2008 Hugo Award nominee Best Novel
2008 Locus Award nominee
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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 todays technological frustrations into tomorrows nightmare realities is all too real for comfort." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] fast-paced, skillfully constructed computational mirror-maze." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"This is his tightest-plotted novel to date, a detective story with a million perfectly meshed moving parts, and a hundred magnificent surprises that had me gasping and shouting YES (to the general alarm of the guy in the next seat on my airplane)....[A] book that will change the way you see the way the world works." Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
"Stross again displays his genius for envisioning a complex future society that appears all-too-inevitable." Booklist
"[A]nother winner for Charles Stross, a writer who has more than ably grabbed the high-tech baton from last century's forebears...and is still running laps with it, without any sign of tiring." SFReviews.net
"Hugo Award winner Stross's fast-paced sf techno-thriller shows promise as a series opener and belongs in most libraries." Library Journal
In the year 2018, Sergeant Sue Smith of the Edinburgh constabulary is called in on a special case. A daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates, a dot-com startup company that's just been floated on the London stock exchange. 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. For Smith, the investigation seems pointless. But she soon realizes that the virtual world may have a devastating effect in the real one and that someone is about to launch an attack upon both...
About the Author
Charles Stross is a full-time writer who was born in Leeds, England in 1964. He studied in London and Bradford, gaining degrees in pharmacy and computer science, and has worked in a variety of jobs, including pharmacist, technical author, software engineer, and freelance journalist.