Science Fiction

Briefly Noted: It's All in the Game


The Scottish science fiction writer Ken MacLeod—a leftist with libertarian sympathies, or perhaps it's the other way around—produces some of the most consistently fascinating political novels being published today. His latest, The Restoration Game (Orbit), hasn't found an American publisher yet, but it's worth the trip to to encounter what must be the only plot to center on the video game industry, political intrigue in post-Soviet Asia, and the possibility that we're all living in a Matrix-style simulation.

Much of the story is set in a fictional country called Krassnia, a place whose name MacLeod borrowed from a parable by the Marxist geneticist J.B.S. Haldane. In Haldane's Krassnia, the official religion is dialectical materialism and the national anthem is titled "There's No God in Krassnia." MacLeod's books always include a rich vein of humor, and I don't think I'm giving away too much if I report that the name of MacLeod's country is one of his wryest jokes of all. —Jesse Walker