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Halting State

Charles Stross

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

Publisher : Ace Books

Published : 2007

Copyright : Charles Stross 2007

ISBN-10 : HB 0-441-01498-4
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-441-01498-9

Publisher's Write-Up

It was called in as a robbery at Hayek Associates, an online game company. So you can imagine Sergeant Sue Smith's mood as she watches the video footage of the heist being carried out by a band of orcs and a dragon, and realises that the robbery from an online game company is actually a robbery from an online game. Just wonderful. Like she has nothing better to do. But online entertainment is big business, and when the bodies of real people start to show up, it's clear that this is anything but a game. For Sue, computer coding expert Jack Reed, and forensic accountant Elaine Barnaby, the walls between the actual and the virtual are about to come crashing down. There is something very dangerous and very real going on at Hayek Associates, and those involved are playing for keeps. No cheats, no back doors, no extra lives - make a wrong call on this one and it's game over.

'As keenly observant of our emergent society as it is our emergent technologies, Halting State is one extremely smart species of fun.'

William Gibson

'Charles Stross is the most spectacular science-fiction writer of recent years. In Halting State, he has written a near-future story that is at once over-the-top and compellingly believable.'

Vernor Vinge

'...brilliantly conceived technocrime thriller.'

Publishers WeeklyCosmopolitan
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (050910) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
This near-future story is about a bank robbery that exposes a whole lot more.

In Edinburgh, Scotland of the year 2018, a high-tech company called Hayek Associates suffers a bank robbery. A senior officer of the firm panics, and calls the local police, instead of taking care of things internally. Things get weird when Sergeant Sue Smith is told that the robbery took place inside a virtual reality games called Avalon Four. Forgetting for a moment that this is supposed to be impossible, Hayek Associates is about to have its Initial Public Offering of stock. If word gets out, the company (and its virtual economies) will crash hard. This may not be your average bank robbery, but the amount of money involved, over 26 million Euros, is very real.
Elaine Barnaby, a London-based forensic accountant, is sent to Edinburgh to audit the bank from the inside. The unspoken part is that, if anything goes wrong, her firm will plead ignorance, and her neck will be on the chopping block. She is provided with a guide through the world of online gaming named Jack Reed, who, coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) became unemployed the week before.

Very Important People in newly independent Scotland are interested in the case, including the Scottish equivalent of the FBI. Brussels (the home of the European Union) gets involved in the case. There are Chinese hackers involved, who may or may not be assisted by Chinese State Security. Copspace, a sort of private VR database system for the police, which is supposedly secure, gets hacked. It is a world where everyone has access to the Internet through their eyeglasses. There is even a zombie flash mob.

I understood very little of the technical parts, because I know nothing about online gaming, but I loved reading this book. It is very cool and cutting edge, and works quite well as a straight thriller. If I could, I would give this book three thumbs up.
Paul Lappen (5th September 2010)

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