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Halting State (Ace Science Fiction)

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Charles Stross

Starred Review.This brilliantly conceived techno-crime thriller spreads a black humor frosting over the grim prospect of the year 2012, when China, India and the European System are struggling for world economic domination in an infowar, and the U.S. … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Charles Stross
Publisher: Ace
1 review about Halting State (Ace Science Fiction)

Deserves three thumbs up

  • Aug 18, 2010
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.

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