The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod

Orbit, 2017, 333 p

 The Corporation Wars: Emergencecover

Emergence is the last in Macleod’s Corporation Wars trilogy, which I have struggled with from the outset. For my take on Dissidence and Insurgence click on the links. Again in this third instalment the lack of jeopardy inherent in characters being able to be “revived” in a simulation is admittedly somewhat lessened by the length of time spent in their mechanical avatars returning from which would by now mean substantial memory loss, yet it is never fully avoided. Here, too, not a little of the necessary background of the story is related to us directly rather than being presented through the “character”’s experiences. There is also a lot of redundant phraseology as in where one of the robot characters says, “” and this is immediately followed by, “What she told them was this.”

InEmergence a group of fascists calling themselves the New Confederacy has invaded SH-119, the planetoid on which robots have achieved sentience and declared independence. Meanwhile, the Locke module has landed on the hitherto unblemished primary world SH-0, which it turns out has indigenous inhabitants, a form of life which is very good at incorporating new genes. Both these scenarios play out as the book unfolds with Carlos siding with the sentient robots.

MacLeod lards his text with plentiful SF allusions (which will play to the aficionados.) At one point, though, he also deploys the impeccably Scottish interjection, “Ya beauty!”

Emergence is a good enough – and readable – conclusion to a sequence which I’m afraid as a whole didn’t really grab me.

Pedant’s corner:- “None of the other robots were coming to the captive’s aid.” (none was,) sulphurous (sulphurous, please,) gasses (gases,) wrack our brains (rack.) “Data et Accepta” (a chapter title translated as ‘The Data is Accepted.’ If it’s Latin that would have to be ‘Data Accepta Est’ but most [all?] of the chapter titles contain slight mistranslations,) “as she ran and tried to not think about running” (and tried not to think about,) “less then five seconds” (less than) “a hundredth of second” (of a second,) “” (get or send, not both,) “most about about half a metre in diameter” (only one “about” needed,) “” (this is no moment,) “being surrounded by not a hostile jungle but…” (surrounded not by a hostile jungle but….)

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