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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  10,621 ratings  ·  603 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 Books
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,621 ratings  ·  603 reviews

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Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
John Scalzi claims to be a gateway drug into science fiction literature, I suppose he may well be but I believe Charles Stross is almost the opposite of that. Stross is deservedly one of the most popular active sci- fi authors today but readers not familiar with the genre may find him a little bewildering. His target readership seems to be those who are quite au fait with the common tropes of the genre and also some computer programming terms. Those “in the know” love the science he puts in boo ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vivian by: Geoff
Shelves: sci-fi, 2018-odyssey
I can be very creative when comes time to get violent.

Hmm... bit of a sleeper. Starts off with the gorgeous, wild panorama of unbridled awesome futuristic visions and then veers wildly into archaic visions--visions much more like now. Don't be fooled, it's just lulling you into complacency. Stay alert, and read on.

Leans towards geeky tech speak, the fact that I actually followed along means I've been infected. It's hard for me to judge how geeky, I spend most of my time with people who have adv
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stross masterfully blends an engaging, fast paced conspiracy thriller with a wildly imaginative and engrossing vision of far future humanity.

A central focus here is memory editing and cloning/consciousness transfer technologies run amok. When you can't trust your own memories to be complete, or rely on the constancy of the physical form of your own body, you are truly unanchored. Yanking out pieces in the Jenga tower that is your identity. Unknowingly susceptible to external manipulation. Scary
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
Imperfectlyrua Castle
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Megan Baxter
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have had such a complicated relationships with Charles Stross books, in that I have often wanted to like them more than I actually have. A few of his most out-there post-human Singularity books I have enjoyed, while understanding very little of them. The Atrocity Archives was the first book of his that I enjoyed, start to finish.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime,
Jason Pettus
Nov 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
(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
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's the far future. Earth is a distant memory... most people don't even live on planets anymore, but rather small habitats linked by wormhole gates. And death's difficult to come by, because you can back yourself up as easily as taking a shower. If you want, you can change your body-plan or gender while you're at it. But there are still wars, and in the wake of one, many people have chosen to wipe their memories and start fresh. Some of these people, including Robin, an ex-spy who may have a mi ...more
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
Peter Tillman
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
On first read (in 2006), I thought this was a terrific book:
"A dark-skinned human with four arms walks towards me across the floor of the club, clad only in a belt strung with human skulls. Her hair forms a smoky wreath around her open and curious face. She's interested in me."

So opens GLASSHOUSE, Stross's [then] latest and best novel, set in the Invisible Republic, a splinter-polity recovering from the Censorship Wars. Here's Robin, the protagonist: "When people ask me what I did during the war
Interesting adventure in the 25th century where the gate technology (replicators & transports) have become a vector for political control.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 08, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007hugonominees
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
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Don’t worry, this book might appear daunting as you begin to peruse the first chapter, but thankfully it doesn’t maintain that level of borderline impenetrability throughout. Yes, Charles Stross (no, I have never read anything else by him), does enjoy in those early stages combining a bizarre mix of archaic language and technological gobbledygook. Okay, that might sound fun to some in a challenging sort of way, but I always like my sci-fi to welcome me, rather than try to baffle me at the outset ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Update: Oh man, I just re-read this and am blown away all over again. One of the benefits of a terrible memory for details is that when you go back and read a book 6 years later, it's almost like reading an entire new book. For example, I had forgotten almost everything after about the halfway point. There was a plot twist later that totally caught me off guard, even.

Also, I think the book benefits from being reread now, just because I'm a different (I'd like to think better) person than I was
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 4/5
World: 4/5

What Glasshouse does well, it does really, really well. What it does badly, it does ever so badly. The initial writing is excellent; dynamic sentences stuffed full with suggestive prefixes, creative compounds, and a recognizable science fiction argot. One slows to read and even rereads in order to appreciate all that is conveyed by the wild interplay of words. The reader is thrown headfirst into the deep, the world far from everyday experi
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
With mind uploading, matter duplication, and computer worms that infect the human brain, this is mostly space opera, right up to the convenient ending. The writing is rough and characterizations of women even worse, and it took far too long to read.

The universe of this stand alone novel seems to be familiar to the author, though I haven't read anything from it. As a standalone novel, it is rough going at times, and I had to reread sections to understand the bits of history provided under the ass
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
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?

Aug 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
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
Jun 03, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Damien Leri
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
The first 30 pages are nigh on indigestible. If you can make it past those, it gets much more readable.

It also gets much, much worse.

I can't imagine someone saying gender is treated well in this universe, and yet here we are, with almost every review reacting glowingly.

There was a paragraph talking about how gross periods are, wondering how women survived in the dark ages cause ICK. Gosh. I'm sorry we have periods, Mr Author. We would surely stop just for you if we could.

She is constantly compla
Nov 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sci-fi and Heroic...: Glasshouse by Charles Stross 47 28 Mar 07, 2019 02:04PM  
What was the significance of when **** could and couldn't be heard? 1 16 Aug 25, 2015 10:28AM  
What about the second T-Gate on the MASucker? 1 9 Aug 25, 2015 10:22AM  
Why so little concern for YFH accomplices on the other side of the T-Gate? 1 9 Aug 25, 2015 10:19AM  
Alternate Realiti...: Gender roles 6 33 Mar 21, 2015 03:11PM  
January selection 1 7 Jan 13, 2015 01:09PM  

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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.


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