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Halting State Hardcover – October 2, 2007
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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.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Reviewers expressed shock and awe at Charles Strosss imagined future, because its 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 (its 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.
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My recommendation is that you buy this book, thus expanding your speculative horizons and learning some Scots dialect to boot.
(a) The "crowdsourcing" of covert intelligence. Crowdsourcing is succeeding today; what if it was taken several levels more deeply, involving governments and national security, and the participants didn't even know it? Fascinating, and plausible, and quite possible.
(b) The shift of wars from physical to virtual. Wars have historically been about either ideology or control (direct or indirect) over things of value. Money today is simply a method of storing value that is accepted by all the players. Other things can store value, and the more we depend on virtually-stored value, the more vulnerable we become to surreptitious control - or loss of control - of that stored value. The notion that inter-nation wars might be fought over that virtual value is - again - plausible, and likely (?).
(c) The interconnection of virtual gaming environments. Today, online games live in their own silos. The idea that players might move from one game to another - directly within gaming space - is both plausible, and prescient.
This book weaves a good tale around these, and other concepts that "could happen." The author isn't trying to assert they will; but he weaves a wonderful tale that takes place within a _really_possible_ future -that is quite interesting, I must say. I heartily enjoyed it.
Halting State (Ace Science Fiction) Charles Stross; The future of gaming? Used as a cover for espionage and crime? I loved this story by Charles Stross, set just a few years into a very realistic looking future. Others have commented on the somewhat unique 2nd person narrative style... I wasn't bothered by it at all, and in fact found it refreshing. There IS a lot of jargon and acronyms... difficult for the noobs to comprehend ;-) ... but I think it is well worth wading through to get to the outstanding story underneath.
You'll probably find the book more accessible if you have a bit of computer gaming background. I don't. You also have to get used to some Scottish dialect, some imaginative extensions of today's IT terminology, and some strange applications and hardware. The concept of alternate `spaces' takes a while to get used to so you may get lost at some point. Stay the course. It will be worth it!
You also need to get past a novel written completely in second-person singular. The reasons for that flow from early Dungeons & Dragons scenarios but it took some getting used to, especially since `you' are three characters. Again, stay the course. It all comes clear in the end. I rated it four stars because there's no ramp-up. The author just dumps you into 2018 and turns you loose.
Initially, I found the Halting State difficult to follow and almost put it down on my pile of `mistakes' after reading the prologue and three chapters. That would have been a mistake. It's a learning experience. By the fifth chapter, I was hooked, hated putting it down, and wanted more when I finished the last page. You need to read this book!
Most recent customer reviews
in the best sense.
This one, I couldn't put down.Read more