These two droll, amazing and entertaining stories hopefully herald the start of a cycle of "Laundry" tales. Stross' obsession with science, computers, internet technology, office management structures (!), occult history and HP Lovecraft meshes into a dizzyingly fun reading experience. Somehow, massive exposure to all this information - cleverly turned on its head to meet the demands of the stories - causes synapses to sizzle and crackle, giving rise to an illusory boost of one's own intelligence. Yes, Virginia, reading Stross makes you feel smarter, as others have observed....
This is Must Read stuff for Lovecraft fans, but if you like the work of Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, or Grant Morrison's THE INVISIBLES, then this is more or less guaranteed to flip your wig.
In the tradition of Roger Zelazny's classic Amber novels, the second volume of Charles Stross's thrill-a-minute saga of multiple worlds. Miriam, a hip tech journalist from Boston, discovered her alternate world relatives in , and with them an elite identity she didn't know was hers. Now, in order to avoid a slippery slope down to an unmarked grave, Miriam, known as Lady Helge to the Family, starts applying modern business practices and scientific knowledge to a trade dominated by mercantilists -- with unexpected consequences for three different timelines, including the quasi-Victorian one exploited by the hidden family. Charles Stross is one of the big new SF writers of the 21st century, and the saga of The Merchant Princes is his most ambitious work yet.
A bold fantasy in the tradition of Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber, The Merchant Princes is a sweeping new series from the hottest new writer in science fiction!
Miriam Beckstein is happy in her life. She's a successful reporter for a hi-tech magazine in Boston, making good money doing what she loves. When her researcher brings her iron-clad evidence of a money-laundering scheme, Miriam thinks she's found the story of the year. But when she takes it to her editor, she's fired on the spot and gets a death threat from the criminals she has uncovered.
Before the day is over, she's received a locket left by the mother she never knew—the mother who was murdered when she was an infant. Within is a knotwork pattern, which has a hypnotic effect on her. Before she knows it, she's transported herself to a parallel Earth, a world where knights on horseback chase their prey with automatic weapons, and where world-skipping assassins lurk just on the other side of reality—a world where her true family runs things.
The six families of the Clan rule the kingdom of Gruinmarkt from behind the scenes, a mixture of nobility and criminal conspirators whose power to walk between the worlds makes them rich in both. Braids of family loyalty and intermarriage provide a fragile guarantee of peace, but a recently-ended civil war has left the families shaken and suspicious.
Taken in by her mother's people, she becomes the star of the story of the century—as Cinderella without a fairy godmother. As her mother's heir, Miriam is hailed as the prodigal countess Helge Thorold-Hjorth, and feted and feasted. Caught up in schemes and plots centuries in the making, Miriam is surrounded by unlikely allies, forbidden loves, lethal contraband, and, most dangerous of all, her family. Her unexpected return will supercede the claims of other clan members to her mother's fortune and power, and whoever killed her mother will be happy to see her dead, too.
Behind all this lie deeper secrets still, which threaten everyone and everything she has ever known. Patterns of deception and interlocking lies, as intricate as the knotwork between the universes. But Miriam is no one's pawn, and is determined to conquer her new home on her own terms.
Blending the creativity and humor of Roger Zelazny, the adventure of H. Beam Piper and Philip Jose Farmer, and the rigor and scope of a science-fiction writer on the grandest scale, Charles Stross has set a new standard for fantasy epics.
A dissident faction of the Clan, the alternate universe group of families that has traded covertly with our world for a century or more, have carried nuclear devices between the worlds and exploded them in Washington, DC, killing the President of the United States. Now they will exterminate the rest of the Clan and keep Miriam alive only long enough to bear her child, the heir to the throne of their land in the Gruinmarkt world.
The worst and deepest secret is now revealed: behind the horrifying plot is a faction of the US government itself, preparing for a political takeover in the aftermath of disaster. There is no safe place for Miriam and her Clan except, perhaps, in the third alternate world, New Britain--which has just had a revolution and a nuclear incident of its own.
Charles Stross's Merchant Princes series reaches a spectacular climax in this sixth volume. Praised by Nobel laureate Paul Krugman as "great fun," this is state of the art, cutting edge SF grown out of a fantastic premise.
Meet Edinburgh Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh, head of the Innovative Crimes Investigation Unit, otherwise known as the Rule 34 Squad. They monitor the Internet for potential criminal activity, analyzing trends in the extreme fringes of explicit content. And occasionally, even more disturbing patterns arise…
Three ex-cons have been murdered in Germany, Italy, and Scotland. The only things they had in common were arrests for spamming—and a taste for unorthodox entertainment. As the first officer on the scene of the most recent death, Liz finds herself sucked into an international investigation that isn’t so much asking who the killer is, but what—and if she doesn’t find the answer soon, the homicides could go viral.
“Equoid” is set shortly before the events of the “The Fuller Memorandum”. It’s the longest non-novel-length Laundry story so far. And it explains (among other things) precisely what H. P. Lovecraft saw behind the wood-shed when he was 14 that traumatized him for life, the reproductive life-cycle of unicorns, and what really happened on Cold Comfort Farm.
In this alternately chilling and hilarious sequel to The Atrocity Archives (2004) from Hugo-winner Stross, Bob Howard is a computer übergeek employed by the Laundry, a secret British agency assigned to clean up incursions from other realities caused by the inadvertent manipulation of complex mathematical equations: in other words, magic. In 1975, the CIA used Howard Hughes's Glomar Explorer in a bungled attempt to raise a sunken Soviet submarine in order to access the Jennifer Morgue, an occult device that allows communication with the dead. Now a ruthless billionaire intends to try again, even if by doing so he awakens the Great Old Ones, who thwarted the earlier expedition. It's up to Bob and a collection of British eccentrics even Monty Python would consider odd to stop the bad guy and save the world, while getting receipts for all expenditures or else face the most dreaded menace of all: the Laundry's own auditors. Stross has a marvelous time making eldritch horror appear commonplace in the face of bureaucracy.
In the year 2018, Sergeant Sue Smith of the Edinburgh constabulary is called in on a special case. A daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates, a dot-com startup company that's just been floated on the London stock exchange. The suspects are a band of marauding orcs, with a dragon in tow for fire support, and the bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. For Smith, the investigation seems pointless. But she soon realizes that the virtual world may have a devastating effect in the real one-and that someone is about to launch an attack upon both…
This much-anticipated debut novel is set 400 years in the future-and in the wake of perfected time travel, the ultimate advancements in technology and information, and the groundbreaking development of Artificial Intelligence. Is this all a great step for humanity? Or will it be our ultimate downfall?
Bob has been behind a desk for too long, busy indexing and archiving the Laundry's secret files, and he's longing for a break when his wife, Mo, announces that she's landed a teaching assignment at a staff college in Cambridge. And he's worrying at the problem of a missing manuscript – an unfinished policy document found in the personal effects of Major-General J. F. C. Fuller (rtd) after his death – which is absent from the Laundry archives. (Fuller was not only the tactician who first invented Blitzkrieg warfare in 1917-18; he was also #2 to Aleister Crowley in the OTO, and a heavyweight Cabalist.) So Bob follows Mo to Cambridge, and is startled to find a Russian spy sneaking around after him. The Fuller Memorandum is missing, and the FSB want it badly. It's got something to do with Fuller's occult obsessions, and something to do with the Laundry's creation in 1941. But Bob doesn't realize just how much is at stake until someone tries to kill Mo, and his boss Angleton starts behaving oddly before lapsing into a coma. The theft of Fuller's document is at the heart of a murderous conspiracy rooted in the GULAGs, and Bob is dumped into a deadly race against time – because if he can't work out where it's been hidden, and how it's connected to Angleton's mysterious illness, it's going to be curtains for the Laundry (and possibly the world) as the cultists of Chernobog try to raise darkness at noon.
Sex oozes from every page of this erotic futuristic thriller. In a far-future class-driven android society, most of the populace are slave-chipped and owned by wealthy aristos. When low-caste but unenslaved android Freya offends an aristo and needs to get off-world, she takes a courier position with the mysterious Jeeves Corporation, but the job turns out to have dangers of its own. Designed as a pleasure-module, Freya isn’t quite as obsolete as she could be, as androids have sex with each other incessantly. Hugo-winner Charles Stross has a deep message of how android slavery recapitulates humanity’s past mistakes, but he struggles to make it heard over the moans and gunshots. Readers nostalgic for the SF of the ’60s will find much that’s familiar (including Freya’s jumpsuit-clad form on the cover), but that doesn’t quite compensate for the flaws.
The sequel to the critically acclaimed returns to the twenty-fourth-century interstellar domain humankind has forged through the godlike powers of the Eschaton, an enigmatic being from humanity’s distant future. Now, in an act of apparent sabotage, one remote interstellar colony, Moscow, has met a disastrous fate: its host star exploded, annihilating an entire solar system and forcing the evacuation of nearby colonies. UN hostage negotiator Rachel Mansour, who is recovering from a showdown with a psychotic performance artist harboring a nuclear warhead, is tagged to make the wormhole jaunt to the scene and investigate. Is one of Moscow’s rival colonies responsible? Is the Eschaton? Improbably, the answers to such questions may lie with Wednesday, a rambunctious adolescent girl whose family is fleeing the expanding explosion, and between whose story and Rachel’s the novel alternates. Stross improves on with better characterizations and entertaining technological inventiveness. Fans of hard SF spiced by political intrigue will relish this dish.
Nominated for Hugo and Locus awards in 2005.
Things are going badly for the Clan in this new SF novel of the Merchant Princes, the immensely popular series by Charles Stross. Locked in a vicious civil war for control over the kingdom of Niejwein, their army is bottled up inside a fortress under siege in two parallel universes at once. Duke Angbard, the Clan’s leader, has been laid low by a stroke: plotters are already conspiring in readiness for the deadly dance to come.
Miriam, rescued from a tight spot in New Britain, finds the hopes of the young, progressive faction focused on her. But do they want her as a leader or a figurehead? She soon finds herself thrown into a desperate struggle for power. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the Clan, researchers working for the US government have achieved a technological breakthrough. The War on Terror is about to go transdimensional.
Miriam Beckstein has gotten in touch with her roots and they have nearly strangled her. A young, hip, business journalist in Boston, she discovered (in ) that her family comes from an alternate reality, that she is very well-connected, and that her family is too much like the mafia for comfort. In addition, starting with the fact that women are family property and required to breed more family members with the unique talent to walk between worlds, Miriam has tried to remain an outsider and her own woman. She started a profitable business in a third world she has discovered, outside the family reach (recounted in ). She fell in love with a distant relative, but he died saving her life.
Now, however, in , Miriam may be overreaching. And if she gets caught, death or a fate worse is around the bend. There is, for instance, the brain-damaged son of the local king who needs a wife. But they'd never make her do that, would they?