Book of the Week: Rule 34
This week’s selection is “Rule 34” by Charles Stross.
Stross is a well-known science fiction author who has produced dozens of fascinating stories exploring the future envelope of technology. Some of his stories are so off the wall that one must read them several times to comprehend what’s going on.
In Rule 34 he explores a world of the not-too-distant future where 3D printing is ubiquitous, and thus “rule 34” applies.
Rule 34 is an internet meme proposing that any medium, material or process will be used to produce “adult material”. For those who have been on the internet for some time, this is meme likely true. And indeed there has been some evidence of it happening in 3D printing.
In the story, police in Edinburgh run the rule 34 squad, a group charged with monitoring the use of advanced technology for nefarious purposes. They work against cybercrime, and of course, the illegal use of 3D printing.
It’s a crime novel, but set in a world operating with technology evolved from its current state and used in ways we haven’t yet imagined. For those interested in future trends, Stross will shake your thoughts on how things will end up, as he does in all his stories.
And that the skill of Stross: the ability to collect a number of potentially possible technological elements and create a functioning world from then in which an exploration takes place. It’s one way you can get a glimpse, albeit from someone else’s mind, of the future world you may inhabit.
Most interestingly, Rule 34 is in fact the second book of a three-part series, with the first novel being “Halting State”. Unfortunately Stross decided to not publish the third component of the trilogy for a very unusual reason. According to Wikipedia:
“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?)"
You’ll enjoy both Halting State and Rule 34, even without the sequel.
You may even get hooked on Stross and his highly unusual ways to look at the world.
Image Credit: Behance / Alberto Seveso