Charlie Stross has been publishing excerpts from his fantastic upcoming novel Rule 34, a police procedural technothriller in the vein of his earlier Halting State, about the cops who are in charge of tracking down vicious, perverse memes that traverse the Internet and emerge in the physical world. It's full of weird consequences of 3D printing, networked investigation, panopticon policing, and European privacy legislation. It's funny, thought-provoking, and very, very odd — pure Stross. I've got a full review scheduled for July 5, but in the meantime, you might enjoy an early look at the book:
Police segways come with blues and twos, Taser racks and overdrive: But if you go above walking pace, they invariably lean forward until you resemble a character in an old Roadrunner cartoon. Looking like Wile E. Coyote is undignified, which is not a good way to impress the senior management whether or not you're angling for promotion, especially in the current political climate. (Not that you are angling for promotion, but . . . politics.) So you ride sedately towards Comely Bank Road, and the twitching curtains and discreet perversions of Stockbridge.
Crime and architecture are intimately related. In the case of the red stone tenements and Victorian villas of Morningside, it's mostly theft from cars and burglary from the aforementioned posh digs. You're still logged in as you ride past the permanent log-jam of residents' Chelsea Tractors–those such as live here can afford to fill up their hybrid SUVs, despite the ongoing fuel crunch–and the eccentric and colourful boutique shops. You roll round a tight corner and up an avenue of big stone houses with tiny wee gardens fronting the road until you reach the address Sergeant McDougall gave you.
Some notes from my review: "As with Charlie's previous novel in this milieu, Halting State, Rule 34 shines as a super-smart futuristic exercise in public policing. Stross's future cops are both victims and employers of a surveillance panopticon, one tempered by thick eurocrat regulation and adaptive criminals. These cops aren't just legal enforcers, they're part of a high-tech, evidence-led, scientifically grounded security strategy that has been refactored to render policing as bloodless and procedural as possible, to deploy genuine science against the cop's vaunted street instincts, and to nudge bad guys into going good before they do something arrest-worthy.
This is my favorite kind of science fiction: rigorous, playful, and challenging."
(Disclosure: Charlie and I are presently working on a novel, Rapture of the Nerds, together — also, I'm overdue on my next volley, sorry, Charlie!)