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Tangle’s Game by Stewart Hotston #BookReview

Yesterday, Amanda Back’s life was flawless: the perfect social credit score, the perfect job, the perfect home.

Today, Amanda is a target, an enemy of the system holding information dangerous enough to disrupt the world’s all-consuming tech – a fugitive on the run.

But in a world where an un-hackable blockchain links everyone and everything, there is nowhere to run

Title: Tangle’s Game | Author: Stewart Hotston | Publisher: Abaddon | Pub. Date: 2nd May 2019 | Pages: 350 | ISBN: 9781781087169 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: NetGalley

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Tangle’s Game review

‘Tangle’s Game’ is a near-future sci-fi thriller that manages to succeed despite its flaws. It’s bold, engaging and not afraid to make statements about the modern world.

The plot is not entirely original but works well. A successful businesswoman, Amanda, living in a familiar but more technologically enmeshed London, gets delivered a mysterious flash drive from a former lover. She sets of on an odyssey to find out what’s on the drive, and her journey helps her to better understand the world she lives in and the forces that control and shape it.

It’s a story we have seen many times before, but Stewart Hotston makes it fresh and compelling by giving it a setting that feels only a few steps away from our own world. It’s set in an England where your credit rating is everything and drives your access to public services. Where minor misdemeanours lead to everyday expenses going up and good behaviour is enforced through economics. The world this England sits in is fractured. Brexit has happened, leading to the breakup of the United Kingdom; America has split between Republican and Democratic states and the Eurozone is also under threat. All these geopolitical events are tied back to today’s news, with Russia and China as the winners.

Against that backdrop, Hotston gives us a pacey, globe trotting narrative. The book is packed with incident and the characters are fun. Amanda makes a good protagonist, and the various personalities she engages with on her quest are entertaining too. Humorous Irish mobsters, an elderly tech savvy woman, a benign AI – all add to the richness of the book. It’s sometimes funny, and always readable, inventive and exciting.

I suspect, though, that it’s a book that will date quickly. Its themes and obsessions are so desperately current – blockchain, Brexit, Trump, Russian interference – that in even a couple of years it might feel naïve and ridiculous. Today it works brilliantly though, if you share the author’s world view at least. I suspect conservatives will scoff at his bleak predictions, but so many technothrillers have a right-wing world view that it was a pleasant experience to read one with a more liberal bent. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it with the caveats noted above. Read it soon, and avoid it if you voted Trump or Leave.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published in4 RatedScience Fiction Book Reviews
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