wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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This novel is broken

I said I'd post on Charles Stross' Glasshouse, and this seems like a good time as work is a bit slack at the moment...

The problem with futures that have widely available unrestricted nanoassemblers (especially when those double as jumpgates, apparently) is that it becomes hard to distinguish them from fantasy. This is the basic problem with Glasshouse, which starts out as a dystopian mystery (something Stross has done quite well previously in "Big Brother Iron" and Iron Sunrise), detours through a lame hybrid of The Stepford Wives and "The Lottery", and finishes in a confusing welter of gunfire, suicidal attacks segueing into peaceful transgendered domesticity by way of multiple dei ex machini produced offstage by the ever-helpful A-gates. Not helping things is the persistence of current-day network techspeak, which drapes the whole affair in an annoying, disorienting uncertainty as to whether all this is actually happening to real people in real bodies or in some particularly violent and psychologically warped MMORPG.
Also not helping is the Unreliable Narrator, who begins the novel having just emerged from memory reconstruction that has left him missing entire decades of his past. I understand that part of the plot involves his recovery of those memories (and why he had them excised/buried) but in the context of what appears to be happening in the experiment he is dragooned into, it's an additional complication that doesn't help matters. So...while the novel might benefit from a second reading, my overall impression is that it's too much effort for not enough return. Not recommended.
Tags: books
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