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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  6,959 ratings  ·  436 reviews
When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn’t take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him. It’s the twenty-seventh century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees’ personalities and target historians. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, bu ...more
Hardcover, 335 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Ace Hardcover (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Imperfectlyrua Castle-Hackett
This was the most intriguing new science fiction book I've read in a long time. The plot was kinda standard mystery but everything else was really new. He took some modern technical paradigms, projected them into the future and created an amazingly well developed "world." In addition, the book takes place mostly in an anachronistic simulation of the 1990's. And since the main character is a participant in the experiment there's an interesting ethnographical aspect to the narrative. (eg. he keeps ...more
Jason Pettus
(My full review of this book is larger than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find it at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

As I've mentioned here before, although as an adult I try to maintain as varied a reading list as possible, I do naturally gravitate regularly towards the science-fiction (or SF) genre on which I was raised, as well as the "weird-lit" novels of our contemporary times that have been influenced by the genre. And indeed, if you take a close l
Saadiq Wolford
Every time I begin a new Charles Stross novel, I feel the same excitement as when I first read William Gibson's Neuromancer in 1985: I'm reading a work of science fiction that is so unique, so bleeding-edge, that I can barely get my head around it.

And then the excitement fades as I continue reading.

This is Stross's best work to-date because it is his most human; his observations on groupthink, peer pressure, and the irrationality of modern life are insightful and funny. But it is also inconsiste
Shockingly, I like the first chapter. I expect things will devolve from here. That's the standard Stross formula.

Well, with the exception of having a good first chapter.


And as it turns out, I loved this book. I've read several of his novels before, all the Hugo-nominated ones, anyway, and this is by far the best. It's also the best of the nominees this year and should win the award.

Stross does an excellent job of keeping the focus of the novel not only on the main character, but also in his
If I had to pick one word for this book, it would be "smug." I don't have a lot of tolerance for smugness at the best of times, and Glasshouse did nothing to earn its attitude. The worldbuilding was flimsy (if your characters are going to be motivated to horrific acts in pursuit of money, you need to tell me what, in your post-scarcity economy, money is for), the characterization shallow (unsurprisingly so, I guess, when all the characters are suffering from various grades of amnesiac dissociati ...more
This could have been really dull because there's really nothing new in it by way of SF ideas; it relies on wormholes/teleporting, nanobots, uploading your mind then downloading it to any body you fancy, editing your memories in the process, and not much else. You can find all these elements in many other places. The odd thing is that this doesn't necessarily matter. Individual authors' speculations about where these scientific or engineering advances might take humanity physically and culturally ...more
It was really hard to get into at first. For some reason Stross insists on using a different timescale even though their bear a slight linguistic resemblance to terms we use today. It was frustrating and unnecessary. Although it got off to a slow start, it did pick up after the first few chapters (basically when the main character joins the experiment).

I had some of the same problems with this book that I have with similar books where a person's consciousness is treated as though it were basical
With this book, Charles Stross has established himself as one of my favourite authors.

Previously, I have read quite a few of his novels, including several of the Merchant Princes series, one of the Bob Howard – Laundry books, Halting State and Saturn’s Children. With the exception of Saturn’s Children and perhaps the first of the Merchant Princes novels, I’ve had a hard time immersing myself in his stories and actually liking his characters. I keep picking up his books, however, as I like his c
Jenny (Reading Envy)
It began with a date and moved to the bath. I returned to this book this month because I was bogged down in Pynchon and wanted something lighter and fast-paced to read. After all, I'm on vacation. Plus I wanted a book that I wouldn't care about dropping into bubbles, and this was one of the few mass market paperbacks on my shelves not to be immediately traded away. But still, mass market. My brain has to fight to stay awake when faced with yellowing pages and fading print. I'm surprised I finish ...more
The one where Robin wakes up after having a full memory wipe -- which, for obvious reasons, he doesn't remember -- and comes to believe someone from his past is trying to kill him, and volunteers for an experiment re-creating twentieth-century life.

OMG, so boring. I gave it my usual fifty pages, and sometimes I'd look at the page number and I'd still be on the same page.

Robin isn't really a character, and of course there's a good reason for this -- he's had his memory wiped. But every time he s
Aug 23, 2008 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Neal Stephenson and Iain Banks
Stross has always been adjacent to the books I'm already reading, forever showing up on recommended lists. So, I figured I'd give him a try.

I enjoyed the book, though it is clearly not for everyone. Stross writes push-the-envelope science fiction. The best way to describe it is as a cross between Neal Stephenson and Iain Banks.

In Stross's future, the galaxy is really just a big routed network with people as very complex data packets. Want to go 300 light years in that direction? Just step into t
In the future, a group of people volunteer for a scientific experiment in which they agree to immerse themselves in a community mimicking long-gone 20th Century life. The protagonist, Robin, signs up to escape people who are trying to kill her. I mean, him. Technically Robin is a dude. But he spends most of the book trapped in a female body, and he mostly just reads as a woman—as an awesome, interesting heroine. It's kind of sad that one of the few ways we get male SF/F writers writing interesti ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Brad rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: SF readers that like a challenge figuring out the setting and plot
Glasshouse is an intense and mindstretching mixture of hard SF and satire in a psychological puzzle centered around memory and identity. Stross writes well but in a way that is often vague, confusing, and hard to understand. The narrator describes things from the setting's (future) present day point of view with little explanation. Additionally Stross only gives more information every once in a while. This keeps his extraordinary SF concepts and the plot just on the edge of comprehension most of ...more
I started this particular book because it was sold to me as "far future thriller wherein the protagonist enters a reenactment of 1900s Earth in order to elude his attackers, only to discover and more sinister plot within the reenactment." Taking 1900s to mean Victorian/Edwardian period, I thought this book might be right up my alley. I have a fondness for far future science fiction, and a fondness for Victoriana, and a fondness for thrillers in general. How could this book possibly go wrong?

It t
Oh Charlie Stross. I forgive you for Accellerando.

Seriously though, this is a fantastically well-done sci-fi novel. Stross is not the first writer to try and tackle a story where characters aren't sure who they really are. But he handles it with aplomb.

Glasshouse takes place in a very distant future where human beings can change bodies, memories, even personalities in the blink of a few pages. Who am I? Am I really who I think I am? Are my memories real or implanted? Do I have free will at all?

I am now officially a Charles Stross fan.

A theme in this book helps explain why. What happens if you mix the "beam me up" thing from Star Trek with the notion in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash of viruses crossing over from life to technology and back? Stross gives some thought to how people would jump from one location to another without worrying about transportation, speed of light and so on. He's thinking quite a bit in the future, yet with a current decade Internet technology mentality. He ima
This is one of the most imaginative sci-fi stories I have encountered. Similar to Cory Doctorow, Stross knows no boundaries when it comes to imagining the future.

The book is about a 27th century war veteran named Robin, wearing a male body (it is common to back yourself up and change bodies as desired). To deal with his past in the war, he underwent memory surgery and is now not entirely sure who exactly he is. But he soon finds out that his former self volunteered to take part in a "glasshouse
Damien Leri
A story about a nanotech world where identity theft is a crime more serious than murder. But also a story about our own cultures and norms. The protagonist flips among the dimensions of identity: gender, beliefs, values, and family. Stross does a brilliant job shifting these perspectives on you, and he is a clever neologist. The book reminds me of Perdido Street Station a bit, but I would say the genre is "singularity" if that exists.

A couple things annoyed me in his writing. I felt there were
Stross throws together a fast paced book that reads like a mix of the Prisonor,Philip K. Dick, Moorcock's Dancers at the end of time, Stepford wives, and truman show/pleasantville.(with quite few nods to Tiptree jr/Alice Sheldon and Cordwainer Smith) A mix of entertainment and ideas. Stross has flaws but I was thinking ever couple of pages which makes this a good thing. He is an idea writer like Kobo Abe and Borges(but not really like them), who throws his ideas into genre exercises(but it will ...more
I found Glasshouse to be a slight bit too technically abstract for my tastes, but the main narrative was pretty cool (specifically that future civilization is entirely digital and electronic). Charles Stross explored a lot of thought-provoking concepts over the course of this lightening-fast-paced narrative and I found myself thinking frequently about the future of technology and its potential impacts on society. I am certainly looking forward to reading more of Charles Stross's work in the futu ...more
Holy cowwwwwwww I want a sequel. I want more of this. So much of this book was mind-bendy, but it was still very understandable, which just made it *cool*. I really enjoyed the universe of the book, and all of the history. I loved their ideas about "Urth". I don't even want to say too much, because so much of the fun of this book is discovering the world and the setting. It's also full of good thinking fuel, about identity and memory and Who We Are. I think this one definitely earned it's five s ...more
Brilliant concept flawlessly executed. science fiction writing at its most imaginative. What a lucky find. And what fantastic food for thought. Whatever you think of scifi aside, if you're remotely interested in philosophy of mind or theories of self/identity, and could stand a breather from academese, check this out.
I go out of my way these days to avoid SF written by dudes, but multiple queer folks recommended I read this. Body-switching tech is of great interest to me as a trans person.

I found the opening chapters, before Robin is pulled into the experiment, almost impassibly stuffed with jargon and new concepts. Immersion can be great, but it wasn't here; I'm glad I lasted through the wibbledy-bibbledy T-gate/A-gate walls-of-text.

Stross shies away from some concepts, such as bodily dysphoria and lack of
So different from the Laundry Files, and so goddamn imaginative and fresh. Stross takes a mindfucking plot and setting and makes the reader feel at home in it. You may have heard that the book is a sci-fi retelling of the Stanford prison experiment, and while the plot borrow some elements from there, and I loved Stross' take on it, for me the originality of the rest of setting stole the show. Dark ages, neo-techno-barbarism, memory surgery, instantaneous travel (this is obviously not new, but St ...more
This is the first full-on science fiction novel I’ve read in many years, and it’s acted as a reminder why I avoid this type of title in favour of more grounded speculative fiction. The back story is full of warring factions, invented technology terms and encyclopaedic exposition. It was initially a relief when the bulk of this type of storytelling seemed to be discarded, as Robin enters an experimental community dedicated to reproducing twentieth-century society. Even the vagueness of the ‘Urth’ ...more
Glasshouse was one of those books that managed to paint a picture of a distant future that made our present day look like the middle ages. What made the book most appealing was not the technical wizardry that was at the core of the book but the romantic arcing story line that was just buried below the surface. I am not a reader of romantic fiction as such, but the love the main character felt for one of his fellow travellers was so compelling I finished the book with a lump in my throat. In case ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in November 2007.

Glasshouse (named from British army slang for a military prison) is basically a spy novel set in the future. The central character, Robin, starts the book recovering from memory surgery, a standard voluntary brainwashing technique which is part of psychiatric treatment: but he doesn't remember why he had memories removed, nor why the process was quite so drastic as it turned out to be. Then he is recruited for an experiment, in which he will
Glasshouse is a loose sequel to Accelerando, but you mostly need to know that for what the world is like. You might be able to read Glasshouse as a stand alone.

Anyway, it's late in the third millennium. Humanity has been kicked out of the Solar System by intelligent computer programs who'd rather turn all solid matter into more memory and RAM and photovoltaics, and has taken up residence living around wormholes linking brown dwarfs throughout the galaxy. The presence of massive amounts of data s
Charles Stross once again proves that he is the master of post-Singularity science fiction. Most writers see the singularity as an endpoint: they realize that the world as we know it would completely change after a singularity, so they present their worlds as pre-Singularity. The purpose of science fiction, as I see it, is to look at the way that changes in technology and the expansion of our perspectives that brings change what it means to be human. Stross looks the Singularity dead in the eye, ...more
Christopher McKitterick
A fantastic furtherance of Stross' ACCELERANDO universe. The ideas are mind-bending yet feel like natural extensions of the future of digitized humans: One of my favorite notions is that a war was fought via editing people's memories as they transmitted their data across the galaxy, and this tampering with true personal data - everything you are - is the greatest crime one can commit.

I must recommend this book. It is:
* Wildly inventive.
* Character-driven (a previous weakness on the author's part
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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...
Accelerando The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1) Singularity Sky (Eschaton, #1) Halting State The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2)

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“You've just spent an entire prehistoric human lifetime as an ice ghoul and people are needling you for having too many arms?" I shake my head. "I just assume you have a good reason.” 3 likes
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