Bob Howard and the Laundry do Vampires.
The first rule of vampires is that they don’t exist. But, if you find out that they do exist, then you are already dead or… part of the Laundry’s inner circle that knows these things.
For those of you that haven’t read “The Laundry” series by Charles Stross – you might do best to start with “The Atrocity Archives” – (I reviewed that last week). Version 1.0 of the Laundry.
This is kind of “version 5.0” and things are pretty well baked as far as characters and settings, so it might be harder to get involved and keep up. They try to loop in the previous plot points, but having context always helps.
Basically, the Laundry is the British secret agency that is here to protect regular humanity from things that go bump in the night. Things that are dark, tentacular and squamous. Think Cthulu. Think HP Lovecraft meets Len Deighton. The Laundry uses “advanced mathematical computational demonology” (that’s really advanced coding/hacking) to do this. Recall the adage that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” and you have the Laundry . Mahogany Row is made up of high level Wizards and the really good programmers are necromancers. Bob’s boss is Angleton – an alien entity housed in a human body . He is also known as the “eater of Souls”. Well okay then….
Into this stumbles a “muggle” – in this case a team of “quants” – working for a British Banking firm. In their efforts to develop and implement extremely complex trading algorithms, they inadvertently find the right combination of calculations to summon vampiric parasites from another dimension. Their Agile Programming team is soon all vampires and working even later hours than usual and has identified a really amazing algorithm to “predict” trading futures (or is it to glamour other traders to their will?) . Problem is that they need to feed and the feeding causes the victims to die of something that looks like Mad Cow disease (or as it’s called here : “K Syndrome) . This catches the attention of our Bob at the Laundry and the game is afoot. Characters from previous stories are brought back in and there are plenty of twists to keep you going.
If you happen to work in tech and more specifically in software development, you will get a lot of the humor here – there is a lot of “inside baseball” commentary about tech development environments. I do work in that world, so I find it entertaining, but others may not. These stories are humorous and clever, but they are also dark; the plots advance and people die, disappear and relationships change. That said, I am looking forward to the next one.