Charlie Stross has just posted the prologue and first three chapters of his kick-ass heist novel about a robbery in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, "Halting State":
"I'd just come out of the post-IPO debrief meeting with Marcus and Barry, they're our CEO and CTO. We were in a three-way conference call with our VC's investment liaison team and our counsel down south when Linda called me out -- she's in derivatives and border controls -- because there was something flaky going down in one of the realms we manage for Kensu International. It's in the prestige level central bank for Avalon Four. There was a guild of Orcs -- in a no PvP area -- and a goddamn dragon, and they cleaned out the bank. So we figured we'd call you."
The elevator stops and you stare at Wayne Richardson, Marketing Director, in mild disbelief. The jargon can wait for later, that's what your interview log is for: but one name in particular rings a bell because Mary says Davey's been pestering her for an account. "Avalon Four? Isnae that a game?"
He swallows and nods. "It's our main cash cow." The doors slide open on an underground corridor. The roof is ribbed with huge concrete beams painted in thick splashes of institutional cream, and it's startlingly cold. There are bleached pine doors on either side, a cable duct winding overhead, and posters on the walls that say CARELESS LIPS SINK SHIPS. For a moment you wonder if you've blundered into some kind of live action role playing thing, a cold war re-enactment maybe: but just then your phone chimes at you that it's gone offline.
Anthropologist Emma Tarlo just published a new book, Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair, investigating the weird culture and business surrounding hair, from Jewish wig parlors to its use in Hindu temples to hair loss clinics. In an excerpt at Smithsonian, Tarlo tells of the hair trade, tracing the path from the growers to the […]
In this Scientific American video, Rubik’s Cube master Ian Scheffler, author of the new book Cracking the Cube, explains some of the math behind “speedcubing.” Scheduler’s book sounds fascinating even though the only way I could get my Rubik’s Cube solved is to hand it to my 10-year-old son’s friend Luc who was the first […]
Swim Through the Darkness: My Search for Craig Smith and the Mystery of Maitreya Kali is the much-anticipated story of one of the more esoteric, fascinating casualties of the flower power generation. As told by Ugly Things magazine creator Mike Stax, the book tracks the odyssey of Craig Smith, a musician who evolved from clean-cut […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]
You don’t need to get an advanced degree and take out massive loans to become a coder. This bundle of 10 courses was designed to teach anyone to code at home for less than it costs to go out for dinner. I was particularly impressed with this new 2017 bundle because it includes courses on […]