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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting... (A Book Swede Review), 2 Aug 2007
This review is from: Glasshouse (Paperback)
It is the 27th century. Urth is now legend, all have fled it, fleeing not only from a series of holocausts, but from their own horrific memories. Some will go as far as having a mind wipe...so that they might sleep again at night. Some will have no choice...

The result: billions living in artificial environments, undergoing psycho-therapy. It is a time of highly advanced technologies, where death is not always the end...alas...

The Glasshouse was once a prison. Robin, not knowing this, willing signs up to a programme that aimed to recreate life in the 20th century onwards. They are forced to take wives, attend church, etc--all in bodies, even sexes, not of their own, and with no memory of ever signing up. It soon becomes apparent that they are there for the long haul, with no way out, and the will to escape being gradually destroyed in cruelly psychological ways.

Wow. It has been said that reading Charles Stross' work is like being trapped in an ideas factory without a helmet. This is certainly true!

The first twenty or so pages were a bit slow and laden with too much technical information, but, the pace soon picked up, and the premise was certainly very interesting. I rarely read a book this though-provoking.

As well as the simple tale of the struggle of human life and, basically, a kidnapping where psychology is used against it's test subjects to create a realistic 'dark ages' environment (20th century onwards!) this book is also a potent comment on a vast array of subjects. In Glasshouse, Charles Stross talks of the severe danger we face from information loss, the dangers of immortality, and even advanced technology--somehow managing to make all this crucial to the story and page-turning!

I also felt it was rather clever while he was doing all this, that the characters were looking back on the 'dark ages' and wondering how we could have coped at all with things that the reader finds perfectly normal. Such as cooking food, and books made from paper...

There was never any pretence that this book was going to be at all humorous, but, although deeply disturbing in places (and sometimes, just downright weird!), this book is definitely gripping and fun to read.

There are some great lines, too: Now let's go upstairs. We've got a library to open before we can overthrow the government..

An excellent SF book but make sure you have your 'thinking head' on when you read it! I look forward to reading more of Charles Stross' work :) 8 out of 10.

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