Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Halting State, by Charles Stross

Halting State, by Charles Stross

While not exactly 1984, Halting State is set in a near future where the public is under constant surveillance. Cameras are ubiquitous in society: every corner of every street, on all forms of public transit, and between cell phones, smart glasses and wearable cameras, on virtually every person as well. Massively multiplayer online games are as much a staple of life as television is today and allows scrutiny of online behavior, and the role of the police has largely been reduced to reviewing video surveillance to enforce the law. People not only accept this level of vigilance as a matter of course, but have become utterly dependent on it. Sounds like an ACLU nightmare, but an entirely believable future nonetheless.

The mystery is around a supposedly impossible crime: a bank in cyberspace has been robbed. During the investigation a larger conspiracy is uncovered that revolves around international espionage and a next-level breakthrough in cryptography. A fairly pedestrian story, but set in this pseudo-dystopian future it becomes fascinating—a can't-put-down novel.

First Sentence:
It's a grade four, dammit.

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