November 14 2011

Halting State

I couldn’t quite bring myself to jot off 500 words or so that wouldn’t count towards NaNoWriMo, So I thought I would kill two birds with a single pebble and do a bit of a different review for Halting State by Charles Stross. So here is one character’s thoughts about Halting State praeteritis in futura as it were:
Paul put down the yellowed dog eared copy of Halting State. The cover was worn and smooth but wrinkled like the skin of some desert lizard. He almost never read actual physical books, but this one had caught his eye as he wandered through the swap meet. Sometimes it’s just good to hold onto something real.
He had liked the book quite a lot although the sequel Rule 34 was maybe even a little better. Now that the book’s setting was in the past for Paul he found parts of the book a bit amusing, but Stross had got a lot of the details surprisingly well. Specs with overlays and cops plastered with cameras were all too accurate. The downfall of the US and the rise of a united Eurosphere, well that didn’t quite happen that way, now did it? Also, a bit weak on biological advances rather than just technological advances, but that wasn’t really the book he was writing.
The second person view point was a bit weird at first but pretty soon Paul had flowed into the various characters. He could empathize with the character of Jack, the programmer and Elaine was well done. You’ve got to like sword wielding forensic accountants. Come to think of it, an accountant with a sword is probably safer than one with a pen or a set of nasty software drills.
Paul put his own specs back on and flexed his fingers, reengaging his debugger and about 20 screens full of code. Time to get back to the task at hand, he thought.

So, there you go. That was an interesting little experiment. It needs some work but I’m trying to restrain my impulse to rewrite things as I’m going along here—Warp speed ahead and all that. Like Paul, I enjoyed the book and found a number of the tech forecasts fairly likely but I wasn’t so sure on some of the political/global forecasts.

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Posted November 14, 2011 by user in category "Book review


  1. By Elena on

    So, is the whole book written in a second person pov? I suppose you get used to it after a while, but I have to admit it’s a bit hard to digest at first… I was wondering what you thought about it. Is the sequel also written like that? The premise seems more intriguing in the sequel, I wonder if it can be read without having the read the first book.


  2. By Steven Halter (Post author) on

    A lot of it is in second person. I guess I should have mentioned that when you asked. Rule 34 can be read separately. Rule 34 is probably even more a police procedural than Halting State.
    Rule 34 is also written in second person. It is a bit odd reading at first, but it does seem to flow after a bit.

  3. By Elena on

    That’s what I thought, from the blurb on amazon. Ok, thanks. I’m always open to new things, so the different pov will be a new interesting experience! 🙂


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