A combat epistemologist, a vampire and a mermaid walk into a bar…
The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross
On that South-American River thingy.
On that same-same, but the French store.
The book hasn’t been translated yet (which… considering it just came out, is none too surprising).
Wiki defines the Laundry series as a Lovecraftian Spy Thriller. I guess that’s pretty much accurate. While you can probably take up any novel in the series and read it independently from the others (Stross does provide succinct back story where needed), it’s been a serial pretty much from the start, all books being loosely plugged into the current apocalyptic crisis peaking on the horizon, the cryptically named “Case Nightmare Green”, in which eldritch horrors break into our reality and proceed to destroy us. The key to prevent that happening is to limit as much as possible the mass of occult magic being performed in the world, magic being here a consequence of certain mathematical equations being performed by a brain, or, as it happens more and more often, a computer, either on purpose or by accident, summoning beings from other dimensions. See the mounting problem ?
When the novel begins, the latest of those problems is a peak of what seems to be people getting super-powers out of the blue. The Laundry is forced by some circumstances into creating a special task-force to deal with the epidemic. And that’s the operating bones of the story, but, oh boy, while I only mildly appreciated the preceding novel in the series, I really didn’t expect this one to be both so harrowing and so funny.
Actually, it’s not funny at all. It’s grim. But the running comment on OUR current epidemic of super-heroes, well, that’s pretty much hilarious, even if it’s not really that subtle.
There are many things to like in The Annihilation Score, but personally, I really loved how Stross decided to seriously mix it up by telling the story from an entirely different point of view from the preceding books in the series, which turns out to be a welcome change, and a voice I had always been curious about, Mo, aka my favourite combat epistemologist and her demonic soul-sucking violin.
I give it a solid four stars. (Because I thought I have to stop giving everything I like five stars… Sorry, Annihilation Score, you’re the first victim.)
(This review is part of Cannonball Read 7)