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The Execution Channel Paperback – June 10, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765320673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765320674
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,037,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With an adroit combination of paranoid spy thriller tricks and SF gadgetry, MacLeod (Learning the World) depicts a near future that may or may not be our own, when 9/11 and the Iraq war were followed by war with Iran, a flu pandemic and terrorist attacks, and the West teeters on the brink of an all-out nuclear exchange. James Travis, a Scottish software engineer whose hatred for the U.S. has driven him to spy for France, and his daughter, Roisin, a young peace activist, have both witnessed horrendous acts of terrorism, most recently the apparent nuclear bombing of an airbase in Scotland. Nothing is what it seems, however. Government agents use the Internet to spread sophisticated disinformation, but are still perfectly willing to fall back on torture when necessary. Meanwhile, the Execution Channel, a rogue media outlet, broadcasts actual footage of various murders and executions 24-7. Dizzying plot twists and a variety of fascinating, believable technological breakthroughs make this perhaps MacLeod's most compulsively readable novel to date. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In a post-9/11 world just around the corner, attacks on American soil have been followed in horrific succession by a flu pandemic, war against Iran, and an escalating wave of executions throughout the world that are televised daily on a pirate channel. Now what is apparently a tactical nuclear weapon has been detonated on an American-occupied air base in Scotland. While conducting spying operations for French intelligence, British citizen James Travis immediately becomes a terror suspect, as does his daughter, peace activist Roisin, because of carrying illicit photos of the weapon before it exploded. A multilayered story line alternates Travis' efforts to evade UK authorities, Roisin's capture and interrogation, and a propaganda war between a clandestine disinformation team and a notorious Internet blogger seeking the truth hidden in a spiderweb of spin. A master of politically charged sf, MacLeod channels our contemporary preoccupation with terrorism into an engulfing stream of espionage and international intrigue. Although the occasional sf trope may baffle genre outsiders, McLeod's speculative thriller ought to grab political junkies and spy fiction buffs as well as his sf fans. Hays, Carl
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Perhaps publishers will refrain from publishing bad books when enough readers cease spending money on their badly-edited junk.
Amazon Customer
Very topical, don't you think, considering how Gitmo, waterboarding, & US citizen Jose Pedilla's treatment all seem at odds with the Bill of Rights?
C. Stutts
There are simply too many characters to remember, too many scenes to link together, too much information to digest in the rush to a conclusion.
Lew Knick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ivo J. Steijn on July 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, let me start this review by noting that there were some things I did NOT like about this novel. The "execution channel" itself - a TV channel that broadcasts random execution scenes - seems like a plot device that is needed for one punch to the reader's stomach and then discarded. It makes clear how brutal the world depicted in the novel is, but we get that, thank you. The novel also depressed the heck out of me for days.

It's a depressing story. The world has gone to the dogs, and lies are weapons of mass distraction that the governments use to obscure their dirty work. When a series of terrorist attacks cripples Britain after a nuclear detonation over a Scottisch airbase, the lies are so thick on the ground you never quite know if the terrorists are Al-Qaeda, someone pretending to be Al-Qaeda, someone run by Al-Qaeda, or all of the above. It's our world as it is today, but worse. And yes, it can get worse. Easily.

I'll tell you what this novel is not. It's not preachy; it's indignant. Important difference. It's also not leftie Bush-bashing. It's an angry novel about people being afraid of their government, rather than the other way around.

It made me angry. It's also MacLeod's angriest novel since "The Star Fraction" and I, for one, welcome the return of that anger, that justified distaste at the state of the world. I've enjoyed all his novels inbetween that first one and this, his latest one, but they were popcorn compared to the more substantial fare offered here.

It's a great novel. It should make you angry too.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By darklordzden on February 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Near Future: the geopolitical map of the world has been redrawn by the events of an alternative September 11th which didn't involve passenger planes, the world trade center or New York. China, France and Russia have become uneasily allied against an increasingly imperialistic Anglo-American alliance and all are caught in an escalating loop of disinformation, half-truths and lies. Against the backdrop of an apparent Nuclear detonation at a Scottish USAF base, IT engineer and reluctant spy James Travis turns fugitive and finds himself in a race against time to secure an exit strategy for himself and his family after his cover is blown by persons unknown. Before he can do either he will have to decipher the truth behind the detonation, the real agendas of the governments involved and the increasingly bizarre agit-prop concerning experimental weaponry testing that is running rife as the hands of the Nuclear clock move ever closer to midnight. 'The Execution Channel' owes more to the espionage genre than science fiction and its to Ken Macleod's credit that he resists the urge to spoon-feed the details of his near future world to the reader or indulge in the notorious cliché of new world order conspiracies that have become so inextricably linked to thrillers of this type recently. The escalating events of the novel, as in the real world, are driven by the mistakes and mis-steps of its protagonists which makes for a far more interesting read and a far more realistic interpretation of how government and media manipulation of conspiracy theories and political ideology can backfire horribly. Refreshingly, he also refuses to resort to shoot-outs or overt apocalyptic bombast during the course of the novel - a choice which seems to have disappointed a readership expecting more obvious thrills.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lichter VINE VOICE on October 10, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Published in 2007, during G.W. Bush's second term, Ken MacLeod's THE EXECUTION CHANNEL is an indictment of the British government's buy-in on the American "Global War on Terror" and a lament that the British people let it happen. It is also a warning about the damage we do when we abandon our core principles out of fear, and when we lie to ourselves so much that we can't tell the difference between fact and fantasy. Or, rather, when we let *them* (the government) do those things to themselves and to us.

The novel kicks off with an apparent nuclear explosion on a Scottish air base, followed by a series of bombings that destroy oil refineries and heavily traveled highway overpasses throughout the UK. Among those caught up in the chaos are IT professional James Travis and his peace activist daughter Roisin. Travis is a man so disillusioned with his country that he opts to spy for France. As we are told,

"He had no special regard for France. The thing he liked about France was that it was French. The thing he hated about England was that it wasn't English. This had nothing to do with race or religion or nation or politics, as far as he could see. ... At some point England had simply failed itself." (p. 201)

For Travis, his sense of England's failure is linked both due to his wife's death in a flu epidemic, which he attributes to government negligence (shades of Katrina), and also to "the hollow justifications for the attack on Iran which he'd been so sure that the [House of] Commons would see through," and the lack of public protest when they didn't. Mostly, though, his decision to spy was based on anger at "being kept in the dark" by the government. "You keep me in the dark? Very well, I will walk in darkness and strike in darkness.
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More About the Author

Ken MacLeod's SF novels have won the Prometheus Award and the BSFA award, and been shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He lives near Edinburgh, Scotland.

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