Have you ever had to listen to someone describe to you, in detail, this killer videogame they've been playing lately? For hours on end? And they're really excited about it, but it's worse than listening to someone describe their dreams, because there's not even any chance of hearing about some sort of really fucked up dream sex between them and someone you know? That was Halting State for me.
I'm no gamer. Okay, I play Kingdom of Loathing from time to time, and I'm enough of a geek to get many of Stross's references, but the whole god damned concept of the real world and game worlds interacting on a full immersion level leaves me bored to tears. Or maybe it's just his writing. He obviously felt that your average person wouldn't be able to follow along with those more familiar with MMORPGs, and he winds up discarding, oh, such trifles as character development or actual plot action to deal with blah blah blah explanations and exposition.
Boring beyond belief is what I'm saying. Bloodless murders, thefts that don't matter, kidnappings of no one. There were a few interesting concepts buried in there somewhere, but damned if I wound up caring. And, of course, it dragged on forever because it never drew me in enough to keep me reading for long. If I didn't have a habit of finishing every book I start, I'd have chucked this one over the fence two weeks ago.