Friday, July 20, 2012

The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross

Stross is back with more interesting action in the latest adventure of Bob Howard, Laundry civil servant without peer. A group of American evangelicals have gotten their hands on some very obscure scripture, which makes the Revelation of St. John the Divine look like a walk in the park, part of which is The Apocalypse Codex. It contains instructions on how to summon dark beings from another world to invade Earth, under the guise of hastening the return of Jesus Christ to establish his millenial kingdom.

Stross has created an intriguing cosmology for this series. In his reality, there are no benevolent gods or God, and those who think so have been seriously deluded. The universe is populated for the most part with incredibly malevolent and powerful beings from other dimensions (think Lovecraft, mostly) whose greatest desire is to conquer and/or consume all beings on our planet. All that stands between them and us are agencies like the British Laundry and the U.S. Black Chamber (aka Nazgul). It's possible Strauss will introduce us to the Russian, Chinese or other versions at some point in the series.

Bob has been identified for the fast track to management, and gets sent on that most dangerous of assignments - a team building middle management training course! After surviving that by the skin of his teeth, he is given an assignment to manage and monitor a couple of External Assets, or contractors, witch Persephone Hazard and her sidekick Johnny. Their assignment is to investigate and possibly eliminate an evangelist with the Golden Promise Ministries, Ray Schiller, who is attempting to suborn officials at high levels within the British government. They travel to Denver, Colorado, where his ministry has its headquarters, and all sorts of interesting mayhem ensues.

Lots of good political and magical intrigue and a nice setup to Bob's next adventure.

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