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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review: The Annihliation Score

The Annihliation Score is Charlie Stross' latest laundry novel. I gave up on the Laundry series after The Apocalypse Codex, but the kindle sample for this latest installment was intriguing, and filled with enough changes that I bought it and read it.

The first change is that Bob Howard is no longer the protagonist/narrator. Instead, we get his wife, who's a much different character. The opening is entertaining, but unfortunately after a while Mo whines just a bit too much for me to enjoy the narrative. She's self-centered, unappreciative of her husband, and obviously headed towards a nervous breakdown as she becomes increasingly neurotic.

The series pivots towards superheroes as the latest manifestation of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, the rise of the old ones. A series of super-crimes results in the authorization of a government-mandated super hero team to fight crime. This could be fun and funny, but instead Stross chooses to emphasize the bureaucracy and cross-functional coordination mess (with Mo as the director) rather than the fun. And then he ends the novel with a reveal that actually undermines the entire premise, tying it off back to the laundry.

I bought the book hoping that it'd be a good change from the series so far, but it seemed to be a sideways shift, rather than a quantum leap in quality or even a major change in setting. As an airplane novel it's serviceable and probably much better than the usual dreck. Compared to the early laundry novels, it's disappointing.

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