The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod

The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod
The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod

The novel “The Corporation Wars: Emergence” by Ken MacLeod was published for the first time in 2017. It’s the third book in The Corporation Wars trilogy and follows “The Corporation Wars: Insurgence“.

A superhabitable planet is at the center of a war involving a number of really uneven factions. DisCorporations, free bots, mechanoids, artificial intelligences, form a complex network of alliances whose members are involved in a much larger struggle.

A fascist faction has conquered the exomoon SH-119 and uses enslaved sentient robots to exploit its considerable resources, opening another front of the war. Carlos the Terrorist wakes up another time and finds himself again in the midst of a clash in which he needs to understand who are the allies and who the enemies.

“The Corporation Wars: Emergence” ends the trilogy set in a future in which robots and digitized minds of people considered criminals by the DisCorporations are used to perform works in deep space. “The Corporation Wars: Emergence” continues the story developed in the previous novels to bring it to the grand finale. The trilogy forms one big story and several characters were introduced in the first two novels, so you need to read it all.

In this final novel, Ken MacLeod perhaps manages to write an even more complex plot based on the clash of factions that change over time with alliances forming and falling apart amidst deception, subterfuge, and rebellion. Having arrived at the final book, you can’t be surprised by the direction taken by the author. It’s positive that the pace accelerates because this time the conversations that marked the previous novels are accompanied by many events that lead to the final clash between the various warring factions. There’s even a coda that gives a conclusion to Carlos’s story.

At the center are still mechanoids, as free bots call beings with human minds embedded in robotic bodies, and Carlos in particular, along with sentient robots and artificial intelligences. The differences between them raise questions about the nature of consciousness, a theme that tends to be limited by the fact that Ken MacLeod prefers to focus on political and economic issues. I was much more interested in the topic of conscience but reading a novel by this author, you can expect him to focus on his favorite themes and that the others tend to remain in the background.

Similar considerations apply to the native life forms of the superhabitable planet at the center of the war. Native creatures have interesting biological characteristics and other authors would have made them central. Again, I was more interested in their development but they have limited importance even if they influence the plot.

In general, Ken MacLeod tends to use several ideas in his novels that he finds useful in developing his plots but ends up developing them in a limited way to focus on the political and economic elements. For this reason, the appreciation is greatly influenced by personal tastes. “The Corporation Wars: Emergence” confirms that you might like this trilogy if you’re interested in the main themes developed by Ken MacLeod and have no problem with the other themes being used only when they’re useful to the plot.

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