Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Only 4 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Halting State (Ace Scienc... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Halting State (Ace Science Fiction) Mass Market Paperback – June 24, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Halting State Series

See all 12 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
Mass Market Paperback
"Please retry"
$3.30 $0.01

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
$7.99 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Halting State (Ace Science Fiction)
  • +
  • Rule 34 (Halting State, Book 2)
  • +
  • Saturn's Children
Total price: $23.97
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This brilliantly conceived techno-crime thriller spreads a black humor frosting over the grim prospect of the year 2012, when China, India and the European System are struggling for world economic domination in an infowar, and the U.S. faces bankruptcy over its failing infrastructure. Sgt. Sue Smith of Edinburgh's finest, London insurance accountant Elaine Barnaby and hapless secret-ridden programmer Jack Reed peel back layer after layer of a scheme to siphon vast assets from Hayek Associates, a firm whose tentacles spread into international economies. The theft is routed through Avalon Four, a virtual reality world complete with supposedly robbery-proof banks. As an electronic intelligence agency trains innocent gamers to do its dirty work, Elaine sets Jack to catch the poacher. Hugo-winner Stross (Glasshouse) creates a deeply immersive story, writing all three perspectives in the authoritative second-person style of video game instructions and gleefully spiking the intrigue with virtual Orcs, dragons and swordplay. The effortless transformation of today's technological frustrations into tomorrow's nightmare realities is all too real for comfort. (Oct.)
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.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Reviewers expressed shock and awe at Charles Stross’s imagined future, because it’s just a bit too probable. Even his minor details, such as clothing with RFID tags that can speak to washing machines, are mind-bending. Overall, Halting State is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, and highly intelligent novel. While some of it may read as gibberish to a less in-the-know crowd (it’s helpful to know such gamer slang as "nerfed"), the tech-savvy will rejoice. One reviewer thought the plot became convoluted at the end with a too-neat resolution. But others, like Cory Doctorow in BoingBoing, commented, "This is a book that will change the way you see the way the world works."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Ace Science Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441016073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441016075
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #684,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Kyle VINE VOICE on October 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In 1973, I read George Orwell's "1984" in one sitting with my hair standing on end. I won't beleaguer this review with how prophetic some of Orwell's content is, you can probably come up with a few examples before you finish reading this review.

It's a strange and unnerving coincidence I just read "Halting State" 11 years from the time the story takes place in 2018 and yes--in one sitting with my hair standing on end. I definitely think the world Stross is proposing is possible, perhaps even probable.

The plot---Edinburgh detective Sue is called out on a robbery case only to discover the victim is a corporation and the robbery took place inside a computer game. She's about to dismiss the case when she realizes the theft could have serious market implications.

Enter Elaine Barnaby, a forensic accountant for the firm's underwriter who's there to prove that the firm was somehow negligent so her employer doesn't have to pay the inevitable claims. She quickly realizes that her live action role playing (LARP) experience does not qualify her to examine a bank in a game world. Jack Reed, recently unemployed game programmer, is hired to serve as her decoder and native guide.

The three quickly discover the theft is just the beginning. The thieves' motivation could be anything from stock market manipulation to taking down the grid. The novel moves at a brisk pace with very little time for a breather in between events.

Stross deliberately challenged many of the writing conventions in "Halting State." First, the novel's written in second person--referring to characters as 'you.' Initially, the tense seemed accusatory and offputting; however, once I got into the plot of the book, 'you' became irrelevant.
Read more ›
1 Comment 91 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I generally don't read fiction. But I couldn't resist this. This exciting book takes us into a world that, while fiction, could just as easily be our world in a few years --- a spook world.

Most of the book can easily be comprehended by people who may not have a through knowledge of computers and networks, as is necessary for previous works by this author.

The story opens in the very near future in Edinburgh, where police sergeant Sue Smith is called in to investigate a bank robbery. But, guess what, no guns were pulled. No stick-up note. This was a robbery done in gamespace, online! Don't you love it?

This technothriller is a must-read for gamers. But it's also a wonderful romp for mystery lovers and people who like to read about computer crime and how we are losing our privacy to those who know and understand computers and networks and the cyberworld in general.

Reading this book may just make you a bit leary about those anonymous folks lurking in chat rooms and forums.

The story shows how multiplayer online games (MMORPGs) can be a tool used by governments and intelligence agencies to recruit useful idiots, unwary puppets to do the dirty work of infiltrating networks while they think they're just hacking around in a virtual gaming environment.

Highly recommended.
Comment 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
You'll like this: if you're a fan of Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), a Live Action Role Player (LARPer), or other kind of geek gamer; if you are a Dilbert-with-an-edge software developer; if you are really, really into near-future Scottish police procedurals.

The novel follows three characters through twists and turns after a bank robbery is pulled of in a multi-player online game, a sort of World of Warcraft on steroids. But who are the bad guys? What do they want? Why rip off a virtual bank? And do we really care?

Stross does his usual good job of taking some interesting ideas(multiplayer game economics! reality overlays! cyber terrorist hi-jinks!) to their non-obvious conclusions. And this aspect is really fun, makes you think, gives you some "oho!" moments. But it's hard to get in gear with the story. First, the Scottish dialect and slang are nearly impenetrable. I bogged down several times, to the point where I wanted a heads-up display with instantaneous translation. "Two nations divided by a common language" is right -- if you're not a devoted Anglophile, be warned. And if you're not up on gaming concepts, or software development, you may be in for a similar problem. If you like Stross, you like dense text and new concepts that come thick and fast -- but this is at a whole new level.

I didn't have any problem with the second person POV. It's a great twist on Zork-style text adventure computer games ("You enter a web page with book reviews. You notice that readers either loved or hated this novel. You see links leading to other pages glowing an eerie blue."), and very readable in the context of this book.

The dense prose makes it hard to understand the nuances of what's going on, hard to get into the characters, and ultimately hard to care about the resolution.

I loved Accelerando, and other works that Stross has done. I think I'd like an annotated version of this one better.
1 Comment 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Near the end of this book, one of the protagonists blurts, "They're tunelling TCP/IP over AD&D!" And that line is a very good test for potentials readers, because if you understand it (and why it's kind of funny), you might enjoy the book. If you're scratching your head, well, you might still enjoy the book, but you're certainly in for a whole lot more head scratching along the way.

When you strip everything away, this near-future thriller is a cautionary tale about network and database security, and what can happen as our lives become increasingly wired and digitized. The premise is that someone has hacked their way into a MMOG and pulled off an in-game heist, thus triggering the involvement of a police sergeant, an unemployed software engineer, and a forensic accountant. The three characters are called in to investigate this crime and the chapters alternate between their perspectives.

Note that they are not the narrators -- that's because the entire book is written in the second person, a choice which some readers will absolutely hate. I didn't find it as grating as many reviewers did, but it certainly doesn't help the rather weak characterization). Unfortunately, the plot is awfully heavy with techie jargon and those who aren't network engineers or software developers (as the author has been), may find it rocky going. Similarly, the plot revolves around MMOGs and ARGs, and if you're not familiar with this kind of computer and live action gaming, you might get a little lost. In both cases, there are lots of nuances and inside jokes which will fly right over your head (I think I got about half of them).
Read more ›
Comment 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Halting State (Ace Science Fiction)
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Halting State (Ace Science Fiction)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?