This is a great little detective story, set about 30 years from now. Like most good sci-fi, it’s got a lot of characters to let you experience a lot of points of view about a new world, but the closest thing to a ‘main’ character we have here is Dorothy, head of the Edinburg police department’s division on tracking internet memes as they may or may not relate to copycats in the real world. This means it’s her job to know about Rule 34. I refuse to link it, because you should already know it.
It’s a pretty quick read, funny, and fast. The details of the world come out as ancillary concerns to the characters’ day-to-day lives, my favorite kind of exposition. To add to the Rule 34-ness of the whole book, most every character is some kind of deviant, or at least gay. It’s excellent.
Unlike some sci-fi which picks one giant change and tries to think of how the world might change, this is really more of a collection of tiny changes. There’s a big change, but it only comes out at the end and it’s more of a punchline than a world feature. Stross finds the funny angle on more or less all of these changes, and it’s great.
On a personal note, I was having fun having to google every other word in a few chapters, which are told from the point of view of full-on Scotsmen with full-on accents. So I tweeted, because I needed the iPad out anyway. Charles Stross responded, and managed to fit both pooping and masturbation into 140 characters while not really talking about either. It may as well have been another line in the book. Perfect.
So here’s your advertisement, marketing wonks: Read books by Charles Stross: The only author that will tweet to you about having a wank while you read his book about pedophile genetic engineers. If you need more endorsement for a book, I can’t help you.