The Apocalypse Codex

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Just finished this book by Charles Stross.  I am rather fond of this series.  While I’m no spy-thriller fan I find the over-the-top humour of this series makes me giggle.  I consider it a documentary in the same way that I consider The IT Crowd to be a documentary.

Several new characters are put into play.  Most interesting to me is the introduction of the local vicar and his wife.  They are introduced as sympathetic characters.  I will watch out for them in future titles in this series as they are enmeshed into the slowly developing supernatural tragedy in nine volumes that this series promises to be.   They will be challenged as the Elder Gods awaken to the universe again.  People will be broken.  How they respond will be interesting to watch.

Haven’t seen any Presbyterians and/or Calvinists mentioned without being coupled with Fundamentalists.  Although the aforesaid cults are mentioned as owning secret doctrines allying them with the Deep Ones as god’s elect.  This suggests interesting ideas about the secret history of living in Dunedin, New Zealand: closest city to R’lyeh; settled by Presbyterians; their close relationship with the University of Otago…lots of suggestions there!

As well considering the manipulations of religion by supernatural agencies it looks like Stross has put into effect his musings on a Strangecraft scenario, a belief by Strangelovian deep government agencies that they can survive the intervention of Lovecraftian great powers who are indifferent to human survival.  There will be consequences from this emerging in future titles in this series.

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Pleasures, Guilty And Otherwise

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Reading through a backlog of Time Magazines I found a recommendation for a favorite Science Fiction writer, The Apocalypse Codex by Scottish author Charles Stross, name-dropped by Time’s book critic Lev Grossman in the Summer Book section of Culture, July 16, 2012 issue.  ‘[A]bout a branch of the British secret service tasked with staving off a Lovecraftian Armageddon.  Smart, literate, funny.  And Stross has a computer-science degree, so he actually understands how computers work.  So there are no scenes where a computer virus brings down an orbiting satellite.’

When the conversation moves on to A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth as summer comfort reading Grossman observes ‘Probably there’s no Lovecraftian Armageddon though.’  As I have not read A Suitable Boy I don’t know if a visitation of the Great Old Ones would improve the story or not.

I admit that I don’t own the book.  I have only seen one title of his in Dunedin at PaperPlus.  It disappeared before I decided to pick it up, within a couple of days of debating.  The library is pretty good at holding everything by him.  It may take me a while before I see it on the shelf.  I think I’m up to date.  Southern Dave has all the Laundry series in Invercargill.  Not sure if I’ve read the current title.  It could be the fourth in the series and I think I’ve only read three.

Sitting in the Sun

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Two more Conlang Exchange cards today. One was a postcard with a stamp from Norway. The text wasn’t translated, nor the author identified. I sent a card to Koppa Dasao, so I think it could be from him. The other was a drawing of a wooden teepee-like hut from Tristan. I wonder what the context of the greeting to the picture is?

I took a lot of time to read today in the sun. It allowed me to finish Rule 34 by Charlie Stross. His antagonist in this story was an icky head to get into. Not the worst I’ve read by a long shot, but still… I think the ending was intended to be disturbing. Stross is unflinching when it comes to the New Pessimism although I like his wit and his spin on things.

I’m closing in on the end of Scrivener’s Moon by Philip Reeve. He surprised me by having one character leave the book permanently halfway through after being fleshed out more in the previous two books of this series of prequels. I await to see more after I’ve finished this title.

And I’m getting through Banquo’s Son by T. K. Roxborogh. Despite being a sequel to Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy it feels like a historical romance to me. Not quite a bodice-ripper; definitely intended for a more sensative reader than me. I will stick with it as I know members of the Roxborogh family.

A couple of days to go before I depart for the gathering of the clan at Christmas, overnight with my brother in Invercargill, then to join our new partner-family in Te Anau.

Talking about books

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I was down in Invercargill during the month for my brother’s 50th birthday celebrations, Boston T.. I stayed with Southern Dave and took the opportunity to browse through his extensive library for things I should read. Over five days I had time to read four of his books.

  • I shall wear midnight, the most recent Terry Pratchett. I had heard that this was darker than his earlier books. Before reading it I had put it down to the fact that the onset of Alzheimer’s disease had given him intimations of mortality. On reading it I found it to be deliciously dark and enjoyable. He also re-introduced one of his earliest characters whose fate I had always wondered about and identified several paragraphs before being revealed in the text.
  • The Fuller Memorandum by Charlie Stross. The latest in the Laundry series. That man is evil!
  • The Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. I’ve gone off the Russian Night Watch series. There seems to be little choice between the libertarian Dark and the paternalistic snobbery of the Light. Gack! I’m not sure if this book had anything to add.
  • Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham. Willingham takes characters from his successful Fables title in Vertigo and writes a book. It’s a reminder to me that characters from visual media: graphic novels and television, do not easily cross over into written media. They come across as two-dimensional in books to me.
  • Since returning to Dunedin I have bought a copy of Kraken by China Miéville. It’s not so much Gosh Wow as his New Crobuzon novels but it has several moments of the fantastic descriptions that have become his trademark. Because it’s set in London it feels closer to his earlier novel UnLunDun in its story telling. Two of his villains feel like a hat tip to the archetype that Neil Gaiman used in Neverwhere as Croup and Van Der Meer (I think that was their names). I would be happy to get Goss and Subby out of my head. They are creepy and terrifying! One moment in the denoument had me cheering because Metadata Is Important! Only a cataloguer can appreciate that moment.

    Also it was nice to see a character who’s a member of a squid cult who is motivated by its distinct ethos and theology. It makes a nice difference to fleshing out a character.

    And finally FreakAngels volume two by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield arrived in at Pop Fiction this week. I have asked to get the next volume for me. Both Kraken and FreakAngels are welcome additions to my book shelves.

25 years and 1 day since the end of the world (almost)

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I just noticed this link in my RSS-feeds. It deserves to be better known so I am putting a link in here for it, even though I am one day late. I have a vague recollection that I’ve heard this story before. In any case the documentary, due out next year, could be worth seeing. At the time I was still at high school in Invercargill, well out of the direct line of fire. World War III nearly started and I didn’t see it. That’s sort of a relief.