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Glasshouse Mass Market Paperback – June 26, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The censorship wars"during which the Curious Yellow virus devastated the network of wormhole gates connecting humanity across the cosmos"are finally over at the start of Hugo-winner Stross's brilliant new novel, set in the same far-future universe as 2005's Accelerando. Robin is one of millions who have had a mind wipe, to forget wartime memories that are too painful"or too dangerously inconvenient for someone else. To evade the enemies who don't think his mind wipe was enough, Robin volunteers to live in the experimental Glasshouse, a former prison for deranged war criminals that will recreate Earth's "dark ages" (c. 1950"2040). Entering the community as a female, Robin is initially appalled by life as a suburban housewife, then he realizes the other participants are all either retired spies or soldiers. Worse yet, fragments of old memories return"extremely dangerous in the Glasshouse, where the experimenters' intentions are as murky as Robin's grasp of his own identity. With nods to Kafka, James Tiptree and others, Stross's wry SF thriller satisfies on all levels, with memorable characters and enough brain-twisting extrapolation for five novels. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Hard on the heels of his acclaimed novel of mankind's evolving technological destiny, Accelerando (2005), Stross turns in another bravura performance with a fanciful glimpse at life in the twenty-seventh century. In an era of virtual immortality, where computer backups of human consciousness have become as routine as unlimited body modification, Robin is a patient in a rehab clinic for convalescents of voluntary memory erasure. With only scant clues, contained in a letter from his former self, to his previous and possibly espionage-related career, Robin quickly discovers his new identity offers little protection from several would-be assassins. Seizing the chance to evade his pursuers for good, he volunteers for a three-year experiment, devised by history professors, to simulate the "dark ages" of early-twenty-first-century society. As a participant in the guise of a middle-class housewife, Robin initially feels secure but soon suspects the experiment may simply be a clever front for his, or her, enemies. Stross amusingly recasts our own era into one of "meaningless customs" while blending suspenseful action with inventive, futuristic technology. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The premise, and the concept the author started out with, are pretty awesome and made me hope for a truly great science fiction book: the ability in future to alter our body shape and function at will via "reshapers" and the fact that we could manufacture items at will (by just downloading them from a global net via manufacturing "gates") is utterly believable (I mean, with 3D printing, this is almost reality - and one would expect us to get there eventually).
However, the plot then rapidly devolves into a 1950s sort of sentimental drama (quite literally - can't say more, to avoid too many spoilers) and the initial amusement at the interesting literary trick of showing us how distant future generations will perceive our "modern" times to be "barbaric" gets old pretty quickly.
And, at least for me, the underlying "love-story" made me feel that what purported to be a science fiction book had turned into some sort of chick-lit drama novel.
Would strongly recommend to anyone, regardless of what genre they are a fan of. If you don't read much sci-fi, you'll have to make an exception for this.
Glass House makes me think of something that would be written in haste for a 8th grade project. The concept is engaging but the characters are flat and not at all endearing. It's the sort of thing where you think, I wish I could give the outline for this story to a very good author and see what they could do with it.
Many of the author's scene setting points are contradictory and the lack of detail in many areas makes the story less believable and non-immersive.
When they are put into a dystopic setting, the believability of the characters' ability to adapt to 20th and 21st century life is unconvincing. We're to believe that beings who are essentially human, who live thousands of years in the future and have fundamentally different concepts of life, the universe and everything have somehow miraculously adapted to living entirely on their own in 1950's America after only three days.
While you might expect a novel to contain rich detail and character building, this book reads more like a story quickly told to you on the bus between stops.
A couple of strangers meet after coming out of a rejuvenation program with parts of their memory excised (by their own choice) and enter into a virtual world for a few years as part of a study. They quickly discover the study is being run by someone with ulterior motives and they also discover that they may have ulterior motives that they did not know about.
Clever and interesting, I'd recommend this one.