Lots and Lots of Spam : Rule 34 by Charles Stross (CBR7)

Rule34I’ve jumpstarted this thing a good number of times already, but I have face the fact that it’s more difficult for me than I thought it would be to actually write reviews in English, especially when I try to be finicky. So screw this, I’m going to go easy and do the Q&A thing ! I don’t care if it’s simplistic, as long as it does the job for the moment. Here goes, Cannonball Read 7, review n°1 !

So, what’s this book you’ve finished lately ?

Rule 34 by Charles Stross.

Did you like it ?

Yes.

What’s it about ?

It’s what we’d call “Anticipation” in my language, meaning it’s near-future, or “social” science-fiction. So near as a matter of fact that it looks like just around the corner. It’s about solving a crime spree disguised as a series of domestic accidents in Edinburgh, viewed through a series of different points of views, main protagonists and a few peripheral players, which get all knit together to give a picture that is at first somewhat loose, then gets tighter and tighter until of course, the main protagonists’s paths end up crossing in spectacularly fucked-up ways.

What does rule 34 stand for ?

Use your googly-fu and behold the definition-hellbeast that came from the belly of 4chan. Funny story, I just saw a coverage on the French Pharos platform (not an acronym, that’s the french cyber-criminal platform for you), and I joked to myself that it could be worse, they could be working in the Rule 34 section, THEN the man on the screen proceeded to explain they also dealt with that type of crime. So they do work in that section. I shouldn’t have joked. Sorry, Pharos. *is slightly ashamed*

Any particular things you liked about Rule 34 ?

Many things, in fact. Like the great diversity in the characters. The near-future picture really stuck with me, especially the extrapolations regarding the use of 3d printing (the rise of personal manufacturing), and the emergence of a type of rudimentary AI that we are actually beginning to see for real. Stross also injects a heavy dose of international financial shenanigans, which seems to be his thing (but not in all his series, fortunately for me, since it’s not exactly my cup of tea). On the whole, I wouldn’t qualify Rule 34 as a “major” novel, the basic story is a somewhat predictable crime procedural, but it’s the overall picture that’s pretty awesome and lifts it above average. It also appears to be a follow-up to a first novel, Halting State, which I found out after the fact, but the novel stands on it’s own. I’ll probably read this one too, since I’m pretty much a Stross fan, especially his Laundry Files series. (Totally different thing, though).

So, how many stars ?

Heh, I’m torn. As I said, it’s good, but only just above average for me. A 3,5 ? Can I do that ? Apparently not, so I’ll go for a 3.

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