Halting State (Halting State Series #1)

( 31 )

Overview

Now in paperback-from the author of Saturn's Children.

In the year 2018, a daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates. The suspects are a band of marauding orcs, with a dragon in tow for fire support, and the bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. But Sergeant Sue Smith discovers that this virtual world robbery may be linked to some real world devastation.

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Halting State (Halting State Series #1)

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Overview

Now in paperback-from the author of Saturn's Children.

In the year 2018, a daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates. The suspects are a band of marauding orcs, with a dragon in tow for fire support, and the bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. But Sergeant Sue Smith discovers that this virtual world robbery may be linked to some real world devastation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This brilliantly conceived techno-crime thriller spreads a black humor frosting over the grim prospect of the year 2012, when China, India and the European System are struggling for world economic domination in an "infowar," and the U.S. faces bankruptcy over its failing infrastructure. Sgt. Sue Smith of Edinburgh's finest, London insurance accountant Elaine Barnaby and hapless secret-ridden programmer Jack Reed peel back layer after layer of a scheme to siphon vast assets from Hayek Associates, a firm whose tentacles spread into international economies. The theft is routed through Avalon Four, a virtual reality world complete with supposedly robbery-proof banks. As an electronic intelligence agency trains innocent gamers to do its dirty work, Elaine sets Jack to catch the poacher. Hugo-winner Stross (Glasshouse) creates a deeply immersive story, writing all three perspectives in the authoritative second-person style of video game instructions and gleefully spiking the intrigue with virtual Orcs, dragons and swordplay. The effortless transformation of today's technological frustrations into tomorrow's nightmare realities is all too real for comfort. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

The setting is a virtual world called Avalon Four; the year, 2018. Sgt. Sue Smith, an Edinburgh constable, takes on a special case: a bank robbery committed by a team of Orcs with a dragon for backup. As Smith delves further into the case, both in the real and in the virtual worlds, she uncovers evidence that the crime is more than simply a robbery. Hugo Award winner Stross's fast-paced sf techno-thriller shows promise as a series opener and belongs in most libraries.


—Jackie Cassada
Kirkus Reviews
Opening salvo in a near-future Information War, from Stross (Glasshouse, 2006, etc.). In 2018, in the People's Republic of Scotland, Wayne Richardson, marketing director of Hayek Associates, a new dotcom startup involved with online virtual-reality gaming, calls the cops in a panic. He attempts to explain to dogged Sergeant Sue Smith that he's been robbed by Orcs, who've raided the bank of VR game land Avalon Four. It emerges that Hayek acts as a stabilizer for the economies of numerous online reality games, and if word of the robbery leaks out, their share price could plummet. Meanwhile, Hayek's backers, sensing an attempt at stock-price manipulation, send forensic accountant and gamer Elaine Barnaby-who, once she grasps the situation, insists on calling in programmer and games expert Jack Reed to assist. As Elaine and Jack probe the robbery, it becomes clear that something else is going on-as evidenced by an anonymous threat to kidnap Jack's niece, then an attempt to kill them both. The world's three information superpowers-Europe, China and India-are poised to go to war. Chinese Intelligence dreamed up a way of subverting the computing system of a medium-sized European nation using hackers and VR game-players. Elaine and Jack learn, however, that Hayek itself is a front for British Intelligence, which has used the VR/role-playing game SPOOKS to train a cadre of willing and utterly unsuspecting counter-operatives-including Jack and Elaine!The book is written using three second-person present-tense narrators (for no apparent reason except that Stross, convincingly, can). Throughout, he displays a knack for turning outrageously improbable speculation into certainty in this fast-paced,skillfully constructed computational mirror-maze.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780441016075
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/24/2008
  • Series: Halting State Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 627,886
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Stross was born in Leeds, England in 1964. He holds degrees in pharmacy and computer science, and has worked in a variety of jobs including pharmacist, technical author, software engineer, and freelance journalist. He is now a full-time writer.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

4 Star

(18)

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(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    terrific science fiction thriller

    In 2012 China, India and Europe battle to become the world¿s economic superpower due to the continuation of Bush economic policies. The United States faces federal bankruptcy as the debt can no longer be covered by foreign borrowing and no leader has the guts to raise taxes and cut spending. In England, Edinburgh Police Sergeant Sue Smith and London based forensic accountant Elaine Barnaby are looking at a complex convoluted scheme to abscond funds from the international company Hayek Associates. The unknown crook cleverly moves money through a virtual reality allegedly safe bank Avalon Four. Elaine realizes she needs a special programmer who can hack any system, but is too stupid to be more than a basement mushroom. She picks Jack Reed to catch a thief. --- This is a terrific science fiction thriller that paints a potentially realistic nightmare of the near future as the Bush legacy will prove to be an economic and technological wasteland. The fun in this delightful one sitting tale (in spite of it being 352 pages) is with the virtual world filled with fantasy species that irritate users. Effortlessly changing viewpoints between the lead trio so that readers observe the same issue from differing biases, HALTING STATE is a fabulous cautionary tale that warn s if we fail to act now, the American century will become real only in virtual reality fantasy games. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2013

    Sallykit

    Pulked her in and let her wake up sorry bout that

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Anthing Charles Stross

    Stross is an excellent writer and I read all of his work.

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  • Posted August 18, 2010

    Deserves three thumbs up

    This near-future story is about a bank robbery that exposes a whole lot more.

    In Edinburgh, Scotland of the year 2018, a high-tech company called Hayek Associates suffers a bank robbery. A senior officer of the firm panics, and calls the local police, instead of taking care of things internally. Things get weird when Sergeant Sue Smith is told that the robbery took place inside a virtual reality games called Avalon Four. Forgetting for a moment that this is supposed to be impossible, Hayek Associates is about to have its Initial Public Offering of stock. If word gets out, the company (and its virtual economies) will crash hard. This may not be your average bank robbery, but the amount of money involved, over 26 million Euros, is very real.

    Elaine Barnaby, a London-based forensic accountant, is sent to Edinburgh to audit the bank from the inside. The unspoken part is that, if anything goes wrong, her firm will plead ignorance, and her neck will be on the chopping block. She is provided with a guide through the world of online gaming named Jack Reed, who, coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) became unemployed the week before.

    Very Important People in newly independent Scotland are interested in the case, including the Scottish equivalent of the FBI. Brussels (the home of the European Union) gets involved in the case. There are Chinese hackers involved, who may or may not be assisted by Chinese State Security. Copspace, a sort of private VR database system for the police, which is supposedly secure, gets hacked. It is a world where everyone has access to the Internet through their eyeglasses. There is even a zombie flash mob.

    I understood very little of the technical parts, because I know nothing about online gaming, but I loved reading this book. It is very cool and cutting edge, and works quite well as a straight thriller. If I could, I would give this book three thumbs up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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