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New York Times

The New York Times review of GLASSHOUSE can be found here (note: NYTimes login required). It seemed to creep out their reviewer:

It's one nightmarish panopticon that Stross has built here, and I can think of no greater testament to its effectiveness than my own relief at having been liberated from it.

Heh. "Liberated from it?" That's what you think, buddy ...


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As long as we're on the of us is too clever by half.

Robin (Hood) = (Shire-)Reeve.

So did I imagine it, or is it really there?


You imagined it -- it's not there.




I'm not as smart as you think I am.


Readers are often much better at finding hidden meanings and symbolism that authors are at putting them there. :)

I got an A in a creative writing class once just by throwing in a lot of odd things (like dirigibles) and repeating them throughout. I was praised for the symbolism and deep themes in the story. Apparently, dirigibles represent hope and the desire of the protagonist to overcome his present condition. In reality, I just think they're cool and wanted to see if people will make their own patterns and symbols if you give them enough detail to work with.


The only figure in "Glasshouse" who is granted an inner life is its protagonist, and that inner life can be a frighteningly isolated one.

That's not a bug, that's a feature.


I saw that review when it was pointed to by

I think that it will drive the right kind of readers towards your novel.

The reviewer damns with faint praise; I think that many readers will deduce that the reviewer was unwilling to praise his being moved by Stross to feeling faintly damned.


The reviewer is also briefly interviewed in the latest weekly New York Times Book Review podcast:


I think that review was the result from a hasty read. As to the isolated interior life, duh, its a panopticon! Everything said or done can be scrutinized, so you won't be pouring out your story to others, especially if it can get you killed. And unlike the other participants, Robin has reason to be concerned about the intentions of the experimenters from the word go.

I'd heard things about this critic, and it looks like they're correct.


As a matter of general policy: I Do Argue With Critics About Their Reading Of My Work.

I reserve the right to snort irritably in private, if I think it appropriate.

This blog, however, is not private.


Critics can sometimes (sometimes?) be like the Ex-Leper:

"There's no pleasing some people." "That's just what Jesus said, sir!"


"It's always a bad day at the office, insofar as the office exists in the first place." - You are missing an opportunity if you don't jam this into Cafepress forthwith. I'll take two mugs and a T-shirt.

Damn it. I can't afford another book this month, but a person more senior than I got the Interzone review copy, so I'll just have to bloody buy one, won't I - as the library won't have it in for months (if at all). You'll put me in penury, Stross, with your damned excellent books.

As regards the review, I think he wanted to be harsher than he was, if you see what I mean. How many SF readers go to the NYT for reviews, anyway? And for the non-genre heads, well, they say there's no such thing as bad publicity...congratulations, sir. I look forward to reading it. Soon.


Well my copy of Glasshouse lasted exactly 18 hours after I tore it from Amazon's cardboard caul...

A far more insightful review can be found at the latest Science Fiction Weekly

Personally I really enjoyed it, uniquely his writing but with grace notes from a number of favourite authors in their prime,

-- Andrew


On Amazon, I notice that the editorial review from Publisher's Weekly says "...set in the same far-future universe as 2005's Accelerando."
Where do they get "far-future" from? Your writings are clearly way too obfuscatory for the meat.


Genghis: because I probably said something to that effect in an interview that the reviewer read, or the publisher's PR material said so.


I just noticed that he calls you English.


Stephen: again, I couldn't possibly comment.


Andrew: "A far more insightful review can be found at the latest Science Fiction Weekly"

Andrew, I'd have used a word like 'spoiler', rather than 'insightful' :(

I've got the book on my sofa, waiting to be read. I was avoiding reviewers, since giving away the plot is seems to be required by law these days. I thought that would be different from the NYT; the more fool me.


The review carefully avoids giving away the farm, Barry. Prepare to still be surprised.


I just finished it a couple of days ago and can, honestly say, that it's my favorite book of yours, which is saying a lot given how much I've loved your work, thus far.

I literally missed work so I could finish it sooner.


I would say that Glasshouse goes a step beyond Lord of the Flies - the characters in LoTF were children, in a novel set in the past - we could pretend it wasn't really us - or a primitive version of us. One of the most depressing, and yet once I read it, most accurate depictions in Glasshouse was the LoTF-esque aspect of the society - except these weren't children, there are the adult of the future, and yet fear, jealousy and hatred still dominated the actions of many characters. It is something not often seen in SF - a society where humans have not evolved beyond the Stamford Prison Experiment - and why would they? Most SF envisions societies where things like widespread racism (although nor xenophobia, of course) are obliterated by universal [superior] education.

But when we go to the stars, we will take our humanity with us - both the parts we are proud of, as well as the parts that still lurk in the dark crevices of our souls.

My point being that I felt that the transformation in Glasshouse was more chilling than LoTF - and I'm not trying to take anything away from LoTF by saying that.

On an unrelated note - I've been searching for Glasshouse since it came out, and it's been sold out everywhere. I can personally vouch for all of midtown Washington DC, Pam Beach, Midway Airport in Chicago and Gary Indiana. And Annapolis MD, where I bought the last copy. Go tell your publisher to print more.

Oh - and when the SciFi review was guessing at influences, he left out an easy one - Dan Simmon's apartments in Hyperion are similar to the architecture of Glasshouse.

Anyway - I showed up here to thank the author for writing another awesome book - my kids watched a lot of Noggin while I read in the background today. Tomorrow, we go to the park...

But I did have one quick question - ackles? What's the etymology of that word - it feels like it is on the tip of my tongue....




"The review carefully avoids giving away the farm, Barry. Prepare to still be surprised."

Posted by: Charlie Stross

Thanks, Charles. I read it on Sunday. I think that I would have guessed the spoiler given in the review, since it was an obvious point of villainy, under that circumstances.


Query to Charles Stross: to what extent is this fiction influenced by what Einstein wrote, and Norman Spinrad suggested [personal communication] was an overlooked aspect of future society:

"This world is a strange madhouse," writes Einstein to a friend. "Currently, every coachman and every waiter is debating whether relativity theory is correct."

Letters shed new light on Albert Einstein's life.

And to what extent is this fiction influenced by the very recently decased author whom, I contend, wrote at least 2 Science Fiction novels ["The Twisted Thing" 1966 is the better]:

Mickey Spillane, 88, Critic-Proof Writer of Pulpy Mike Hammer Novels, Dies, New York Times, 18 July 2006.


'Those' circumstances. 'read', of course, had the invisible past-tense tag on it - I wasn't using pidgin english.


I probably said something to that effect in an interview that the reviewer read

In which case you, sir are a mendacious scoundrel, and I claim my five pounds. G,D&WVVF.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 10, 2006 12:09 AM.

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