Rule 34

Rule 34

Book - 2011
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"The most spectacular science fiction writer of recent years" (Vernor Vinge, author of Rainbows End ) presents a near-future thriller.

Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh is head of the Rule 34 Squad, monitoring the Internet to determine whether people are engaging in harmless fantasies or illegal activities. Three ex-con spammers have been murdered, and Liz must uncover the link between them before these homicides go viral.

Publisher: New York : Ace Books, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780441020348
0441020348
Branch Call Number: SCIENCE FICTION Stross
Characteristics: 358 p. ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Rule thirty-four

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Head of the Rule 34 Squad monitoring the Internet for illegal activities, Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh investigates the link between three ex-con spammers who have been murdered.


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SCL_Justin Jul 28, 2017

Rule 34 is the kind of Charles Stross book I like. It’s Edinburgh in the future and spammers are dying in graphic ways, seemingly dreamed up in 4chan. Liz Kavanaugh is a police detective whose career is in the crapper, trolling the internet for memes that could become dangerous, and she gets pulled into the investigation.

The book is told in second person for the most part, putting the reader into a lot of different characters’ places including a non-neurotypical mobster with something terrifying in his suitcase. And seriously, though nothing is described with slasher-movie levels of glee at depravity, this is the sort of book that could probably use trigger warnings.

One of the big ideas in this book (that I don’t remember from Halting State, but could very well have been there too) is that Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Rebus and whatever are a load of bollocks in terms of modern criminal investigation. In the future, good detectives are no longer the hyper-observant individual. That’s what computers are for. Good detectives in the future are good managers of people and IT to get all the cogs working together. There’s a lot of great ideas throughout the book, and not decades-old thoughts about how scary Artificial Intelligence would be.

If you don’t like second-person narration and thoughts on the future of criminality and stock manipulation this probably isn’t a great choice for you to read. But if that doesn’t turn you off and you like thinking about Makerbots and the seamy underbelly of future economies, it’s a must-read.

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hiRes22
Jan 18, 2014

I like the author, but grew tired with this book trying to remember who the current narrator is. It's all written in the 2nd person and rotates through six character's heads (at least that is where I stopped). Not my cuppa.

s
StarGladiator
Aug 24, 2013

I'm not a Stross fan, and have found his writing quite wanting (especially when compared to the likes of the late and great, Iain Banks, or the still living Sterling (his Drakon was a masterpiece of classic sf space opera), but I believe commenter ColemanRidge completely nailed it as far as my own opinion goes.

s
StephenB
Aug 14, 2012

Another very clever and amusing novel by Stross, considerably better I think than its series predecessor "Halting State" which I also liked. The plot complicated enough to be confusing, but I think it hangs together. I liked the AI stuff and the near future setting. A little more variety in the narrative voice might be nice, particularly with so many different points of view. but it's witty and lively and carries the reader along. Only my 4th Stross, I'll certainly keep reading him.

w
WomanOfMystery
Jun 08, 2012

You will find some pretty straight forward SF here. As with much SF characters are sock-puppets to drive the plot. That being said, the plot has some very creative ideas and the near future as conceived by Mr. Stross is quite believable.

t
The_Mess
May 08, 2012

All hail teh widdling internet puppy :3
(google it)

Now that meme's out of the way, onto the review thingy, with a spoiler warning.

First off, don't bother with this if you hate second person perspective, which on his blog, Stross admitted was an experiment.

Although Stross uses it almost effortless to weave a fairly scarily believable future, and more importantly, the second person framing is linked to the major plot point about ATHENA and how it works. In that it's aims are mapped onto meatpuppets, in other words the perspective we see in the novel aren't directly those of the characters, but ATHENA's models of them. Which it needs in order to be able to manipulate their behaviour...

As for the more general stuff, the story can be hard to follow if you can't handle multiple characters and their plotlines, however the story and writing is fairly tight, flows well and the plot holes almost unnoticeable.

And correcting Coleman - The toymaker is a sociopath first, the spambots aren't AI's just very, very good conversation bots, and cheap, powerful 3d printing (and druglabs in a brick) are where it's at :3

ColemanRidge Nov 23, 2011

This is old school sf, right down to the cover that has nothing to do with the story. The writing is mediocre, and the level of intellectual play very high indeed. Stross writes from the point of view of six or seven different characters, and they all have the same voice. He loads them down with verbal idiosyncrasies, like a teenager trying to build a personality out of affectations, but all the idiosyncrasies are uttered in the same tone. On the other hand: spambots evolving into AIs, animatronic sex toys custom-built to look like particular children, police assigned to watch the internet for budding violent memes, and a crime organization that actively recruits paranoid schizophrenics. It's not quite the future we imagined back in the fifties, but, if you recall, that future was supposed to be now.

gwsuperfan Sep 05, 2011

An amusing read, but its longevity may suffer from an overabundance of references to current internet memes. The geopolitical and international finance aspects of the plot are well-imagined and constructed, but the book as a whole feels a little disjointed due to the constantly shifting second-person narrative.

w
wac6
Aug 15, 2011

<p>The story is of an international murder spree arranged in the cloud and implemented via social network.</p>
<p>Or that is a one sentence summary of the arc of the narrative.</p>
<p>Getting just a bit more granular: the murders turn out to be an unforeseen byproduct of a well intentioned sting operation. You see, in order to ruin a criminal cabal of Silicon Valley venture capitalists by tricking them to bet on the wrong side of (and thus be crushed by) a mountain of manipulated collateralized debt obligations, an international consortium of good guys&nbsp;unleashes an artificially intelligent network that can out-spam the spammers - that is, stay a step ahead of the VCs.</p>

j
jbrannon
Jul 11, 2011

The ending was somewhat abrupt. But the combination of multiple narratives, wound together through the second perspective and put through a social node network perceptual filter was cool. This is a book you could diagram. That awesome.

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drowsom
Feb 03, 2015

drowsom thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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WomanOfMystery
Jun 08, 2012

WomanOfMystery thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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