I liked Ken MacLeod’s Restoration Game more than I’ve liked The Execution Channel and The Night Sessions. I felt that both those books never fully came into narrative focus, and the plot was a bit listless. I read Restoration Game right through in two sessions. It’s not as enthralling as my favourite MacLeod “Cosmonaut Keep” (which I felt at the time was so good that it got me into trouble for being distracted on my honeymoon) – but Restoration Game moves at a good pace and never gets bogged down (another trilogy I’ve tried to read recently went full throttle in the first book, but I think I’m needing a winch to get past the first few hundred pages of the second book).
The Restoration Game seems to be primarily about a small fictional former soviet administrative region / country that’s down in the Ossetia region and most of the book takes place during the recent tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi. Part of the plot involves the setup of an MMO where residents of this region / country can meet and plot one of the “color revolutions” that were going through those near Russian former soviet satellite states at the end of the last decade. The title hints that this game is what the book is about and we get a bit of the “programmers setting up a startup project” theme going (at this point I thought the book was going to be all about this MMO and its part in a revolution).
Except the book really isn’t about this game at all. It turns out that there is something hidden away in a secret mountain pass of this micro-state that the Russians haven’t been able to get their hands on even after more than a century of occupation. The closest they got was an expedition where the only thing recovered was a film camera and that when Stalin and Beria saw the film of the thing they freaked the hell out. If the revolution happens, the Americans might succeed in getting to this thing in a way that the Russians weren’t able to after multiple attempts.
So at this point it sounds like a MacGuffin story. Except that it isn’t and that’s were things get a bit Neal Stephenson at the end of Anathem.
I won’t say anything more than to reiterate that I did read it straight through and it is the first book I’ve finished in a while where I thought “oh well, I should go blog about that”.