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Charles Stross January 5, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.

John Varley used to be my favorite science fiction author, but I have had my head banged around by Charles Stross for a little while, now.  Stross has three series of books and a bunch of short stories that have given me much pleasure and a lot to think about.

The first introduction I had to his works was the Laundry series of books, a group of stories about British civil servants who stop Lovecraftian horrors from invading our dimension through the use of computers (and necromancy—did I mention the necromancy?).  Stross makes this unlikely scenario seem matter-of-fact by the irritated commentary of the beleaguered middle-range civil servant who narrates these tales.  The first in the series is The Atrocity Archives and the second The Jennifer Morgue, and I urge you to read them in that order although they can be standalone reads. There is an additional short (a charming Xmas tale) that I read on Tor.com; here is the audio version).  I am certain there will be more, as these are as interesting as Hell.  The next, The Fuller Memorandum, is due in July.

Another, longer series (which also can be read stand-alone, but don’t) is the Family Business series.  Basically, the many troubles of a woman raised in our world who discovers she is from another dimension…which turns out to be one of many.  She and her whole other-worldly family are smugglers, with all the risks that go with it, and terrific troubles otherwise as well (George Bush, Dick Cheney and other, lesser bloodthirsty aristocrats), all in a delicious alternate-history setting.  I salivate waiting for the next installment. The Trade of Queens, is the sixth in the series, is due out in March.

Charles Stross has written a bunch of other books as well, but the one which whacked me on the side of the head most sharply is Singularity Sky and its follow-on companion, Iron Sunrise.  Both are related tales of the singularity which results when poverty is suddenly eliminated entirely by amazingly abundant machine production of goods, services and extra body parts. Another tale (probably) from this same setting is Glasshouse, in which a tank battalion overcomes murderous enforcement of provincial thinking in a future setting.  The tank battalion is understandably upset to be housed in the body of an unwillingly pregnant woman.

Another favorite of mine is a delightful comedic romp in the style of my favorite non-scifi author P.G. Wodehouse. Trunk and Disorderly is a tale of a Bertie Wooster sort of chap who loses his, um, girl to an evil overlord type.  The link goes to a delightful set of MP3s so you can hear it read with the correct fop accent it deserves (I suppose Hugh Laurie is pretty busy these days).


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