Sunday, December 2, 2007

Halting State

Halting State is the latest brilliantly conceived novel by uber writer Charles Stross.

The book description from the dust jacket reads as follows:

In the year 2018, Sergeant Sue Smith of the Edinburgh constabulary is called in on a special case. A daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates, a dot-com startup company that's just been floated on the London stock exchange. The suspects are a band of marauding orcs, with a dragon in tow for fire support, and the bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. For Smith, the investigation seems pointless. But she soon realizes that the virtual world may have a devastating effect in the real one-and that someone is about to launch an attack upon both.

The kernel of the story is the virtual bank robbery which may seem far fetched to some is a very real problem. We now live in a society where virtual items have a very real value. Just check out the plethora of sites where you can buy items from World of Warcraft. Also recent news reports describe a vulnerability in Second Life where malicious hackers can steal your Linden bucks (Second Life curency). It's only a matter of time before someone goes for the big score.

The narrative continues on being told from three vantage points, Sergeant Sue Smith the initial responder to the crime scene, Elaine Barnaby a forensic accountant and Jack Reed a video game programmer who has been brought in to be a guide for Elaine in the world of Avalon Four.

Through these characters the story opens up to take on such heady topics as global economics, privacy, and terrorism in an entertaining and thought provoking manner. I can't recommend this book enough!

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