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Halting State by Charles Stross
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Halting State (edition 2007)

by Charles Stross

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2,1141043,108 (3.75)91
Member:mraginsky
Title:Halting State
Authors:Charles Stross
Info:Ace Hardcover (2007), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:science fiction, virtual realities, not-too-distant future

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Halting State by Charles Stross

Recently added bycadolph, pan0ramix, Jon_Hansen, SFF1928-1973, Jim.Shine, Rena37, alaskayo, private library
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» See also 91 mentions

English (103)  French (1)  All (104)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
This book was written in 2007-08 and is set in 2018. Having come to it late, I was staggered from the very first page as to how close Charlie Stross has come to accurately depicting the IT industry of my present day. The introduction takes the form of a speculative approach from an IT recruitment agency. I spent six months of 2016 looking for work in IT, so I was hooked from the outset.

I'm not a techie person (I test software for a living, and I approach the job from the user's p.o.v.), but all the techno-babble that Stross uses was actually fairly comprehensible to me - that is, it made about as much sense to me in the novel as it does when I hear almost exactly the same terms used in the office. In the interview appended to the Orbit UK pb edition, Stross comments that there was little in the novel that didn't already exist; and what doesn't is very close to our present tech horizon. He did, in truth, work in the industry, and it shows, both in terms of the techie-speak and in the characters, personalities and settings. He has corporate management and office conspiracies right down to the smallest detail.

The politics is like ours, only slightly different. The novel takes place in an independent Scotland, still negotiating the terms of its divorce from a Remnant UK which is still in the EU; and even though our current political situation is (sort of) opposite, it still feels very relevant and understandable.

The plot concerns a (real) robbery from a (virtual) bank in an online role-playing game. I'm not a gamer, but I know sufficient people who are for this to have relevance. Teams from the police and from a firm of forensic accountants try to find out what was stolen, from whom, why, and how. Things quickly move into a much more serious space. The cover blurbs mention William Gibson, and certainly a lot of this had the feel of Gibson's exploration of new angles to our online world that no-one's thought of yet (or at least not gone public with yet).

Stross is a Scot by adoptive choice, so his affection for Edinburgh comes out strongly. As to the accents - well, if you watch a few episodes of the Eighties/Nineties/Noughties cop show 'Taggart', you'll get the gist of what's being said.

I bought this book on the first day of the UK Science Fiction Easter convention and started reading it that evening. I felt compelled to finish it as soon as I could, so much did the story and setting grab me. Oh, and the cover of the Orbit UK paperback, with graphics showing in-game avatars, includes one of Charlie Stross himself.

Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote RobertDay | Apr 19, 2017 |
The Scottish dialect was slightly unsettling because of my unfamiliarity with it, but the novel as a whole is quick paced, inventive and entertaining. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
Idiosyncratic, but very informative ( Can't wait for ' Rule 34 ' ) ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
My first Charles Stross, inventive, funny, plausible near future SF/crime. Re-read after Yahtzee's Mogworld which it does beat hands down. ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
Cool novel. Near future murder-mystery corporate thriller, in which role play gaming, internet technology, and corporate stock fraud all loom large. Intricate and enjoyable unfolding of the plot. I remain impressed by how many different types of science fiction Stross can write well, and it's fun to look forward to what he will put out next. ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
This is his tightest-plotted novel to date, a detective story with a million perfectly meshed moving parts, and a hundred magnificent surprises that had me gasping and shouting YES.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Oct 2, 2007)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Strossprimary authorall editionscalculated
Toulouse, SophieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
In memory of Datacash Ltd. and all who sailed in her, 1997-2000
Books do not get written in majestic isolation, and this one is no exception. Certainly it wouldn't exist in its current form without valuable feedback from a host of readers. I'd particularly like to thank Vernor Vinge, Hugh Hancock, Greg Costikyan, Ron Avitzur, Eric Raymond, Tony Quirke, Robert Sneddon, Paul Friday, Dave Bush, Alexander Chane Austin, Larry Colen, Harry Payne, Trey Palmer, Dave Clements, Andrew Veitch, Hannu Rajaniemi, Soon Lee, and Jarrod Russell. I'd also like to thank my other test readers, too numerous to thank today. Finally, thanks to the publishing folks without whom the book wouldn't have been written: my agent, Caitlin Blasdell, my editor at Ace, Ginjer Buchanan, and my copyeditors, Bob and Sara Schwager.
Vernor Vinge
Hugh Hancock
Greg Costikyan
First words
Hello. We're Round Peg/Round Hole Recruitment. We want to offer you a job on behalf of one of our clients.
Quotations
You're a grown-up, these days. You don't wear a kamikaze pilot's rising sun headband and a tee-shirt that screams DEBUG THIS! and you don't spend your weekends competing in extreme programming slams at a windy campsite near Frankfurt, but it's generally difficult for you to use any machine that doesn't have at least one compiler installed: In fact, you had to stick Python on your phone before you even opened its address book because not being able to brainwash it left you feeling handicapped, like you were a passenger instead of a pilot. In another age you would have been a railway mechanic or a grease monkey crawling over the spark plugs of a DC-3. This is what you are, and the sad fact is, they can put the code monkey in a suit but they can't take the code out of the monkey.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
"In the year 2018, Sergeant Sue Smith of the Edinburgh constabulary is called in on a special case. A daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates, a dot-com start-up company that's just floated onto the London stock exchange. But this crime may be a bit beyond Smith's expertise." "The prime suspects are a band of marauding orcs with a dragon in tow for fire support. The bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four, and the robbery was supposed to be impossible. When word gets out, Hayek Associates and all their virtual "economies" are going to crash hard." "For Smith, the investigation seems pointless. But the deeper she digs, the bigger the case gets. There are powerful players - both real and pixilated - who are watching her every move. Because there is far more at stake than just some game-head's fantasy financial security."--BOOK JACKET
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441016073, Mass Market Paperback)

Now in paperback?from the author of Saturn?s Children.

In the year 2018, a daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates. The suspects are a band of marauding orcs, with a dragon in tow for fire support, and the bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. But Sergeant Sue Smith discovers that this virtual world robbery may be linked to some real world devastation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:52 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In the year 2018, Sergeant Sue Smith of the Edinburgh constabulary is called in on a special case. A daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates, a dot-com start-up company that's just floated onto the London stock exchange. But this crime may be a bit beyond Smith's expertise." "The prime suspects are a band of marauding orcs with a dragon in tow for fire support. The bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four, and the robbery was supposed to be impossible. When word gets out, Hayek Associates and all their virtual "economies" are going to crash hard." "For Smith, the investigation seems pointless. But the deeper she digs, the bigger the case gets. There are powerful players - both real and pixilated - who are watching her every move. Because there is far more at stake than just some game-head's fantasy financial security."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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