Review: The Night Sessions by Ken Macleod (Orbit)

Title: The Night Sessions
Author: Ken Macleod
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 7 August 2008
Review Copy

Time for a dose of sci-fi and what an injection. Macleod takes us to a near-future Scotland were religion has been removed as a driving force following the ‘Faith Wars’. Religion hasn’t been a concern until a priest is found dead.

This is very much a who-dunnit that relies on traditional detective work reinvented for a technologically advanced and information rich world. Macleod’s sure vision of an evolution to Scotland is a plausible but hopefully highly unlikely future made it concrete enough to understand without too much struggle.

I’ll admit to being a bit confused in the opening chapter as even though it’s a prologue Macleod throws you straight into a well-constructed and confident world. Not that I was confused for long.

The story and created world are strongly tied so that there really isn’t a world without this story and there isn’t a story without this world.

In this world there has been Armageddon where intellect robots have fought along side soldiers. And when the war was over you can’t leave intelligence in robots with guns can you, so you down-grade them. But some things aren’t forgotten. Macloed explores the relationship between artificial intelligence, consciousness, religion and the soul.

Even though the exploration is quite deep and thought provoking he doesn’t slow down on the detective work as Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson picks through the rubble and finds that there is more at stake than one dead priest.

I liked the depth of The Night Sessions and even though it’s been criticised for not going far enough, for me, who needs a good hook, Macloed keeps the mix about right. The story is tight, everyone and everything has a purpose and a connection in the story and it keeps unfolding and unfolding until, well, the end, which wasn’t what I wanted but was right in most senses of the word.


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