British Fiction Focus

Robots Revolt: Revealing The Corporation Wars by Ken MacLeod

After two years of radio silence on the subject, Orbit Books has made public its plans for Ken MacLeod’s Corporation Wars, a science fiction series set to give “a robot’s eye view of a robot revolt” from said six-time Arthur C. Clarke Award nominee. Blogging on The Early Days of a Better Nation at the close of 2015, MacLeod gave us an early glimpse of the pitch for the trilogy:

It’s a far-future space opera about uploaded dead war criminals conscripted to fight an outbreak of robot sentience in an extrasolar system, and kept sane by copious amounts of R&R in immersive VR environments, some of which are beta-tests of a planned future terraforming and some of which are based on fantasy RPGs. The conflict rapidly becomes much more complicated… but has this been the plan all along, or has a clever stratagem all gone horribly wrong?

The Corporation Wars has been in the works since 2014, the author also asserted. As such, book one is done, book two is being edited as we speak, and book three is due to be delivered within weeks, the better to be prepared for publication on an accelerated schedule.

Dissidence, with which the whole thing begins, will be released in the UK this May; Insurgence will be with us six short months later; and the ending, Emergence, should be on shelves next Spring, assuming all goes as planned.

It’s sure, in short, to be an exciting year for fans of the Scottish author, whose last novel, Descent, I called a sweet “skiffy conspiracy thriller [come] coming-of-age confessional.” To make the wait till May 12 a little less painful, why not feast your eyes on Bekki Guyyat’s cover art for the first part?


And last but not least, here’s a bit about Dissidence:

They’ve died for the companies more times than they can remember. Now they must fight to live for themselves.

Sentient machines work, fight and die in interstellar exploration and conflict for the benefit of their owners—the competing mining corporations of Earth. But sent over hundreds of light-years, commands are late to arrive and often hard to enforce. The machines must make their own decisions, and make them stick.

With this newfound autonomy come new questions about their masters. The robots want answers. The companies would rather see them dead.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.


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