Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: Halting State by Charles Stross

Halting State by Charles Stross

I first came across Charles Stross when I picked up the novel Jennifer Morgue, which is best described as Lovecraft-meets-Fleming, a juxtaposition that would intrigue any SciFi junky tired of the same old stuff. On the surface, Halting State's blurb probably reads like a regular old cyberpunk novel: "Police investigate a bank robbery in an online RPG!" However, two things kept it from being normal cyberpunk fare. First, the entire novel is told in second person ("you"). It's unusual for anything to be written in the second person, let alone an entire novel, and Stross manages to pull this one off, even changing perspectives to different characters every chapter (with the chapter's title telling the reader who "you" are.)

The second thing that worked well for me was that the story takes place in the near future, perhaps only 5-10 years from now. Many of the cultural trappings were very familiar, like a character referencing his iPod. While there were a few extra technological advances in the cyber sections, the technology was not so much speculative as just natural advances on what is going on right now. That made it much less of a leap for me to understand what was going on, something I've had trouble with in other harder cyberpunk novels, like anything by Neal Stephenson.

Overall, I am really becoming a fan of Stross, and will start looking to pick up more of his novels.

No comments:

Post a Comment