There is so much about this series that I geek out on, it's a wonderful mix of sardonic humor, tech geekery, and tentacles from beyond. "Case Nightmare Green" and "Jesus Phone" are phrases anyone hanging out with me for an extended period of time may hear. Needless to say, I was both quite excited for The Nightmare Stacks and curious how a rather new side character would fare center stage.
And then I read this little snipped on Stross' blog:
"I have plans for book 7: let's just say that when the Deep Ones are anxiously offering you their assistance in dealing with your problem, you know you've got a Problem."
There might have been gleeful chortling on my part.
Of course, when writing a near present day CASE NIGHTMARE situation, there's always the risk of reality stepping in and jumping all over your plot. Or as Stross commented on his blog, we now are in the middle of CASE NIGHTMARE TWEED.
"And in a classic example of the universe trying to obsolete my stories before publication, the UK went into total political, diplomatic, and financial meltdown last Friday. (There's a meltdown of similar proportions in the novel, but it's triggered by a much more fixable cause than a referendum-gone-wrong, namely an alien invasion.) So I guess that means "The Nightmare Stacks" is now lightweight escapism rather than a horrible threat!"
Is it wrong that I find his cuttingly sardonic books of looming horrific threat lightweight escapism regardless?
So, how did The Nightmare Stacks stack up against its predecessors? Brilliantly. I squealed excitedly when my review copy showed up in the mailbox, was immediately hooked by the opening lines, and then proceeded to tear through story with enthusiasm.
Alex, quite frankly, is in over his head. This isn't exactly an unusual situation for us to encounter in the Laundry Files, but things have been getting worse since we first met Bob and the universe has not seen fit to go easy on Alex. On the bright side, being a part of a (sensibly) paranoid top secret organization staffed with an unusual concentration of mad geniuses (sometimes more mad than genius, possibly as a side effect of the working environment) that's in the know about our impending doom means that Alex isn't completely alone. Though he probably would be happier if said organization didn't deploy him in a role that guinea pigs and canaries would find familiar.
We've gone a bit beyond misguided cultists and the zealously inquisitive digging into things best left undisturbed. This time, the great unknown is coming knocking on its own (and you thought Mormons were a hassle).
If you're looking at starting this book with minimal exposure to the series I recommend reading The Rhesus Chart, so at the very least you'll have some idea of who Alex is, his background, and exactly why the Laundry is in such a bother (beyond the looming CASE NIGHTMARE scenarios). But if this book is your introduction to the Laundry Files, so be it, and I hope it inspires you to start at the beginning. I also refuse to apologize for my overuse of parentheticals.
That being said, The Nightmare Stacks is out in the US today and Penguin Random House is providing me with a giveaway copy. I'll keep this open until end of day July 5th. Information collected will only be used to notify the winner and for shipping.
Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Ace (Penguin RandomHouse) in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.