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Rule 34 (Halting State #2)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,093 Ratings  ·  616 Reviews
DI Liz Kavanaugh: You realise policing internet porn is your life and your career went down the pan five years ago. But when a fetishist dies on your watch, the Rule 34 Squad moves from low priority to worryingly high profile.

Anwar: As an ex-con, you’d like to think your identity fraud days are over. Especially as you’ve landed a legit job (through a shady mate). Although
Kindle Edition, 360 pages
Published July 7th 2011 by Hachette Digital (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I didn't care much for Singularity Sky and had sort of dismissed Stross as someone who dealt in a nerd-friendly thriller-mode SF that was of little interest to me. Still, when one of my favourite booksellers showed me this shiny new trade paperback with its title ripped straight from yesterday's internet memes, I was intrigued.

So what we have here is a near-future police procedural, broadly put. It revolves around a police detective from the internet porn tracking squad who gets involved in a m
Elf M.
May 02, 2012 Elf M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You open Rule 34 expecting a police procedural, and indeed, that's how it starts out. It's a police procedural twenty-one minutes into the future: one minute, plus five years, more from the settings of its predecessor Halting State, although the police only solve a few minor crimes, never the major one.

At first, the book is annoying: it's too pat, too convenient. There are too damned many coincidences, too many characters who know too much about each other, run into each other too often, and oft
Veronica Belmont
Rule 34 is interesting in many ways: it deals with a subject matter that is deeply interesting to me (artificial intelligence and what that means for society), is ripe with memes that any internet savvy reader would find amusing, and uses a unique second-person narrative style that takes some getting used to.

The first half of the book is something of a slog: you're introduced to the "main" character (at least in my mind) Liz, and we get an info dump on the world we're going to be visiting for th
Jan 21, 2012 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
3.5 stars. Rule 34: "If it exists, there is p0rn of it. No exceptions." Good scifi thriller about memes, spam, and life in the surveillance state, told in alternating second person (mostly) from three main points-of-view, although the POV number ratchets up toward the end. While there's no POV character overlap with the first book, one of the main POV characters played a significant role in the first book. Again, it took me a while to get used to the storytelling mode, but once I did I was immer ...more
David Monroe
The second Liz Kavanaugh book is a loose sequel to Halting State. Just like Halting State, Rule 34 is written entirely in a shifting perspective, second person present tense. This makes it hard to really connect to them, but Rule 34 is mostly about its world-building, ideas and technology.

DI Liz Kavanaugh: You realise policing internet porn is your life and your career went down the pan five years ago. But when a fetishist dies on your watch, the Rule 34 Squad moves from low priority to worrying
Ben Babcock
The Internet isn’t for porn, silly human. The Internet is for spam! It’s an interesting spin on a truism of our times.

We are seeing the first reported smartphone botnet. We are seeing the future. Policing of the future isn’t going to be about Robocop busting drug dealers and car thieves on the street of Detroit. Automated drones might be part of the package, but there will still be boots on the ground—just heavily assisted by highly-networked, algorithm-boosted technology. Policing is no longer
Gwen Nicodemus
Mar 05, 2013 Gwen Nicodemus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci Fi fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
George Sulea
Mar 18, 2012 George Sulea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Stross is a man who has a giant brain. I am convinced that there is a portion of his massive intellect that sits outside our world, unseen by humanity, which spans dimensions and finds details that my soul, continually reeling, finds amazing with each passing word.

I took such a journey while reading "Rule 34", a sequel to "Halting State", which is set in the same universe/timeline. The title refers to the understood internet rule that for ANYTHING on the net, there's corresponding porn.
Tim Mayer
Mar 13, 2012 Tim Mayer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tim by: timothymayer
It's not often enough I get to read a book which literally blows me away. Rule 34 is such a novel: original, entertaining, futuristic, amok, but optimistic enough to keep the reader involved. There's an assortment of characters, all of who are interesting enough for the story to flow. It's already had a number of good reviews. I'm now motivated to read more books from the author.

Scotland: the near future (10-20 years). Another Great Recession has left the world spinning. Most of Europe has devol
Mar 30, 2012 Eric marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I added this to my to-read list after Christopher Priest wrote the following paragraph about its nomination for an Arthur C. Clarke Award:

"It is indefensible that a novel like Charles Stross’s Rule 34 should be given apparent credibility by an appearance in the Clarke shortlist. Stross writes like an internet puppy: energetically, egotistically, sometimes amusingly, sometimes affectingly, but always irritatingly, and goes on being energetic and egotistical and amusing for far too long. You wait
Caroline Mersey
Jun 01, 2013 Caroline Mersey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rule 34 is a darkly comic crime thriller in the mould of Brookmyre, but Charlie Stross adds some extras to the mix. There is the near-future AR and social commentary of the predecessor novel Halting State, but it's the intriguing computer science philosophy that lifts it above the competition. Add some glorious side swipes at contemporary geek culture and some of Stross's other work (the nod to Accelerando is superb) and you get a winner.
“I didna want to spread this’un around, skipper, but it’s a two-wetsuit job. I don’ like to bug you, but I need a second opinion.”
“Wow, that’s something out of the ordinary. A two-wetsuit job means kinky beyond the call of duty.” (4).

And so Detective Liz Kavanaugh begins investigating a wave of murders that involve repurposed house hold appliances and criminals, seemingly petty and not, worldwide. She’s assigned to the Rule 34 squad, specializing in meme-crime – memes that may jump from the ima
Brit Mandelo
Jul 19, 2011 Brit Mandelo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stross's newest book (in the same near-future SF world as Halting State) was as fast-paced as its predecessor, mixing some astoundingly awesome worldbuilding with a layered thriller plot involving 3D printers, crime syndicates, global financial collapse, and a truly creepy antagonist. (Or, is ATHENA the antagonist?) The patchwork-construction of the narrative is fun, bouncing the reader here and there throughout the complex plot. It's also a fairly queer book, with one lead character a lesbian a ...more
John Carter McKnight
Stross's weakest work in a long time. Sequel to the brilliant _Halting State_, this lacks the unleashed imagination, the gleeful sense of wonder, however twisted, that make reading Stross so much fun.

It's written in a nearly impenetrable mix of Scottish dialect and internet meme-speak: I found myself wanting to turn on subtitles, or read the wikified version.

I have to wonder if the future has just become tedious and pedestrian since 2007, or if Stross has just gotten bored. I'm inclined to ass
Two thirds of the way through the book, you start to get Stross's main vision of the novel. And you realize it is quite grand, intricate and even plausible in the near future. And I do mean you - the entire novel is written in the second person perspective following about five different characters through the story.

I see how the storytelling perspective interweaves with the main theory (your AI based spam filter is telling you what to do, essentially, and the storyteller is telling you the story
Michael Burnam-fink
Jul 20, 2011 Michael Burnam-fink rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2011
Stross is back in form with the sequel to Halting State, a grimly humorous cyberpunk police procedural set in Tomorrow's Scotland, where nobody knows what an honest job is anymore, and household appliances are murdering spammers.

I won't spoil the book, but Stross is at his best when he takes Big Ideas, twists them upside down, and shows you how they could happen. In Rule 34, he on the relationship between the police state and the Panopticon, and how at the end of the day, our system of laws requ
Apr 25, 2013 Sunil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013
You've heard of Rule 34: if it exists, there is porn of it. So you were intrigued by Rule 34, which follows a detective on the Rule 34 Squad, who monitor Internet memes to determine whether people are making some of these fantasies a reality. You were even more intrigued by the fact that it—like Halting State , which takes place in the same world but is not necessary to have read for this book (you know because you haven't)—was written in second-person. Even better, it follows multiple characte ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, my-collection
FABULOUS!! A dizzying dash through a near future dystopia, with an assorted cast of very human (and often perplexed by the complexity of the plot) protagonists desperately trying to keep up with an increasingly accelerated pace of events - Charles Stross really keeps up the pressure in a book jam-packed with his extrapolation of many of our current technological & societal issues.
At times so funny I had to literally laugh out loud. Stross is so terribly witty - I love his black humour.

I did
Nov 12, 2015 James rated it really liked it
It's a Geek's Science Fiction / Crime novel. Initially I found the overuse of IT jargon was trying to be too clever for its own good, but eventually I got over that and started to enjoy the book.

Rule 34 states that for whatever you can imagine, there will be porn for it on the Internet. A series of murders, a psychotic character appears on the streets, the local Internet Meme division of Scotland's Police force are trying to tie all the loose ends together.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Jul 23, 2011 Tudor Ciocarlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-my-best-of
A funny, enjoyably, intelligent novel about what will happen after the collapse of the banking system. Stross creates an almost to dense world, a presingularity strange Utopia, in which the Edinburgh's Rule 34 Squad fights organized internet crime and spam creators die by the hand of an almost supranatural killer using strange domestic accidents. One of Stross best books yet.
Jul 19, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in intelligent sci-fi and internet culture.

This book is not for everyone. Stross holds the backdoor of the internet open with both hands and shoves you in elbow deep - yes, you, as the entire book is written in 2nd person. You, a hardened lesbian investigator from Edinburgh and head of the Rule 34 Squad, will probe the nastiest holes in cyberspace while your cohorts assail you with colloquial Scottish invective. Ye ken?

Despite the lingo and meme-LOLs, the storyline is tight and Stross' writing is both richly poetic and slick as a well-l
Jul 09, 2011 Chad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I, well, hmm. Stross says this book is about the future of "criminology, policing, and ethics". That's about as much of a plot summary as I can provide.

Halting State is one of my favorite sci-fi books of all time, so as a sequel Rule 34 had big shoes to fill. And my first impression is that Rule 34 isn't as strong. It's good, but I keep going back and forth on whether this is 3 or 4 stars.

There's a broader cast of POV characters this time around, so I found the second person narrative harder t
Jan 20, 2012 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rule 34 could be loosely called a sequel to Halting State. Loosely because the setting in the near future in Scotland is the same and the Edinburgh police are main characters but that is about the only connection. This makes the background things going on a little more accessable if you read Halting State as well as puzzling out the near future Stross is representing in the book. I enjoyed Rule 34 though not as much as Halting State but I think the two stories subject matter is the biggest reaso ...more
I'm not sure why I didn't like this one quite as much as Halting State; it had much of the same pacing, certainly also told in second person (which as with Halting State didn't bother me as much as others), and has a few of the same characters. I did like it, mind you; just not as much as the first one. I think, perhaps, I could have done with maybe two less points-of-view - occasionally I would be a page into a chapter and realize it wasn't in the head of the person I thought it was, and once o ...more
May 14, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first "near future sci-fi" book. I really liked the depiction of technology in what might seem to be 15 years from now, no mentions to hyperspace travel or quantum-level manipulation of matter -- just right at home, upcoming tech (I did find the mentions of "waves" as communication media pretty amusing, here's to a failed prediction, unless someone rescues the technology behind Google Wave and gives it a second spin).

I'm still not 100% sure about the second-person point of view of the
Chris Cline
Jul 08, 2011 Chris Cline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are writers who can world build, and there are writers who build worlds. Stross is one of the latter, a writer who can build a world full of characters, places, and ideas. A writer who can then present said world to the reader without an overload of information, and just a pinch of theater.

His newest book, Rule 34 is no exception. For the short review, I can say that the book itself is very well crafted piece, and a very thoroughly enjoyable read.

Set in the same milieu, for lack of a bett
Toymaker kept me reading. His character was so utterly fascinating and well written. All of Stross' books are well written--the unexpected humour always gets me, and the little references and odd words. I could read these books for the language alone.

I also enjoyed Anwar's story. The situations he got himself into were as amusing as they were confounding.

The glimpse of the future is very thought-provoking. The technology used to make our lives easier also complicates them (something we already
Eoghann Irving
Nov 08, 2012 Eoghann Irving rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A loose follow up to the excellent Halting State, Rule 34 features some of the secondary characters from that book and the same setting. But don't let that put you off. It could easily be read before reading Halting State. The connections aren't even clearly stated until about halfway through the book.

It also has a lot of the elements that made Halting State so enjoyable for me to read. Not least of which naturally is the Edinburgh setting and the refusal to dumb it down for people who won't get
Tim Hicks
Oct 31, 2011 Tim Hicks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hugo. Nebula.

But you might not like it. I happen to be quite comfortable with techspeak, and Scottish slang (thank you, Inspector Rebus). If you're not, you might get lost in this complex book. If you prefer sex to be mentioned as no more than a raised eyebrow and waves crashing on a beach, you might be offended.

If you read and liked Stross's Halting State, you'll probably like this more.
If you liked Ian McDonald's Dervish House, you'll probably like this.

If you read Stross's Merchants serie
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I get the twist, but I don't get *how* it happened. Anyone? 6 29 May 28, 2014 10:32AM  
The Sword and Laser: Clarke Award shortlist 1 36 Mar 26, 2012 02:25AM  
The Sword and Laser: shocked by the sexual content? 27 282 Mar 17, 2012 08:59AM  
The Sword and Laser: Can't finish 21 288 Feb 19, 2012 08:07AM  
The Sword and Laser: Memes in Rule 34 6 121 Feb 14, 2012 10:01AM  
The Sword and Laser: Scottish accent 12 123 Feb 07, 2012 11:36AM  
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Charles David George "Charlie" Stross is a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His works range from science fiction and Lovecraftian horror to fantasy.

Stross is sometimes regarded as being part of a new generation of British science fiction writers who specialise in hard science fiction and space opera. His contemporaries include Alastair Reynolds, Ken MacLeod, Liz Williams and Richard Morgan.

More about Charles Stross...

Other Books in the Series

Halting State (2 books)
  • Halting State

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“Some say the Internet is for porn but you know that in truth the Internet is for spam.” 7 likes
“The European Parliament responded by focusing on corporate governance. If corporations wanted to be legal citizens they could damned well shoulder the responsibilities of good citizenship as well as the benefits. Social as well as financial audits were the order of the day. Directives outlining standards for corporate citizenship were drafted and a lucrative niche for a new generation of management consultants emerged - those who could look at an organization and sound a warning if its structure rewarded pathological behaviour.” 5 likes
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