Why a form of Google Glass will be a success: Charles Stross’s Halting State

There are many good reasons for reading Charles Stross’s sci-fi thriller Halting State, especially if you are a particular sort of person. As one reviewer on Amazon puts it:

Near the end of this book, one of the protagonists blurts, “They’re tunneling TCP/IP over AD&D!” And that line is a very good test for potentials readers, because if you understand it (and why it’s kind of funny), you might enjoy the book. If you’re scratching your head, well, you might still enjoy the book, but you’re certainly in for a whole lot more head scratching along the way.

Halting State by Charles StrossCourtesy of Google Glass, there’s now another reason. Although published back in 2007, it pictures a near-future world in which Google Glass type technology is so natural a part of life, that it’s hard to see how we won’t turn out like. Maybe it won’t be Google Glass itself (and of course the first mover often doesn’t become the dominant market player in new technology), but Stross’s picture of just how convenient such technology will be and how easily it’ll slip into how people live their lives is compelling.

In Stross’s world, there is a particular emphasis on the technology for law enforcement. For me, what’s persuasive is also thinking of such humdrum day to day tasks as running for a bus at a bus stop, seeing its number and wanting to know if it goes where you need. Once you have an automatic heads up display that sees the bus number, identifies it and gives you a map showing the bus route versus your location and your destination, you’ll start wondering how people ever managed in the old days of having to look at pieces of paper or fumble with you phone.

It’s the obvious utility in such humdrum cases that make it a sure fire success, in whatever commercial forms it ends up taking – and even allowing for the understandable and significant privacy concerns. They won’t stop it being a success.

Buy Halting State by Charles Stross here.


Halting State by Charles Stross
Good fun and even several years on from publication paints a vision of the future that is plausible
My rating (out of 5): 5.0
Mark Pack, 2 July 2013 |

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