Kristin's Reviews > Halting State

Halting State by Charles Stross
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Jun 04, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: hugo-nominee, science-fiction, scifi-bkgrp-selection
Read in September, 2008

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 Elaine, a sword wielding forensic accountant. She realizes she needs some additional help and has her current employer hire Jack, an unemployed gaming programer, to train her in the nuances of game space.

The chapters alternate between the three characters POV in second person. This worked...and it didn’t. You would be reading from Jack’s POV, chapter changes, POV changes, but it would take a couple pages to shift into the new character mentally. Personally, I liked Jack’s character, especially his constant reference to his “mummy lobe”. This was his overdeveloped sub-conscious that would cause him to blurt out things, be ultra honest and “do the right thing”.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was Sergeant Smith’s CopSpace capability. The police force had a overlay feature that could be dropped down on reality and allow them to see crime as it is happening, assess how honest people are answering questions, and access all sorts of files while out on the beat. Super cool.

Stross does throw a lot of gaming and computer abbreviations at the reader, and sometimes that got to be a bit much (since I am neither a gamer or a “graphic information specialist”). The story is fast paced and does throw a lot at the reader, and for once, I did not guess the ending ahead of time. This was as good as or better than Glasshouse. Check it out!
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message 1: by Barry (new) - added it

Barry Yours is the review I keep finding myself returning to over and over the most; short, to the point, but thoughtful and descriptive. Thank you for this! :)

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