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Charles Stross

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Orbit

Published : 2007

Copyright : Charles Stross 2006

ISBN-10 : PB 1-841-49393-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-841-49393-0

Publisher's Write-Up

When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn't take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him. It's the twenty-seventh century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees' personalities and target historians. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, but someone wants him out of the picture because of something his earlier self knew. On the run from a ruthless pursuer and searching for a place to hide, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity, the Glasshouse. Constructed to simulate a pre-accelerated culture, participants are assigned anonymized identities: it looks like the ideal hiding place for a posthuman on the run. But in this escape-proof environment Robin will undergo an even more radical change, placing him at the mercy of the experimenters, and of his own unbalanced psyche...

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (090809) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
Several hundred years from now, humanity has just finished the Censorship Wars. Using an electronic virus called Curious Yellow, it targeted the brains of historians as they used teleportation gates (the major method of transportation). Robin has just emerged from a medical clinic with most of his memory wiped. Perhaps he was one of those targeted historians; he does have memories of being in a tank regiment during the war, not as a soldier, but as a tank. He joins a research program to recreate the 'dark ages', the late 20th and early 21st centuries, by having volunteers live in an actual, recreated 'town'’. It sounds like a good way to get away from whoever is trying to kill him; whatever he did, or was, before his wipe, it must have been important.

The participants are given random, anonymous identities (Robin is turned into a woman named Reeve). Along with Sam, her 'husband', they are placed into what looks like Smalltown, USA. They are given little, or no, idea as to just what they are supposed to do. All the couples are electronically monitored; during mandatory church services on Sunday, any faults or misdeeds are pointed out to everyone. Reeve is one of the few who begins to realize that something is really wrong. Their contract specifies a minimum amount of time to be in the study, approximately 3 years, but does not specify a maximum amount of time. The town has become a very high-tech panopticon. The women have suddenly become fertile, and several female participants have become pregnant. Perhaps the idea is to create a new race of people who don't know that there is an outside world. Perhaps it has to do with this new race re-infecting the rest of humanity with a new and improved version of Curious Yellow.

Here is a wonderful piece of writing. The best part is the author's look at present-day life. He does not just needle it or poke fun at it, he rips it to pieces and stomps on what is left. The rest of the book is also very much worth reading. This gets two strong thumbs-up.
Paul Lappen (9th August 2009)

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