Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Rule34 Rule 34
by Charles Stross

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

In Rule 34 Charles Stross returns after a fashion to the world he created in Halting State with DI Kavanaugh of the Edinburgh police. Except now the crime is not in the wind up world of multi-player rolegaming but out in the physical world of near future Edinburgh.

And what a world that is. The financial failures and shonky business management practices of the first decade of this century have seen global business oversight focussed on stringent ethical standards, and the USA reduced to a near-failed economy. Home printer fabricators are ubiquitous with a growing market in patent infringement from unlicensed fabrication. And home brewing kits can, with the right extra additives, drop out some very peculiar things indeed. All these developments are relevant to the story of Rule 34 so be prepared for some not so obvious plot points to ponder on.

Normally, I am an enthusiast for Mr Stross’s works but this one left me feeling somewhat indifferent. While the story moved along at a cracking pace and the characters were full and true to life the use of three separate narratives foiled my unalloyed enjoyment of the story – which surprised me as Charles Stross is a better than average author and has handled this technique before with aplomb. Quite probably the use of multiple points of view doesn’t work so well in the crime-cum-police procedural genre where a single point of view is standard – however, this might be me being old fashioned. That modest complaint aside this was satisfying page-turner of a read and left me wanting more books on DI Kavanaugh and her computer crime squad.

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