Maddi Hausmann's Reviews > Rule 34

Rule 34 by Charles Stross
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's review
Oct 22, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, mystery
Read from October 22 to 26, 2011

Four and a half stars.

While the book jacket never mentions it, this is actually a sequel to Halting State. It's five years later and Liz Kavanaugh's career has been sidelined since the events of the previous book, where CopSpace (a virtual reality site allowing police to share information through their computer-assisted eyeglasses or contact lenses) was compromised. Now she's in charge of the Rule 34 squad, watching for dangerous internet memes before they go viral in meatspace (and some dumbass actually gets hurt or worse, hurts other people). She's also trying to track down the source of illegal fabber (3-D printer) stock that allows unlicensed designs and parts.

Liz is pulled into a nasty political investigation, and her work on the Rule 34 squad helps her recognize that there's a pattern emerging: a series of bizarre household accidents killing off known spammers. She has to deal with a belligerent and unimaginative narcissist as her temporary superior while trying to figure out what's causing the accidents that she suspects are murders. We also meet a few other people, all of whom get pulled into each others orbit, including a small-time criminal Liz once arrested, now on parole, who finds himself the honorary consul of a nation nobody is taking seriously; Liz's erstwhile girlfriend; a very nasty piece of work enforcing an American criminal syndicate; a professor of AI with his fingers in a lot of pies; another detective from Interpol who has also fallen since the Halting State events.

Coincidences abound. And that's the whole point of this story. Enjoy it. I've said before that reading Charles Stross is like plugging a fiberoptic cable into your head and letting data sleet all over your brain. Enjoy the experience.

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