You need to know RULE 34

I feel like announcing this with some kind of roar or perhaps a drum roll as I’ve been waiting for this for so long and today is actually LAUNCH DAY! But as we’re open plan and I’m highly unmusical I’ll let this do the job …

Charles Stross’s Rule 34 (UK | ANZ) is many amazing things. It’s a fast-paced Edinburgh-based crime novel set a few years into the future. It also displays lashings of Charles Stross’s wry humour and I enjoyed more than a few winces and chuckle-out-loud moments. Another aspect I really enjoyed was Stross’s extrapolation of our current technology, where our usual gadgets have been moved on a step or three.  The BBC’s Click technology programme covered augmented reality just last month, but in Rule 34 it’s a useful, fully-fledged reality.

But perhaps most importantly, I found myself completely caught up in the colourful characters (a detective inspector, a young scalleywag called Anwar and a master criminal showing signs of psychosis known as the Toymaker). There’s not the space here to revel in the bizarre crimes DI Liz Kavanaugh has to investigate (domestic appliances in unlikely places …), or talk about the highly suspicious Eastern European bread-mix young Anwar is peddling. But you can sample for yourselves by reading this plot summary or by enjoying chapter one here.

And just look at this fine crop of well-deserved reviews for the book. If you like your reads on the dark side, you’ve a real treat in store:

Cracking near-future crime laced with humour that’s exquisitely wrong”
Chris Brookmyre

“A savvy, funny, viciously inventive science fiction novel that combines police procedure with the dark side of nerd culture to produce a grotesque and gripping page-turner”
Cory Doctorow

“Charles Stross is a grandmaster of that most difficult science-fictional era, the near future. His novel, Rule 34, is a seamlessly transformation of our near-term everyday world into serious strangeness”
Vernor Vinge, Hugo Award-winning author

“Another detective joins the celebrated ranks of Edinburgh’s finest, this one with Stross’ distinctive science-fictional twist … Dazzling, chilling and brilliant”
Kirkus Book Reviews

“Presenting a gritty near-future filled with Big Brother technology and backstreet fabricators of just about anything the average perv could desire, Stross’ latest foray is not for the faint of heart”
RT Book Reviews (top pick!)

“Hugo winner Stross blends plausible near-future SF and crime … each section builds on the others, making the whole more than the sum of its parts”
Publishers Weekly

“The plot, with its all-too-likely extrapolation of cybercrime, is both a good read and a warning”