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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 42 star ratings
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  • Identity Crisis

    Excellent!! Thank you Ben Another good just didn't foresee Covid.....

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  • Wrong Side Of History

    I think we can all agree that Social Media has a place in modern life, even if only by virtue of it's ubiquitousness. I think we can also agree that at it's worst it is manipulative and clogged with lies and misinformation designed merely to instigate a reaction. Those trending hashtags are they real or manufactured? How much truth is contained in any one post - be it from a keyboard warrior in the comfort of their own home or from the desk of a conglomerate? Just how do those posts from people we have never heard of, causes we have not registered an interest in arrive in our various online feeds? Ben Elton has taken these questions and run with it. Set in the near future against the backdrop of a referendum for England to leave the United Kingdom with some murder and suicide thrown in it shows how the major tool now is not mass media but mass social media. Whilst we all know, and are relatively inured to, the national media having their own political axe to grind we are less aware of the political leanings of Social Media or even who is responsible for those provocative hashtags. Set in an increasingly "politically correct" age Matlock finds himself floundering as he investigates the brutal murder of a young woman in a leafy park. A single blow to the back of the head kills a young woman, no evidence of robbery, no evidence of assault beyond the death blow, no evidence period. As he tries to fumble his way through the mine field of press statements and a rather irritating pathologist (honestly, she genuinely thought that this information was NOT of major importance to a criminal investigation?) he just gets deeper and deeper in to the mire of being on the "wrong side of history". There is a large cast list here to deal with and each genuinely has their place in the book. Mathematician Malika and her job writing algorithms for Communication Sandwich, Hilary and her Reality TV productions and many, many more. I can well imagine this book will cause major arguments in Book Clubs around the globe. It's main premise just happens to be one I agree with - never trust what you read online. It makes the, what to me is a, very valid point that you see all this outrage online and yet never meet anyone in the street that has this same level of vitriol about the subject. If you never meet anyone that feels this strongly then who is making those posts? You only have to look back 1000+ days to the pre-Brexit Referendum and the absolute garbage posted daily to people's feeds by both sides to realise that social media manipulation is the be all and end all for any movement. Beyond that this book also deals with what has long been termed "political correctness gone mad", and it really has gone mad. With new gender pronouns seeming to arrive on a daily basis, another group claiming they are marginalised because of their colour/gender/sexuality (or lack thereof)/taste in biscuits and demanding that they be positively discriminated against. The clue is in the term, whether seen as positive or negative it is still discrimination. I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the rather bewildered Matlock as he tries to negotiate the new climate. Yes, Mr Elton has extrapolated past and current events to an outlandish degree and it does all seem a little overblown and ridiculous. After all, we have common sense and nobody in the wider world would really let things get this far. Honestly, I think he is right on the money and that we are already here, meshed in this web of lies, lies that are told to us because we will believe them so readily as they tap in to our innermost ideals - ideals we are maybe embarrassed about admitting in day to day life but the internet knows us, it allows us to express them and if Bot A agrees with us then we are validated. I can understand people thinking the whole concept is ridiculous. I can understand people believing that what they read online is true and accurate. I can understand people getting angry about gender bias, homophobia, racism and a myriad other things. What I cannot understand is people writing this book off because they do not agree with the politics in it. It is well written and has a plot that is expressed through several different characters and scenarios - some far less palatable than others this is true. Yes, I happen to agree that the whole manipulation of media is here to stay, I happen to agree that we now have no freedom of speech because absolutely anything can be interpreted as "hate speech" and that the definition of this moves on an hourly basis. I also happen to think that this is a genuinely funny book and the ridiculousness of some of the scenarios just highlight a lessor truth.

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  • Interesting

    A brilliant view of 2020 Britain and the aftermath of Brexit

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