Title: The Restoration Game (Amazon, Goodreads)
Author: Ken MacLeod (Amazon, Goodreads, Website)
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Received review copy from Publisher.
There is no such place as Krassnia. Lucy Stone should know — she was born there. In that tiny, troubled region of the former Soviet Union, revolution is brewing. Its organisers need a safe place to meet, and where better than the virtual spaces of an online game? Lucy, who works for a start-up games company in Edinburgh, has a project that almost seems made for the job: its original inspiration came from The Krassniad — an epic tale, based on Krassnian folklore, concocted by Lucy’s mother who studied there in the 1980s. As Lucy digs up details about her birthplace to slot into the game, she finds her interest in the open secrets of her family’s past — and the darker secrets of Krassnia’s — has not gone unnoticed. When a Russian — Georgian border war breaks out, Lucy has to move fast — and return to Krassnia herself, to the heart of the mountain that holds Krassnia’s darkest and oldest secret. But nothing Lucy has discovered can possibly prepare her for the crucial role she is destined to play in The Restoration Game …
I’ve heard many good things about MacLeod, and so I was interested in this book before I really knew what it was about. When it arrived, it was put on the pile, and eventually I pulled it out to read. I can honestly say it was interesting, but not in the least what I was expecting. Marketed as a science fiction book, but for the 5% (and that’s being generous) that is lite science fiction, I don’t think it should be considered as such. It’s more of a political thriller and focuses on the personal journey of the main character, Lucy. She is taken from her safe world working for a computer gaming company and thrown into the world of intrigue her mother and possible fathers are involved in. The possible fathers sub-plot is thrown in there, I think, to add some depth to the story, but mostly I found it confusing in a is he or isn’t he kind of way.
I think this story would have held more interest for me if it had focused more on the science fiction points that are brought up towards the end. MacLeod delivers some serious ides to mull over in your head awhile and perhaps even to analyze over a cup of coffee with your more ‘what if’ analytical friends, but they are thrown in almost as an after thought. With a little more development of those ideas, and a little less political this and that, this story could have been a great story. As it is though, I find it hard to recommend it to anyone who is not already a fan of MacLeod. This will not stop me from trying another of his books, but until I read another, I don’t want to possibly turn people from him if this is not a good example of his abilities.