Bits of Books - Books by Title

Rule 34

Charles Stross

The title refers to the Internet meme: "if it exists, there is porn of it". The main character is a Scottish female Detective Inspector in charge of the unit which tries to police internet porn, spam and scams and other similar activities. (They still haven't figured out how to stop spam in 2023??)

SF set in 2023 Edinburgh, which is immediately a bit of a problem because the technology doesn't seem to have changed much between now and them. Reminded me of 1950's SF, particularly the space opera ones, which had a spaceship flight deck staffed with navigators who were really really good with slide rules.

More books on Inventions

The author did get a bit more inventive with future crimes. "There's an anonymous perp randomly posting upskirt videos captured by a micro-cam strapped to one of the too-tame squirrels in the Botanic Gardens." Plus the "Morningside Cannibals" who cloned their own flesh then ate it at elaborate dinner parties. (How do you prosecute that one, then? )

More books on Crime

Interesting idea of Choice Architecture. I first came across it in Richard Thaler's book Nudge, where he suggested ways for a paternal state to nudge you into doing 'good' things rather than bludgeon you with laws and regulations. Such as organ donors - get more by forcing people to opt out of being one instead of opting in. Same with pension plans. You see it in supermarkets that manipulate you forcing you to walk thorough the high-margin vege section first, or by pumping hot bread smells at you.

In book they have a professor lecturing the cops on choice architecture and cognitive neuroscience. This bit studies way many of our decisions are subconscious, and emotional rather than rational. (We decide first, and then rationalise the decision afterward). Professor's argument is that their modern society is so complex, and there are so many laws that our caveman brain can't make useful moral decisions anymore. It turns out that the professor is leading a group which is building an AI machine to nudge people into doing "the right thing".

Cops are investigating a series of bizarre murders by domestic appliances-run-amok. The first involved an antique enema machine (you didn't even know such a thing existed, did you). Cops describe this as a "two wetsuit job".(Google that term if you're really interested in the prurient details)

It turns out that the baddies are employing ("moderately medicated for your protection")psychopaths, valued for their single-minded devotion for achieving master's goals without unnecessary moral or ethical considerations. This is also current study material (The psychopath test : a journey through the madness industry by Jon Ronson described way psychopaths make it to the top in business.)

Story is wrapped up quite hurriedly toward the end as it turns out that all the murders are connected to an elaborate plot to scam the lowlife criminal networks that spam and scam, and at the same time clear out a crippling national debt of an obscure Central European country.....

Books by Title

Books by Author

Books by Topic

Bits of Books To Impress