Charles Stross – The Rhesus Chart

It’s back to Bob Howard[1] and the Laundry, that ever-so-slightly secret department of the British government that deals with extra-dimensional entities, the odd bit of demonic possession and abstruse mathematics. Yes, mathematics – do the right kind of calculation and you’ll twist reality in such a way that things of the kind that would give H P Lovecraft bad dreams can make their way into our universe and do Bad Things.

Bob’s been with the Laundry for around a decade now, which is about right, as the Atrocity Archives was first published about that long ago, even if it took me a few years to catch up. He’s moved on from his early days, still married to Mo, a fellow agent with an err, interesting and lethal violin, and still apprenticed to his grim master who goes by the name of Angleton[3], and who is really Something Nasty occupying a human body.

As always, there’s something nasty going on. It all seems to start when a wunch of bankers[4] working in a totally deniable advanced trading unit stumble across some even more abstruse than usual maths and find themselves becoming sensitive to light, much stronger than usual, and developing a taste for human blood. But obviously, they’re not vampires. Don’t be silly, everyone knows vampires don’t exist.

As if that wasn’t enough, the not vampires include Bob’s ever so slightly psycho ex, who having formerly been attached to the Laundry, knows how to get her colleagues signed up just in time to avoid being dealt with quite severely.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a psycho vampire killer[5] chasing down the bankers. And two very old vampires, who may be manipulating events for their own individual purposes.

Bad Things will happen. Bob’s career and personal life will take new turns, which lead to the one problem with this book. It ends. And we’ll have to wait for the next one. I think we need some kind of entity to manipulate time so that Charlie can write more books…

Anyway, it’s another glorious entry in the series, lots of gags, lots of severe danger, lots of death and destruction, and even a cross-reference to another series of Charlie Stross books that I’ll be writing about once I’ve read the last one.[6]

Good stuff, highly recommended.

[1] Not his real name. And I suspect that his claimed middle names of “Oliver” and “Francis” may not be real either. Though to be fair, Bob does pretty much qualify as a BOFH[2]
[2] If there’s one thing Charlie Stross can be relied upon, it’s geek gags
[3] Also not his real name, and carefully chosen to annoy some foreign types or other…
[4] I think Bob has the right collective noun there
[5] Not that vampires exist, of course
[6] But anyone who’s read the Merchant Princes books will have had a giggle at the line “I am your lawful knight-commander… under oath by way of my liege”