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The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross

The Annihilation Score

by Charles Stross

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Laundry (6)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
It's the next one that'll have the ' elves with tanks ' I think Stross agrees with me that ' mass-effect charm ' is probably the most dangerous superpower. ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
Slight spoilers

An interesting turn in the series, I loved seeing this from Mo's point of view. So glad I found this series. ( )
  rlsalvati | Jul 5, 2016 |
I finished reading The Annihilation Score last night, I really enjoyed it, although it makes a lot more sense now that I've read the spoiler thread comments over on www.antipope.org

The pitch is Bob Howard's exes set up a superhero team to fight crime. The Annihilation Score is the 6th Laundry novel and the second departure from Bob as the narrator. This time we have his wife Mo as our unreliable narrator. She is tasked to set up an arms length body to get ahead of the curve on an outbreak of superheroes. This is a side effect of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, AKA the end of the world as we know it.

As well as working flat out to deal with the superheroes Mo finds her marriage falling apart. Her possessed violin (AKA Lecter) has a problem with Bob, and he's not particularly adept at reading the cues either. Mainly though Bob is absent on other business for the duration, although he drops in at a couple of points.

The main parts of the team are Ramona Random (now part transformed to a mermaid and on secondment as a liaison officer from the Deep Ones); Mhari (Bob's ex from HR and now a vampire); and Jim Grey, a superintendent on loan from the Met Police via ACPO and coincidentally a three sigma superhero known as Officer Friendly. In the background we see a little more of the senior levels of the Laundry, in particular the Senior Auditor, who becomes almost human and is revealed as the previous carrier of the white violin.

Primarily the Annihilation Score expands the background and gives another, albeit unreliable, window into the Laundry and how it works. Mo is taken rapidly down the road to a nervous breakdown, quite deliberately it seems. We also get a window into how the government is not really dealing with the developments of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, although some of that needs to be taken by looking at what isn't happening as much as by what is.

If you have liked the Laundry series already then this is a good solid book worth reading. If you haven't started then it might not be the best place to start. ( )
  jmkemp | Jul 5, 2016 |
In my review of the previous Laundry Files novel I accurately speculated that "further volumes will see the role of narrator passed to some junior character." I did not, however, expect that character to be Dominique "Mo" O'Brien, the wife of the protagonist of the first five volumes. Mo is Bob's "junior" in the Laundry by a short while, although she is older than him and more intellectually accomplished. This book takes place during their "trial separation," while their respective sorceries are behaving incompatibly. At first, I wondered if author Stross would sufficiently distinguish Mo's narrative voice from Bob's, given the peculiar combination of the Laundry environment: civil service bureaucracy, espionage, and soul-shearing horrors from outside of our universe; but he did succeed.

Where the comedic element of other Laundry books was largely supplied by Bob's geeky sense of humor, this one managed to offer a wealth of absurd circumstances, centering as it did on an epidemic of superpowers, and the social consequences of villains and vigilantes in "pervert suits." Unsurprisingly in a book narrated by Mo, the other chief concern was her escalating conflict with the diabolical enchanted violin which has been her professional tool and curse since the first stories of the series.

A key theme of the book is the differences between intelligence work and policing, with much attention paid to the formation of a police culture. Although the book is set in 21st-century England, this American reader could not help but reflect on the currency of the topic relative to our spate of news about abusive and murderous police behavior. The public dialogue in the US could probably benefit from a conscious consideration of the "Peelian Principles" which have been foundational to the British Commonwealth's conception of domestic policing since the early 19th century.

Stross is not quite as sharp here in his references to 20th-century occultism as he was in, say, The Fuller Memorandum. In particular, he invests both Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare with musical abilities that the men did not possess. But these are throw-away allusions not intrinsic to the plot.

With this sixth novel (and at least two more projected), have the Laundry Files earned the right to be compared to Harry Potter? Both are supernatural sagas in self-consciously British institutional settings. Rather than Voldemort, Stross presents us with CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, an incipient "magical singularity" or thaumaturgical armageddon that is a growing threat throughout the series. When The Atrocity Archive was published, I think the idea of a screen version would have seemed pretty far-fetched. Now, I suppose that the BBC should be recycling half of the creative team from Torchwood into work on an episodic Laundry series.
6 vote paradoxosalpha | Oct 14, 2015 |
This is the first Laundry Files book told from Mo’s perspective, but Mo as presented by Stross is basically her husband with a greater focus on bureaucratic procedure. I’m not sure that the world needed a Lovecraft homage where essentially all the action involves forming a task force and engaging in bureaucratic infighting (as the stars get ever closer to coming right and the apocalypse draws nigh), but it’s kind of hilarious to have one exist. Definitely advances the plot a fair amount; I would have preferred it if Mo had a more distinctive voice, but I’m still interested to see what happens next. ( )
2 vote rivkat | Sep 23, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Strossprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Worrell, LesleyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425281175, Hardcover)

PLAYING WITH DANGER Dr. Mo O'Brien is an intelligence agent at the top secret government agency known as 'the Laundry'. When occult powers threaten the realm, they'll be there to clean up the mess - and deal with the witnesses. But the Laundry is recovering from a devastating attack and when average citizens all over the country start to develop supernatural powers, the police are called in to help. Mo is appointed as official police liaison, but in between dealing with police bureaucracy, superpowered members of the public and disgruntled politicians, Mo discovers to her horror that she can no longer rely on her marriage, nor on the weapon that has been at her side for eight years of undercover work, the possessed violin known as 'Lecter'. Also, a mysterious figure known as Dr Freudstein has started sending threatening messages to the police, but who is he and what is he planning?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:52 -0400)

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