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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Halting State

Today, my readers, I take you on a phantasmagoric journey of technology and our dependence upon it.

Well, in reality, I'm just raving about how awesome Halting State - by writer Charles Stross master pennsman and surrogate Scotsman extraordinaiere o' the British Isles - is.

Sorry, that over-grandiose, geographically illiterate joke was mandatory (us Yanks have unwritten rules to follow, you know.)

Unlike a lot of the science fiction I read, Halting State is set not too far into the future. This first and foremost will shock your walnuts right out of you, as Stross does a good job of molding a near future that is both incredibly bizzare yet just as feasable.

It's a world where government bureaucracy and court practice revolve around recording every instant of an officer's duty call with arrays of headcams, recorders and scene-scanning equipment right out of Ghost in the Shell. It's also a world where less-than-legal networks move pawns according to the whims of a puppetmaster buried under layers of proxies and anonymous call centers. So much so that only a select few could even guess he existed, and the rest is business as usual.

And in the middle of this are a good handful of characters we follow in Tabletop-Game-style second person, receiving directives and descriptions from an anonymous game master weaving our minds into a deep plot of conspiracy, mutual confusion and things not going quite as they were intended to by any specific party.

So anyway, it was a good, quick-tempo read that'll keep fans of action and intrigue a la cold-war spy thrillers gripped, as well as anyone who just loves a good, more feasable dose of science fiction. That is, of course, a far cry from the story unfolding centuries in the future here on Sunrise, I know Stross has suspension of disbelief nailed down in a good way. Hopefully I can manage as much myself.

Ciao for now, everyone.

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