On Tuesday last week Manchester SciFi Book Club got together at the Madlab to discuss Rule 34 by Charles Stross, which was advocated by Tom. The title is a reference adage “If it exists, there is porn of it.”
Before I start, please accept my apologies for this post being a bit on the short side or if I’ve left out any important points of view. I forgot to bring my notebook to the meeting.
Is it SciFi?
The main technology aspect of Rule 34 is an artificial intelligence that is able to monitor and manipulate people via the internet, largely through social networking, CCTV and mobile phones. The book is set in the near future and because of that we felt the scifi aspect, and the novel in general, could soon become become dated. If you are thinking about reading Rule 34 it would be better to read it sooner rather than later.
Other SciFi elements included “fabbers” that could prefabricate more or less any item and Copspace, the police communication network accessed through spectacles.
The technology was generally considered plausible.
Did We Like It?
Unfortunately it wasn’t particularly popular.
Rule 34 is written in the second person which some people did not really like, although the reason for this becomes clear in the end. There was a lot of Scottish slang which made it a bit difficult to read, however most people were glad to read a book that wasn’t set in London!
We found the characters believeable and if my memory serves me correctly, cop Liz Kavanaugh was the most boring and we felt sympathy for the flailing Anwar. University Professor Adam MacDonald, the Gnome, was the most liked.
One major aspect of the plot was a sting operation in which organised crime gangs were conned into buying stocks from a newly created indpendent country, resulting in them losing lots of money and at the same time paying off the national debt of kyrgyzstan. Very amsuing.
There was a short digression about cloning, specifically with regards to the ethical standpoint on cloning your own body parts and eating them. Should it be illegal? Comment or tweet your opinion!
They’re Made Out of Meat
Following the discussion we watched some YouTube.
The bizarre They Are Made Out of Meat is worth watching if you enjoy surreal scifi amusement.
Heat Vision and Jack
We also watched the hilarious Heat Vision and Jack!
Unaired TV Series directed by Ben Stiller. Intro by Ben Stiller. Starring Jack Black as Jack Austin super smart astronaut, Owen Wilson as Heat Vision the motorcycle, and Ron Silver actor and NASA enforcer. Show theme sung by Tom Jones. Be amazed by the advanced special effects and pop culture references. Knowledge is power, for real!
What Do You Think?
Don’t forget to leave a comment or tweet your opinion about Rule 34!
A final thought…are YOU being manipulated when you use the internet?
Manchester Sci-Fi Book Club Contacts
Keep up to date with Manchester Sci-Fi book club posts at Madlab:
We also have a group on Google which we would encourage you to join.
Next Sci-Fi Book:
The next book is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Please note that the meeting will be on the 22nd of November, which is the fourth Tuesday of the month as opposed to the normal third Tuesday. So you’ve got an extra week to read it!