Halting State

Charlie Stross book - ISBN:0441014984

MMORPG Game Money thefts; Alternate Reality Game as Spy Craft Apprenticeship.

You know all the statistics, nearly 45% of gamers are women, even though if you look at the biz from outside it seems to be focussed on an attention-deficit twelve-year-old male with a breast fixation and sugar high. Something you read about SPOOKS comes back to you, that it was deliberately designed to punch female Escapist buttons. Back in prehistory, when there were 2 Germanys, the East German spies used to recruit lonely female secretarial and administrative staff on the other side, using sex... but also sometimes just the promise of a less less ordinary. People will pay through the nose for excitement: is it any surprise that they'll take it if you're giving it away for free?

Back in the eighteenth century, Carl von Clausewitz was right about war being the continuation of diplomacy by other means. But today, in the twenty-first, the picture's changed. It's all about enforcing economic hegemony, which is maintained by broadcasting your vision of how the global trade system should be structured (Market State). And what we're facing is a real headache - a three-way struggle to be the next economic hegemon. "We" for these purposes, is the Intellectual Property regime we live in - call it the European System (EU). The other hegemonic candidates are the People's Republic of China, and India. America isn't in play - they've only got about three hundred and fifty million people, and once we finish setting up the convergence criteria for Russian accession to the Group Of Thirty, the EU will be over seven hundred. China and India are even bigger. More to the point, the USA went PostIndustrial first. Their Infrastructure is out-of-date and replacing it, now oil is no longer cheap (Cheap Oil), is costing them tens of trillions of euros to modernize. It's exactly the same problem Britain face in the 1930s, the one that ultimately bankrupted the empire.

Oct'2010 post about the history of pitching this book, back to 1998...

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