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Glasshouse by Charles Stross
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Glasshouse (edition 2006)

by Charles Stross

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1,697534,203 (3.82)47
Member:AlanPoulter
Title:Glasshouse
Authors:Charles Stross
Info:London : Orbit, 2006.
Collections:Your library
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Tags:science fiction

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Glasshouse by Charles Stross

Recently added byprivate library, SilentGhost, lcd, Aerrin99, Binderman, AspieNerdGirl, Hanno, mitten85, readingthething
  1. 50
    Accelerando by Charles Stross (roundballnz)
  2. 20
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (gaialover)
    gaialover: The original cyberpunk.
  3. 00
    The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (ianturton)
    ianturton: A similar world of interchangeable bodies/minds
  4. 00
    Gun, with occasional music by Jonathan Lethem (oldnick42)
    oldnick42: Creative sci-fi with memory-erasing elements.
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"Memory is liberty" (226). Charles Stross has a way with abstract nouns. In this book, he'll remember it for you at medicare rates.

Glasshouse is a sequel of sorts to Accelerando, set in the same narrative future, but without any shared characters or locations. Unlike Accelerando, it is really a novel, and plotted like one, rather than a necklace of linked novellas. The plot is vividly phildickian, and emphasizes the ambivalence of prison/sanctuary, therapy/coercion, and similar concepts, along with conundrums of self-identification and possible paranoia. Stross uses the present-tense narration of Accelerando here, but the pacing and mood of Glasshouse are closer to Stross' Laundry series.

Stross might have called the story Decelerando, since it mostly takes place in an attempted simulation of the "dark ages," i.e. the terrestrial 20th/21st-century. Having his male narrating character enter that simulation as a housewife allows Stross to make a variety of observations about contemporary gender roles, reminding me somewhat of Sturgeon's Venus-Plus-X.

Ultimately, though, this book is an espionage thriller with the sort of psychological touches that only the post-Singularity science fictional setting could afford. It reads very quickly, with a fair share of drollery.
4 vote paradoxosalpha | Jan 27, 2014 |
Tiptree shortlist 2007 ( )
  SChant | Sep 8, 2013 |
Only read half of this ~ Stross's blog is way more interesting than his books ~ ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
Complaints (with some SPOILERS):
Stross's conception of the self strikes me as insufficiently psychosomatic. In Glasshouse, the "I" is software along for the ride in whatever hardware or wetware it finds itself. It might be copied poorly, disrupted by a virus, tweaked in certain ways, but there's still a fundamental self there, and that self is separable from bodies.

It's not clear to me why the spreaders of the Curious Yellow virus should have selected a group of war criminals as the virus's new breeding stock. Anyone who, having the choice of billions to form a compliant polity, chooses several hundred professional killers deserves whatever they suffer.

I'm already tired of the 'I'm the one [whatever] that can save the universe, if only I can figure out what's really happening' plot. Got this in Dune; in Kiln People; and now in Glass House. Hoping for something different, something more humble from the next sci-fi.

That said, I had a lot of fun with this. Things blew up real nice. Its politics are liberal live-and-let live (which is to say, unradical and Fukuyaman, locating ideology 'out there' among the fanatics); its conception of suburbia a mixture of Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery' and Madeline l'Engle; and its choice to have several amnesiac, sexy war criminals as its heroes...weird. ( )
  karl.steel | Apr 2, 2013 |
The cover of this book actually put me off the contents the first few times I saw it. It isn't as if the cover is bad, and it actually reflects the book fairly well—but I like books about people, and when there's not a person anywhere on the cover, I have to be prettty bored to read the book.I'm glad I did read it, although there were some rough bits. I need happy endings in my fiction. I just do, okay? This is pleasure reading, after all. And at one point the main character was so very far down that I felt hopeless for the him! Having experienced major depression, I fully recognized that he was very close to suicide. That wasn't very easy for me to read.If gender bending is an issue for you, stay away from this one. It goes well beyond John Varley's Steel Beach. I was tickled to see several casual references to polyamory. ( )
  BellaMiaow | May 29, 2012 |
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Epigraph
"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
Dedication
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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441015085, Mass Market Paperback)

In the twenty-seventh century, accelerated technology dictates the memories and personalities of people. With most of his own memories deleted, Robin enters The Glasshouse-an experimental polity where he finds himself at the mercy of his own unbalanced psyche.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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)

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