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Rule 34 Hardcover – Jul 5 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (July 5 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441020348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441020348
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.7 x 3.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #416,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“The act of creation seems to come easily to Charles Stross…[He] is peerless at dreaming up devices that could conceivably exist in 6, 60 or 600 years’ time.”
The New York Times

“One of the most intelligently and philosophically detailed near futures ever conceived. Dazzling, chilling, and brilliant.”
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“A savvy, funny, viciously inventive science fiction novel.” Cory Doctorow, author of For The Win

"Entertaining and propulsive storytelling." Locus

About the Author

Charles Stross was born in Leeds, England in 1964. He holds degrees in pharmacy and computer science, and has worked in a variety of jobs including pharmacist, technical author, software engineer, and freelance journalist. He is now a full-time writer.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is definitely the best Stross book to date, to me. Powerful, delicately ciselled, subtle and frightful, all at the same time. Stross lived his characters out to an extent I rarely encountered outside Herbert and Heinlein. The ending is a bit fizzing (it's as if the author lost patience or suddenly lacked time -- the tone is there but the ideas are shot in rapid succession). Nevertheless, it stays powerful thanks to the absolutely frightening ideas it instills in my sorry meat brain.

Second person narration from all characters is annoying at first, but in the end it becomes evident that this choice of technique plays a very subtle but well defined role (I dare say is almost a character in itself) in the story line.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the careful poetry of some of the descriptions of physical places or mind states. The mastery of the english language is testimony of Stross' coming to a level of great experience and practice in his art.

Oh, and I guess Charles Stross could open up a website somewhere and ask readers for identifications of intetional misalignments and creepily insidious deviations in the general image. These create surprisingly profound food for tought, even if based on old-age phylosophical reflections and questionings.

Why not maximum score? Well, it is a Stross book, so it still reads as a Hollywood movie, complete with lost story sidelines and gratuitous deviations (not always a good thing).
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Format: Hardcover
Imagine a near future Scotland, now largely independent of England, where the Edinburgh Police Department contends with internet crime via its "Rule 34" squad headed by Detective Inspector Liz Kavanagh. Charles Stross has adapted Lynda La Plante's "Prime Suspect" into a near future post-cyberpunk crime thriller, "Rule 34", resulting in one of the most well-received novels of science fiction and fantasy published last year, earning acclaim as one of Time magazine's best. Celebrated widely as one of contemporary science fiction's best thinkers, Stross hasn't written a literary clone of La Plante's hit television series, but instead, a most fascinating look into cybercrime itself, giving us an all too plausible nightmarish scenario demonstrating how Artificial Intelligence may become involved. His Liz Kavanaugh is no mere clone of Jane Tennison , La Plante's no-nonsense heroine, and yet, like Tennison, she is an extraordinarily well developed, quite complex, character possessed by demons of her own making, struggling to meet her superior's highest expectations. Stross offers some of his best writing to date via an active tense that heightens the reader's sense of observing exactly what Liz Kavanagh and several other key characters see (But an active tense that may also confuse readers who are trying to discern which character is which.). And yet, Stross' fine prose doesn't quite match the artistic excellence I have come to expect from the likes of William Gibson, Michael Swanwick, and especially, China Mieville and, quite frankly, pales in comparison with China Mieville's "The City & The City" with regards to both the quality of the prose and the considerable thought that Mieville has given with respect to his novel's plot. Still, Stross' latest novel is well worth considering simply for his near future vision of cybercrime as well as for pure entertainment as a page turner.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Our principal character has been sidelined into a strange career cul-de-sac where she and her team deal with strange Internet pornography. She's drawn into the mainstream of things again by the case at the centre of the plot. More of the charming Scot detective thing, and a clever villain make for a great read. More please.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A pseudo-sequel to Charles Stross' previous near-future sci-fi novel Halting State. This one is more of a police procedural and imagines a future where 3D printing is so ubiquitous that even petty criminals are into it. I liked the premise quite a lot, but the ending was very abrupt and unsatisfying.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa7bdb7b0) out of 5 stars 116 reviews
99 of 108 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7b149c0) out of 5 stars Great Follow-on from Halting State July 7 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Charlie Stross is one of the new SF shining stars with an amazingly refreshing approach to his work. This sparkling novel takes place in the near future (15-30 years out)and is a follow-on to Halting State (Ace Books, 2008) but is not a sequel by any means and you don't have to read HS first. Only one character, Detective Inspector Liz Cavanaugh, returns from that story.

The plot is very difficult to summarize without spoiling it completely. So here are the skeletal details:
It is a detective novel, writen entirely from the characters' perspectives as it moves from character to character. It extrapolates everything excessive in our current culture and creates an almost dystopian Scotland of 2035. It is very sexually explicit. There is coincidence after coincidence. There is a secret behind the scenes that you only glimpse at first before it makes itself known. This revelation almost makes you want to reread the book because the story takes on an entirely new interpretation. Though very grisly, there are many humerous moments and you will find yourself laughing out loud through long portions of this book. Highly recommended, one of the year's best so far.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7b1d414) out of 5 stars pretty good near future non-dystopic SF book July 13 2011
By C. Woody Butler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ok, I read this pretty much as soon as I got it - and I'm re-reading it now so it's probably to early to really write this review since this is a book that really takes multiple readings to wrap your head around. It's sort of like The Sixth Sense [Blu-ray] - you watch it and you know there's stuff going on that you don't quite see, but it's really cool and it drags you along, and when you're done and you go "Oh!" and it's so much cooler now because you understand and you go back and read it again and go "OH!!" at all those points where you knew there was something else going on but you weren't in the right place to see it. This is that kind of book.

This is a sequel to Halting State, but pretty much there's only one character from that book in this book, and she was just on the edges of Halting State, so really it's a standalone book in the same universe. It also feels like sort of a prequel to Accelerando but maybe that's just me, and that might even be giving too much away.

The basic story is sort of a police procedural (but not really?) combined with a "Life 2.0" or even maybe "Life 3.0" primer about how the world will be after all the bubbles burst and cheap auto-fabbing technology is available on the "village blacksmith" level. With pervasive computing made simple with virtual technology and pervasive observation by the government, and work assignments by smart engines (think amazon's mechanical turk, or crowd sourcing) because everything's so complex a person can't really manage the chaos, mix police, manic killers, auditors (a carry-over theme from Halting State), and a legal system to complex for a person to do the actual charging, into some frothy satisfying deep stoutish beer of wonder. And yes, there is a small subtheme of brewing beer in this.

To me this felt more utopian than distopian - the characters in the book might not have had great lives but there weren't killer androids lurking in the streets or police dragging people away on the flimsiest of excuses, people worked, they had what they needed, they had magic gadgets that could make most anything with the right magic spells you culd download from the internet (but keep your virus checker up to date!), so I'd think it's more better than worse ;).

There is some talk of kinky sex in this (ok, I know, I'm an adult, I should be able to just ride over this, but I wouldn't let my son read this yet, which is sad cuz he'd like alot of it I think) but no kinky sex scenes, as such, it was more like a horror movie - have kinky sex and get what's coming to you.

All in all - while it wasn't a total surprise the ending was pretty satisfying and pretty much promised at least one more sequel (I don't think he's killed this series yet!) which I'm looking forward too, especially if he folds this book's events in with some of the characters from Halting State.
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7b1d2f4) out of 5 stars Great SF, mediocre Stross Aug. 12 2011
By Vlad the Inhaler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm giving this three stars because I'm grading on a curve -- this is mediocre in comparison to Stross's earlier work, although probably a 4-star when compared to other sci-fi. Since most people, at this point in his career, probably read Stross because he's Stross, that seems fair to me.

I'm a big-to-huge fan of a lot of Stross's other novels, especially the Eschaton (Singularity Sky/Iron Sunrise) and Laundry (Atrocity Archives/Jennifer Morgue/Fuller Memorandum) series. I have not read Halting State, and didn't realize that Rule 34 was a sequel to Halting State until after I'd read Rule 34. So, full disclosure: my tepid response to Rule 34 might be because I wasn't familiar with the Halting State world.

I don't think so, though; Rule 34 seems like a collection of nifty ideas that fail to cohere into a good book. The first problem, for me, was the choice of a second-person narrative voice. I found it to be irritating, and almost literally tiring, and never really got used to it. There's a reason fiction is almost never written in that voice: it's inherently distancing and disorienting for the reader. I found it especially off-putting here, because it was combined with a narrative structure in which the "viewpoint," such as it was, appeared to jump from character to character (so the "you" was a constantly rotating around 10 or so characters). I'm sure this was a quite deliberate choice, and I'm sure that Stross is saying something about the substance of the novel with that choice -- spoilers prevent me from saying more -- but even though I get it, it still didn't work for me.

Second, the plot did not flow terribly well. It felt like the first 3/4 of the book was devoted to introducing the characters and setting the scene, leaving just the last 1/4 to "solve" the mystery that was preoccupying the characters. I thought the resolution was rushed and not terribly coherent. I understand the double twist at the very end of the book (I think), but I don't believe it, nor do I think it flows very naturally from what had come before.

It's still a Stross book, which means it's often very funny, and usually very clever. But I'd recommend starting elsewhere if you're new to Stross.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7b1d3e4) out of 5 stars Believable near-future sci-fi July 7 2011
By Erwin S. Andreasen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unlike the "Halting State" prequel which I thought too tied up in the virtual world, "Rule 34" spends more time on society and technology in a near-future sci-fi universe. Mr Stross paints a believable picture of a world where the Net permeates everything and takes current hot tech topics like DRM, 3D printing, Augmented Reality to their logical conclusions. This is the near-future, more readable "Diamond Age" showcasing a number of technologies and societal changes we're quite likely to see in the next decade.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7b2230c) out of 5 stars A good near future sci-fi story Sept. 29 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rule 34 is a near future police procedural novel by Charles Stross.

Disclaimer: Charles Stross writes this whole novel in 2nd person. It drove me up the wall. It's jarring, irritating and made the novel hard to read. If he never writes in 2nd person again I'll be happy as a clam. When I likely read another of his novels it will be despite this.

Rule 34 also marks the third book in a row I've read that was set in the UK. But this time it's Edinburgh Scotland. The title comes from the popular internet meme that states "If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions." Probably because one of the three main POV characters, Inspector Liz Kavanaugh, works in the division of the Edinburgh police department that stalks the internet in search of illegal porn. Considering there is some porn today that would make me want to scrub my mind with steel wool, this is not a pleasant job. The other prime POV characters are Anwar Hussein, a former small time crook now part of a scam that involves him being the honorary consul representing a small central asia breakaway republic. And the Toymaker, a functioning paranoid schizophrenic who also happens to to be the front man for a international criminal organization called..er..The Organization.

The book focuses on a series of murders that involve strange coincidences and malfunctions involving common household items that also just happen to be killing many of the prime movers in the spam underworld. All roughly on the same day. The book does an excellent job extrapolating what police procedure might look like 20 years from now, with everything in the cloud, a smartphone in every pocket, and practical applications of virtual reality used to track and present data visually to all the police working on a case. The book starts fairly slow, with none of the major or minor POV characters interacting, but progresses like a whirlpool, moving faster and drawing the characters closer together until they start crashing into each other while the plot reaches it's climax.

Aside from the use of 2nd person I quite enjoyed this book and would recommend it. A solid 4 stars on the Amazon scale.

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