The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod

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The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: An genre-busting piece of speculative fiction that blends political thriller and sci-fi. It's a highly intelligent, exceedingly worrying, and happily witty book that will satisfy sci-fi nerds, political buffs, conspiracy theorists and cybernetic philosophers alike. There should be more writers like Ken MacLeod.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1841496472

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Lucy Stone works for a videogame company in Edinburgh. She enjoys the job - particularly being one of the boys - and it's given her a sense of belonging that she'd craved but never had. And then her mother calls. A CIA spook, Amanda wants Lucy's firm to rewrite their upcoming game to feature the mythology of a small ex-Soviet republic. Krassnia is where Lucy was born, where she lived for her first seven years, and where she spent the scariest day of her life. Amanda wrote a seminal work on Krassnian mythology and Lucy uses this to reshape the game, knowing that it's likely to be used as a tool in a hoped-for colour revolution.

As she's pulled deeper and deeper into the shadowy goings-on, Lucy begins to wonder more and more about the Krassnian folklore and the secret that resides up in the mountain - something apparently so terrifying that it even made Stalin feel faint. And eventually, she's pulled from the virtual Krassnian world to the real one...

... but is it real? Is any of it real?

I just love the way Ken MacLeod writes. As he explores the very nature of our existence and explores shifting realities on levels from the philosophical to the geopolitical to the intensely personal, his narrative drive never falters and you're as hooked, as quick to turn the page, as any thriller has ever made you. Contemporary and historical references come thick and fast too, and so your brain is darting about all the time, but it never puts you off. I'm not a big fan of sci-fi and I rarely read thrillers, but when they come together like this, when the whole thing is so absolutely masterful, I just want to do a little jig in thanks for having been given such a treat to read. Even if I am just a construct of a rogue AI brain - the underlying theme of the book.

This is a sci-fi thriller so very, very close to so many current bones, it sends more than one chill down your spine. Pulling on recent history in Ossetia, Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan - even in Iran and Lebanon - you do have to wonder how speculative this novel is.

It's highly, highly recommended.

My thanks to the good people at Orbit for sending the book.

If you like speculative fiction, you might also enjoy Incendiary by Chris Cleave, a brilliantly astute look at a woman's point of view, soul and more, when a terrorist attack kills her young son and husband.

Booklists.jpg The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2010.

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Buy The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod at


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