Glance the 1st

Got through it, and enjoyed it—but, sod it, the plot depends on a subject I’ve been watching closely, and I didn’t see the clues. Now I’ve got to go back to the beginning and look to see if he’s bullshitting or if the clues are there. It’s something you don’t see unless you look for it, which might well be why I missed it—& I tend to miss the obvious anyway.

Glance the 2nd

Ok, this book’s the follow up to Halting State. It’s a computer nerd cum scifi cum detective novel set in Edinburgh in a few years time. The hard–soiled heroine detective is gay, the evil bastard’s a psychopath, and the ordinary guy’s murky. I’m being unfair, Stross’s characters aren’t one–dimensional, but they’re nothing special, and I’ve read too many bludgeon–hard emotionally damaged characters in scifi recently. The characters are a young author’s characters.

Interestingly, the book’s full of coincidences, and, more interestingly, they’re quite intentional. One one level, it’s an exploration of social engineering, the technique used by computer hackers to avoid difficult computer security by duping people instead. That’s the matter I missed first time I read the book. When I reread it, I did find Stross had explored the technique, but not so much; it seemed to arrive later in the book when it was really rather necessary from the beginning. But I’m not the super–ace fiction analyser my dog assures me I am; I probably missed something.

The world was nicely explored and revealed in Halting State, but the same world again isn’t so interesting when met again. Admittedly, it’s moved on, it’s developed. For example, Stross introduces sovereign state economic shenanigans, and he does explore it, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of Elbonia meets Peter Sellars gone noir.

And the mystery was a bit obvious to a scifi fruitcake like me. Well, I think that in retrospect, it’s so easy to believe you knew X was going to happen after the event.

The not so interesting characters and the not quite exciting story couldn’t compensate for the already explored world. I did enjoy the novel the first time round, but it was a mistake to reread it.

This is middling.