Game developer MacDonald is suspected of a crime and talks in several interview sessions about his background. He only wanted people to have fun with his social games which datamines your social media and automatically assigns you to clans of various kinds. One of those games called „Peelers“ is a massively multiplayer augmented reality game where people are incentived when escorting drunk women home or detaining shoplifters. This was the groundworks for The Movement, extrapolating Peelers to everyday life in a kind of Kant’s categorical imperative. After forming social clans, it automatically generates missions for the clans. Well, things get out of hands soon.
The story is more a reflection of contemporary Gamergate controversy, which began in 2014 on Twitter/reddit/4chan, than a glimpse into the future.
Stross puts in loads of details that one can google and digest later on and gives enough food to think about, e.g. „Tribalism is the ground state of identity politics in the network age.“ „What if Napoleon’s, like, following from in front?“ I liked this but could imagine that other readers might get overloaded with that sort of infodumping.
The narration unfolds nicely only later on and gets to a fine ending.