Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book Received: The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross

Just the other day I received in the mail a complimentary copy of Charles Stross's The Delirium Brief from UK publisher Orbit. That's the Orbit cover pictured to the left.

The Delirium Brief is volume 8 in the Laundry Files -- and I have had the extreme pleasure (actually, an honor) of working on all eight volumes. The book will be published this month in both the U.K. and in the U.S. (; cover pictured below). I sometimes find it difficult to believe that I began work on the first Laundry Files book in late 2001, and now, eight volumes later, I'm halfway through the year 2017....

If you are unfamiliar with the Laundry Files series -- or you haven't read all seven previous volumes -- and you'd like to jump right in on this new volume, then you'll need to do a bit of catch-up reading first. Begin by reading my blog post of January 9, 2017, in which I write about my work on The Delirium Brief, and provide some background on the volume, a few mini (very mini) spoilers (necessary), and let you know what you will need to read specifically to catch up.

But back to the book at hand. What was even more special than just receiving a copy of the book was the included note (following) from Joanna Kramer, Managing Editor at Orbit. I know I do a damn good job on all the books I work on, but I'll always -- always -- appreciate receiving kudos from those responsible for hiring me in the first place. So, once again, thank you, Ms. Kramer, for your kind words.

Figuring that possibly my own writing isn't sufficient to whet your appetite for a new reading experience, I try to include an appropriate book review in some of my blog posts. So, here is the May 2, 2017, Kirkus review:

The Delirium Brief
From the "Laundry Files" series, volume 8
by Charles Stross

Stross' Laundry Files series, of which this is No. 8 (The Nightmare Stacks, 2016, etc.), is a weird but effective mashup of Lovecraft-ian horror, espionage thriller, science fiction, and satire, centering around a top-secret British government agency devoted to fighting "the sort of thing you expect to meet in an episode of The X-Files."

In resolving the previous book's crisis, unfortunately, the Laundry's existence becomes public knowledge, so this time out combat sorcerer Bob Howard, the Eater of Souls, must appear on TV to offer the usual blandishments. Poor Bob and his equally scary wife, the newly minted auditor, Mo O'Brien, can't live together—her demonic White Violin tried to eat him, while Bob worries that he might absentmindedly eat Mo's soul while sleepwalking. As a senior member of staff, though, Bob no longer has to worry about his expense sheets. But an evil god from another dimension is moving to take over the American government, whose about-to-be-unemployed good guys warn the Laundry that the Rev. Raymond Schiller, whose followers are deliberately parasitized and enslaved by a godlike extradimensional horror known as the Sleeper in the Pyramid, is plotting a takeover of the U.K. government. Abruptly, the Laundry's staffers learn that their agency has been privatized and they're all out of a job. To combat Schiller, Bob will need his most powerful allies, freelance witch Persephone "Seph" Hazard, otherworld elf-queen Cassie Brewer, and Senior Auditor Armstrong. Series regulars will find the usual humor here much reduced, with a narrative cluttered with infodumps on civil service bureaucracy, while the tone has turned bleaker and far darker. There's little need to point out the obvious political aspects to all this. Some readers may not relish the new direction the series is taking, while others will ponder the underlying currents and conclude that it all makes perfect sense.

Stross still spins a heck of a yarn.

The Delirium Brief will be published next week, and is available from Amazon or your bookseller of choice.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"Today we celebrate our independence day!"

Tonight my wife and I will partake in our annual July 4 guilty pleasure: watching the 1996 movie Independence Day (ID4), while the neighborhood's illegal fireworks provide the incessant background explosions. The movie stars Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore, Will Smith as Marine Captain Steven Hiller, and Jeff Goldblum as MIT-educated computer hacker David Levinson.

Here is the speech the president gives prior to the attack on the alien ship in ID4:
Good morning. Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind.

Mankind, that word should have new meaning for all of us today.

We can't be consumed by our petty differences any more.

We will be united in our common interest.

Perhaps it's fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice:
"We will not go quietly into the night!
We will not vanish without a fight!
We're going to live on, we're going to survive."
Today we celebrate our independence day!

—President Thomas J. Whitmore
    July 4th, 1996