Hugo Award-winning author Charles Stross delivers “credible and bold SF” (Science Fiction Weekly) that continually pushes the boundaries of the genre. With Glasshouse, Stross pens a Kafkaesque tale set in a 27th-century of teleport gates and mind-attacking network worms.
After Robin awakes in a clinic, he struggles to summon details of his life, but too many of his memories have been wiped clean. More troubling is the stark awareness of immediate danger: someone is trying to kill him. On the run, Robin makes a desperate gamble and volunteers for what he hopes is the sanctuary of an unusual study at the Glasshouse. Once there, however, he realizes the true terror has only begun.
Stross pulls out all the stops in a searing adventure that will keep listeners’ hearts racing. Propelled by Kevin R. Free’s riveting narration, Glasshouse is a novel SF fans will not soon forget.
©2006 Charles Stross (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
Say something about yourself!
Variations on what humanity might look like post-singularity are Stross's reason d'etre as a writer, and here he does something very clever by (1) focusing on the ability to re-engineer human biology as the focus of the singularity (instead of the more common super-human AI), and (2) showing us how late-twentieth, early twenty-first century humans might look to their post-human descendants in the remote future. There are some thought-provoking questions about just how much of our humanity we could leave behind when going post-human, and the clever historical distortions and gaps in understanding that he describes show a deep appreciation for the slippery nature of history. Although the plot twists are a bit too well telegraphed to be surprising when they happen, the overall story arc is excellent. The battle between good and evil is as alive for post-humanity as it is for us today, and it's gratifying to read an optimistic take on how that battle might go.
I nearly always enjoy Stross...but I strongly suspect he has an allergy to editors. Yet the old saw, "everyone needs an editor" is more true of him than most. This work, thankfully, is generally free of the irritating continuity problems that plague his other work. Exciting, engrossing, and paranoid, with intimations of Dick.
I really need to start proof reading my Reviews before I post them.
I liked the concepts that this book had going for it:
- sci-fi high tech while being very low tech 1950s
- gender swap roles as a statement on gender roles in society today
- intervening in domestic violence
- sci-fi for the non-scifi crowd
I liked some of the tropes from the genre:
- espionage and memory wipes
- body swapping
- meeting yourself and beating the crap out of yourself
- high tech hidden worlds
But I found myself finishing the book just because I wanted to finish it, not because I was enjoying the story.
Maybe because it wasn't fiction enough for me, the view points of domestic abuse, rape, and violating someone's mind just were to stark for me. Even at the end, I would have been happier if the whole lot of them just blew each other up instead of leaving them to languish in that false construct.
But it was a Charles Stross book, so it was well written and the characters were consistent in their motivations and there were some minor explosions.
The story was wonderful and thrilling. The main character was engaging the secondary characters were a bit two dimensional but not too dull as to drag the story on. The conclusion though, setting aside the abrupt ending that wasn't expected, felt jerky and didn't feel like it flowed as well as the first half of the book. Overall the story wasn't bad but I wouldn't put it in my top 10. Maybe my top 50 though.
Glasshouse deserves reverence at the level of Speaker for the Dead, Brave New World and Stranger in a Strange Land. The universe created by Stross is unique and fascinating, forcing you to consider the nature of consciousness, identity and gender.
The performance is wonderful. Free does a great job of conveying the male and female voices with equal gravitas, which I'm sure was difficult considering how the same character changes genders more than once.
I've read a lot of fantasy/sci fi and it's rare that you come upon a book that is truly original. This book is Stross's masterpieces as far as I'm concerned, far surpassing the laundry series in scope and emotional depth. My only comment is that I think you need to have a bachelors in science to completely appreciate his writing, as he references things like 'c' (the speed of light constant) and uses other technical jargon on occasion.
Interesting. Entertaining. Enjoyable. Reminds me of old-school sci-fi sort of thinking... why, how, etc. (re:mankind). Reminiscent of the "golden age of sci-fi" sort of thinking... but from a modern perspective. Some VERY interesting thoughts included within the premise :) Note: The author likes to be in control of the story and tends to hold some things back in order to surprise you...but he doesn't keep you in suspense about it for tooooo long. I'd rather be a part of the story rather than an audience member but that's a teeney thing really. Don't know if I'll be looking up more from the author... but I DID enjoy this ride. It didn't wow me, but it was very nice. The story wasn't what I expected... even when deeply into the tale, it kept trying to move around and change. I like that. LOL. Anyway..."interesting" is the word that keeps coming to mind.
Husband/Father, Educator, Gamer
I am a Charlie Stross fan already, and I found this to be again a great listen from him. The story is very interesting, and it is hard to see the final resolution coming. The ideas are important and I find myself still thinking about it long after being done. On the one hand I wanted it to finish so I could know the resolution, but on the other hand, I did not want it to end as the characters were interesting and the story creative.
The performance was good, but tricky since the main character has two genders. The reader does not do a good female voice...but once I got used to it, it was no longer distracting.
The first two hours of the book are a convoluted, science fiction attempt to justify the main character's becoming transgendered. I gave it another few hours to see if that was just a brief interlude, but it wasn't. The sex change was central to the rest of the book.
I have no intrest in such stories, and I imagine many other's feel the same way. The blurb should have mentioned this key fact about the main character. I wish I could get my four hours back, but at least I can return the book for my credit.
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