Charlie Stross at EMP


Charlie Stross was in town last night, doing the whirlwind book tour for Halting State. Instead of reading at the University Bookstore (as most SF/Fantasy authors do), he read at the EMP/SFM theater. Ah, bigger venue, you say. More readers, you think. Might want to show up early to get a seat, you posit. [If Gehry’s Guggenheim at Bilboa is, like Ballard opines, not so much a piece of architecture as it is a frozen moment of art and light, then Gehry’s EMP is a ragged piece of flotsam that has been tagged a few times by local artists before being left out in the rain to rust. But, we’re all about experimental architecture here in Seattle. Really.]

I went over about an hour and a half early, and was pleasantly surprised to find street parking about a block away. It was a quiet Tuesday evening at the Seattle Center (which is quiet most nights, actually–the central area is dominated by a park and a fountain which are only crawling with people when the weather is nice, and as it was the typical fall drizzle, there was no one out), and I wandered through to the Queen Anne side of the Center to visit Easy Street Records. I haven’t been for a few weeks and, wonder of wonders, it was still there, and not much had changed.

On the way back, in the shadow of the Space Needle, I passed an old hippie who was playing ambient space music on a butterfly-shaped guitar. He had a dented colander out for change. It was a such a great image that I dropped a buck in his tin–usage fee, for I’m sure the image will show up in a story sometime in the future.

Charlie read several sections from Halting State, giving us enough bits to acquire a feel for the various viewpoint characters in the book (three of them, each told in second person; I know, like one wasn’t hard enough?). He’s got the opening chapters online, of which he read Jack’s chapter (3) and a few other snippets from a little later. Overall, he pulls off the second person narrative viewpoint really well. Really really well. Afterward, he took a few questions from a surprisingly reticent (though thoroughly geek-ified) crowd.

Cory Doctorow’s rundown of Halting State is that is “a hilarious post-cyberpunk police procedural . . . a Big Ideas book about the future of economics, virtual worlds, the nation state and policing, while managing to crack a string of geeky in-jokes, play off a heaping helping of gripping action scenes, and telling a pretty good love” (over at BoingBoing).

I am going to have to try very hard not to dive into the book today ’cause it is singing to me from the other room right now, little bastard.