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Rule 34 Paperback – 7 Jul 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841497738
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841497730
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.7 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 329,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Stross was born in Leeds, England, in 1964. He has worked as a pharmacist, software engineer and freelance journalist, but now writes full time.

Product Description

Review

Charles Stross writes hard SF, paranormal espionage and near-future techno-thrillers with equal facility and intelligence . . . Stross skilfully and accessibly demonstrates how reality is affected by virtual technology, and how life in Europe could soon change as a result (Guardian )

Weird and wonderful... a dizzying whirl of insights, beautiful and addictive (The Sun )

A diamond-sharp piece of SF... a seriously entertaining and twisted crime thriller (SFX )

Book Description

A cutting edge cyber-thriller, set fifteen minutes in the future, from the award-winning author of HALTING STATE.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Runmentionable TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 Dec 2012
Format: Paperback
Stross is an exceptionally inventive writer, with a deliriously nasty flavour to his writing, but while Rule 34 is a smartly-constructed, very readable and diverting novel, this near-future cybercrime thriller left me feeling more than a bit disappointed.

The plot is sound, logical and well-worked to a satisfactory climax. The characterisation is decent, if fairly perfunctory. The structure of the novel, built around three points of view (the cop, the killer and the chump), is smart and suits the needs of the plot. The prose is clear, cliche-free and witty. Some reviewers have found the novel hard to follow, and found the snippets of Scots dialect distracting, but neither will be an issue for readers who have moved on to the literary equivalent of solid foods.

So why the disappointment? Because Stross is so inventive, and because he's got literary chops. His portayal of a near-future world crippled by ongoing economic gloom and out-of-control IT developments is fascinating and convincing, if more than a little depressing. The decision to use this as the backdrop for a fairly trivial story (essentially, it's a police procedural with cybertrappings and an almost literal deus ex machina that, rather smartly, isn't a cop-out) is a big let-down. Don't get me wrong, the setting and the plot are cleverly and robustly linked, but you can't help feeling that there's far more interesting stuff to hear about the world of the novel, and, maddeningly, that Stross is more than capable of delivering that. It's as though he's settled for the soft option. Because he's a very capable writer, the soft option is still a clever, gripping novel that delivers, on its own terms, a fine story, but it's also clear from the novel itself that he's capable of something far more substantial.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By M. Hepworth on 5 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rule 34 is a near-future novel about how bad the internet could get after the next generation of spammers and fraudsters have come through. A police detective, an ex-con, and a shady criminal illuminate a tangled plot in a book fizzing with ideas.

Rule 34 is a follow up to Halting State, but is a loose sequel at best, and you can definitely read it without reading Halting State. What it does do is take the theme Stross started in Halting State - the weird possibilities for crime in the internet age - and take it to the max.

Stross weaves together three main characters, plus some interesting extra eyes to illuminate the story. Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh runs a dead-end police unit specialising in stopping the fallout from the worst and weirdest of criminal memes the internet has to offer. Anwar Hussein is a Asian-Scottish ex-con, previously collared by DI Kavanaugh for some white-collar crimes. In need of a legal job to satisfy probation, he becomes Consul for a dubious Eastern European no-one has ever heard of, mostly because it didn't exist last year. Finally, the Toymaker is a very dubious representative of a faceless criminal group, in Edinburgh to upgrade their business to the latest model.

In previous books Stross has shown he can throw far-future ideas around with verve, or give us sardonically humorous Lovecraftian fantasy, but Rule 34 fizzes with ideas that resonate with the contemporary world. He gives us an Edinburgh policed by gritty old-school cops using data-mining, VR CopSpace glasses, and wikis, while riding Segways to crime scenes to save money.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. Harris TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 July 2011
Format: Paperback
"Rule 34" is a kind-of sequel to Stross's earlier Halting State - that is, it's set in the same future, and features some of the same characters (including DI Liz Kavanaugh, who plays a more central role here than in the other book). The most striking similarity is that the book is all (apart from a bit at the the end) done in the second person ("You wake up and realise that you're late for work. Hurrying, you get dressed...") There is a reason for this in the story. It is different from that in "Halting State", which is set in the world of computer games, where second person comes naturally ("as you walk along the dark corridor, you see a glowing shape...") and when it is revealed, a lot suddenly makes sense.

I was slightly ambivalent about the second person stuff at first because in "Halting State" it took me a little while to adjust to. Here, though, it works well from the start. I don't know if this is because there is that reason for it deep in the DNA of the narrative, if it's because of previous familiarity or just because Stross has got better at using it (I think it is actually a very difficult way to write) but whatever, I think that here device really helps the narrative drive along: we follow at least three major characters and a number of minor ones, and sticking to "you" makes it easier to get inside their heads without that check to the narrative you sometimes get when switching. So, lots of points here for matching style to narrative shape (or whatever the proper technical term is).

Another thing the book gets very, very right is its convincing description of the near future.
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