📚 Review : Tangle’s Game Author: Stewart Hotston

The setting for this novel is a near-future extrapolated from the state of the world in 2019: UK Brexit, blockchain and cryptocurrency mania, fascism rising globally, a deeply divided America. In short, a world where all humanity’s ills are exacerbated by pervasive communication and surveillance technology outstripping civic adaption.

Like the recent novels ‘Kismet’ and ‘Daemon’, or the TV show ‘Person Of Interest,’ this book explores the ramifications of how these tools will be (or are being) misused to destroy civilization, and the relative peace our aspirational democracies have recently sustained.

The science fiction concepts might seem tame by some standards, but they are well grounded in a believable future not that different from our present. It feels very “ripped from the headlines” in the almost transparent world-building. The allegorical effect elevates the speculative material.

I found the characters a bit thin and none of them was exceptionally admirable. The protagonist does move the plot, but only as a reluctant pawn for the first half. Mild Spoiler: the most likable character claims to have been an infamous tech inventor forty years before the plot begins… so, now ‘IRL’

The story takes a bumpy, under-developed detour near the end, to avoid ending with a cliched and milquetoast victory, but instead wraps up with a somewhat hopeful tension. This, and the other minor twists make it a more thought provoking read, but not a particularly exciting thriller.

Best enjoyed by ardent fans of techno-thrillers, blockchain pundits of either ilk, geopolitical prognosticators, and everyone who read ‘Daemon’ a few years back.