This week I decided to review The Corporation Wars: Insurgence by Ken Macleod.
The story starts right after the secret discovered at the end of the last book was revealed. In the Locke Provisos simulation, the strain of processing all the data is effecting the senses of the human minds inside the sim. Shaw, who fled during the first war and against accidentally createded sentient AIs, manages to fix the problem but this changes the flow of time so that instead of one day in reality lasting one thousand days in the simulation, the passage of time in both reality and virtual reality will match leaving much less time for those inside to prepare for the coming battles then they had anticipated.
Meanwhile, in reality, the strike force on its way to attack the rebel AIs and their Arcane Disputes allies collapses into a civil war. This happens because while most of the minds controlling the war machines were soldiers of the Affiliation ideology during Earth's ancient Last World War, Arcane Disputes claims to have proof that Locke Provisos is secretly controlled by agents of the Reaction Ideology which the Affiliation opposed in the war with other agencies compromised by similar agents.
Unfortunately for Harlod Newton, who was a Reaction agent within the Affiliation movement during the war, he receives the message after committing himself to an attempt to seize a AI-controlled rock alone. Meanwhile, Carlos, driven to defect after discovering Arcane Dispute's claims near the end of the previous book, reaches the Arcane Disputes module and is uploaded into its simulation based on an MMO popular among the Affiliation movement whose leadership includes Jax, who had originally recruited Carlos for the Affiliation and had been his lover. The rebel AIs declare themselves neutral in the conflict between the two ideologies because they believe neither will truly treat them as equals.
But Baser, the AI controlling the rock Newton is heading for, refuses to stand down and is cast out by the other AIs before being captured by Newton who is forced to link up with Arcane Disputes. In the Locke Provisos module, those opposing the Reaction seize control and move to land on a planet and establish a base of operations. And the Arcane Disputes forces prepare to launch a strike to keep the Locke module from reaching its goal. Carlos, Newton and a few others who have become disgruntled with the Arcane leadership form a plan to free Baser and defect to the AI Freebot faction.
I give this book 8.5 out of 10 The battle sequences weren't improved very much from the first book in my opinion. Also, this book feels like it has a lot more sections that were added more for lengthening the book then adding anything to the setting or that felt like they were drilling in points I didn't see the need to remind the reader of. Did we really need a group of Reaction fighters who clearly aren't entirely comfortable with Newton, a well known African-British Reaction member to remind us what the story had explained before, namely that many Reaction members came from white supremacist groups? But the ending and the plot by Carlos and his allies late in the book does leave a lot of interesting possibilities for the next book.