Ok, I read this pretty much as soon as I got it - and I'm re-reading it now so it's probably to early to really write this review since this is a book that really takes multiple readings to wrap your head around. It's sort of like The Sixth Sense [Blu-ray] - you watch it and you know there's stuff going on that you don't quite see, but it's really cool and it drags you along, and when you're done and you go "Oh!" and it's so much cooler now because you understand and you go back and read it again and go "OH!!" at all those points where you knew there was something else going on but you weren't in the right place to see it. This is that kind of book.
This is a sequel to Halting State, but pretty much there's only one character from that book in this book, and she was just on the edges of Halting State, so really it's a standalone book in the same universe. It also feels like sort of a prequel to Accelerando but maybe that's just me, and that might even be giving too much away.
The basic story is sort of a police procedural (but not really?) combined with a "Life 2.0" or even maybe "Life 3.0" primer about how the world will be after all the bubbles burst and cheap auto-fabbing technology is available on the "village blacksmith" level. With pervasive computing made simple with virtual technology and pervasive observation by the government, and work assignments by smart engines (think amazon's mechanical turk, or crowd sourcing) because everything's so complex a person can't really manage the chaos, mix police, manic killers, auditors (a carry-over theme from Halting State), and a legal system to complex for a person to do the actual charging, into some frothy satisfying deep stoutish beer of wonder. And yes, there is a small subtheme of brewing beer in this.
To me this felt more utopian than distopian - the characters in the book might not have had great lives but there weren't killer androids lurking in the streets or police dragging people away on the flimsiest of excuses, people worked, they had what they needed, they had magic gadgets that could make most anything with the right magic spells you culd download from the internet (but keep your virus checker up to date!), so I'd think it's more better than worse ;).
There is some talk of kinky sex in this (ok, I know, I'm an adult, I should be able to just ride over this, but I wouldn't let my son read this yet, which is sad cuz he'd like alot of it I think) but no kinky sex scenes, as such, it was more like a horror movie - have kinky sex and get what's coming to you.
All in all - while it wasn't a total surprise the ending was pretty satisfying and pretty much promised at least one more sequel (I don't think he's killed this series yet!) which I'm looking forward too, especially if he folds this book's events in with some of the characters from Halting State.