The Execution Channel

Ken MacLeod

Tor Books



Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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It's after 9/11. After the bombing. After the Iraq war. After 7/7. After the Iran war. After the nukes. After the flu. After the Straits. After Rosyth. In a world just down the road from our own, on-line bloggers vie with old-line political operatives and new-style police to determine just where reality lies.

James Travis is a British patriot and a French spy. On the day the Big One hits, Travis and his daughter must strive to make sense of the nuclear bombing of Scotland and the political repercussions of a series of terrorist attacks. With the information war in full swing, the only truth they have is what they're able to see with their own eyes. They know that everything else is—or may be—a lie.


Praise for The Execution Channel

"Ken MacLeod's invented an entirely new genre—the blogothriller, the infinitely weirder cousin of the technothriller. More improbable, hilarious, and engrossing than 70,000,000 conspiracy sites, a trillion trackbacks, a heptillion message-board posts. The Execution Channel feels like the future, like our futuristic present. It scared the hell out of me."—Cory Doctorow

"Ken MacLeod's novels are fast, funny and sophisticated. There can never be enough books like these."—Kim Stanley Robinson

"MacLeod nimbly melds a tech- and culture-savvy appreciation of what the blogosphere might look like in a few short years with some old-fashioned spycraft. It's a frighteningly familiar world, where electronically-distributed information is easily distorted. In the end, reality seems just so much code. A thrilling, well-crafted spy novel."—Kirkus Reviews

"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."—Carl Hays, Booklist

"With an adroit combination of paranoid spy thriller tricks and SF gadgetry, MacLeod 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."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Ken MacLeod

  • Ken MacLeod is the author of many acclaimed science fiction novels, including The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, and Newton's Wake. His latest novel, Learning the World, won the Prometheus Award (his third) and was a finalist for the Hugo Award. He lives with his family near Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Ken MacLeod Patrick Nielsen Haydon
    Ken MacLeod