Libby's Reviews > Rule 34

Rule 34 by Charles Stross
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's review
Dec 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: sf-hard

Charles Stross envisions a not too distant future in which our social networks, our data sources and our use of an increasingly complex internet have created a rather grungy dystopia. The story is narrated by several viewpoint characters, but Detective Liz Kavanagh is perhaps the most important. The story begins when Liz is called to the scene of a truly nasty, kinky death. The victim is strapped up in leather and attached to an electric colonic irrigation machine. The victim is already known to the police, as a celebrated ex-con. Liz is uneasily aware that this case is going to be scandalous and political. She is also the first to draw a parallel from an Italian case where a shady character is killed by a household appliance. The similarities pile up as more cases surface around the world. Other characters such as a dodgy, ex-con software ace, a schizophrenic criminal fixer, Liz's ex-girl friend Dorothy and a strange, pub crawling professor of computer science offer their narration, piling complication on complication. The story is often a dim outline against a murky background, but Stross slides in a new idea here and an action scene there with sufficient razzle-dazzle to keep us all reading. As we muse over the story at the denouement, it is hard not to say "Wow, this really could happen if certain trends continue". Science Fiction has been described as the process of taking present day science and/or technology and imagining what future changes might make of it. By this definition, Charles Stross has been committing Science Fiction all over these pages, and it was good.

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