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The Laundry Files by Charles Stross

The Weird Tradition

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1paradoxosalpha
Aug 4, 2017, 11:36am Top

Is anyone else in the group reading these pretty much on release at this point?

I just posted my review of The Delirium Brief in which I emphasized the integrated text of the series as a whole, and I thought it might be nice to have a standing thread for discussion of it.

For those who've read most or all of the series so far, do you have a favorite volume or character?

2elenchus
Aug 4, 2017, 12:56pm Top

I haven't read any Laundry yet (nor Stross, and there are other of his titles on my recon list), but I've followed with increasing interest your and other LTer reviews of the various novels. This only increases my interest, love the pieces coming together.

3TimSharrock
Aug 4, 2017, 5:10pm Top

I am generally an interested spectator here, rather than a contributor (sorry), but I am a instant-reader of the Laundry books. Stross is at the dark end of what I read, but I cannot bear not to. I am not sure about a favourite book - possibly the Nightmare Stacks. On characters - possibly Cassie, possibly Bob

4paradoxosalpha
Aug 4, 2017, 7:31pm Top

>3 TimSharrock:

I've been awfully entertained by Cassie. One of the reasons I think The Delirium Brief doesn't work well without having read The Nightmare Stacks, is that you need to have read the earlier book to appreciate how scary and alien she is!

5KentonSem
Edited: Aug 4, 2017, 7:53pm Top

Well, I have paradoxosalpha to thank for turning me on to the series in the first place. I remember not being in the mood for it the first go round, putting it aside only to re-start it a while later and get completely sucked in. Working in library IT myself, there's that instant in-the-trenches identification, and the humor in general is right on par with my own. I like that Stross doesn't seem interested in straight-out pastiche or parody. I just finished The Rhesus Chart, which is sooo good. I'll take a little breather before diving into The Annihilation Score, which I believe features Mo, one of my fave characters. I also like Bob and his curious boss, the Eater of Souls.

6paradoxosalpha
Aug 4, 2017, 7:56pm Top

The Annihilation Score is the only volume (so far) in which Mo serves as the narrator.

7KentonSem
Edited: Aug 4, 2017, 8:08pm Top

I think The Rhesus Chart might be the best written of the first 5 books. It was a welcome surprise to find that there is both more and less to the PHANGS than meets the eye. They didn't just become another group of vampire bad guys to be destroyed. They were simply dupes. Mere pups in a malevolent universe. I liked Mahri's character as she developed. I also enjoyed the introduction of Spooky the Cat and hope to see more of him in the future. Stross can obviously "write cat". I'm also going to assume Angleton will be back, somehow.

8paradoxosalpha
Aug 4, 2017, 8:30pm Top

>7 KentonSem: Stross can obviously "write cat".

His cat is in his author photo on the new book. Not this pic, but probably taken in the same set:

9KentonSem
Aug 4, 2017, 9:37pm Top

>8 paradoxosalpha:

That's great! Errr... it looks like the cat is writing while Stross is taking the selfie.

10KentonSem
Sep 13, 2017, 2:36pm Top

I'm going back in. Just ordered The Annihilation Score.

11darryldenicola
Sep 18, 2017, 5:08pm Top

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12KentonSem
Nov 3, 2017, 9:28am Top

>10 KentonSem:

Loved it. So good to spend an entire book with Mo. This one is even more entrenched in amusing office politics, but it all works in service to a really crazy scenario with (gasp!) superheroes. The way they would no doubt really be in reality.

13paradoxosalpha
Nov 3, 2017, 10:13am Top

The Labyrinth Index is up on amazon for pre-order. I've been reading these at the public library, so it's time for me to prompt them to acquire the new one!

14paradoxosalpha
Jul 11, 10:56am Top

Release date for The Labyrinth Index is Halloween (or thereabouts). The amazon.com description has been fleshed out. As readers of the previous few volumes might well have been expecting, it looks like Case Nightmare Green really hits the fan in this book. Rather than being a finale as I suspected it might be, though, it's characterized as "beginning an exciting new story arc."

15KentonSem
Edited: Jul 11, 4:30pm Top

Yikes! Just about to order The Nightmare Stacks.

16KentonSem
Edited: Aug 11, 5:59pm Top

>15 KentonSem:

I was prepared for maybe a bit of a slog with The Nightmare Stacks. I mean, really... elves? C'mon, Stross! But he pulls it off in spades. Some of the the grimmest action in all of the Laundry series happens here, and yet the very last page is so funny and poignant while being so perfectly in sync with our current immigration wars that I wonder if Stross actually has a crystal ball tucked away somewhere... And hail, Cassie! Now, on to the next volume!

17paradoxosalpha
Edited: Oct 12, 12:30am Top

So, The Labyrinth Index still isn't out yet. But in related reading, I'm currently midway through Horse Under Water by Len Deighton, the sequel to his first novel The Ipcress File. Stross pointed to Deighton as the proximate inspiration for The Atrocity Archive, and indeed all the Laundry books have kept to the titling formula established by The Ipcress File, i.e. "The (Characterizing Noun, maybe a proper name) (Noun, type of document or information storage)."

Because of the big James Bond element in the second Laundry book The Jennifer Morgue, I had thought that Stross had pivoted completely from Deighton to Ian Fleming. But I now see that the Deighton influence persisted strongly, with the intra-agency intrigue, and in this case, a setting that hinges on submersible aquatic action. Also, Deighton is hella droll. (I much prefer his work to that of Fleming.)

18elenchus
Oct 11, 4:58pm Top

I liked the one (two?) Fleming-penned Bond novels I've read, though I concede I would not call his prose droll. Caustic, more like. I've not read any Deighton, though, and have long pigeon-holed him as an "airport" novelist: a reliable read, but not much more. Perhaps I've been unfair.

19paradoxosalpha
Oct 11, 8:05pm Top

I know Deighton had a long career as a novelist, but so far I've only read his early work from the 1960s.

20KentonSem
Edited: Oct 12, 9:20am Top

I love the Bond books (but not the movies). I'm up to You Only Live Twice in a long-standing sequential reading project. Bond is an obvious role-model for parts of the Laundry Files series, but I've often felt like I was missing something - could well be Deighton . The only book of his we have out in the stacks here is something called The ABCs of Food. I'll have to check the public library at some point for something more cold war-ish

21paradoxosalpha
Oct 12, 11:15am Top

I really recommend The Ipcress File for anyone who enjoys Cold War espionage stories, especially if they appreciate the Laundry! My review: https://www.librarything.com/work/83410/details/93584463

I still haven't seen the movie, but I do want to. It met with Deighton's approval, and it won a pile of awards.

22KentonSem
Oct 12, 12:08pm Top

>21 paradoxosalpha:

I miss the Cold War - things were so much more civilized, then. :-D

Will definitely check out The Ipcress File.

23KentonSem
Oct 12, 12:20pm Top

I might have mentioned this elsewhere, but an incredibly good Cold War-set comedy series called A VERY SECRET SERVICE can be found on Netflix. It's focused on French operatives, but about all that's missing is a Lovecraftian element to make it a kind of prequel to the Bob-era novels.

https://www.netflix.com/title/80097771

24paradoxosalpha
Oct 12, 12:31pm Top

A book that makes a good Cold War Laundry analogue is Tim Powers' Declare (although its historical scope actually starts earlier). It was published around the same time as The Atrocity Archive, and Stross has acknowledged the likeness and the sense of "steam engine time" for espionage yog-sothothery.

I really enjoyed Declare, far more than the same author's more popular Anubis Gates.

25paradoxosalpha
Edited: Oct 12, 12:37pm Top

I just realized, a funnily apt name for the supernatural espionage microgenre would be intelligence stories, capitalizing on the dual denotation of "intelligence"--used to mean the fruits of spying on the one hand and a spiritual entity on the other.

26KentonSem
Oct 12, 12:44pm Top

Just added Declare to my TBR list!

27elenchus
Oct 12, 12:53pm Top

I recently read The Anubis Gates (review pending) and noted paradoxosalpha's preference for Declare. It took me almost 40 years to get to the first, but I liked it well enough to not wait another 40 for the second. Great mix of genre fun and just interesting montage of all sorts of disparate things.

28dukedom_enough
Oct 12, 5:39pm Top

Since we're talking about Tim Powers, I'll note that I liked Last Call.

29elenchus
Oct 12, 8:54pm Top

I think that goes on the wishlist, too, but more generally I think I'll just pick up any Powers book when coming across it.

30KentonSem
Edited: Oct 12, 11:03pm Top

>28 dukedom_enough:

I really enjoyed Last Call too. Couldn't put it down.

31KentonSem
Oct 18, 9:39am Top

Had to ILL The Ipcress File - a bit surprised that my public library didn't have it. Even at one chapter in, I can see a resemblance to the Laundry!

32elenchus
Oct 18, 2:38pm Top

>31 KentonSem:

I'm mulling now the dis / advantages to reading Deighton first, then Stross ... or the other way round.

33KentonSem
Edited: Oct 18, 3:07pm Top

>32 elenchus:

I think it's necessary to have read Lovecraft first in order to really enjoy those little eldritch homages here and there in the Laundry novels. On the other hand, the world of espionage/spy tropes has been so widely ingrained for decades- even down to the mundane aspects -that you'll get it if you're at all familiar with James Bond, George Smiley, or Maxwell Smart. I'm finding that reading Deighton after-the-fact (well, up through The Nightmare Stacks, anyway) enjoyably presents one of the specific models Stross uses.

34paradoxosalpha
Oct 18, 3:24pm Top

Yeah, Stross emulates Deighton, but he riffs on Grandpa.

35paradoxosalpha
Edited: Nov 2, 10:02am Top

The Labyrinth Index released on schedule and is in stock at amazon. Now I need to get my public library to acquire it. Whoa! They have seven copies. I've put a hold on one.

36elenchus
Nov 2, 11:05am Top

Sign of a quality librarian. Or, a paranoiac.

37paradoxosalpha
Nov 2, 11:47am Top

Well, it's seven copies for a dozen library locations. Still, way more than I figured.

38paradoxosalpha
Edited: Nov 25, 5:54pm Top

Read The Labyrinth Index over the holiday weekend, and just posted my review.

39KentonSem
Dec 12, 10:13am Top

Since I'm a single Dad and Santa still plays a role in Xmas, I get to choose my own stocking-stuffers. This year I asked for The Delirium Brief. :-D

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