Great Sci-FI Romp

By Charles Stross
Ace, $25.95, 353 pages

In the future, beware anyone wearing shades. Rule 34¬†lets us into the heads of DI Liz Kavanaugh, Anwar, the Toymaker, and even an AI through multi-perspective second person to show us crime-fighting just a few decades from now. Cops wear shades that let them know what laws are being broken at a given crime scene, and the net is searched for memes that may lead to convictions. There are mysterious murders taking place, and Liz’s Rule 34 Division is spearheading the effort to find the killer, who may or may not actually exist.

The characters are engaging, even the sociopathic Toymaker who just wants to start up a crime franchise. Liz is a neurotic mess, and we would have missed part of the fun in a regular book. Even Anwar can be fun to listen in on as he unravels a scheme to make money through the financial self-destruction of a country. The plot moves along rather briskly, and there is a nice bit of social commentary that really hits home. Author Charles Stross really delivers here, making for a paranoid romp about people doing the best they can, even if they don’t exist.

Reviewed by Jamais Jochim

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