Halting State Hardcover – 2 Oct 2007
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A great read, and a fascinating look at the future of security in a massively networked world (Bruce Schneier, CTO, BT Counterpane)
The first couple of pages had me hooked, and I didn't touch another book until I finished it. (John Carmack, Technical Director, iD Software and creator of Doom and Quake)
As keenly observant of our emergent society as it is our emergent technologies, Halting State is one extremely smart species of fun. (William Gibson)
A great read, and a fascinating look at the future of security in a massively networked world. (Bruce Schneier, CTO, BT Counterpane) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Cutting edge SF and police procedural meet in Charles Stross's compelling and timely thriller. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
When you strip everything away, this near-future thriller is a cautionary tale about network and database security, and what can happen as our lives become increasingly wired and digitized. The premise is that someone has hacked their way into a MMOG and pulled off an in-game heist, thus triggering the involvement of a police sergeant, an unemployed software engineer, and a forensic accountant. The three characters are called in to investigate this crime and the chapters alternate between their perspectives.
Note that they are not the narrators -- that's because the entire book is written in the second person, a choice which some readers will absolutely hate. I didn't find it as grating as many reviewers did, but it certainly doesn't help the rather weak characterization). Unfortunately, the plot is awfully heavy with techie jargon and those who aren't network engineers or software developers (as the author has been), may find it rocky going. Similarly, the plot revolves around MMOGs and ARGs, and if you're not familiar with this kind of computer and live action gaming, you might get a little lost. In both cases, there are lots of nuances and inside jokes which will fly right over your head (I think I got about half of them).Read more ›
In the four years since Halting State was published, the real world has indeed caught up in some respects. In particular there is now a thriving market in virtual goods from video games, and there really have been crimes committed - real world crimes - in video games. But it doesn't matter to the reader that this science fictional story isn't quite as science fictional as the author intended. Science fiction doesn't have to be about our future to be entertaining (Jules Verne is still a good read) or about wondrous technologies (Earth Abides has none), it's about modern (post-Enlightenment) people doing or creating plausible things and may explore the ramifications of technology and science (as does A Canticle for Leibowitz). Authors worry about their technologies and the characters' situations being novel because they don't want to appear - at the time of publication - to be incapable of coming up with new ideas, but readers should care mostly about whether the book is entertaining. And this one is. Stross rarely fails to deliver.
I only really have one nit to pick.Read more ›
The writing is quite dazzling, sparkling with sarcasm and humour (although bafflingly and for no good reason it is rather annoyingly all written in second-person - "you go here, and you do this" etc.), but it does become a bit heavy with tech-speak and eventually start playing out like a virtual game itself. It's clearly the intention of the writer to start blurring the lines between the real world and the virtual, but you'd probably have to be a gamer yourself to fully appreciate all the references and clever playing out of the situation.
What Charles does here is not only play on the paranoia but brings a great mystery up to date in a futuristic world where the worst can happen with everyday games taking over peoples lives in a counter intelligence operation built in cyberspace. Highly inventive, confusing and above all probably a scarily accurate possible future. An interesting take on the world from a man who perhaps not only understands it but could be one of the guys pushing us towards it in this highly addictive sci-fi novel where every character has a role to play in the bigger picture. You are no longer a person but a pixelization of the cyberworld trying to keep their space free. With espionage, counter terrorism, plotting, criminal activity and above all a tale that will keep you guessing from the first page to the last, this will be a book to recommend to all those computer addicted friends. How will you know if they've read it? Just look at the paranoid way in which they watch the computer out of the corner of their eyes as well as the haunted way that they just can't resist building their characters to even higher proportions.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hugely inventive and involving. A great snowball of a story rolling down hill intent on becoming an avalanche. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Mr. M. Poole
It’s 2016 and Scotland is an independent nation. When Sergeant Sue Smith gets a report of a robbery at the online game company Hayek Associates, she isn’t amused to discover that... Read morePublished 10 months ago by I Read, Therefore I Blog
There are many good reasons for reading Charles Stross's sci-fi thriller Halting State, but they generally require you to be a particular type of person. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mark Pack
I have to agree with other reviewers, the narrative is awkward and not enjoyable. I have given 2 stars as benefit of the doubt as the story may well be good, but I'm not going to... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Fiona
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