reviewed Quantum of Nightmares by Charles Stross (New Management, #2)

Charles Stross: Quantum of Nightmares (EBook, 2022, Tom Doherty Associates) 4 stars

It’s a brave new Britain under the New Management. The avuncular Prime Minister is an …

A whimsical gorefest

3 stars

Stross has commented in the past that the post-Brexit UK’s trajectory has a tendency to make his Laundry Files parallel universe far less outrageously “out there” than he intended. The spin-off New Management series, of which this is the second instalment, has thus dialed things up quite a bit, with the government taken over by a Lovecraftian Elder God who is slowly turning the UK into a hybrid of late capitalist dystopia and a very bloody occult domain.

All this to say: this is not for the faint of heart. As an introduction to the Laundry Files, New Management is not recommended, and this volume isn’t recommended as a starting point for the latter either. The goriness, ever lurking around in the series, attains new heights. At the same time, the characters are engaging as ever, the pacing and storytelling tight, the world-building superb, and there is an unexpected and very welcome touch of whimsy, from the plainly telegraphed Mary Poppins reference to less obvious nods to Terry Pratchett, Jurassic Park or Blues Brothers, to name just a few I caught. If you are a longtime fan of the series, this a very worthy new instalment. If not, I suggest you start elsewhere.