Glasshouse [Charles Stross] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. “ONE NIGHTMARISH PANOPTICON.” – The New York Times When Robin . This Glasshouse isn’t just glass. It’s a prism that Charles Stross uses to split his storytelling into all of its component narrative colors — suspense, action, satire. Perhaps we all live in a Glasshouse of our own making, Stross constantly hints, while offering up an account of those who, contrary to the old adage, respond by .

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This malevolent adversary was eventually defeated, but did so much damage first, that no one is quite sure what caused the initial outbreak, or how much knowledge has been erased from history. In Glasshousea large-scale scientific experiment is set up to recreate the circumstances that led to the censorship wars —perhaps thereby uncovering the now forgotten reasons for the conflict. Participants will live in an isolated, enclosed community and adopt the customs, technologies and laws of the late 20th and early 21st century—i.

The set-up is rife with opportunities for ironic commentary, and Stross takes full advantage of the potential for confusion and dismay when members of a future society charlee the world we all know and love. The subjects in this experiment adapt quickly to the demands of their new settings, some with perhaps excessive enthusiasm.

A point system scores each individual’s compliance with the social rules of the mini-polity, and points are tied to a financial incentive —to be paid to participants at the termination of the study. Readers familiar with the Milgram debacle at Yale and the Zimbardo prison experiment at Stanford— the latter slyly referenced within the novel, and apparently an inspiration for author Stross—will recognize a similarly glasshluse dynamic at work in Glasshouse.


SF : Glasshouse / Charles Stross ☆☆☆☆½

Even when the rules of a society are based on dubious, if not dangerous, values, most individuals ask few questions and do as they are told—and apparently that aspect of human nature has not hcarles in the future envisioned by our author.

But, unlike say or FahrenheitGlasshouse is not srross a vehicle for social commentary nor, despite the many humorous touches, an exercise in comedic speculative fiction in the manner of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. The protagonist in Stross’s novel is challenged to a duel-to-the-death in the opening pages, setting the tone for a futuristic adventure story in which the occasional philosophical or sociological trappings do not slow down the pacing or detract chxrles the action-oriented plot.

The narrator Reeve not only tries srross stir rebellion among the “glasshouse” participants, but is also plagued by a series of flashbacks from the censorship wars, repressed memories of bloody encounters rising to the surface—and ensuring that every few pages some example of deadly combat appears in these pages.

The experimental glasshouse turns out to be less a way of exploring the past than a means for controlling the future. The key scientists running the experiment have a long history of working with tyrannical regimes, and their model community can potentially serve as a blueprint for a new wave of oppression and social control. A small number of participants in the experiment can sense this sinister plan and are determined to resist, but how can they hope to succeed glaeshouse they are constantly observed, badgered and bullied, and left totally unarmed?

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The plot occasionally drags and runs into dead-ends— long passages describe incidents the laborious construction of a crossbow in the garage, an escape attempt via a ladder several kilometers long, etc. But for the most part, Glasshouse works both as an adventure story as well as a musing on social glasxhouse and their misuse.


Knowledgeable readers will also enjoy deciphering the frequent allusions that Stross sprinkles into his text—including a whole host of hints relating to sci-fi writer Cordwainer Smith.

These are so varied and frequent as to amount to a behind-the-scenes textual game played by the author of this novel. Chaarles overall theme here, namely that reality isn’t as real as we think, may be the most over-worked sci-fi device of recent years—with everything from The Matrix to The Truman Showas well as a host of Philip K.

Dick – inspired stories working endless variants on this meme.

But Stross offers up a fresh, provocative angle on the subject, one that inspires comparisons not to sci- fi so much as to the old sociological debate on the “social construction charless reality”—promoted most aggressively by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in their book of that name. Back to the home page.


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