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Glasshouse

by Charles Stross

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,089655,614 (3.8)50
When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn't take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him. It's the 27th century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees' personalities and target historians. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, but someone wants him out of the picture because of something his earlier self knew. On the run from a ruthless pursuer, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity, the Glasshouse, constructed to simulate a pre-accelerated culture. Participants are assigned anonymized identities: it looks like the ideal hiding place for a posthuman on the run. But in this escape-proof environment, Robin will undergo an even more radical change, placing him at the mercy of the experimenters--and the mercy of his own unbalanced psyche.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 60
    Accelerando by Charles Stross (roundballnz)
  2. 20
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (gaialover)
    gaialover: The original cyberpunk.
  3. 00
    The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: far future espionage stories where the protagonist must infiltrate an experimental world in an effort to discover its true purpose, knowing only that there is some great culpability involved
  4. 00
    The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (ianturton)
    ianturton: A similar world of interchangeable bodies/minds
  5. 00
    Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem (oldnick42)
    oldnick42: Creative sci-fi with memory-erasing elements.
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Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
Where Accelerando was a study in Singularity futurist theory, Glasshouse, while taking place in the same society, concentrates more on getting you into the head of the protagonist, Robin, a veteran of the Censorship Wars. The reader gets to know Robin far more intimately than we did Manfred Maxc, even though Robin's memory has been severely redacted for much of for much of Glasshouse.

The themes of the universe as information and intellectual property are as strong as in the rest of Mr. Stross's work, but he works them into this novel with more subtlety. Although this isn't as gripping a story as The Atrocity Archives or Iron Sunrise, it's a worthwhile, enjoyable read and lives up to the author's deserved reputation. ( )
  neilneil | Dec 7, 2020 |
It's been pointed out by many people that all SF is a reflection of current society. It uses exceptional circumstances to show us ourselves from perspectives that are unique and unusual. It comments on the world we live in by showing us how different things could be.

Very few hard SF novels are as overt in their reflection as Glasshouse. Which is particularly interesting to me, as I didn't expect it from an author like Stross.

It's not that his books aren't political or socio-culturally oriented. They are. But this book is the most character-driven of his (that I've read, anyway) and that makes the story much more personal. It's also set in a world that's (more or less, without giving anything away) basically the present day. (But not really. It makes sense when you read it.) This gives Stross a platform to write some extremely incisive commentary on our social mores and institutions. Glasshouse is directly tied to the real world in which we live in ways that his other works are not. This is his most overtly political book.

He's not kind in his assessment of us. Insightful, hopeful, interested the the things that truly make us who we are - absolutely. But it's obvious that he's not at all happy with the way our society is currently going.

Glasshouse has all the techno-wonder and Big Ideas I've come to expect from Stross. But I found the personal tone of this book to be a refreshing change from some of his other work. ( )
  johnthelibrarian | Aug 11, 2020 |
This could have been really dull because there's really nothing new in it by way of SF ideas; it relies on wormholes/teleporting, nanobots, uploading your mind then downloading it to any body you fancy, editing your memories in the process, and not much else. You can find all these elements in many other places. The odd thing is that this doesn't necessarily matter. Individual authors' speculations about where these scientific or engineering advances might take humanity physically and culturally can be radically different and the wider themes they may wish to treat can be equally diverse. Usually the problems lie with a single author trying to mine out the same vein in a zillion sequels. Ultimately certain ideas get tired no matter who is writing them and it's time for the genre as a whole to move on. We are perhaps approaching that point with some of these technological ideas, at least as ends in themselves, but this particular novel feels pretty fresh. If [a:Alastair Reynolds|51204|Alastair Reynolds|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1369753656p2/51204.jpg] wrote another book in which forgetting one's own past drove the plot as much as it does in this book I'd probably go nuts, but here it works fine.

And that's the situation; self-inflicted amnesia bloke is the victim of an attempted assassination and he runs off to a bizarre psychological/archaeological experiment to hide while he gathers his wits...but much is not as it seems and an exciting 'friller ensues. At least, it ensues after the slightly over-long scene-setting part where we get a future citizen suffering past-shock as he stumbles around a fake 21st Century trying to figure out how those quaint barbarians (i.e. us) coped with such an irrational, inefficient and technologically and socially backward society. Once that bit is past...well, I read it at break-neck pace and whilst I guessed some of the plot points ahead of time, greatly enjoyed it. I was slightly disappointed with the denouement which I felt was handled too hastily but over-all I think this is as good as anything I've read by Stross and better than several. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Stross is my everything ( )
  goliathonline | Jul 7, 2020 |
Best of Stross's work I've read so far. ( )
  thegreatape | Jan 7, 2020 |
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"This apparatus," said the Officer, grasping a connecting rod and leaning against it, "is our previous Commandant's invention.... Have you heard of our previous Commandant? No? Well, I'm not claiming too much when I say that the organization of the entire penal colony is his work. We, his friends, already knew at the time of his death that the administration of the colony was so self-contained that even if his successor had a thousand new plans in mind he would nt be able to alter anything of the old plan, at least not for several years . . . It's a shame that you didn't know the old Commandant!"

-- "In the Penal Colony," Franz Kafka
Who still talks nowadays about the Armenians?

-- Adolf Hitler, 1939
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For Ken MacLeod
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A dark-skinned human with four arms walks toward me across the floor of the club, clad only in a belt strung with human skulls.
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When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn't take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him. It's the 27th century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees' personalities and target historians. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, but someone wants him out of the picture because of something his earlier self knew. On the run from a ruthless pursuer, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity, the Glasshouse, constructed to simulate a pre-accelerated culture. Participants are assigned anonymized identities: it looks like the ideal hiding place for a posthuman on the run. But in this escape-proof environment, Robin will undergo an even more radical change, placing him at the mercy of the experimenters--and the mercy of his own unbalanced psyche.--From publisher description.

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