Matt tries to #stoptheglitch (review)
Chris Malone (@CMoiraM)
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“The train carriage is filled with people gripping their phones as if their lives depend upon them. Ironically no one is making an actual phone call; it is all internet and social media. Glancing over the legs of the passenger seated across the aisle ahead of me, I marvel at their deft fingers, swiping as if born with the skill.”
Pause for a minute and imagine if our mobile phones, tablets, consoles and computers couldn’t be trusted.
Ok stop screaming, it’s not real, (yet) or is it?
This is the world foreseen/dreamt up by novelist Chris Malone in her kick-ass tech thriller #stoptheglitch. If you want to test your tolerance for how bad things might get – take this trip with the believably resourceful Robin who fights to survive in this nightmare scenario. Aided by some and crossed by others, this oh-so-near-future tale where tech in unreliable and cannot be trusted mixes MPs with codenames (Miranda) with a plucky bunch of conspirators: Glyn the intrepid educator, Thomas and Maria, the brave survivors, the cheerful little Poppy, Gid, the ferocious, Eva, the peace-maker, Nathan, with youth and ingenuity on his side…
There is also a tangible sense of threat – you think cybercrime won’t affect you? Imagine if it wiped your entire data history, finances and all… Mix it all together and you get a fun and fascinating read which romps along at a good pace.
I asked Chris for her thoughts about the book and publishing it in this covid-tastic world we find ourselves in. She said:
‘Following the publication of #stoptheglitch, readers have said they like the way in which the pandemic is referenced, but doesn’t dominate. As we all rely increasingly on tech solutions to lockdown challenges, #stoptheglitch is particularly relevant.
‘the author wears the glitch’I have been busy writing a sequel, now complete at the draft stage, which focuses on action following #stoptheglitch and further develops the dynamic between Robin, and Miranda. Imagine post-pandemic campaigners, isolated communities connected by an ethical competitor to Amazon, a hijacked general election, and a heroine who realises she has been living a lie. That’s a taste!’
As a parent of two boys in their early 20’s I know that they would be devastated if the digital realm that currently provides so much of our entertainment, communications and work suddenly glitched out. It’s bad enough if our Wi-Fi goes down for more than a minute at home!?
But maybe, just maybe there is more to life? How long would it take to put our dependence on modern tech aside? It’s a question that forms a good basis for this mystery that traverses the UK from Oxford to the wilds of Wales.
Malone writes with clear, business-like prose that is easy to digest but will often leave you pondering what you just read for some time afterwards. #stoptheglitch is a read that will appeal to anyone looking for a book that will entertain and make you want to find out what happens next.
Out of a potential 5 – you have to go with a Darkmatters:
ööööö (5 – fear the glitch)
#stoptheglitch on Amazon e-book promotion this week only to 24th January 2021: £1.99!
8th November 2020: Biden set for the White House, Trump struggling with #STOPTHEVOTE and #StopTheSteal, and the sequel to #stoptheglitch is growing – an explosive post-pandemic, pre-2024 UK general election thriller, narrated by … Miranda …
October 2020: see this amazing review of #stoptheglitch: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Stop the Glitch’ from start to finish. Most of us at some point have fantasized about the idea of switching off our phones and computers, and trying to build a peaceful, meaningful life, without the allure and stresses of modern technology. This is the premise on which the novel begins, and from there, evolves and develops, into a mystery-solving caper, with the possibility of an even greater enemy, and the trials of a world reliant on digitisation.
The novel is set in the near future. Robin, the hero of the piece, is a quiet rebel. On her journey, she encounters her own group of ‘Merry Men’ and odd-ball companions, all of whom share a dedication to the mission. Their travels on foot, from Oxford to mid Wales, is in my opinion one of the highlights of the book. The strength of the author is in managing to pose extreme challenges and near impossible dilemmas, with a pragmatic and resourceful understanding. This can be greatly inspiring, and grounding, especially reading it amid the unsettling chaos that is Covid-19.
On the surface, the thrilling adventure take us on highs and lows, and in and out of the various lives of the characters within. But underneath is a questioning soul, addressing many of the concerns we currently face in society. How can we balance the core need to survive, with our more lofty ambitions? How much should we trust the government and higher powers, versus our own intuitions and self-reliance? What is the perfect combination of money, and priceless value, friendship, and solitude? Can we stop ‘the glitch’ in time, or even at all?
‘Stop the Glitch’ had me thinking all the way through! But the conundrum of the title is also threaded with great storytelling and humour. By the end, I found myself longing to continue getting to know the characters, and picturing the array of real-life and fantasy locations. The educational retreat at Caernef Camp became a place like home – I could totally feel the importance it had to Robin and her friends. I even went to search for it on Google Maps (I’m not entirely convinced it doesn’t exist somewhere)! And thus illustrates the bizarre relationship we now have with technology. Perhaps not necessarily good nor bad, but depending on how we use it?
I would highly recommend this book, for anyone looking for a great mix of entertainment and contemplation.’
Juliet Blaxland’s Review of #stoptheglitch:
I really enjoyed #stoptheglitch. The idea of cyber-terrorism and the internet ‘going down’ is a completely believable set-up, and the notion of having to go back a step, to once again need to value low-tech, manual and/or rural skills, is oddly appealing.
I liked the way #stoptheglitch referred to the pandemic as being in the recent past, as part of a collective memory but not an over-dominant one. The vaguely sinister lurking background presence of the virus added authenticity to the very real idea of internet vulnerability, and the subtle fear of a second wave/glitch, especially in conjunction with the way China (CCP) allegedly used hundreds of thousands of fake Twitter accounts to bring about Covid-19 global lockdown, as a catalyst for global economic failure and resultant reliance on China for supplies and manufacture. A comparable spirit of unintended consequence and chains of unexpected effects hangs in the air of #stoptheglitch.
The setting, the architecture and the sense of place is especially pleasing, particularly the presence of a folly with a stack of actual cash in the roof! The camp being off-grid is satisfyingly both old and new tech, although the notion that it was a ‘camp’, rather than (say) a farm, gave it a faint hint of Animal Farm and communism, more as a place for ‘others’ to visit rather than a place deeply embedded in the local rural community.
There is a clever use of moral dilemma and hypocrisy attached to the coupling of a significant inheritance with the theoretically worthy environmental and social aims of the camp. The narrator it at pains to point out the bicycle, the delivery job, the giving of food to homeless people, the accommodation of refugees and so on, as if these actions, and especially the mentioning of them, may somehow offset the inheritance. This seems comparable to the almost priggish self-righteousness of people carbon-offsetting their air travel while not actually giving up their air travel. It is appealing that the narrator is prepared to admit to being slightly preachy. It would have been easy to have made the person a bit more modest about their worthy world views (and actions, to be fair), but that would have been far less entertaining and a great deal more irritating, so the tone of that ‘moral dissonance’ was pitched just right to engender genuine sympathy with the narrator and the collective dilemmas and paradoxes thrown up by life.
Some of the characters seemed slightly two-dimensional, and the characters of both original father and the family house seemed unclear, bit of a mish-mash of old and new money, for instance an old house with parkland and lodges etc but in a millionaires’ row kind of place was slightly puzzling. I imagined it as an elegant old country house gobbled up by home counties sprawl, but the father and the ex-husband somehow didn’t ring true. But none of this mattered at all, since the point of all this was really to introduce and explain the source of the inheritance.
#stoptheglitch is an enjoyable, believable and slightly alarming romp into the near-future unknowns of cyber-terrorism, with enough technological authenticity to be disconcerting, enough social conscience to be thought-provoking and enough of the far-fetched to be hugely entertaining.
I hope #stoptheglitch reaches a wide readership and gives many people the pleasure and fun it has given me.
#stoptheglitch Publication Day
A very different type of book launch event took place today at Oxfam’s popular second-hand bookstore in Chipping Norton. Unlike traditional book store launches, the publication day event was in line with the ideology of the book’s central protagonist, Robin, who feels disconnected from modern society and seeks to live off grid in Wales, rejecting consumerism.
Many thanks to Adam Frosh, author of ‘Space Taxis’ and surgeon, for the latest review of #stoptheglitch:
‘A terrifying portrayal of our world thrown unceremoniously into chaos as technology is ripped from it by an all-pervasive digital glitch. This is a book that highlights mankind’s unnatural dependence on technology and is a call for all of us to reconsider our materialistic norms.
Robin is a woman with firm political views that continually challenge her own place in the modern digital age. Her desire to divest herself of material wealth constantly at odds with her need for finances to facilitate her ideological intentions. She is a well crafted and interesting character who feels deeply for those who are less fortunate than herself. Her treatment of the family who have fled Syria brings out her deep humanity, their story sounding genuine and harrowing.
The various references to ‘pandemic’, ‘social distancing’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘hand-gels’ make for uncannily prophetic reading. Worthy of five stars.’
Burton Mayers Books: ‘Working with Burton Mayers during the Covid lockdown has been a genuine pleasure. Richard is amazing (he has promised not to edit this)! He never fails to answer emails, texts or tweets, promptly and with an air of calm reassurance. He is very skilled in editing with a light touch, somehow creating a vastly improved experience for the reader using a few tiny changes, yet remaining true to the original. I tweaked the ending of my novel in response to his inspired suggestion.’
24th September: Proud to be working with Linda’s Book Bag. Look out for ‘Staying in with Chris Malone’ on 16th October!
22nd September: get the feeling this is the last day of summer, so we were inspired by #stoptheglitch to seek views. ‘… we can see for miles across the escarpment, fields, villages and church spires. It all seems very English and very reassuring.’
You can now see a #stoptheglitch taster: extracts from three chapters from throughout the book. Do have a read and if you like it, pre-order your copy!
19th September 2020: Review of #stoptheglitch by Matt Elofsen in the Banbury Guardian:
‘The latest book by Shipston author Chris Malone gripped me from the start with its superb character development and its relevance to the times we’re living in now…’
#stoptheglitch and coronavirus
The novel was drafted before the global pandemic, and edited during lockdown. The first world-wide glitch occurred in the wake of the pandemic. The Government is trying to paper over the threat of a second failure, and although people worry about a second wave of glitches, ‘no one saw it coming.’ Society was totally unprepared for the debilitating chaos which ensued.
@JulietBlaxland says: ‘I liked the way #stoptheglitch referred to the pandemic as being in the recent past, as part of a collective memory but not an over-dominant one. The vaguely sinister lurking background presence of the virus added authenticity to the very real idea of internet vulnerability, and the subtle fear of a second wave/glitch’
Homelessness in #stoptheglitch
Robin walked away from her privileged upbringing, living in a tiny one-bedroom flat in Oxford, overlooking the pavement: ‘I press the hot roll into his hand. He sits up and says, ‘Thanks,’ and we smile. ‘One day we will eat a breakfast banquet off golden plates in the palace of the righteous,’ I say, watching him devour the roll surrounded by dirt, debris and the wet of the night.’
Revisiting Oxford, shortly before the glitch, Robin has doubts: ‘The singers have given up their Saturday to entertain the bustling last-minute shoppers. Their well-fed mouths open in harmony, sharing with us their “tidings of comfort and joy.” They are collecting for the homeless, which, initially, I applaud, but I hesitate…’ ‘Overwhelmed by the pathos, the untold stories of desperation, or simply failure to play the current game of life, I return to Bonn Square and squeeze on to a bench.’
Is Robin a superficially modest do-gooder? ‘My years of experience in unobtrusively assisting the homeless & the desperate serve me well …’ Or is Robin a campaigner? ‘It is abhorrent that in the twenty-first century people live out on the streets.’ ‘Empty political figureheads display their ignorance of what it means to live an ordinary life.’ ‘I just want to know that the struggling charities for people without housing will receive the boost they need.’
Most recent feedback on #stoptheglitch: ‘It’s not predictable. I think its message is that you can’t escape from society as there are constant issues & crises. It’s difficult to completely take yourself out. Robin is self-sufficient .. but has guilt .. not too much. That’s what I loved about it. It’s ethical, but not too much. The balance is really good – it’s relatable. There is so much escaping you can do to create your own piece within the conflicts of the world.’
One month to publication of #stoptheglitch on 16th October 2020
‘#stoptheglitch is about so much more than cyberterrorism. It shines a light on homelessness in Oxford, migration from Syria, the moral dilemma of capitalism, an increasing human desire to recapture a closeness to nature, the desperation of introverts for solitude in an increasingly busy world, the vulnerability of society in a post-pandemic age, misuse of technology and over-dependence on mobile phones.’
‘Thoroughly enjoyed reading this from beginning to end. Very current, mixed with a bit of conspiracy, politics and suspense.’
‘I’m really enjoying it, as the story is very relevant to what’s going on in the world. Your character development is great.’
‘The style of writing packs a punch! Every word counts!’
‘I was on the last 10 or 20 pages for a couple of weeks. It was one of those good books where I didn’t want it to end so put off finishing.’
‘Great pace throughout. From seeing the centre for sale, receiving the inheritance to buying it, worked well for me as it quickly got into the plot. It suited me as I am very impatient reader and the pace was ‘spot on’ throughout.’
I hope #stoptheglitch reaches a wide readership and gives many people the pleasure and fun it has given me.’