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Glasshouse - Charles Stross - NEW Book

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Glasshouse - Charles Stross -  NEW Book

Glasshouse - Charles Stross - NEW Book

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As far as the participants are concerned, the YFH (Yourdon-Fiore-Hanta) polity is probably situated in an orbital habitat which used to be a secure, heavily firewalled military prison (a glasshouse) after the war, for the treatment and "de-programming" of serious war criminals, making it an ideal choice for such an isolated social experiment. Reeve believes she has signed-up for a period not exceeding 3 years. She is part of a cohort of 10 vounteers, who are all expected to partner with a member of the opposite sex, as was the practice in the Dark Ages. There are, initially, 20 cohorts. Participants get points for staying in dark-age character, and individual scores affect the cohort. Collective accountability and peer pressure is the order of the day; "bad behaviour" is discouraged. Pregnancy, the barbaric method of dark-age child production, is encouraged, much to Reeve's horror. Of course, modern technology is not allowed. Reeve constantly wonders if she "knows" any of the other volunteers, particularly Kay, who was also going to join the experiment. However, people keep quiet about their pasts, and, of course, everyone wears a new body, even a new gender. As the experiment progresses, Reeve becomes concerned about the "tone" of the scenarios, in particular the church meetings all must attend on Sundays. She also begins to experience a series of dreams, in which flashbacks from her past lives are revealed.

For something to do, she applies for, and gets, a job in the library, where she meets Janis, who becomes a confidant. Fiore, one of the sinister leaders of the project, often visits the library repository, a room which is always kept locked. Reeve finds a way to make a copy of Fiore's key. Later, two people are hanged after mob violence, encouraged by Fiore, erupts after a church meeting. Reeve, and her "husband" Sam, begin to seriously doubt the validity of the experiment. They also realise that neither of them can hear the other saying the words "I love you", which makes them think that during the A-gate upload which placed them in the polity, their mindstates were subtly altered. She also begins to experience strange "whiteouts" in which she can't remember what she's done. Back at the library, Reeve uses the copied key to enter the repository. It contains many boxes of sheets of paper which she thinks may be a hex dump of the Curious Yellow worm. Opening a trapdoor, she goes down and discovers a military-grade A-gate. She places a small cine-camera in a discreet location to record what Fiore does when he's inside. In a later visit, she recovers the camera, and while watching it, she realises that Fiore had programmed the A-gate to begin a time-delayed copy of himself, knowing someone had been in the room. She catches him emerging, kills and dismembers him, and feeds the parts to the gate. During this event, her mind blanks again, to the extent that she suspects that her mind is carrying unknown coding.

She decides to try to escape. Using a previously noticed door in the side of a road-tunnel, she climbs a shaft; thinking that she is in a small section of a habitat, she hopes to find a neutral place from which she can contact the outside world. Eventually she finds out that the polity is actually situated within an MASucker which has only one heavily-guarded T-gate and is on a voyage which will not end for almost 200 years. Falling ill, she wakes back in the polity hospital. Treated by the sinister Dr. Hanta, she is told that the polity's population is going to be increased to that of a small city. Cured, she returns home, but both she and Sam realise that her mind has been altered by Hanta to be more amenable to the polity. Back at work she meets Fiore, who, it turns out, is really her. After she killed Fiore a few days before she backed herself up in the A-gate and used Fiore's physical parameters as an overlay to make a copy (she "blanked" at the time, and didn't remember). Discovering that Janis is Sanni, Sanni forces a merge of the two instances of Reeve, which removes whatever Hanta did to her mind. Reeve discovers that her "true" mission was to infiltrate the polity and gather intelligence. Previous attempts by the Linebarger Cats failed, as their agent's memories were probed by the polity's leaders who then killed them. This explained the effective memory-wipes that Robin/Reeve had to endure. The 3 polity leaders were a Curious Yellow sleeper cell who were planning to use the 200-year journey to breed a population that would, at journey's end, re-infect the galactic network by uploading through A-gates and vectoring a new, hacked version of the worm, thus re-starting the war. Eventually Reeve, Sam, and Janis succeed in their mission to thwart the polity leaders, and the ship's journey resumes peacefully.

About the Author Charles Stross

In the 1970s and 1980s, Stross published some role-playing game articles for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the White Dwarf magazine. Some of his creatures, such as the death knight, githyanki (borrowed from George R. R. Martin's book, Dying of the Light), githzerai, and slaad (a chaotic race notable for their rigid caste system) were later published in the Fiend Folio monster compendium.

Charles Stross first published short story, "The Boys", appeared in Interzone in 1987. Charles Stross first novel, Singularity Sky was published by Ace Books in 2003 and was nominated for the Hugo Award. A collection of Charles Stross short stories, Toast: And Other Rusted Futures appeared in 2002. Subsequent short stories have been nominated for the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and other awards. His novella "The Concrete Jungle" (available online) won the Hugo award for its category in 2005. His novel Accelerando (also available online) won the 2006 Locus Award for best science fiction novel, was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the year's best science fiction novel, and was on the final ballot for the Hugo Award in the best novel category. Glasshouse won the 2007 Prometheus Award and was on the final ballot for the Hugo Award in the best novel category. Charles Stross novella Missile Gap (likewise available online) won the 2007 Locus Award for best novella and most recently he was awarded the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award or Skylark at Boskone 2008. In addition to working as a writer of fiction he has worked as a technical author, freelance journalist, programmer, and pharmacist at different times. He holds degrees in Pharmacy and Computer Science.

Rogue Farm, an animated film based on his 2003 short story of the same title, debuted in August 2004. He was one of the Guests of Honour at Orbital 2008 the British National Science Fiction convention (Eastercon) in March 2008. He is the Author Guest of Honour at the Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention (Balticon) in May 2009.

 

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