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Rule 34 by Charles Stross
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Rule 34 (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Charles Stross

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7684312,049 (3.64)25
Member:charliehungerford
Title:Rule 34
Authors:Charles Stross
Info:Orbit (2012), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:2013

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Rule 34 by Charles Stross (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
The book is written in second person, which at times makes it a bit harder to read than necessary, but once you've gotten used to the style the book very quickly becomes an excellent "what if.." based on today's online malarkey.

The book is at times written for insiders (local slang, local placenames, lots of internet memes) which will both date the book and make it more inaccessible for people outside the cultural referance frame.

Still, the plot and the "what if..." makes up for a lot of that. I relly enjoyed this book. ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
Most of the public still believe in Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Rebus, the lone genius with an eye for clues: And it suits the brass to maintain the illusion of inscrutable detective insight for political reasons.
But the reality is that behind the magic curtain, there’s a bunch of uniformed desk pilots frantically shuffling terabytes of information, forensic reports and mobile-phone-traffic metadata and public-webcam streams and directed interviews, looking for patterns in the data deluge spewing from the fire-hose. Indeed, a murder investigation is a lot like a mechanical turk: a machine that resembles a marvellous piece of artificial-intelligence software, oracular in its acuity, but that under the hood turns out to be the work of huge numbers of human piece-workers coordinating via network. Crowdsourcing by cop, in other words.


I nominated this book to be read by my on-line book club, and from people's initial comments, it seemed not to be a very popular choice. Most people found the second person annoying at least to start with, or found that having so many viewpoint characters meant that they couldn't relate to any of them. People though there was too much technical detail and found the Kyrgyzstan and Issyk-Kulistan politics confusing, and a couple said that it would be better as a short story. On the other hand, this book did lead to a lot more discussion than most of the other books we have read, with people asking and answering questions about ATHENA and MacDonald's role in the story, and a couple of people commented that although they found it a chore to read, they found themselves thinking about it and talking to other people about it a lot after they finished. So it was a good choice for our book club after all.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and the main thing that I found confusing was about the Issyk-Kulistan bonds, which I had to go back and re-read again after I finished. After re-reading that section it did make sense, so I was probably rushing too much the first time. The second person viewpoint ceased to bother me about half way through and my early thoughts about second person being like a game master talking about what your game character is doing weren't far off the mark as it turns out. By the mid-point I was wondering how the author could possibly expect his readers to accept so many unlikely coincidences happening, and it was surprisingly satisfying to find out that there probably wasn't a single coincidence in the whole book. And now I will have to re-read Halting State to find out if that is the case that caused Liz's career to derail so spectacularly, as I can't remember much about the plot of the earlier book. ( )
1 vote isabelx | Nov 30, 2013 |
Can't finish. Gahhhhh. It seems like a very cool concept--a noir police procedural set in a near future where actual and virtual realities have been melded. But the writing. It is multi-narrator, present-tense, second-person narrative. Whyyy! I mean, I know I'm rigid about narrative styles; I tend to dislike present tense, but I'll tolerate it for a good story. But second person? I mean, how many people do you know who refer to themselves as "you", e.g.
I must have zoned out, you realize nervously. I tend to adore unreliable first-person narrators, and I even think I could have coped with a Gollumesque/royal "we". But a story changes narrators every chapter, and all the narrators speak in present tense and refer to themselves as "you?" I just can't deal. It's like a choose-your-own adventure story where you have Multiple Personality Disorder and don't actually have any choices.

The concept is very cool, and I think it could be a fun story. If you can deal with the narrative style, I'm sure it's a fantastic read. It was gripping enough that I hung in there for a while, but ended up deciding I just couldn't cope. And now I have a headache.
  page.fault | Sep 21, 2013 |
I excitedly came back to the near future world of Halting State. Instead I was served a warmed over pastiche, an empty husk of an exciting novel, devoid of the charm of the earlier work.

It is hard to enumerate just what's wrong here. Stross tries and tries, and sometimes it nearly comes good. The overwhelming mood of the book is one of failure, of glimpsing success, tantalisingly close. It is still a decent workmanlike system of a book, but it fails to engage the reader in its own intentions. ( )
  dgold | Aug 10, 2013 |
I really liked Halting State, but I found this very disappointing. It felt like the author was trying to write a book with all of the same elements as Halting State - a police force that uses a lot of surveillance, an investigation of crimes instigated on the internet, an exploration of near-future (or current cutting-edge) technology, some gory dark humor, and fast-paced action. It has the same elements, but they just don't cohere, and the book was confusing in places and just didn't keep me interested. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jul 17, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Strossprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacKenzie, Robert IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"In Scotland, you can't believe how strong the homosexuals are." -Televangelist Pat Robertson, on the 700 Club, 1999 (attrib: BBC News)
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For George and Leo
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It's a slow Tuesday afternoon, and you're coming to the end of your shift on the West End control desk when Sergeant McDougall IMs you: INSPECTOR WANTED ON FATACC SCENE.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Head of the Rule 34 Squad monitoring the Internet for illegal activities, Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh investigates the link between three ex-con spammers who have been murdered.

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