If I had to pick one word for this book, it would be "smug." I don't have a lot of tolerance for smugness at the best of times, and Glasshouse did nothing to earn its attitude. The worldbuilding was flimsy (if your characters are going to be motivated to horrific acts in pursuit of money, you need to tell me what, in your post-scarcity economy, money is for
), the characterization shallow (unsurprisingly so, I guess, when all the characters are suffering from various grades of amnesiac dissociative psychosis, but it doesn't make for compelling emotional investment), and the plot driven by coincidences.
There's also a lot of stuff about gender that I feel is poorly done. It's unclear why these people, who shift bodies and species at the drop of a hat, have
firm senses of gender identity or any conception of gender roles. Yet after about a page of confusion, they slot into the Glasshouse's 1950s stereotypes almost without question. There are some deliberate
rejections of the norms, but none of the inadvertent errors you'd expect to see among a bunch of people playing with an utterly foreign concept. Meanwhile, the main character's observations on having a female body are pretty much limited to the fact that menstruation and the lack of pockets suck.
The pages turn quickly enough, and you could do worse for a plane trip or day at the beach, but you could also do a whole lot better. I'm told it's one of Stross's lesser works, and I should give him another chance. Maybe I will. But Glasshouse does nothing to push him toward the front of my to-read queue.