The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross
Man, I just turned someone else on to the Laundry Files, explaining how Stross does such a good job slowly escalating and tightening his story. And this one was particularly shiny. Because while the journals are usually about Bob Howard and his travails, in the wake of the disastrous last one (not that it was bad, but that SHIT. GOT. REAL.) this one is actually told from the perspective of Dr. Dominique O’Brien, Bob’s wife and keeper of the bone violin with a trapped demon in it. And man, what a great goddamn choice. Spoilers ahead.
This one overlaps with the end of the last story and into a new plot. Namely, CODE NIGHTMARE GREEN has escalated to the point that normal citizens are starting to show signs of superpowers. Not all of them are good guys. And so Mo inadvertently gets tasked with creating a superhero force to show that the government is handling this. Enter in that she’s now separated from Bob and that they are both in danger of their respective powers eating one another’s souls; enter that Mo is forced into the limelight; enter in that Lecter, her violin is possibly trying to possess her by using sex dreams, and man I’m just iceberging this motherfucker.
It’s great to be in Mo’s mind from this point. Bob’s kind of wandering around cleaning up messes and avoiding her, so we get to see how that plays with Mo. Who, if we recall, was basically sucked against her will into this whole Laundry bullshit years ago. Sure she met Bob, and they’re lovey dovey, but she’s also pissed.
Stross kills it with the usual bureaucratic malevolence — he’s like Dilbert but Cthonic and actually amusing — while still nudging us towards oblivion and an eventual showdown. He makes great hay with bringing back some old characters and kind of nicely tying things together, while also at the same time, giving us a fresh perspective. I admit, I got a little pissed at time, which is probably misogynist and old fashioned of me, when Mo shows affection towards her spy beaus. Especially since Bob works so hard not to get banged by the strange. But that’s just me.
And that also is my SECOND CANNONBALL COMPLETE. KABOOM-O. I might not make the four I was hoping for, but I’m still on task for a three-fer.