Saturday, 30 July 2011

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Rule 34 - Charles Stoss

Release Date: 07/07/11


DI Liz Kavanaugh: You realise policing internet porn is your life and your career went down the pan five years ago. But when a fetishist dies on your watch, the Rule 34 Squad moves from low priority to worryingly high profile. Anwar: As an ex-con, you'd like to think your identity fraud days are over. Especially as you've landed a legit job (through a shady mate). Although now that you're Consul for a shiny new Eastern European Republic, you've no idea what comes next. The Toymaker: Your meds are wearing off and people are stalking you through Edinburgh's undergrowth. But that's ok, because as a distraction, you're project manager of a sophisticated criminal operation. But who's killing off potential recruits? So how do bizarre domestic fatalities, dodgy downloads and a European spamming network fit together? The more DI Kavanaugh learns, the less she wants to find out.


Having devoured Halting State a while ago I wondered if Charles would ever return to the gritty and dark near future world that he’d created as there was so much scope for the reader to explore. Luckily for me that is exactly what he does in this his new title, Rule 34.

Whilst the outline remains the same, the new characters that intersect are, as usual for Stoss, well-formed and wonderfully likeable. Add to this some fully believable developments, multi-layered plot and of course the usual Stoss misdirectional use of the magicians sleight of hand that when you get to a certain point you’ll have to reread to see the clues that have been nagging since their appearance as apparent off the cuff remarks. It’s cleverly woven, it has cracking prose and when you build up the crescendo to the extent that this author does you know that the payoff is going to be explosive. Great stuff all in and a wonderful read.

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