The Rhesus Chart

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross.

Charles Stross The Rhesus Chart

“Some people aspire to necromancy; others have necromancy thrust upon them; me, I just didn’t scream and run away fast enough when it kicked down my office door. I’m slow that way.” (127)

“Slow” or not, this fifth volume of the Laundry Files series sees IT geek-cum-sorcerer “Bob Howard” going through more changes than any of the others to date. It kills off long-standing characters, cripples Bob’s marriage, and advances his role within Capital Laundry Services (the deep black British intelligence agency concerned with occult phenomena) to the point where I wonder if further volumes will see the role of narrator passed to some junior character. And while much of the outcome — as foreshadowed in the first chapter — is terribly negative (though far short of what regular readers will know as CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN), the book is full of the sardonic joking that suffused the previous volumes.

The nature of Bob’s principal antagonist in The Rhesus Chart is unusually traditional. Although the story still presumes computational demonology of Cthulhoid consequences, it’s vampires that are the problem this time. These vampires are re-imagined according to the rules of the Laundry universe, and they happily fall nowhere near Twilight vampires in their features and motives. As in the prior installments, a book that is presented as Bob’s classified “journal” in his voice also includes interspersed third-person accounts of events that he could only become aware of later, through informed speculation. And, as before, such a strain on the narrative form doesn’t interfere with the fun of reading it.

I’m left with the same downside as I was at the end of the previous volume: I read these books much faster than Stross can write them, and I’m ready for the next one now. [via]