Review of 'Glasshouse'

Glasshouse by Charles Stross

glasshouse.jpg In the 27th century travel between planets it made possible via teleport gate. This technology also provides users the ability to change their physical form or even alter their personalities and memories. Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing though he has a vague recollection of being in the military. He is quickly drafted into participating in a experiment consisting of a habitat where people live in a contemporary recreation of 20th century earth. There is more here than meets the eye and after several dramatic scenes of mob behaviour Robin suspects the scientists running the experiment may not have been completely honest…

An unusual and intriguing read. The dual mysteries of Robin's background and what exactly is going on in the “Glasshouse” keep the reader turning the pages as events get more and more out of hand. Of course there is also the mystery common to most Science Fiction in understanding the rules of the world we have found ourselves in adding to the challenge. And what a challenging world it is with the nature of what it is to be an individual very much up to the individual themselves - What their body looks like, what they think, what they do, where they go…all up for grabs. Readers will doubtless be amused by the attempt at future humans attempting to comprehend 20th century life. The sexual mores and excesses here are fairly lose which will likely also keep readers interested. The action too is infrequent but when it comes it often shocking and brutal. All of the story threads are drawn together into a satisfactory, if slightly saccharine, conclusion.

Much of the story concentrates on the relationship that Robin has with his assigned partner Sam and their relationship to the community forming around them complete with personality weaknesses present in any society (pettiness, deceit, etc). What is shocking is when things go from being relatively stable to unstable in pretty much the blink of an eye.

Another well written and fairly easy to read piece of speculative fiction from a master of the art.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2018-06-01

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication Date: 2006

ISBN: 9781841493930

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