Nov 16, 2010

Covering Covers: Rule 34 - Charles Stross

Cover Artist: Unknown

The ungoogleable book has a cover. No. Seriously. Don't google it. You won't be able to unsee what you find. Don't say I didn't warn you. Your childhood will thank me.


Looking at this Rule 34 [please don't], I have mixed feelings. I really like the color scheme; the bright red really pops against the lighter greys. The font choice is also distinct and I believe one that Stross has used before. Initially, I thought there was more of a link to Halting State than there actually is but there are some shared elements between the two book covers, namely the "sketchy", almost unfinished style. I'm curious to know if it's the same artist.

But while I like this cover and what I think it implies (some kind of glitching at one level of reality or another) I don't know if it will speak to the right audience. This book is for people who really liked Halting State or William Gibson's Hollis Henry books. While the cover is "tech-y" it seems to have an almost Urban Fantasy  approach to it. An Urban Science Fiction look, if you will. That being the case, I don't think this cover will necessarily speak to the audience Stross wants to find. Don't ask me what would. Maybe Rule 34? Stop. Stay here. It may be that Stross has finally reached the point where his name on the cover is the most important element. Certainly, Stross's core audience is more likely to find this book online than stumble upon it in the bookstore.

Rule 34 [the book] is Charles Stross's next SF thriller, continuing in the near future universe originally established in 2007's Halting State. It is not the Internet porn meme. It is also not a direct continuation of Halting State although Detective Liz Kavanaugh, the main character in Rule 34, did play a minor role in HS. Stross's latest has underwent a strange sort of evolution over the years. Anyone who follows Stross on his blog will know that he had to keep rewriting because while he was writing the it, the near future kept becoming the present. Even the Bernie Madoff scandal ruined part of his projected plot. That guy just ruins everything. But despite the rework, Rule 34 has finally been completed and due out in July 2011 from Ace [US] and Orbit [UK]. Here is the brief summary:

Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh is head ofthe Rule 34 Squad, monitoring the Internet to determine whether people are engaging in harmless fantasies or illegal activities. Three ex-con spammers have been murdered, and Liz must uncover the link between them before these homicides go viral.
Damn it. You googled it didn't you? I'll go get the bleach. Here is a direct link to the SFW Rule 34.


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