Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Halting State (Halting State, #1)” as Want to Read:
Halting State (Halting State, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Halting State (Halting State #1)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  8,581 ratings  ·  704 reviews
Now in paperback?from the author of "Saturn's Children."
In the year 2018, a daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates. The suspects are a band of marauding orcs, with a dragon in tow for fire support, and the bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. But Sergeant Sue Smith discovers that this virtual world robbery may be linked to some
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Ace Books
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Halting State, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Halting State

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Charles Stross decided it would be a good idea to write Halting State entirely in second person. I briefly toyed with doing the same for my review, but then I remembered that I already did that, and it wasn't that amusing.

Then I thought maybe I would do the whole thing in code like a l33t haXor, which would have been appropriate since this book finds it the height of amusement to throw around with-it language like "n00b" and "pwned."

Then I realized that it is obnoxious to force readers to suffer
+1 to the list of notable books written in second person, which is only slightly longer than the list of notable books written solely to criticize them.

Halting State has a cool premise. I mean, aside from the fact that it was dated by the time it came out (goggles, really? That's your immersion technology. I mean, we've gotten to the point where we can read your mind. But hey, if you wanna strap a small TV to your face instead, whatever.)

Let's ignore specifics about Halting State for a minute,
My Review in 50 Words or Less

Written in 2007, what you’ll get if you read this is a smart, savvy novel unsettlingly prescient about where we may be going. Plus there’s a decently plotted story to boot. Just get over that second-person narrative hump.

The More than 50-Words Version

The Second Person Narrative—Is There Something to It?
Mary’s been nagging you about your heart ever since that stupid DNA check you both took last year (‘so the wee wun kens his maws ur both gawn tae be aboot for a whiul
This was a delight to read. The story is set in independent Scotland in 2018. Everyone has direct and constant access to the web through their glasses and walk around in a constant twitch as they hammer away on virtual keyboards. Hayek Associates, a small start-up gaming company, has discovered their software has been infiltrated and the virtual bank they oversee has been robbed by a band of orcs and a dragon. Sergeant Sue Smith is first on this bewildering crime “scene”. Next to come along is E ...more
"Halting State" by Charles Stross was the last book on my 2008 Hugo Nominees List. While I still think "Brasyl" by Ian McDonald should have won instead of "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon, I do think this comes in a very, very close second.

I was pleasantly surprised by "Halting State". I read "Accelerando" by the same author last year and absolutely loathed it. "Halting State" really grabbed me and I read huge chunks at a time. I was amazed at how Stoss managed to maintain a sec
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
This is a quote from Cory Doctorow's Little Brother about X-Net:
"The best part of this is how it made me feel: in control. My technology was working for me, serving me, protecting me. It wasn’t spying on me. This is why I loved technology; if you used it right it could give you power and privacy."

This is a quote from Charles Stross' Halting State about BlackNet:
"At the protocol level, it's an anonymous peer-to-peer currency system. It asks you to do favors, it does you favors. Like, be in front
Oct 16, 2007 Seth rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the cyber/phreak/hacker crowd, action/thriller sf fans
This book has several interesting (and unusual) attributes. Overall it's a fun read in the vein of Pat Cadigan's Synners, about hackers and suits working together to handle a threat to technology society has evolved to assume. Like Synners it throws you into the world head-first without explaining names, acronyms, slang, or the numerous in-jokes; unlike Synners it focuses on the espionage story and leaves the sociological theorizing out.

The plot revolves around a multi-million-dollar bank heist.
Okay plot, although Stross thinks he's being more innovative than he really is. The idea of people thinking they're playing war games, only to find out it's real, has been done many times. (Ender's Game for one, and lots of movies from the 1980's). The main characters appealing, but undeveloped. Also, I know I'm fighting a losing battle here, but the word "librarian" describes a profession. It does not mean nerdy, intellectual, sexually repressed, insecure, spinsters! I hate to smash your daydre ...more
Just when you think you've read everything worth reading and that there's nothing new under the sun, just when you are feeling really jaded, that's when books like this one (and Michael Flynn's "January Dancer", and Peter Watts' "Blindsight") come along and remind you why you love science fiction and fantasy.

Set in the near future, using technology that either exists already or is on the drawing board now, Stross creates a world that is at the same time almost alien and yet recognizably our tomo
May 26, 2008 Tricia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with patience and definitely people in the gaming industry or just into games in general
Shelves: 2008
Another from my list of books in second person. I found it extremely hard to get into this at first. The second person present perspective plus the head jumping into different characters felt very awkward, and I really wasn't at all sure where the story was going, so I was reluctant to dive in. About a third of the way through, I finally grokked where it was trying to go and I leapt in, reading the rest of the book at a faster pace and really enjoying the characters. It's rare in a book with mul ...more
Weird but good scifi novel about a crime (or not) that may (or not) have occurred inside a virtual reality game. It's told in second person (to give you the feel of playing a game, I think) from the alternating perspectives of three people who are trying to figure out what happened (or didn't). Definitely took me a bit to get used to the unusual storytelling mode.
As confusing as Nexus was without a real beginning, this one is even worse. Still no real beginning, just jumping into the action, except it starts with more characters, some of who have similar names (I never did figure out the difference between Michaels and Marcus). The fact that it's told in the 2nd person doesn't hurt as much as you think it would, but at the beginning it sure doesn't help because it means that names don't get mentioned as often and you can't tell who is doing what. I think ...more
In the world-to-come, scary governments and scary nongovernments have figured out how to use live action role play and massively multiplayer online games to continue diplomacy by other means. Everything is monitored; everything monitoring system is infiltrated; every need in Maslow's hierarchy is a reward pellet to get the rats to run the maze and solve someone else’s problem. Our enemies are pale ghosts in the machine; no need to rewire our soldiers’ moral machinery before they are willing to s ...more
Jan 07, 2009 Brownbetty marked it as abandoned-unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Every once in a while I get the idea I'm not reading brainy enough SF, and that all the other SF readers will sneer at me for not reading enough Hugo winners. Halting State hasn't won a Hugo, but it says "Hugo Award-winning author of" on the front, so it probably count for half points.

Sue Smith is a tough, no-nonsense cop who takes occasional flack for being the only out lesbian in her department. And that was the last time the book gave me something I liked.

The entire book (well, let me be hone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'd really like to give this three and a half stars. It was pretty cute, and the idea of the real-life spy game was neat.

As many others have noted, Stross has a fondness for enormous chunks of exposition, but I guess it doesn't bother me as much. I like learning about stuff, as long as it's interesting stuff.

I'm taking off points for:
--intermittent use of annoying Scottish dialect
--constantly referring to an accountant as a "librarian" because she's...nerdy? dunno.
--rather perfunctory characte
Cyberpunk books often try to mix two or more themes together and usually are confusing and unsuccessful. This is another worst the average attempt that has also failed. The languages (2nd person, gaelic, online gaming, police lingo, and few others) are added to be cute but only distract from the story. The plot is weak and undeveloped at best and the transitions from one idea to another are very hard to follow.
Ben Babcock
There is a new buzzword making the rounds these days: gamification. It refers to the trend of turning quotidian tasks into games. Usually the end goal of the game maker is profit, of course, but often gamification has benefits for the players—it turns an otherwise boring or dull task into something fun. CBC’s Spark has explored gamification. They’ve also interviewed Jane McGonigal, who has some interesting ideas about how gaming is changing our society. (She also has a book I intend to read but ...more
I had a good time with this book. It is near future with only a thin layer of speculation. If you can buy that Google Glass like technology will exist and function okay-ish in the next 5 years, then you need not make any further speculative leaps to buy what this book is selling. I was worried I was in for another book where half of the story is set inside of a computer fantasy land, but it actually remains more or less grounded in the real world with only the occasional jaunt off into the realm ...more
The first, and eponymous, novel in the Halting State series – Charles Stross's stories set in a slightly futuristic Edinburgh. Scotland is now an independent European state; the Police wear augmented reality glasses connected up to CopSpace; and a gang of Orcs have robbed a bank. A bank in a computer game. Think World of Warcraft (I assume, although I have seen the adverts), and a bunch of Orcs stealing game items from the safety deposit boxes in the game. Obviously, like now, these in-game item ...more
Kolya Matteo
You didn't like this book as much as the other Stross you've read. Perhaps the second-person narration is the problem: you don't like being told how you feel, particularly when your motivations are as inane or stupid as these characters' seem to be. You're not sure whether Sergeant Sue Smith actually accomplished anything in the whole book, and the other two characters who you get to be are told that they're important, but don't seem to justify it. The characters run around reacting to "thrillin ...more
The last time I reread this book must have been before I was writing reviews. I figure this is the 3rd time through at least, and each time I like this book more.

Is it written weirdly? Sure. And the fact that it has a stylistic element - that is a piece of it is written in 2nd person and some of it is written in Scotts dialect - these are negatives.

But the ideas behind it - from the augmented reality of cop space. To the Spooks spy network - to the self-driving cars - to Scotland becoming indepe
Aug 22, 2014 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ed by: Koji Mukai
This was a really fun book to read. Even though it took me 7 months to read it, I hated to put it down whenever I got the rare chance to read it. If you liked the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, then you should give this novel a try. Halting State takes place in a nearer future than Neuromancer, where MMORPGs (a la "World of Warcraft") and ARGs (augmented reality games) are all the rage. Charles Stross's prose flows very nicely, and he was a programmer at DataCash back in ...more
Ben Thurley
Halting State is a fun, near-future, cyber-crime, espionage thriller which kicks off with reports of a robbery at Hayek Associates, an online game company. The heist, viewed on screen, seems to have been executed by a band of orcs and a dragon and the bank only exists in an online game.

World weary Scottish plod, Sergeant Sue Smith, programmer Jack Reed and forensic accountant Elaine Barnaby soon find themselves drawn into a globe-spanning criminal conspiracy. Virtual realities collide with incr
Mike Uscroft
I read Glasshouse late last year, also by Charles Stross, and loved that, so I figured this I might as well try this, only to discover it's just an average cyberpunky novel that's already pretty dated, despite having been written in 2007.

The book features a second person narrative, as in 'you are reading this review', and while I found it a bit unusual at the start, I quickly forgot about it. I don't think it really added much to the book though. I did enjoy the technology in the book, the augm
Cheri Portman
This book varied wildly for me.

The beginning? Ugh. 2nd person is just not my favorite point of view, and it didn't help that each chapter I was supposed to be another person. It took a long time to figure out what the heck I was reading. The pain of stunt-ridden prose eased over time, though. I guess even the most awkward stretches gets easier with practice.

The middle got more interesting and I found that I was okay with how it was going. The plot was a bit thick, but okay. The characters were
Am writing this review in the light of having somewhat panned its sequel novel, Rule 34, so there must have been something likeable in this book that led to my reading the 2nd book. Eh?

Stumped! Can't recall ... umm ... ahhh. Oh, right. It was nominated for the Hugo. Not to say that I read every novel on the Hugo ballot, but gee, this is written by the same author of Iron Sunrise and Glasshouse, which could arguably have won Hugos.

And also, it's about gaming! But, alas, I've read Ready Player One
This is more like a 3.25, one day Goodreads will let me break down star ratings

Halting State takes place in a near-future Scotland, now independent from the rest of the UK, and a full member of the EU. The setting is around 2016-2018, and a lot of gadgets have come out, enhancing our reality. A lot of them existed to an extent in 2007, and others are coming very soon indeed (the glasses the protagonists wear are pretty much Google Glass, for instance).

The story follows Sue (a policewoman), Elain
P. Aaron Potter
I am a late-comer to Stross' "Halting State," and he has moved on to bigger (better?) things. Therefore I feel perfectly comfortable in noting the book's weaknesses as well as its strengths.

This is one of the most annoyingly written good books I've ever read.

The plot is a futurist geek's dream: gamers and hackers and cops and robbers and ninjas all fighting for control of a distributed Augmented Reality RPG which turns out to be the key to, well, pretty much all of civilization. Plus a bucketloa
Jennifer Tatroe
Apr 17, 2009 Jennifer Tatroe rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: game developers, near-future sci-fi fans, MMO players
Shelves: 2009, science-fiction
An attempt to add some science fiction to my reading diet.

Halting State was, like most of the limited sci fi I've read, a book about Ideas. I got the feeling that Stross's plot was there mostly as a curtain rod on which to hang his Ideas about the role of virtual reality and the dangers of hyper-connectivity in the near future. I'll give him this much credit: he definitely didn't put a gun on the wall in Act I that he didn't intend to fire in Act III. Unfortunately, it took way too long to plac
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Brasyl
  • This Is Not a Game (Dagmar, #1)
  • Cosmonaut Keep (Engines Of Light, #1)
  • Distraction
  • Rainbows End
  • The Rapture of the Nerds: A tale of the singularity, posthumanity, and awkward social situations
  • Thirteen (Th1rte3n)
  • Synners
  • Yellow Blue Tibia
  • Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America
  • Spin State
  • Lady of Mazes
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)
  • Rule 34 (Halting State, #2)
Accelerando The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1) Singularity Sky (Eschaton, #1) Glasshouse The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2)

Share This Book

“They can put the code monkey in a suit but they can't take the code out of the monkey.” 6 likes
“She turns and stalks off in search of other minions to intimidate, leaving you flexing your fingers and trying to decide whether you want to strangle her or go down on your knees and beg for lessons.” 4 likes
More quotes…