Rule 34 (novel)

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Rule 34
Rule 34 us 200px-front cover.jpg
Front cover 1st edition (hardcover, US), 2011
AuthorCharles Stross
Cover artistAlberto Seveso
SeriesHalting State series
Genrescience fiction
PublisherAce (US) / Orbit (UK)
Publication date
July 2011
Preceded byHalting State 
Followed byThe Lambda Functionary (cancelled) 

Rule 34 is a near-future science fiction novel by Charles Stross.[1][2] It is a loose sequel to Halting State, and was released on 5 July 2011 (US) and 7 July 2011 (UK).[1][3] The title is a reference to the Internet meme Rule 34, which states that "If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions."[1][4] Rule 34 was nominated for the 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award[5] and the 2012 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.[6]

Plot summary[edit]

The novel is told in second-person narrative but primarily from three points of view: Edinburgh police Inspector Kavanaugh, who investigates spammers murdered in gruesome and inventive ways, and learns about similar cases in other parts of Europe; Anwar, a former identity thief who becomes Scottish honorary consul for a fictional state in central Asia; and "The Toymaker", an enforcer and organizer for the criminal "Operation". Their interactions and conflicts drive the story.

Critical reception[edit]

Reviews have been favorable, with Cory Doctorow calling the novel, "savvy, funny, viciously inventive".[7] Kirkus Reviews gives it a star, saying, "Dazzling, chilling and brilliant",[8] Publishers Weekly calls "the whole more than the sum of its parts",[9] and there was a generally positive review in The Guardian.[10]

Sequel cancellation[edit]

Following the revelations by Edward Snowden, Stross announced that there would be no third book in the planned trilogy. ""Halting State" wasn't intended to be predictive when I started writing it in 2006. Trouble is, about the only parts that haven't happened yet are Scottish Independence and the use of actual quantum computers for cracking public key encryption (and there's a big fat question mark over the latter—what else are the NSA up to?)"[11]


  1. ^ a b c Rule 34 – Charlie's Diary. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  2. ^ Stross, Charles. (2009-09-09) Rule 34 (9780441020348): Charles Stross: Books. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  3. ^ Apropos Nothing ... – Charlie's Diary. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  4. ^ Chivers, Tom (23 October 2009). "Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  5. ^ "Shortlist for the 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award Announced - SFWA". 26 March 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  6. ^ "2012 Locus Award Finalists". 1 May 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  7. ^ Doctorow, Cory (July 6, 2011). "Stross's Rule 34: pervy technothriller about the future of policing". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  8. ^ "RULE 34 by Charles Stross". Kirkus Book Reviews. May 20, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  9. ^ "Fiction Review: Rule 34 by Charles Stross. Ace, $25.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-441-02034-8". Publishers Weekly. May 9, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  10. ^ Walter, Damien G. (11 August 2011). "What is Rule 34, you ask. Let Charles Stross explain". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  11. ^ Stross, Charlie (December 9, 2013). "PSA: Why there won't be a third book in the Halting State trilogy". Charlie's Diary.