A Short Review of Halting State

Some books make me want to leap up out of my chair and go change the world, or die trying.

Charles Stross' Halting State is not one of them.

However, it is a darn good read, and -- for those of you who are into the Internet, Python, MMORPGs, and/or crypto -- it is chock full of hilarious inside jokes.

(Yes, that's right, I said "Python". One of the main platforms used in the book is "Zone", written in "Python". Does this mean Python has arrived? And, more importantly, does it mean that in the near future, Zope has lost their automatic trademark on Z names in Python?)

Halting State is set in the near future, and it is, ostensibly, about a bank robbery that takes place in a MMORPG, and the police (and others) who are investigating the robbery. Unlike some of Stross' other work -- the Eschaton series, for example -- the writing is disjointed and the characters are not very well worked out, but the flavor of this very realistic future seeps through nonetheless. After the humor, the next best part of the book was the well-thought-out speculation on how certain tech problems would work themselves out, from ARGs to multiple interconnected MMORPGs and even the future of policing. As with other good and great sci-fi/tech writers like Vinge, Stephenson, Sterling, and Gibson, Stross' vision of the near future is very clear and all too plausible; I wouldn't be surprised if his predictions are largely accurate. The only real problem with this book is that I feel like he didn't take the time to write the story thoroughly.

Summary judgement: Well worth a read, just don't expect the same level of brilliance as some of Stross' other work.

--titus


Legacy Comments

Posted by Josef Assad on 2007-11-13 at 06:35.

Disjointed writing? Poorly thought out characters? Why, toss in a
cosmic load of vulgarity and institutional and personal incompetence,
and you'd have <a href="http://sancairodicopenhagen.com/tbpmd.html">my
novel</a>!

Posted by Titus on 2007-11-13 at 16:51.

Josef,    the key question: have I read and liked your other books? ;)
--titus

Posted by Josef Assad on 2007-11-14 at 07:10.

Titus,    What other books? :) Or are you egging me on to write
another?    Back on the topic of Stross, I only read Singularity Sky.
Am I missing any particularly brilliant other works?

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