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Old Yesterday, 10:23 AM   #21316
Hampshire Nanny
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Now finally reading The Flying Sorcerers by David Gerrold and Larry Niven, which was recommended a while back by pdurrant, I think, and someone else. Very good (and funny) so far, about an encounter with alien life, as seen from the aliens' perspective.
Now The Flying Sorcerers is on my lifetime top 20 list! It's a book that I regularly re-read every 3-4 years. I adore all the puns throughout the book and its overall silliness coupled with a rather serious basic storyline.

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When I finish this I will start Hogfather, Discworld #20, by Terry Pratchett as my Christmas week read.
Really? It's #20 in Discworld? Maybe that's why I simply couldn't get into it. Hogfather was recommended to me as the first of a trilogy and I tried & tried to read it. But, since I've read none of the Discworld series, maybe the fact that it wasn't really a stand-alone contributed to my problem.
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Old Yesterday, 11:26 AM   #21317
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The Time of the Dark by Barbara Hambley. I have read this, many years ago, but I remember it only vaguely, except that I liked it a lot. I hope I still like it a lot.
And very good it was, but very much first third of a story, not first novel in a trilogy.

I shall wait for a good offer before buying the rest.

Hmm... next I think it'll be Trial by Fire by Charles E Gannon. The second in a series, and I think I liked the first.
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Old Yesterday, 08:44 PM   #21318
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I'm reading "The Hot Zone" (Richard Preston), only because it's next month's selection in my book club. It's about the origins (in the 60s-70s) of Ebola. It is well written (not full of too much medical jargon) and somewhat anecdotal, but I just don't care for the subject. I read for enjoyment, not enlightenment ;-) but will slog through (since I enjoy the actual book club gathering so much). I guess I should have a better attitude, with it being in the news so much lately, but it just so horrid.
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Old Today, 12:35 AM   #21319
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So, did a reread of Charles Stross' The Apocalypse Codex to accompany the read of The Rhesus Chart, latest in his The Laundry Files series of Lovecraftian bureaucracy urban fantasy spy thriller spoofs which, Discworld-like, are gradually evolving into something more than their original satirical/pastiche concept.

This is one of my favourite series, not least because the juxtaposition of procedurally realistic deadly*-dull middle-management civil service maneuvering and office politics while trying to stave off the worst effects of When The Stars Are Right™ is terribly amusing.

Remember kids, saving the world involves lots of tedium. And paperwork! Especially the paperwork.

So, after devouring the latest-in-series, I thought I'd go back a volume, if only to find out what happened to the JesusPhone whose prior fate I'd completely forgotten about (destroyed during the previous adventure? made obsolete by intervening technological advances during the two-year gap? remodeled into Bob's phablet which seems distinct from his newer work-issued official phone?).

I actually didn't get an answer to that, but I did get to go over a entertainingly fun action adventure thriller spoof, co-starring a highly competent young woman under the codename of BASHFUL INCENDIARY, with a hefty dose of Nightmare Fuel® thanks to the use of not-too-far-off US-styled evangelical fundamentalist practices which do kind of underscore the fact that when you're dealing with extremists with severe control issues, there's really not all that much a gap between trying to rearrange the world to the detriment of others in order to pave the way for the return of Jesus (non-Phone version) and doing the same to summon Something Else Entirely.

It's like what Aslan tells you about evil being done in his name actually being done for Tash, or whatever, though I still think it's kind of petty of him to take the credit for good done in Tash's name for himself, but then in actual nature, male lions just kind of laze around and look impressive while the females do all the hunting and real work.

Anyway, rereading TAC was a nice change of pace from rereading TRC, which I did technically skim over when I got it as a glitch freebie from the iTunes store, but reading non-multimedia things within iBooks on the Mac is sub-optimal, so I was pleased to see it show up on the library's New Books shelf and thus did a second, much more thorough read in paper.

It strikes me that up until now, the various Laundry series of novels & novellas have seemed to have a rhythm of "heavy" and "light", alternating more serious episodes (still with their moments of levity) with more spoofy ones (still with their elements of encroaching darkness).

The 1st Laundry novel was a Len Deighton homage and thus fairly serious-ish, the 2nd was a Bond spoof which made use of the inherent silliness of the film franchise, the 3rd went back to serious, and the 4th was essentially light (well, light-ish; kind of). Similarly, the 1st Laundry novella (included in the back of the 1st novel) was fairly heavy, what with the concrete cows and all, the 2nd was a spoof of those BOFH stories with some MMORPG thrown in, the 3rd was a bit more serious, and the 4th was the festive Xmas office party installment (well, for Laundry values of "festive").

But with both the latest novel and novella (the rather disturbing Equoid, free to read online at Tor.com, along with the previous 2 novellas, all standalone stories which will not spoiler you for the major developments in the actual series) the stories are starting to blend the humour and horror a lot more into each other as the walls of reality start to bleed or however Bob keeps referring to the inevitable doom of the human population.

So in a certain way, The Rhesus Chart kind of serves as a setup for the future new status quo, as Stross has stated on his blog that he's gone as far as he can with the spy thriller homage idea and that future Laundry novels are going to explore different subgenre conventions as metacommentary, as his characters begin to move out of the realm of the "real" and more into the increasing unreality caused by The Stars Coming Right at completely the wrong time.

And so we get a look at how well equipped, really, is the Laundry at catching and coping with potential future disasters that are going to be associated with [CODENAME REDACTED], and the answer is "not nearly as well as they thought". Kind of like that moment in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series where the Guide's friendly front cover instructions change from "Don't Panic" to "Panic", in a way.

It's interesting to see Bob unsettled and out of his element on this case and possibly again in the near future, and on his own home grounds, to boot, as while previous novel adventures had him at odds with various dangerous entities, at least his home office had his back and were offering unified support, which isn't quite happening anymore here.

And it was nice to see the introduction of several new characters (well, technically some reappearing from previous books, including a prior sort-of adversary I'm pleased to see re-imagined in an sort-of adversarial role which is rather different than the one before; I kind of like them now and approve of their character evolution) to help fill up the cast before some of them inevitably get eaten by tentacled horrors in future installments of the series.

As for the ostensible plot, TRC was the first of the new-style novels, with the theme of Vampires! Vampires Everywhere!† in a milieu that surprisingly for its mandate to protect the populace against tentacled horrors, doesn't seem to actually believe in actual vampires‡. But it turns out there's a perfectly good (and perfectly terrible) reason for that, in between a lot of satirical metacommentary on how the very idea of most forms of vampires wouldn't actually work if you applied logic to their purported origin stories and habits. Vampire blancmange, indeed.

But as always, it all goes pear-shaped from there in a rather entertaining and more devastating way than usual, and I for one really want to find out what happens next in #6, which thankfully is slated to show up next summer at a shorter inteval than the 2 years between books #4 & #5 and I shall be requesting it at the library once they start getting the pre-order listings in.

Highly recommended as a compelling continuation of an increasingly nuanced series exploring the ramifications of what would happen if you actually were living in a grimdark paranormal urban fantasy world during the transition phase where Weird Stuff is taking over from normal humans and world-ending disaster really is imminent, if you think you'd be interested in that sort of thing and are into unrealpolitik, I guess. It's probably a bit of an acquired taste, but once you get into it, it's very tasty indeed. Vampire blancmange and all.

* With the deadly part sometimes ending up literal, mind you.

† But these are Not Your Teenaged Cousin's Sparkly No-Kill Friendly Sexy Vampires, for reasons that are once again perfectly good (and perfectly terrible).

‡ I'm reminded of that The Far Side cartoon where the guy on the crowded corner standing on a box is preaching his warning about how the vampires are everywhere and have taken over the world and he's the only person there whose reflection can be seen in the giant glass mirror pane that two people are carrying across the street.

Last edited by ATDrake; Today at 01:00 AM. Reason: Wanton cruelty to the common comma. And missing nouns.
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Old Today, 11:06 AM   #21320
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So, did a reread of Charles Stross' The Apocalypse Codex to accompany the read of The Rhesus Chart, latest in his The Laundry Files series of Lovecraftian bureaucracy urban fantasy spy thriller spoofs which, Discworld-like, are gradually evolving into something more than their original satirical/pastiche concept.

This is one of my favourite series, not least because the juxtaposition of procedurally realistic deadly*-dull middle-management civil service maneuvering and office politics while trying to stave off the worst effects of When The Stars Are Right™ is terribly amusing.

Remember kids, saving the world involves lots of tedium. And paperwork! Especially the paperwork.
My husband really enjoys the Laundry Files series as well! He's recommended it to me at least 3 times. It's now on the top of my TBR for my 2015 series challenge.
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