the world portrayed becomes, in a realistically messy sort of way, a hotchpotch of state and commercial surveillance, always 'connected', always watching, but always watched too. Typically, in such a transparent world, there is the feeling that perhaps everything is not as visible and open as it outwardly appears to be.

It starts with a dream and ends with one too. Along the way, themes that have already come up in Ken MacLeod's books make re-appearances. The idea that we effectively have a kind of socialism, all we have to do is recognise the fact (which he wrote about in 'Intrusion') are here paralleled by a bunch of revolutionaries whose final message is that they have given up and joined the bourgeoisie; that power has simply been removed from the banks and, in their place, we are ruled by a small number of industrial oligarchs; that there are conspiracies within the conspiracies, that there are, perhaps, meta-conspiracies, like the meta-materials that Sophie fashions into 'lamp shade dresses', as Ryan and Calum disparagingly call them.

It ends, as I said, in a dream, but one already perhaps familiar if you have read 'The Execution Channel'. It's a deceptively easy read, pootling along quite nicely in it's various sections. At the end I was left thinking 'yes, nice book' but it's later, alone at night, that it creeps up behind you, keeps you thinking. It's almost as if, by returning to the themes MacLeod has explored before that he is suggesting 'hey, there really is something going on here!' but he's doing it in a novel about conspiracies, so the book itself becomes a part of a conspiracy. A fiction used to tell a truth (or truths) too unpalatable, too outré (not to mention sectionable) to be presented as 'fact', as reportage. Am I reading too much into this...?
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Location: Netherlands

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