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Double Bill: The Vinyl Cafe and Welcome to Night Vale

Under the heading of unusual grieving processes, there’s how I seem to be dealing with the recent loss of a Canadian cultural icon.

Since I was a kid, one of the fixtures at CBC Radio has been the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean. It was a radio variety show featuring musical artists and McLean’s specialty of humourous and introspective stories, both anecdotes and fiction. If you’re American, it’s roughly analagous to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion – in fact, the first time I heard the Vinyl Cafe, I actually thought it was Garrison Keillor.

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McLean died at the age of 68 in February, as the mass extinction of great celebrities of 2016 continues to bleed over into the new year. The Vinyl Cafe was frequently recorded in live performances in venues all over Canada. When I was in university we made a semi-regular thing of going to see the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Tour show at University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall. I count myself lucky to have once met McLean in the grocery store and expressed my enjoyment of his shows while I had the chance.

And, coincidentally, I decided to finally get into something a lot of friends of mine follow, and which, it turns out, is somewhat the Vinyl Cafe or Prairie Home Companion’s mirror universe twin: the podcast Welcome to Night Vale.

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Stuart McLean used his show, in part, as a platform to exhibit Canadian musical talent. I remember one broadcast that featured the famous Jeff Healey Band as well as Molly Johnson in particular. During some of the Christmas shows he reliably had the jazz singer Lisa Lindo and the pianist John Sheard – his sometime musical director – in tow, and he once exhibited a then-twelve-year-old master bass guitarist named Jimmy Bowskill and promptly knocked our collective socks off.

Interspersed with the music would be stories, and this is where the Vinyl Cafe and McLean himself really shone. The stories were often ones from McLean’s own experiences, and some episodes – studio ones mostly, as far as I remember – were dedicated to stories sent in from around Canada by listeners about experiences they’d had of one kind or another. But the heart and soul of the Vinyl Cafe for me and a lot of people were the fictional stories McLean wrote featuring Dave and Morley, a married couple in middle-class Toronto, their children, their neighbours and their madcap adventures.

Dave is a record store owner who is the most hilariously neurotic person you could ask for, getting into farcical misadventures alongside his long-suffering wife and bemused children. The most famous one is the story of the frantic, insane lengths he goes to in order to cook the Christmas turkey at the very last minute. My favourite one is when they’re attending the neighbourhood Christmas party and Dave mixes up the adult (rum-laced) eggnog bowl and the kids’ bowl. Wackiness ensues. McLean’s Mr. Rogers-esque voice, deadpan delivery and impeccable comic timing mean that I’ve seldom laughed at anything so hard in my life. I put on the Vinyl Cafe Stories podcast the other day (I’ve only recently begun to actually understand what a podcast is), listened to the story of Dave’s son Sam secretly turning the yard into a water park for his friends and nearly fell off my chair. It says a lot about the show’s long standing and distinctive style that McLean’s live audience would sometimes start laughing well before the punch line, prompting him to remark, “don’t get ahead of me now.”

Welcome to Night Vale has something of the variety-show outfit, although it has an entirely fictionalized frame. Rather than being a radio show where stories are told, the radio show is the story.

Night Vale is an isolated desert community in the American southwest somewhere, and the podcast features its community radio broadcaster Cecil reporting on the latest goings-on; community events, municipal politics, civic affairs, local business advertisements.

Things like: the appearance of a forest that whispers at passers-by, reminders to take cover before the Street Cleaners’ prophesied return, festivals with compulsory attedance, and the election of a sentient luminescent gas cloud to the School Board (All Hail the Mighty Glow Cloud!).

Night Vale is built of very Lovecraftian materials with a dollop of internet conspiracy theories. A Vague But Menacing Government Agency is well-known around town, there are sinister hooded figures everyone tries to ignore, a piece of civic statuary known as the Shape, which reacts badly if people take too much notice of it, and regular implications that the town itself doesn’t exist in quite the same reality as the rest of the world. It’s a little like something out of the Laundry Files crossed with Sunnydale from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It’s quite creepy, the creepiness of something just out of sight, there but not there. But to the people of Night Vale, this is just everyday life, and they regard it with such relaxed disinterest that it’s hilarious! As with McLean, Cecil (played by actor Cecil Baldwin) sells a lot of the comedy by deadpan delivery, often of things that are so completely out of nowhere that you can’t help but laugh. The Community Calendar segment is particularly good for this sort of thing, with things like Tuesday being “hornet-free dining at the Olive Garden” or “Monday has been rescheduled to Wednesday, and Wednesday has been doubled.” The wordplay of the opening segment and the ‘today’s proverb’ in the closing segment are also entertainingly random while sometimes having hidden depths.

Since its inception, Welcome to Night Vale has ballooned into a phenomenon including merchandise, spinoff podcasts, novels, and live shows featuring musical artists including Disparition, composer of the series’ theme song and incidental music.

That’s another overlap with the Vinyl Cafe: the guest musical artists in both the live shows and the podcasts – exhibited every episode when Cecil announces the weather forecast. The artists I’ve heard so far include everything from rock to country to rap and hip-hop style tunes.

Night Vale has its own cast of supporting characters as well: the various and usually short-lived radio station interns, plus intern Dana who goes on to greater things, Old Woman Josie and her friends who are definitely not angels all named Erika, John Peters the imaginary corn farmer (the corn is imaginary, not him) and Tamika Flynn the pre-teen bibliophile guerilla army leader. Among those who give voice to some of these characters are noted actors Jasika Nicole and Wil Wheaton.

And of course there’s Carlos. Dear, sweet Carlos with his beautiful hair. Or so Cecil reliably puts it. At various moments during his early broadcasts, Cecil occasionally stops to wax eloquent on his massive crush on the scientist whose team has come to study the assorted bizarrities of Night Vale, and who eventually finds something worth protecting in his beloved Cecil. It’s masterfully seamless. The fact that theirs is a gay relationship is not even once remarked upon, and is frankly adorable.

This is a subject that McLean, to the best of my knowledge, never included so casually. Of course, times were different, but diversity is not much of a priority. I was actually startled that one of the neighbours in ‘the Water Slide’ story was named Fatima. Creditably nothing was made of this, she was just another neighbourhood kid. There was also the story about comedically gaslighting a racist at the restaurant of Dave’s friend Kenny Wong, so McLean was perfectly willing to tackle social injustice, but it wasn’t a tacit part of the mission statement. Of couse, I may be selling the Vinyl Cafe a little short since I have by no means heard every episode.

I will say, though, that for all I’ve played up the comedy side of the Vinyl Cafe, McLean’s stories could be very solemn and thoughtful. Dave’s observations of his elderly neighbours in ‘the Fig Tree’ or their impromptu Christmas with a bitter old motel owner in Quebec especially capture this. Christmas really was McLean’s natural habitat, a time for togetherness, warm feelings and a good laugh.

Welcome to Night Vale is intentionally a bit more subversive and countercultural, with Cecil simply being gay, and occasionally expressing disgust for Native American cultural appropriation, among other things. There are some more solemn episodes, such as ‘the Carnival’ and especially ‘Remembrance Day’ which has some startlingly moving themes about war and intergenerational alienation. Denominational holidays like Christmas and Easter also just don’t factor in Night Vale – except Valentine’s Day, but that means something totally different there – and the cast is more obviously diverse.

The Vinyl Cafe stories acquired a certain continuity – Dave and Morley’s kids grow up in roughly real time, and of course people would occasionally needle Dave on the subject of turkeys. Night Vale takes it to another level in that sometimes some apparently random element in one episode can come up again as mission-critical a dozen or more episodes later. As for ‘real time’ I’m not convinced that concept applies in Night Vale.

I suppose the one drawback they both share is that, since they both have new musical guests in every performance, if you don’t happen to like the music being exhibited, you can find it getting in the way of the other elements. With Night Vale’s streaming format you can skip it, but it also makes for a pleasant surprise when you do like it. Oddly enough both of the songs I have really enjoyed and remembered from Night Vale seem to fall within the rap/hip-hop zone, a genre which is mostly utterly alien to me. While some great artists got exhibited on the Vinyl Cafe, I feel like the genres covered were pretty much jazz/rock/folk and not much else, but since those are the genres I generally prefer, that mostly suited me fine.

For all their vast differences, I find the Vinyl Cafe and Welcome to Night Vale evoke similar emotions through similar formats. I laugh at their deadpan humor and smile at the positive-feeling moments. The Vinyl Cafe made you love and laugh at the lives of ordinary people. Welcome to Night Vale takes the concept into a new generation by opening up the notion of ordinariness. I’ve grown fond of both sets of characters and both narrative voices. I don’t suppose the creators of Night Vale have heard of the Vinyl Cafe, but it’s nice to know that someone’s taken up the same sort of idea and kept it alive. Or at least shamblingly undead. Meanwhile, I’ll keep an ear open for reruns and audiobooks of the Vinyl Cafe, for I know there to be a huge amount of it as yet unknown to me.

Good night, Night Vale, and so long for now, Mr. McLean.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Podcast/Radio

 

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The Annihilation Score: Not Quite the Crescendo

I’ve intimated in past posts that I’m skeptical of long-running series. I’ve borne with a couple of them – Honor Harrington, the Dresden Files, and enjoyed both. But stringing them out eventually reduces them to echoes.

And I’m a little worried that another favourite series might be heading the same way. But I’ve not given it up, or I’d not still be here.

I was pleased to welcome back Charles Stross’ Laundry Files: the exploits of the British secret department in charge of preventing incursions by supernatural alien intelligences and the humans enthralled to them.

After the last two books, I was getting a little annoyed about how the bigger context of the impending cosmic alignment disaster – known in-story as CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN – kept getting stalled in the interest of telling smaller-scale stories that seemed to be sideshows both for characters and for the main mythology events.

While a certain amount of this is true for the new book, the Annihilation Score, it manages to have a lot of interesting stuff going on all the same. Not least because, quite unexpectedly, the point-of-view character is no longer Bob, the geeky computer sorcerer. It’s his wife.

Dominique O’Brien – Mo to most people – a philosopher, violinist and combat epistemologist has been, since the second Laundry book, the custodian of a sinister violin. Molded from human bone and empowered by the agonies of the victims sacrificed to build it, it is nevertheless a powerful weapon for the Laundry to drive back the creeping horrors from beyond. However, the cost to her sanity and the changes wrought on Bob by the events of previous books have, combined with the incredible stress and trauma of their duties, severely damaged their marriage.

At the same time as she copes with this, Mo is thrust into a new challenge. The effects of the sea change in the fabric of reality are becoming impossible to conceal from the general public. In particular, a lot of people are showing signs of unusual powers – superpowers, in fact. And keeping the lid on it is out of the question as a result. But, rather than operate openly, the Board of the Laundry puts Mo in charge of a front organization in charge of recruiting superheroes to aid the police, or to deal with the ones who won’t. Thrown together with some persons who have had entanglements with her husband, and a dashing police chief, Mo’s greater enemies, more than any wannabe supervillain, are her own trauma and psychological damage, the violin tempting her further into darkness, and a dastardly conspiracy within the British…

Oh, no, not again.

See, the perennial problem with the Laundry Files lately is that they keep reverting to the ‘enemy in our own ranks’ plot. Four of the books and two of the novellas have already done this in one form or another. It’s getting to the point where it seems like Britain is in more danger from itself than from Nyarlathotep.

At the same time as it keeps repeating itself, the novels are also wandering from what made them so effective. Evoking the Lovecraftian mythos, speaking of alien intellects and the ghosts of civilizations millions of years old, lurking at the edges of reality, made the books seriously scary. But the buildup of that mythos – a ‘hierarchy of horrors’ to use a phrase from the Fuller Memorandum – sort of plateaued out during the Apocalypse Codex. Ever since then it seems like the threat remains small groups of supernaturally-enhanced people. People just aren’t scary the way cosmic alien deities are scary, simple as that.

If it weren’t for that, it wouldn’t matter so much that the books also aren’t as funny as they used to be. Stross writes very witty dialogue, but seen through Bob’s or Mo’s deteriorating mental health, the collision of supernatural weirdness and workaday procedure and form-filling just isn’t very funny anymore either.

Having said all that, I could scarcely put this book down. The Cosmic Horror element is preserved somewhat by the violin – Lecter, as Mo calls it – getting inside her head like a combination of Cthulhu and the One Ring. The problem is that the main mystery gets put on hold for a long time while Mo deals with personal trauma and on-the-job stress, so the ambience of chill creepiness has to be built up very quickly in the run-up to the climax.

That’s not to say that Mo’s personal trials aren’t good reading: her PTSD, flashbacks, nightmares and workaholism are very persuasive and sympathetic. At the same time, her strength and professionalism in the midst of it makes her an admirable character. Her anger and resentment at the way the Laundry runs people ragged and the way she and other professional women are treated is intense and moving – a bit more feminist propaganda to add to the heap, one hopes. There’s a certain amount of humour surrounding public relations, superhero tropes and office politics, though not an awful lot.

It’s kind of interesting the way that Mo is put in charge of a primarily female team – there’s even a mention of the Bechdel Test in dialogue – in a way that suggests a theme about the tribulations of professional women. Mo’s tribulations aren’t over yet, although there’s a promise of her work expanding in scope in stories to come. Hope is also lent for hers and Bob’s relationship as she starts reaching a level on par with what he reached. Too soon to know for sure though.

I quite enjoyed the Annihilation Score – it made good use of groundwork laid in previous books, gave us something new and a fresh perspective by putting Mo front and centre. That said, I feel like the personal/political drama and the Cosmic Horror story keep jockeying for space against each other, so that it isn’t clear which is the A or B plot. Still, nothing deal-breaking has happened. And as I’ve said in the past, the Laundry Files tend to demand a few re-reads before you can make sense of them, so my first impression may improve.

So, like Mo, I’ll keep calm and carry on.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Book

 

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane? Which Way’s That?

I actually only took one English course as a university student, looking a different devices and systems of narrative. Among other things it gave me a chance to seriously read Frankenstein, watch Citizen Kane, and finally get to grips with some of the disturbing subtexts to be found in fairy tales.

How fairy tales can contain what seem to be inappropriate meanings for what is considered to be the realm of children. Which, of course, must be clean and sweet and harmless at all times.

Having been tipped to this hidden truth, I may be a bit jaded as I tackle works by the man who is, perhaps, the most enthusiastic commentor on the subject.

Neil Gaiman is renowned for dark stories that have a fairy-tale or mythology aspect to them. His Neverwhere and his Stardust are the ones I’m most acquainted with, but I know enough to tell that it is to be encountered in his famous Sandman series, and it should be fairly obvious in the titles of Anansi Boys and American Gods.

And despite his substantial cult following, I’ve never really gotten into Gaiman all that successfully. The movie of Stardust was quite good; Neverwhere in its numerous incarnations fascinating, but the only book of his I’d say I really, really liked was Good Omens, and he cowrote that with Sir Terry Pratchett.

So it was with curiosity and some little trepidation that I embarked on his new book, the Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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A middle-aged man returns to what was once his rural childhood home for a funeral. He returns to the home of the eccentric old ladies, the mother and grandmother of his childhood friend, and tries to recapture the memories of how they saved his life as a boy of seven.

When, as a boy, a suicide takes place in a slice of rural England, our seven-year-old, befriending the girl Lettie, stumbles onto the ugly force of petulance and anger that is cut loose and begins perverting the family and life of our young protagonist.

You’ll notice that I don’t mention the young whippersnapper’s name. That’s because he doesn’t clearly get one (although it might be George). The book is written from a first person perspective, which as I’ve said before, I find difficult to follow.

In this case, the problem is exacerbated by the plot itself. It’s structured as an innocence-to-experience story. I’d have thought, though, that to tell that kind of a story, you have to start from the point of sweetness and light and work your way from there. Even Lyra in the Golden Compass relishes her admittedly unusual life before her story kicks off.

Our hero, whom I will continue to call George, meanwhile, exists, in his adult and child states, in what seems to me a profound state of alienation. He comes across (intentionally, I think) as seriously depressed, his parents as oblivious. He likes sitting alone reading books, an archetype Gaiman and I can both appreciate. But the psychology surrounding this behaviour seems so bleak and dreary that after the first few chapters I felt like I was reading a parody of classic Canadian literature. The switch as things start to go seriously wrong doesn’t carry as much impact because from his perspective it doesn’t come across as much more than a ramping up from Standard Operating Procedure.

Once the supernatural side really kicked in I got on board, though. The entity that begins working its bizarre mischief on the community exists someplace between the capricious fair folk of myth and a Lovecraftian abomination. The mysterious three women evoke the Weird Sisters of MacBeth, Granny, Nanny and Magrat from Discworld and Doctor Who in equal measure. George’s inquisitive nature and his nobility and child’s moral centre serve him well and also teach him harsh lessons.

I don’t know whether I just didn’t get it the first time, or if Gaiman is playing to a set of archetypes and ideas I’m not familiar with, or if he’s just that clever, but he points out the convention in the text that a story is defined by how it changes the protagonist. He then goes on, to my perplexity, to point out that our hero hasn’t changed much. In fact, in the frame narrative, he seems to have trouble even remembering any of it. He’s just disconnected. It’s also worth noting that most of the story consists of him being led around by his supernatural friend and being the object of the contest between good and evil. The result is that he doesn’t actually do very much.

Maybe that’s the point: as a seven year old, he’s too young for any of this. When confronted with an actual fairy-tale crisis he’s totally out of his depth, unable to comprehend anything and unable to process it in later life, nor can he understand people to any degree of depth. He’s just foam on the raging ocean of life. Still, it does make for an awfully dreary and confusing read when our character starts out a sad sack and remains one indifferent to the extraordinary experiences he’s had. It reads like something written by a (very, very talented) high school kid at the heights of teenaged angst and I am somewhat mystified as to what we’re meant to take away from it. Personally, I want to sidle over to the Laundry Files and bring them over to investigate just what the blazes happened here.

Neil Gaiman is justly popular for his wordplay, wisdom and eloquence. But as a story writer I’ve always felt he and I don’t really see eye to eye. One gets the impression that this story of an offbeat child who grows up to be an artist is him projecting every so slightly, but who knows? Whether this is his fault or mine I don’t know but for all the cool things going on in it, I found Ocean at the End of the Lane to be an eldritch blend of dismal and confusing. A good story should be like chasing a butterfly through a beautiful meadow and finally catching it (not that I hold with tormenting animals, I hasten to add). But in this story the butterfly is a mosquito trying to bite me and I haven’t been offered a net.

It’s probably just as well that this review is considerably shorter than the ones I’ve been churning out lately, and hopefully means I’m on the road to rediscovering the meaning of ‘word limit.’ I just wish it wasn’t because I have so little to say. I’m not saying that Ocean is bad, it actually is pretty cool, I just don’t understand it. If anybody can offer elucidations as to what I’m supposed to take away from this yarn, please tell me ‘cause I’m stumped.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Book

 

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The Apocalypse Codex: the Latest Load of Laundry

Comic Fantasy, Comic Science Fiction, even Comic Detective Stories, these we understand. What is less easy to anticipate is Comic Horror. Nevertheless, there is at least one series on the shelves that excels in it.

The Apocalypse Codex is the fourth installment of Stross’s Laundry Files novels, featuring Bob Howard, a geeky technician and ‘computational demonologist,’ working for the Laundry, the secret arm of British Intelligence tasked with protecting humankind from supernatural alien horrors.

In the first book, the Atrocity Archives, Bob is confronted with an apocalyptic plot left over from the occult machinations of the Third Reich, and must struggle against the mind-racking torment of matrix management.

In the sequel, the Jennifer Morgue, Bob is sent to the Caribbean to infiltrate the inner circle of a charismatic billionaire and find out the nature of the eldritch wreckage at the sea bottom that so interests him.

In the Fuller Memorandum, Bob’s adventures take on a bleaker tone as the event codenamed CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is finally at hand, and conspiracies hatched in worlds beyond ours threaten humankind and Bob’s own nearest and dearest.

The Laundry Files take place in a Lovecraftian world. I’ll devote a special article to what that means exactly, but in summary it deals in the horror of humanity’s insignificance in the cosmic scale of things. Indeed, it is actually known as Cosmic Horror. It’s a genre haunted by the unknowable and the unseen, stressing the horror of being caught in the gaze of something so vast and alien that it could be standing right behind you in a totally empty room.

This is not, you’d think, a natural habitat for humour. Stross, however, manages to mesh the two. His secret, it seems to me, is the juxtaposition of the monsters that the Laundry exists to fight, and the fact that however bizarre its function, it’s still a civil service branch with all the paperwork, IT infrastructure and committee oversight that necessarily entails. Because of the unique nature of the work done by the Laundry, the banal bureaucracy and eldritch sorcery also have to collide in unexpected ways regarding things like security and procedure. The fact that paperclip audits, much joked about, turn out to be immensely critical in the Fuller Memorandum is a good illustration of this.

Stross, like Terry Pratchett (of whom he is an ardent fan) also derives humour from sendups of the customs of the kinds of stories he tells. The Jennifer Morgue in particular makes light of many of the tropes of spy thrillers. The difference between what real spywork is like versus the romanticized idea of it (a la James Bond) is a running gag.

Geek culture is the third prong of the comedy pitchfork, with references to Discworld, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Apple and others peppering the text.

For all of this, however, the fact that Bob is a geeky computer guy faced with forces powerful enough to devastate humanity or even the entire universe also manages to be genuinely scary. The sense of some unseen dread constantly at hand makes Bob’s comedic dithering also serve as his coping mechanism, and some of the things he and his combat epistemologist wife have to take on are gut-twistingly horrific. In this context, their happy domestic life is both heartwarming and deeply tragic. This peaked with the Fuller Memorandum, although it has by no means gone away in the Apocalypse Codex.

In this new installment, Bob is still recovering from the previous book’s ordeal, even as he’s sent into the field against another cell of the same forces that nearly got him killed then. His, and the Laundry’s, worst fears are realized, that the forces of darkness may have infiltrated into the highest echelons of government, and Bob is forced into a line of black ops outside even the Laundry’s usual realm of plausible deniability. Put in oversight of two ‘outside contractors,’ something which, by definition, the Laundry isn’t supposed to have, he’s sent to the USA to investigate the abnormal influence an evangelical preacher seems to have even among the great and the good of Whitehall.

This is the first time Stross has carried an arc through more than one book. We’ve entered a ‘mythology episode’ phase here, in much the same way that J.K. Rowling eventually dropped the episodic, start-from-scratch storytelling of Harry Potter from roughly book five onward, getting directly to the heart of the matter. Like Harry Potter, there’s always been a Big Bad informing events, but rather than a person, it’s an event, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, which is growing increasingly imminent with only the past two books dealing with it directly. It is, in brief, the apocalypse, and because it is drawing nigh, it looks as though the stories are going to be built around it from here on out.

The introduction of an ongoing arc was well-timed. Any more standalone adventures would have seemed dull at this point. I think that the Apocalypse Codex is suffering from a mild case of middle-chapter-ness, though. It’s much more plot-driven than character-driven. Stross seldom broke away from the point of view of Bob in the first books. Even when he did, he seldom went beyond those close to him. In this one, perspective rotates between him, his two contract agents, his managers and even the villains. It smacks of the same trend David Weber has been exhibiting with the Honor Harrington novels, spending progressively less time with the main character in the pursuit of a bigger scope. It’s impressive in terms of storytelling, but it’s harder to connect with when we seem to be losing sight of the people we’ve been following up ‘til now. The core cast of the first books was Bob, his wife Mo, and their cheekily sinister boss Angleton. In this book, Mo is barely present, as are Bob’s personal gadget-meisters, Pinky and Brains. Angleton takes quite a while to commence his usual puppeteering of events, and Bob spends a lot of the story in a passive role while new characters do the legwork. Indeed, given their record to date, I can’t quite understand why this couldn’t have been a husband-and-wife mission with Bob and Mo in the front lines together. I also feel that giving the villains POV time dinged the mystique critical to this style of horror a little bit.

Nonetheless, the new characters were pretty interesting people in their own right, and while Mo was in the background, certain moments suggested groundwork being laid for big payoffs down the line. The tone of the story is definitely grimmer since the Fuller Memorandum, but the humour is still there, albeit dried out a bit, and this story dialled the horror back down to merely ‘spooky.’ The actual story had a back-to-the-wall, fight-the-bad-guys vim to it that made it satisfying to read, and the suspense factor held my attention raptly. I didn’t like it as much as the others, but it was by no means bad and it’s still well worth sticking with the series.

I read the first three books in exactly the reverse of their publication order, so feel free to pick them up as they come, although the Apocalypse Codex is probably best appreciated if you read the Fuller Memorandum first. The Atrocity Archives and the Jennifer Morgue also have novellas published with them and there are more of those besides. They’re all great. I don’t think there’s any series I’ve reread as many times as I have the Laundry Files. Some background in Cosmic Horror is useful but not necessary. The first two books and the novellas especially will be more accessible if you have at least a basic grasp of computer and business jargon. Regardless, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shudder in dread, and you’ll have a damned good mystery to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Book

 

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