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Rule 34 Paperback – 7 Jul 2011

43 customer reviews

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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 (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 353,848 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


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 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok on 23 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
Imagine a near future Scotland, now largely independent of England, where the Edinburgh Police Department contends with internet crime via its "Rule 34" squad headed by Detective Inspector Liz Kavanagh. Charles Stross has adapted Lynda La Plante's "Prime Suspect" into a near future post-cyberpunk crime thriller, "Rule 34", resulting in one of the most well-received novels of science fiction and fantasy published last year, earning acclaim as one of Time magazine's best. Celebrated widely as one of contemporary science fiction's best thinkers, Stross hasn't written a literary clone of La Plante's hit television series, but instead, a most fascinating look into cybercrime itself, giving us an all too plausible nightmarish scenario demonstrating how Artificial Intelligence may become involved. His Liz Kavanaugh is no mere clone of Jane Tennison , La Plante's no-nonsense heroine, and yet, like Tennison, she is an extraordinarily well developed, quite complex, character possessed by demons of her own making, struggling to meet her superior's highest expectations. Stross offers some of his best writing to date via an active tense that heightens the reader's sense of observing exactly what Liz Kavanagh and several other key characters see (But an active tense that may also confuse readers who are trying to discern which character is which.). And yet, Stross' fine prose doesn't quite match the artistic excellence I have come to expect from the likes of William Gibson, Michael Swanwick, and especially, China Mieville and, quite frankly, pales in comparison with China Mieville's "The City & The City" with regards to both the quality of the prose and the considerable thought that Mieville has given with respect to his novel's plot. Still, Stross' latest novel is well worth considering simply for his near future vision of cybercrime as well as for pure entertainment as a page turner.
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