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Book day!

The Delirium Brief

Today (Tuesday) is the official publication date for The Delirium Brief in North America. As of this book, the Laundry Files are moving to Tor from Ace, who published the series from books 3-7. Because it has a different publisher in the UK (Orbit), The Delirium Brief won't officially be out until Thursday—but I gather it's already on sale in many branches of Waterstones.

First week sales figures are really important to authors these days, much like first weekend audience figures for a movie. It'll eventually get a price drop (and a low cost paperback edition), but if you want to read it, you'd be doing me a favour if you bought it now rather than later. Also? Reader reviews on Amazon really help—the more, the better. Authors these days are expected to do a bunch of their own marketing, and if the number of reader reviews on Amazon passes a critical threshold (fifty is the number I've heard) then they're more amenable to promotional book-of-the-month deals and future discounts.

If you want to order a signed copy, read this. Oh, and there are still tickets to the launch reading/signing at Blackwell's Bookshop in Edinburgh on the evening of Wednesday 12th.

Frequently asked questions (below the fold):

Q: What is this?

A: It's the eighth novel in the Laundry Files, a series of books and stories about the rather bureaucratic secret British government agency for protecting us from extradimensional horrors. (Magic being a sub-field of mathematics, and computers being tools that can perform mathematical operations really fast, it follows that the rate of emergencies involving extradimensional horrors is increasing in step with Moore's Law.)

Q: Is this a good starting point?

A: No, this is not a good starting point! It's a direct sequel to "The Nightmare Stacks" (which is an okay starting point, but misses out a lot of the back story for the main protagonist in "The Delirium Brief"). Other possible starting points are "The Atrocity Archives" (the first book in the series) or "The Rhesus Chart" (book five, and the start of the arc that culminates in "The Delirium Brief"). If you haven't read the series and want a free taster, here's a link to Equoid, which won the 2014 Hugo award for best novella. (Available as a cheap ebook if you're an ebook completist or want a taster but don't want to be glued to a web browser for a couple of hours.)

Q: Bob! What about Bob? I want more Bob!

A: This is predominantly a Bob novel (you've been waiting, right?) although as there's an ensemble cast we get bits from other folks' points of view. You can stop shouting for more Bob now. (The next novel will not be a Bob novel, but maybe the one after that ...)

Q: What about Brexit?

A: As "The Delirium Brief" is set in a very different 2014 (Leeds has just been flattened by an invading army), Brexit isn't really an issue facing the Laundry. Yet.

Q: Is this "funny" Laundry or "grimdark" Laundry?

A: Starts funny, turns grimdark real quick. I think it's funny, but it's this kind of funny.

Q: I just inhaled this book, when is the next due?

A: These books normally come at 3-4 year intervals. However, I've just emitted three in consecutive years. I've been planning on taking a year out (I hope to have a big fat space opera out in summer 2018) and keeping my hand in with a couple of Laundry short stories. However, the first chapter of book nine ("The Labyrinth Index") forced its way out early, so you never know ...



Coming to my Kindle in about 9 hours!


Countdown to binge-read: T-minus 10.5 hours. Thanks for creating such compelling and hilarious darkness. The neurons applaud.


In my email this morning I got the Tor/Forge newsletter, with a link to this article: What’s a nice series like you doing with a publisher like this?

Any chance we'll get a hint of what the latest Attack Novel is about?


I was one of those who Waterstones provided a copy to a week early.

It would be ruinously evil of me to even think about dropping spoilers, so I'll simply say that those of you waiting patiently have an especially fine treat to look forward to. :)


Any chance we'll get a hint of what the latest Attack Novel is about?

Not for at least a day: I'm waiting for feedback from agent and editor.

(However, the space opera might end up being shoved back to 2019 to make room for the Attack Novel. We just don't know yet.)


Spoiler comments will be deleted (at least until we're decently far into the comment thread).


Do pre-orders count towards the first-week totals? Cause I ordered my copy off Amazon back in December...


Ordered. and very much looking forward to reading it.


For a plethora of reasons, ranging from mundane to recondite, I only got around to picking up The Annihilation Score last week, and am currently consuming The Nightmare Stacks -- I should be in the pleasant position of completing just in time to pick up The Delerium Brief. Woo! And also: Hoo!


Been re-reading from TFM in preparation. Really looking forward to this one!


Got it last week, already got through it. Absolutely storming book, thankyou once again for keeping us entertained.


Seconded!!! cant wait to discuss the major plot twists and turns


However, the space opera might end up being shoved back to 2019

Wait even longer for "Ghost Engine"?!?! Nuts. Must be something good to push it back.

14: Hello Stephen Harris, "The Delirium Brief: A..." has shipped. Arriving: Tuesday, July 11

Well, crap, it's still Monday here, and Barnes and Nobbled won't even ship my pre-ordered hardback until Tuesday. After that it will take a week to get to me. All that being true, I will take any spoilers as a mortal insult, and will insist on a meeting of honor with DeLameters at dawn.

So if Ghost Engine gets delayed a year, what does that do to the novel-length version of Palimpsest? Or is that not on the menu anymore?


Well, crap, it's still Monday here, and Barnes and Nobbled won't even ship my pre-ordered hardback until Tuesday....I will take any spoilers as a mortal insult,

Yep. Why I won't read the review on Probably safe, but not taking any chances.


Got it from my local bookstore this morning, and have completed devouring it. Best Laundry novel yet! But hell, you weren't kidding when you said you were trying not to be out-Grimdarked by Real Life.

A few more books like this and we may be wishing Bob was somewhere nice and safe, like the world of A Colder War.


Speaking of Brexit, I would enjoy the cathartic release of the Invisible College wiping out the current British government 'for the good of all' or something to that effect. Perhaps an Eater of Souls could devour our current PM before complaining it is still very hungry? Of course Boris Johnson would immediately side with the Things from Beyond Time and Space, likely thinking it would be better to rule a wasteland rather than die with us plebs.


So if Ghost Engine gets delayed a year, what does that do to the novel-length version of Palimpsest? Or is that not on the menu anymore?

"Palimpsest" is in rights limbo, because the novella was written for a short story collection published by Ace and Orbit. Ace thus have a claim on US rights to the novella. If I incorporated it into a novel and someone else published it, the royalty situation would be complicated, and I've parted company with Ace. The situation might resolve if, at some future date, the rights to the entire collection revert to me because the book goes out of print or I buy Ace's interest out. But also note that I wrestled with the middle third of that novel on and off for around a decade: it's going to be a very hard one to write.

Ghost Engine just went stale on me during the second or third redraft and I need six months to step away from it. Six months that I don't have on the production track leading to next July, So I can either deliver an inferior product (think about the hurried ending to "Neptune's Brood", for example, another book where I ran out of time) or do something else and deliver a decent product later.


There will be more Bob stories, but the next Laundry novel won't be a Bob story at all — it'll be about Mhari, six months after the ending of "The Delirium Brief", under the New Management. Not having a nervous breakdown (like Mo, in "The Annihilation Score"), but being handed a Mission: Impossible job and getting angry.


How far counts as "decently far"?


Let's hold off on spoilers until 8pm EST on Wednesday, i.e. 1am BST Thursday (in the UK), when the UK ebook edition will have dropped.


Will the ebook become available soon on the Windows Store? Seventeen of your other books are but TDB hasn't shown up as of this morning.


Ok, got it at lunch time [12:30pm] and finished it at 6pm.

Loved it.

Thank you Charles for yet another fantastic book and continuing the saga of Bob & The Laundry.

I can only say that now the torment begins anew as I will now have to wait until another novel is written.


Got an email from yesterday evening by Amazon telling me the book is dispatched. By average post office run times, that means it lands on my doorstep tomorrow. I now have to finish the current book just in time, and avoid being tempted to start another one...


Hi Charlie,

what is the current situation for ebooks? Especially re: publishers, sellers, formats, DRM... and in general where is best to buy a copy of this book.



This is very weird when I saw the YouTube link to "this kind" of funny, I immediately intuited that it was that sketch by Mitchell & Webb. How? Maybe I know you too well, Charlie...


Good morning, Mr. Stross,

I hate to shill for Our Corporate Overlords, but Amazon's "Prime Day" promotion is running today, and if you buy a Kindle book, you get a 40% credit off your next Kindle book. So, if one is planning to buy "The Delirium Brief" electronically anyway, this is a good day to do it.

Alternatively, there's a $5 discount on the hardcover, with promo code PRIMEBOOKS17; this brings it down to the price of the Kindle edition (though without the bonus ebook credit).

Regards, Ethan


I burned through the book this morning, realized it had been finalized in December, and got that sinking feeling that I need to get off this planet before it's too late - and then re-read your 2017 predictions and got that sinking feeling that it's already too late for this universe.

Trying not to spoil, but the Point of No Return for the Laundry Files universe was back at the climax of The Rhesus Chart, wasn't it?


Will the ebook become available soon on the Windows Store?

No idea.

(a) I don't handle the supply chain side (that's my publishers job), and (b) I don't use the Windows Store, because Windows.


The US ebook edition is DRM-free, because in the USA the series has moved to Tor (from this book onwards — earlier titles remain with Ace, who insist on DRM).

The UK ebook edition is still published by Orbit, part of Hachette, who insist on DRM on everything. They are aware of my opinions. Once corporate policy shifts, I'll kick shins until they remove the DRM. Do not hold your breath, though.


Trying not to spoil, but the Point of No Return for the Laundry Files universe was back at the climax of The Rhesus Chart, wasn't it?

Nope; it was the committee meeting in "The Fuller Memorandum" where Dr Mike explains how they've re-dated CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

Here's a clue: the next book, THE LABYRINTH INDEX, is scheduled to be the Mhari novel ... and is set 6-18 months after CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

Because this series is about the Lovecraftian Singularity, and I'm trying to do for Cthulhu what "Accelerando" did for the AI singularity.


I am waiting for the slugs in Frankfort to get out of bed, and open the bookstore, and call me. I think they have had the book since last week, but will wait until today to release it.

I am busy ignoring Prime Day. Unfortunately, I live in a retail desert, with WalMart and Lowes having destroyed other local stores. So I have to order stuff from Valdemort or drive 35 miles. I limit myself to 1 order a month, no books, and only enough for free shipping. Unfortunately, I have to pay sales tax, because of the slave-robotics warehouses in my state.


The book is not out in the UK and EU until Thursday. Today is launch day in North America only.


Bob's complete mangling of the role, capabilities, and branch names of the Navy/Marines is distressing.

Even if you want to make the argument that amphibious assault ships are aircraft carriers, they still belong to and are operated by the Navy, not the marines


I must say, I found this as sticky a reading material as Pratchett (as in, eyes are stuck to the page until finished).

I read it on Google Books as where I'm now, that's the only way to access the material. Once back in the glorious west, I will get the physical copy too, too read again to see what I missed at the first pass.

A number of quips have made me chuckle and even laugh out loud!

Looking forward to see the next chapter.

Without spoiling anything: I somehow found the voice of a certain character to resemble the conversation style of a certain oracle posting on here. Is this just me, or was this intended?

I have other comments, but will wait out the embargo on spoilers for those...


But more realistically? :-(


Well, Bob's a Brit, not a Yankee, and I suspect it's fair to say that as of DELIRIUM, he's got far too much on his plate to worry about the specifics of US military force structure...

As for CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN ... I had this impression that it would be a rather long-lasting event, its effects would be catastrophic-to-apocalyptic, and that the world would be largely unrecognizable after it ended. Does LABYRINTH INDEX take place 6-to-18 months into CNG, or does the CNG event end by then (with, one presumes, another CASE NIGHTMARE barreling down the pike towards Bob and Mo and friends)?


Your two postings, #32 and #20, mean that the events of this novel are about the start (/end?) of CNG (?)

So this is not going to be the sweet and surprisingly cheery novel the last one was. It really is your Brexit/Trump novel...

(and do we hope that the renewed optimism last month's elections gave us about the UK will trickle down, the literary equivalent of Reagan-era supply side economics, into hope for the Laundryverse in the sequels?)

Serious comments/questions once I read it, once it comes out here.


YAY! As it happens, I'll be traveling to Las Cruces Thursday and will be able to pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble (probably: they usually carry his work). Even better, I haz COUPON! I live actually in the middle of a forest on the top of a mountain at 9,000' and it is a minimum of 90 minutes to the closest book store, excluding thrift shops. Not that the chain that was the local book store that closed due to ownership ineptness would have carried Charles anyway.

Conveniently, this acquisition will dovetail with the deadline for Hugo voting, so I can begin reading it this weekend (or Thursday).


This is the US navy/marines, right? Because IIRC the Royal Navy and Marines don't feature in the book at all. (And why should Bob be familiar with foreign armed forces?)


Ah, no: CNG began circa 2011 in the Laundryverse. DELIRIUM BRIEF is set in mid-2014; THE LABYRINTH INDEX will be set in early 2015; CNG isn't due to ramp down until some time into the 22nd century. It's a bit like anthropogenic climate change in that respect.


Re: '... voice of a certain character'

Same here ... have been curious about this for a while.

Have really been looking forward to this next Laundry installment and will be picking it up tomorrow at my local bookstore.


wow! thanks! And more please ;-)


No idea. Which characters are you referring to?


Even if you want to make the argument that amphibious assault ships are aircraft carriers, they still belong to and are operated by the Navy, not the marines

The USMC falls under the "Department of the Navy", although they claim they're the "men's department".


I was referring to the character with a strong claim of examining our culture from the outside. :) (I don't know if spoilers from previous novels are ok or not, else I would spell it out.)


Oh, right. No, they're in no way related to a regular commenter here; Cassie is just my take on how an over-caffeinated not-entirely-human visitor might seem.


So that's why I found Cassie the most sympathique of all the characters in the series so far :-)


Non-spoiler: Early on, Bob throws out an offhand reference to a daikaiju incident. Do you have plans to write a Bob vs. Mechacthulhu novella in the spirit of Down on the Farm or Overtime? (Asking for another Equoid- or The Concrete Jungle-level novella seems a bit presumptuous on my part, like when Ricky Gervais asked David Bowie to write a little "Station to Station"-type ditty for his cameo on Extras.)


It's actually Bob vs. Hello Kitty, and I haven't written it yet. (Also on the spike: the Derek the DM origin story novella.)

Because the Laundryverse has gone a bit Discworld-esque on me and is now an ensemble cast/setting rather than Tales of Bob.


I really did enjoy her insights. It's a very nice reversal of fish-out-of-water :).

To qoute the prelude to a german novel: "Similarities are neither intentional, nor accidental, but rather unavoidable"

Re: ensemble cast, looking forward to as many different viewpoints as you wish to present. Some of the heavy hitters seem to indeed reach the high-level player character challenge where it's rocket tag with strategic ordnance. [D&D reference]


So there'll still be humans around until the 22nd century? That's the most optimistic thing you've said about the series...


Her speech mannerisms always remind me of the receptionist at my physio clinic. Nice young lady, but uncaffeinated — just naturally very fast.


In my perfect world, you have 9-12 months to work on each book and the extra time gives you the ability to produce a home run every time you publish.


Bob and Mo are indeed extremely heavy hitters now. The next one on the block as viewpoint protagonist is Mhari — who we have only seen, so far, from the PoVs of Bob (his "psycho ex" from 15 years ago, returned as a Human Resources vapire), Mo (her frighteningly competent executive officer and source of marital insecurity because Mo was teetering on the edge of a breakdown at the time), and Alex (his boss's assistant manager at the Bank).

Who Mhari really is will hopefully turn out to be a complete surprise (while being consistent with her depiction in the previous eight books) ...


:-) I am not sure if Felcia Day, Pauley Perrette or possibly Amy Acker should play Cassie in the film version.

But that's just me and initially I visualised Mahari as Asian


I thought the redating of GNG was a fake out to flush out Iris cultists?

I must admit seeing a pub (the rocket) mentioned that I have been in a few times was fun


I've finished the book, and will admit to being a bit baffled by one element. Maybe I'm just thick. Trying to do this in a spoiler-free way - feel free to delete if you think I've failed. My puzzlement is, I'm not clear if I'm supposed to understand a "voicemail" message, or not...


Re: 'Which characters?'

What NaiveOptimist said ...

Well, I find this person to be quite the 'singular' character even among this bunch.


Just finished the first pass read - I tend to devour the overall story very quickly and then go back a couple of weeks later for the juicy morsels left over. This one will definitely take several gnawings.

Wow. A grim, yet fun read.

Great work, really great.

As an aside: I meant to ask in the NS Cribsheet post - the 'YesYes' of Cassie.

Is that a vocal tic, or the result of the merge of both personalities? Don't think anyone asked that.


"Vapire" is an interesting typo. So would that be someone who steals hits off everyone else's e-cigs, or a real nasty who inhales life force from their victims?


So there'll still be humans around until the 22nd century?

Yes, the impaled undead human corpses writhing in endless agony will still be around in the 22nd century.


Don't be pessimistic Nojay, everyone loves Cthulhu. Being a one of the special thought-cells in his body which exist only to contemplate pain is a special destiny that not everyone can fulfil. But due to the greatness of humanity, everyone is being made part of Cthulhu right now, so we can all study pain together for the rest of eternity! If you disagree with Cthulhu's decisions about the future, there are some cells which are even more special than the pain-study cells, and we can accommodate your complaints by making you one of the extra-special cells which links pain-contemplation cells together into large groups, so you will know far more about pain than any individual human-cell.

Should your complaints continue, there are super-duper special cells which contemplate enhanced combinations of pain, madness, and sexual trauma. (As an extra, added bonus, much of the sexual trauma comes from non-human species!)

Remember that you have the bad luck to be part of a universe with spatial dimensions that can be measured with prime numbers. The unpronounceable finds this to be evidence of both appalling sin and aesthetic sensibilities on a par with owning a large collection of Black Velvet Elvises, and it simultaneously vomits with eternal disgust for you even as it feels sympathy for the pain of your three-dimensional, non-devisible into whole-numbers, so-called life.

In short, you are a scar on the eye of God, and you can end your pain through the ritual of sacrifice! So accept Cthulhu today in exchange for a compositely-numbered future! You'll be glad you did!


I haven't read the new one yet but I've been re-reading some older work and Charlie, you're the most entertaining scary writer I've ever read. Looking forward to whatever you choose to write, whenever you choose to write it.


Review: Delirium Brief is an excellent documentary about British politics. The majority of the political process documented there was previously entirely unknown to me.

I think I'll stay in the US for now.


I have no idea who any of those actors are. I assume they're American, though, so that'd be a no.


The "YesYes" is just a distinctive verbal tic. (It's one I've run across in person in the past.)

SpekerToManagers: for some reason Safari uses a really small in text entry fields, and yesterday my vision was blurry because I'd been for an eye check-up.


I haven't yet received The Delirium Brief, so shall be interested to see that aspect. While many or most aspects of the UK have subjugated themselves or been subjugated to the USA, it is amusing (in a schadenfreude sense) to hear the USA's screams about political and economic ills that were SOP in the 18th century in the UK, and have been recreated here during the past 30 years in new and improved forms. What the UK does today, the USA may do tomorrow. In many ways, the UK is the most monetarist and institutionally corrupt country in the developed world, and I regard the Laundry series (up to The Nightmare Stacks) as actually understated :-(


If you are referring to the non-english message given to Bob near the end of the book:

Googling the phrase will return a result in the Fuller Memorandum, where it is translated.


Just ordered via Transreal - who were the first bookshop I found a Charlie novel in, in their previous incarnation, further west - the book was a pbk of: "Singularity Sky" Surviving equiods can be possible .....


Finally, thanks! I was waiting anxiously for this book. Does it make any difference to you if I buy it from Amazon or Kobo?


The "YesYes" is just a distinctive verbal tic. (It's one I've run across in person in the past.)

I've come across it some too, usually from non-native English speakers. I was going to say "In one case I think it may be a holdover from Hebrew, where I think you repeat a word for added emphasis", but a quick look didn't turn up an example, and I'm not near my Hebrew instructional books. So I may be mis-remembering, or that doesn't apply to Modern Hebrew.


I live actually in the middle of a forest on the top of a mountain at 9,000' and it is a minimum of 90 minutes to the closest book store

Wouldn't be in the vicinity of Cloudcroft, would it? I have rather tenuous family connections to the Cloudcroft-Mountain Park area.


I have no idea; probably not.



I've come across it some too, usually from non-native English speakers.

I think I could say that, and probably have. I'm not a Hebrew speaker, but Finnish, and we do use expressions like "joo joo" to express agreement. "Joo" is the common expression for spoken agreement, and repeating it is common where I hear it spoken.

(Bookdepository tells me the book has been sent to me so I can expect it to arrive early next week. This is the British edition, so it was released a day or two early, depending if you count from the time it left the warehouse or when it was put into mail for me.)


Thanks! Google didn't pull it up for me (just the Delirium Brief reference), but I'll check my copy of Fuller Memorandum when I get home.


It's a perfectly normal English convention, though not currently in fashion. I can't offhand think of an era or society when it was common, but there may have been one. It's still common in the negative - i.e. No, no, no!


Just realized I have the Fuller Memorandum in ebook - tried searching it, and can't find the phrase. Any hint as to where it is?


That's sort of a different usage, akin to "Yes! Yes! Yes!" at something happening that you want to happen.

I think a better example is "No No! Don't do that!" and "Yes yes!" in that sense (an enhanced affirmative) isn't common usage at all. Well, at least in Midwestern US English, YEMV. I have run into "Hihi!" as a greeting, but mostly at conventions, where it may be cant rather than regular usage.


Actually, Allen, it precisely is Cloudcroft. My wife is an astronomer at Apache Point Observatory, so she's constantly on the lookout for the stars being right in addition to frequently blasting the moon with a laser, just to keep the moon people in check. I moved up here twelve years ago when we married.

We do have a science fiction bookstore in town, but he's more of a collectibles-type place. If you haven't been here in the last five years, it's changed a lot, especially the restaurant scene.

And Charles: open invitation to an observatory tour if you ever find yourself in El Paso with a spare day, assuming you ever visit the USA again.


I'm pretty sure it's in Apocalypse Codex, not Fuller Memorandum. Isn't it?

I have middle aged memory, and holding accurate headcannon for two million-word series works is challenging.


(And why should Bob be familiar with foreign armed forces?)

Heck, why should he be particularly familiar with UK forces? He entered the Laundry as a hacker who'd poked the wrong memory location in reality. He's worked with one particular UK military unit, true, but that's a VERY special ops force, a small one at that. He'd have real trouble drawing up the TOE for that group, other than knowing who was commanding the unit in the field. Equipment? Organization? He has no idea, he just knows they're the guys with the guns and tools to bail things out when it got out of his hands.

It would be completely believable that he didn't understand large parts of it. Indeed, screwing up things like the Marines (USMC and Royal) is exactly the sort of mistake a civilian makes - just as the Marines (USMC and Royal) would probably really screw up your typical incursion of tentacled things that eat brains. Well, except possibly (in the USMC) for a couple of Marine Special Operations teams under MARSOC who have been trained to handle...unusual forces. Heck, with things cooking, maybe the entire 2nd Marine Raider Btn at Camp Lejune is currently taking the accelerated form of the "Identifying and Containing Reality Excursions" class.


Thanks, but I'm minimizing my footprint in the USA right now, because 45. (Not avoiding it completely, but strictly business meetings and minimal duration rather than pleasure/social trips.)


It's certainly common in Spanish and Russian, which have short "yes" words. SiSi and DaDa are often heard. Emphasis or, I suppose, a way of saying "yes, of course."


The cannon is canonical!


it can be found in google, and cross refers to the Rhesus Chart


Mikko Parviainen @76 et al. I think I am mis-remembering about the Hebrew, there are occasions were words are doubled, just not used how I was thinking. It came to mind because I was talking to an Israeli acquaintance the other day, and she totally does the "Yes yes!" thing. Fairly certain my Kurdish sister-in-law does too. The closest I can think in American English is someone saying 'Yeah, yeah." but that's usually dismissive, though can be enthusiastic.

Forgot to add earlier, got shipping confirmation email from B&N last night, so ought to be starting the book next Monday.


Found it! In Rhesus Chart. If it's in Fuller Memorandum or Apocalypse Codex, then the Kindle search function didn't find it in either. Anyway, question answered! Thanks all!


No, no! Not at all! Seriously. Remember that there are God alone knows how many dialects of English, most of which have innumerable variants. I did say that I didn't know if "yes, yes" had ever been common, but it certainly isn't today. I have heard it but, like OGH, put it down to a personal idiosyncracy.


I have no idea who any of those actors are. I assume they're American, though, so that'd be a no.

All three more or less played "manic pixie dream girl" characters. Pauley Perrette plays uber-geek/goth/punk forensic scientist "Abby Sciuto" on the CBS TV series NCIS.

Felcia Day was one of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"'s vampire slayers. She's also creator, writer, & star of The Guild - a YouTube series about MMORPG gamers - she'd likely make an adequate "Elaine Barnaby" if "Halting State" ever gets sold to Hollywood.

Amy Acker played "Winifred 'Fred' Burkle" on the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spin-off series "Angel". Her character was held as a slave in an alternate dimension before being rescued and brought back to our dimension. She could be Laundry Files Earth's Cassie, the one who was abducted back to the Host's home dimension.


Also, for a 'neuroatypical mortal guided by a vaguely godlike intelligence' angle, she played Root (AKA Ms Groves) in Person of Interest.


Thinking about it Pauley is a bit to Chaotic/Lawfull Good for Cassie

I was thinking of Felicia's later role as Charlie in supernatural and Amys (aka the death princess) as Root in POI as having similarities to Cassie.


In the US Apple iBooks ecosystem, The Delirium Brief is not included in the "A Laundry Files Novel" group, which is currently showing only 7 members, all sold by Penguin USA. Is it possible to get Tor/Macmillan/Holtzbrinck, Ace/Penguin, and Apple to coordinate with each other to have all the novels and shorts grouped under "The Laundry Files" so everyone can benefit?



I raise you the 4 bore stopping rifle ideal for hunting helicopters elephants and shogoths


To play devils advocate Bob joined SOE SIS's more violent sibling so I suspect that the laundry might have a much more para milatery bent a bit like the CIA retains its own organic muscle in the form of SAD.


Hate to say it, but none of those actors are young enough, by at least a decade, never mind being too American (not at all familiar with Day, but assume the same). I picture Alex and Cassie to be mid 20s. Emma Watson is perhaps a better choice, though just. I don't recall any hints as to the original Cassie's ethinicity, so why not a 20-something Woman of Colour?

Not that any of this matters, but imaginary casting is always fun to speculate about.


Preorder just arrived on my Kindle.


Hate to say it, but none of those actors are young enough, by at least a decade ...

Hadn't really thought that much about the age factor; just responding to "I have no idea who any of those actors are."

Even if Felicia Day is too old for "Cassie", I think she'd be a great "Elaine Barnaby" and she's got the gamer background to understand the role.


Just powered through the book. There's plenty of time for sleep when I'm dead.


choice = evil--


Read it. My conclusion is Mo is pregnant, she survived because little Bob/Mo is powerful occult entity, even as a zygote. Be absolute Hell when he/she/it is 18 mo old. I have to back up, re-read the Iris text. I am somewhat confused about Mandate as the Black Pharaoh. I thought he was a supervillian, a counterpart to the underware perverts.


Baby Angleton? Baby Lechter? Baby Thing In The Pyramid? Baby Cthulhu? Cutethulhu?* He is coming? He is coming!

  • If you can find this, read it despite the bad art. It is as weird and horrible a thing as you'll ever find, and makes it clear what happens when an Elder God moves to your little town.

All right. It looks like we're in spoiler-open territory (it's about 5 hours after the embargo's been lifted)... just as well because I am bursting with questions and speculation regarding "Fabian Everyman"/"the Mandate"/"fuck, Nyarlathotep, run!"

In hindsight, whatever the hell he was, the Mandate was anomalous: first, he's a ton more powerful than the rest of the Pervert Suits, something that's confirmed in Brief; and second, his first attempt at gatecrashing the human world seems...uncharacteristically stupid for an Elder God.

Besides, Iris calls him "Master". And he was able to win a duel against a meatpuppet of the goddamned Sleeper in the Pyramid.

I'm pretty confident in flagging Fabian as a Mask of N'yar Iath-Hotep.

Puzzles and puzzles and puzzles, leading us in two interconnected threads: what was Iris actually doing in book three? (Because it's definitely not all one of Armstrong's false-flags; at some point Iris definitely went off the reservation--and whatever the SA had planned, Iris seems like a true Black Pharaoh worshipper.) And how did the Black Pharaoh reach the Earth?

Looking at the second, it sure looks like Fabian popping up in the "superhero" Laundry novel is a red herring. More significantly may be where he popped up on the timeline. That is, after Iris' botched (or "botched"?) ritual; after the events of GOD GAME BLACK and whatever shakeups happened in the American OCCINTEL community; and after Angleton's disappearance.

(Hey, speaking of Angleton, didn't Iris hold the Eater of Souls in near-worshipful reverence...? We thought it was just because the Hungry Ghost could help take apart the Wall of Pain, but that begs of question of why, since Fabian and the Sleeper seem to hate each other. What if the Eater of Souls is connected to the Black Pharaoh in some other way...?)

But at the same time, Fabian doesn't seem like Old Nyarly himself. Recall Panin's observation that there is a hierarchy of horrors, a ladder to be climbed before you reach the Pharaoh in full immanence. As bad as things are, we're not there yet.

So...possibilities for the Mandate.

  • He popped up on Earth as a natural result of Case Nightmare Green. Seems unlikely; the walls of reality are leaking V-symbiotes, Feeders, and djinn, but Nyarlathotep himself is so much more powerful that it's implausible for him to have just stepped through when so much effort is needed to bring forth the Sleeper.
  • He's unbound from the Black Chamber. Not so dramatically satisfying, but at least one of the RPG splatbooks states that the Chamber had bound, or thought they bound, an instance of Nyarlathotep; he either broke free or was set free. In which case is he doing his own will, the will of the BC's masters, or is he one of the latter?
  • He's related to Angleton in some way. He seems unlikely to actually be Angleton (personality is too different, and anyway Bob inherited his power--Fabian's power is much greater than even that), but this would fit Iris' reverence for the Eater of Souls (assuming she was ignorant of TEAPOT's true identity) and the timing of his appearance. But just how?

IIRC Feorag has a Cutethulu - very strokeable ....


[playing Cassie] I'm a great fan of NCIS' "Abby Sciuto" but, I suppose Pauley Perrette isn't the right physical type..."elfin" (as stated in Nightmare Stacks, "tall and thin") she ain't... but her body language looks a lot like Cassie's verbal YesYes tic. I'd be really amused to see her in that role. And Alex may be also a Tim McGee character


Bob frequently describes how him and Mo don't want kids. How come they never took more permenant steps in contraception? £402 and two weeks off work and Bob could have been happily firing eldrich blanks.

Does "you are what you eat" apply to vampires? I'm just thinking, after Mhairi makes a meal of a puppet of the Sleeper, surely something that powerful wouldn't be as easy as eating a sandwich? Has she been compromised?


I'm pretty confident in flagging Fabian as a Mask of N'yar Iath-Hotep.


He's not fully powered yet, but he's powerful enough — and more importantly, smart enough — to take over the government.

(Note: the RPG supplements are not canon and I'm ignoring them.)

If anything, the original unbound Eater of Souls was a very minor emissary of N'yar lat-Hotep. Now we've got the Real Thing in 10 Downing Street, and the New Management wants you to know that it is very Strong and Stable ...


Does "you are what you eat" apply to vampires? I'm just thinking, after Mhairi makes a meal of a puppet of the Sleeper, surely something that powerful wouldn't be as easy as eating a sandwich? Has she been compromised?

The Black Pharaoh defeated the Sleeper; what's left in that physical husk is just Ray Schiller with minimal extras. In time they'd grow back, but don't underestimate Mhari.


So presumably the new management decided to stay in its cell at the tower because it wanted to. A bit like Angleton pretending to be bound.

I wonder if it is hiding out here as well.


Yes I thought Mandate was a serpent man when he first appeared - though I am not sure how OGH thinks about Howards additions to the mythos.


Yes exactly what Iris was doing is interesting and what the SA's plan was he seems too know who Mandate/Fabian is and had some sort of dealings with him.

So if Iris was trying to take down the wall of pain why would Fabien want her to do this as he seems to be antagonistic to the sleeper in the pyramid.

The hints at the end that Shiller is using the UK as a bolt hole after something went wrong the OPA's plan to take over the USA is interesting maybe there is an American Mahogany row or other ocint organisations that the Nasgul where unaware of.


Is the book priced correctly in Google Play? It sold very cheap last time I looked.


It's priced correctly in the UK Play Store but I've had reports of it being mis-priced on Google Play and iBooks in Sweden — where are you and what price are you seeing?


does "mask" imply an avatar in the same way that the inner temple were?

if so, why did old management choose to imprison the Mandate (giving him time for his powers to develop, it seems) rather than adopt a more permanent solution to him such as exorcise him? the only reasonable explanation is that he could be used as a contingency, but that seems incredibly dangerous if you assume continous power growth.


I raise you the 4 bore stopping rifle

People go safari-hunting in Africa with modern-manufacture 1-bore and 2-bore rifles. They use gunbearers and shooting-sticks. They kick a bit.

The Really Silly gun is the Russian-made revolver in .600 Nitro Express. It kicks a bit too. They plan to make a .700 Nitro Express version apparently.


I'm wondering if the name of operation CONSTITUENCY and the Mandate's nom de guerre are relevant to the SA's plan - we know that Angleton wasn't so much bound as he was civilised, so maybe the op was intended to bound the possibility-space of Nyarlathotep summonings such that what came through was an avatar with an affection for Fabian socialism.

CONSTITUENCY definitely implies a connection to politics right from the start, after all, and it could explain why Iris' cult was markedly more, let's say, middle class than the norm.


(I'm not Lars, but I live in Sweden.) The US edition is priced at 109kr (£10) but the UK edition is only 9kr (83p) in iBooks.

And commenting on another thread, the UK edition is properly belonging to the "Laundry Files", but unnumbered, whereas the US edition lacks series metadata.


Not sure she's tall enough, but I can't help seeing Saoirse Ronan as Cassie. Works in my head, anyway.

Loved Delirium Brief, although it's left me with a whole bunch of Questions (beyond the obvious "What now???")

Are we ever going to find out what really went down in The Fuller Memorandum? That conversation between the SA and A Certain Person has shattered my whole view of what was going on there - it can't all have been a false flag op, can it?

Did Fabian get a power-up since AM? I don't see how they could have caught and held him if already had the abilities he shows here.

...and as someone who grew up with, and has a soft spot for Modesty Blaise and company... I'm really hoping Z will still be around for future books. I love the way you've used the character - not to mention his sense of humor - and he seems way too smart to have been caught out like that, so here's hoping.


All right. It looks like we're in spoiler-open territory

Looks like as of 102 I'm out of here. Unless people start Spoiler tagging, I'm not taking chances reading further comments. Well, maybe just enough to see whether it is or not.


Re: '... start Spoiler tagging,'

Agree! Delirium hasn't arrived at my local bookseller's yet or my local branch didn't order enough copies. Anyways, looks like I have to wait ... arggh and harrump.


Apologies. Is it possible to edit posts? I'm new to this forum.


Yes, I'm Swedish. And the UK edition was priced at 9 SKR (~1 €).


The Black Pharaoh defeated the Sleeper; what's left in that physical husk is just Ray Schiller with minimal extras. In time they'd grow back, but don't underestimate Mhari.

Wait, just destroyed his appendage into our realm, or hit the Sleeper itself? And if the latter, is that being destroyed or just rendered comatose again?


Read it. My conclusion is Mo is pregnant, she survived because little Bob/Mo is powerful occult entity, even as a zygote. Be absolute Hell when he/she/it is 18 mo old.

there is a quick bit about civilizations becoming superorganisms that wake up into the great threats like the Sleeper and Black Pharaoh; perhaps the little one is the apotheosis of our civilization into the intellect great, dark, and cold that will terrify someone other world.

I have to back up, re-read the Iris text. I am somewhat confused about Mandate as the Black Pharaoh. I thought he was a supervillian, a counterpart to the underware perverts.

That they are the Black Pharaoh is new (or at least I missed the hints), but it it was always clear they were much much more than a supervillian. The Annihilation Score repeatedly stressed that heavy use of powers was a very quick death sentence for any human, and then had Mandate showing that rule absolutely did not apply to them. So it was a Chekhov's gun that they were something well beyond human, but exactly what was not clear.


Not a death sentence for any human - just for some - they just said it was unpredictable. Officer Friendly was doing fine after a lot of heavy powers use, and there's at least one hint in Delirium Brief that he's still going strong.


Question for the Charlie

Has the subplot with Spooky been cut in the various reshuffles and rewrites (ala the marriage counselor scenes), or is that still to come?


Seconded. I was wondering about Bob's cat too.

I still in the waiting stage.

My local library ordered 19 copies back around the time the first chapter became available on-line. I'm number 12 on the hold request list, so I'll be in the first batch of library patrons who get to read it. I talked to the librarian this morning and she says they still don't have a confirmed delivery date.


I have to say I was a lot happier not knowing about the status of the Duchy of Cornwall, by the way.


Can I just say SQUEE to properly working footnotes on the UK kindle edition! They now appear as popups rather than annoying bookmarks that take you to the back of the book - at least on the Kindle App for Ipad they do.

I assume this is a publisher led update? Apologies if someone else has noted already - cant read the thread any more because of the spoiler danger.


I suspect Feorag has a "Plush Cthulhu."

"Cutethulhu" is the name of a web comic which has not been updated for several years.


I have to say I was a lot happier not knowing about the status of the Duchy of Cornwall, by the way.

I was startled to learn about that too. I wonder how the chain of command from HRH The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall runs down to the submarines.

( The whole topic of nuclear release authority anywhere is, ah, interesting. E.g., the red box in )


Would it be more appropriate to say that the Black Pharaoh defeated The Sleeper's extensions on Earth? I don't get the feeling that The Black Pharaoh is currently powerful enough to go the The Sleeper's pyramid and win that fight.


Well that was interesting. Usually in Laundry novels they win at the end. In this one they not only lost, they actually joined the other team. I didn't see that coming at all! It didn't even really occur to me as a possibility until very late in Act III, when I suddenly realized "oh dear god, Armstrong doesn't have a contingency plan. He doesn't have some tricky trick to stuff the Mandate back in his cage after he's served his purpose! This is actually happening."

Some thoughts on the dramatic implosion of the Laundry... with respect to the many brave employees and civil servants and sorcerers they've had over the decades, I think this was in many ways their own darn fault. And I'm deeply skeptical of that any of the leadership responsible will take responsibility for their actions, although I'd like to be surprised.

Despite the fact that he was a tool of the Sleeper and, really, a tool in general, Not-David Cameron wasn't wrong when he described the Laundry as a rogue, unaccountable agency that was constantly lying, just... lying all the damn time about what they were up to. Because they were. And that was by design.

As near as I can tell, the Laundry was riddled with the same pathologies that plague other arms of the security state, only dialed all the way up to ten and with their own special occult pathologies layered on top.

Their employment model was based on an explicit plan of "enslave everyone who accepts our offer of employment, mentally violate everyone turns that offer down so they keep schtum, and lie to everyone else." (And some of those lies were pretty vile; their explanation for what happened during The Annihilation Score was, if I recall correctly, shockingly racist and they ought to be ashamed.)

Their entire strategic model for the century-and-change of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN appears to have been "try and conduct a national and global defense initiative that makes WWII looks like a minor scuffle while remaining in the shadows as long as humanly possible. When forced out of the shadows, continue to obfuscate, mislead, lie, and generally avoid all attempts at accountability or oversight. We'll lie to Parliament and Downing Street as well if we have to or, hell, just because we want to. Under no circumstances will we share intelligence or properly inform our nominal political masters, whom we regard with contempt, unless forced to. Under no circumstances will we work with other arms of the government, the press, or the populace unless forced to. Eventually, we may be forced out into the light fully, but we sure don't have to like it."

Well, how did that work out for them?

Because as I see it, the way it worked out is that when they were forced out into the open, they didn't have any sort of plan for dealing with that beyond "flail." They had no allies, or constituency, in Parliament. They had no allies or friendlies in the press. They had very few allies and friendlies within the other security services or even within the Ministry of Defense. They had no standing with the general public. And they didn't appear to have any kind of plan to build up any of those things, when really that should have been a contingency they'd thrown a ton of resources towards preparing for.

Which meant when someone came for them, they had no resources to call upon. Because everyone was all "who the fuck are these secret wizard motherfuckers, and why should we trust them or like them?"

It's a little bit telling to me that when this whole thing is going down, not once does anyone even float the plan of "maybe we should just go loud. Take our files and dump them. Release everything we have on Ray Schiller and what he is and what he's up to and who he serves. Release everything we have on the Black Chamber and how they operate and how fucking evil they are. De-classify as many of our historical operations as possible and dump them as an example case for why we need to exist. Release everything on CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and how it is the greatest threat to the world we've ever seen. Try and build an actual public case for Parliament to, you know... NOT hand the keys to the kingdom over to the Americans and the Sleeper. Actually take our case to the public and the press. Why don't we try being honest with the people we serve and protect, and trusting that they'll make the right decision?"

Now, that might or might not have been a good idea. It might or might not have worked. Trusting in the public to make the right decision has a track record charitably described as "mixed." But it wasn't even on the radar of Continuity Operations. And that's, I feel, because these people were professional members of the security state, and are allergic to any notion of popular legitimacy.

Once shit went down, Armstrong apparently had two goals:

1) Re-enslave everyone released when the Laundry went kaput. 2) Sell out. Sell out for the best price we can get, but... sell out.

The question is, what happens now? The Mandate grotesquely violates the free will and bodily autonomy of anyone who gets near him who isn't massively warded and probably a sorcerer on top, and apparently the Laundry is now not only okay with that, but they're going to help him perpetrate that on the British populace. Will the Laundry warn the other European governments that the UK has joined Team Elder Gods and should be treated as a hostile, and that they should under no circumstances put their leaders in the same room with the UK's new lord and master? Is there a Bill McCracken within the Laundry's ranks who is brave enough and with enough free will of their own to carry that information to other nation-states if the Laundry decides not to? (I can't help but wonder if in the Laundryverse, there isn't a "Brexit" so much as "the EU kicks the nation ruled by Nyarlathotep the fuck out.")

More importantly, does the Laundry have a plan for fixing the mess they've made and actually removing the Mandate?

This is all very exciting! I hadn't thought the books would go in this direction! Delerium Brief was an amazing example of institutional failure on multiple, absurd levels and the scary power of late-stage capitalistic nihilism to just fuck everything up despite the presence of brave, dedicated, self-sacrificing people willing to give their all to stop it.

This might be the very best Laundry Files book.


The pricing problem with European non-sterling ebook sales has been identified and fixed by Hachette digital, and should be propagating now. Expect the price to rise to EUR 10 some time in the next few hours!

I get paid a percentage of the net receipts, so seeing it accidentally discounted 90% on launch day is ... disturbing.

(If you spotted that it was anomalously cheap and spoke up, feel free to grab a copy as your reward for reporting it?)


My conclusion is Mo is pregnant, she survived because little Bob/Mo is powerful occult entity, even as a zygote.

Your conclusion is incorrect: what happened after the condom burst is not yet decided (it's a gun on the mantelpiece, just like Spooky the cat, who may simply be a cat after all).


Nicely put!

Though not-Cameron's actions, dissolving the Laundry without notice or plan, sounds exactly like what is happening in Brexit. Today's news alone..... [And so your recipe of what the agency could have done is perhaps overly optimistic --- look at how Trump is shutting down everything from the EPA to .. too depressing to finish these sentences..]

(who needs to look as far as the US in Iraq for parallels).

And like classic cold war Spy agencies, what the Laundry does to its people is vile.

[Still slowly reading it, myself]


Wow! I'd been rooting for the "heroes" so long I hadn't thought of that, but your interpretation is very thoughtful and intelligent. Putting myself in the position of a government minister, and not being told what was up after TFH, not being told what was up after TRC or TAS, then finally finding out after an invasion from another dimension killed 7,000 people and destroyed one of my major cities - I'd be angry beyond all reason and probably very disinclined to hear about Case Nightmare Whatever or some damned American preacher.

Yeah, definite lack of planning and foresight here.


That was meant as a reply to #135


It does make me wonder about a Good Omens style adoption of baby Bob by the cat...possibly one of my favourite bits of any book


It's a little bit telling to me that when this whole thing is going down, not once does anyone even float the plan of "maybe we should just go loud.

Never underestimate the toxic long-term effects of groupthink! The Laundry has been secret for so long — effectively for multiple centuries — that the need to go public is an Outside Context Problem for them.

The only mitigating factor is that there are Things out there that make the Mandate look positively cuddly and friendly; the scale of the threat is such that the Laundry has no reasonable prospect of defending the nation — or enabling the nation to defend itself — any other way.

More importantly, does the Laundry have a plan for fixing the mess they've made and actually removing the Mandate?

You need to wait for book ten before we get into that question. (Book nine is already locked in on some of the near-term consequences of the New Management's arrival, and a look at what's going on in the USA in the meantime, which is far worse than Raymond Schiller.)


And like classic cold war Spy agencies, what the Laundry does to its people is vile.

I have been waiting for some years to pull the rug from under my reader's assumption that the Laundry are the good guys. After all, if horrible extradimensional tentacle monsters are clearly bad, anyone fighting them must be good, except for the Black Chamber .... er, what?

Once more: "are WE the baddies, Hans?"

To put it another way: the stuff the Laundry is trying to avert is bad, but they've made the classic security state mistake of allowing the ends to justify the means, any means. And rather than changing their methods when microprocessors and the proliferation of technology changed the playing field, they just doubled down on existing best practices, as understood. The people aren't necessarily evil, but the institution lost track of the broader game. Leeds was their 9/11, and the events in DELIRIUM BRIEF were their Brexit and Iraq invasion rolled into one horrible clusterfuck.

This is, after all, the series about the Lovecraftian Singularity. And pre-singularity institutions are spectacularly unsuited to dealing with the aftermath of such an event.


Una natio Nyarlathotep ducente


I just consumed this book over the last two evenings. Consumed is the best word, I think, because every single book since Atrocity Archives has (aside from urgent matters) immediately pinned me to my seat and kept me reading until I'm finished. I've got a friend who I got hooked on the series too, who just finished up the Annihilation Score. It's been a challenge trying to avoid yelling at him about all the cool stuff that happens, and how he isn't even aware of the ride he's in for, even now.

So, I summarized my thoughts to him in one word: Masterful.

Your writing is something really and truly special, and I can't wait for more!


Did you put a cameo of yourself in this book? I'm looking at the section that begins with:

"Thank you." Mo glances at her companions. Tall, thin, academic-looking guy in a bow tie and tweed jacket rather than a dinner jacket; bald bloke with a beard and a ruddy wine-drinker's nose in a dinner jacket that is at least a decade out of date; and an older woman with distinguished silver hair and a purple velvet frock.

I've never seen you in person, but an unnamed bald, bearded bloke does make me wonder.

The Laundry has been secret for so long — effectively for multiple centuries — that the need to go public is an Outside Context Problem for them.

Yeah, that's been an obvious-but-understated problem with their whole CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN planning from the get-go.

A threat of that scale seems like it would require national mobilization. Like, they should have been mass-producing wards for decades in order to be able to issue one (1) standard-issue ward to every man, woman, and child in the UK. There should have been civil defense drills, self-defense courses in how to recognize possession by alien entities, people learning about the major powers beyond extradimensional incursions and how to spot and avoid their followers. That sort of thing.

But that would require them to have gone public years ago, and since they seem to have rejected that possibility out of hand, what you're left with is stuff like SCORPION STARE and other ways to leverage the British state to defend the British populace while not actually ever informing either the state of the populace that this is what you are doing.

The only mitigating factor is that there are Things out there that make the Mandate look positively cuddly and friendly; the scale of the threat is such that the Laundry has no reasonable prospect of defending the nation — or enabling the nation to defend itself — any other way.

I may be wrong, Charlie, but it seems like a big sub-theme in Delerium Brief is that many of the OCCINT agencies are failing, big-time, at what is the ultimate collective action problem.

Namely, that this isn't an issue of national defense, but of global defense. We're all in this together and one nation-state falling dramatically impairs the ability of other nation-states to resist the contagion.

We've seen signs that people are aware of this, like that cross-agency conference Bob went to in Jennifer Morgue which seemed like it was about collective European defense. But in Delerium Brief, it seems like what we see is nation-states and OCCINT agencies falling back into parochialism, in-fighting, and outright defection as they try and defend their polities and themselves and maybe take their eye off the bigger picture. (Those pages where you describe what long-range observation is picking up in the US, and it isn't good? Amazing stuff.)

This is why I like Bill McCracken so much, by the way. When OTD went down his thought was "there are other, non-American people who are threatened by this. I have no legal obligation to the people of the UK. But I have a moral obligation to them as fellow humans. I will take the files, and I will hand-carry them at great personal risk."


Book nine is already locked in on some of the near-term consequences of the New Management's arrival, and a look at what's going on in the USA in the meantime, which is far worse than Raymond Schiller.

Yeah, but is it worse than Donald Trump?


his isn't an issue of national defense, but of global defense. We're all in this together and one nation-state falling dramatically impairs the ability of other nation-states to resist the contagion.

Correct. And the plot of "The Labyrinth Index" might give you the odd hint that someone is thinking clearly along those lines. But the signs are not good; consider the fate of the Alfär as a warning of what happens when a hominid civilization responds piecemeal!


Nope, not me! (I don't have a wine-drinker's nose and wouldn't be seen dead in a DJ.)


Yeah, but is it worse than Donald Trump?

Definitely, much worse! Much, MUCH worse! The worsest!

I mean, if you go back to Equoid, Bob said that Cthulhu does not exist. And Bob is an unreliable narrator ....


"...which is far worse than Raymond Schiller.)"

Damn, the Laundryverse elected Trump too!


Mo being maybe-pregnant (and yet undecided if she is or not) is interesting, because it neatly sidesteps one of my worries about why she might've survived (and why she might still be Mo instead of a strongly Mo-like entity). It also leaves you a perfect out if you decide that Mo is a Mo-like entity and the 'real Mo' perished during the big showdown.

My worry was that her being pregnant was going to be used as an 'out', and I have a lot of trouble seeing a hours-to-days old zygote having enough power/direction on its own to survive a near miss that would destroy almost any human (and many non-human) practitioners. You could still go that route, but presumably you have a plot line forward for her that, while it could run with the pregnancy, isn't dependent on it. It also lets you avoid, if you choose, the body horror issue of her being pregnant with a strongly mystical entity descended from the Violin, the Eater of Souls, or both. (Yikes!)

It also leaves you in the position of pulling another Angleton, where if Mo's a strongly Mo-like entity that 'goes native', it might be 'good enough'. I strongly prefer Mo as Mo, but given all the other horrible things that've happened, it's not an unreasonable plot twist. I do wonder, though even if Mo is really Mo, if she'll pass the 'continuity check' if that vanishing report's true.


So what does the "correct" global defense look like to you? What is the "appropriate" way for a "Grand Alliance" to defend humanity in the circumstance of "Case Nightmare Rainbow?"

As I see it, we need to have a god on our side, but we're probably better off with one we've built ourselves, (though Dagon might do in a pinch.)

And will we ever see your version of "perfect defense" in a Laundry book?


BTW, as someone who became a father for the first time in his early-to-mid 40s, a Bob & Mo cope with being parents unexpectedly late in their lives would be really entertaining, but given the world they live in, I'm not sure it thematically fits. Ideally if you have kids you want there to be a world for them to inherit.


Still reading it. It's substantial, meaty, and very much your Brexit/Trump novel.

And yes, you've completely broken the cosy catastrophe model for British occult fantasy.

(Well done!)

But it is cheating, both in terms of real world retconning (series evolves as you get bored with programmer Mary Sue daydreams), and in world, where you have the multiverse problem -- if all variants that are possible happen, why distinguish this strand?

There will be Laundry-verses that stay humorous, others that die horribly, not to mention all possible trivial variants of the novels you are writing -- some where the Laundry and Angleton play Nyarly., others where it N.'s long game that wins, and so on.

(Niven's problem, in the formulation I first read it.)

(About the variants where you write a literary novel, of deceptively small scale. genuinely evoking the horror of living in CNG, as per Kertesz, or Muller, or such --- about such, I will not speak.)

Still reading. Grim and gripping. Thought provoking, and not just as satire, ruminations on out of context political events, damn it, or as an examination of the moduli space of Laundry landscapes.


Consider that the Bob of "Delirium Brief" may not be the lovable but socially inept hacker dude Bob Howard of pre-"Rhesus Chart" books, but could be the Eater of Souls dreaming that he's a hacker called Bob, rather than the Eater of Souls dreaming that he's an English public school master turned spy called Angleton. Is continuity of identity and memory truly continuity of self?

Remember that almost none of the tissues in your body — at least down to the cellular level — are the same physical stuff you were made of a decade ago. Not even the bone. You are not the you you remember being aged 5 years, but that 5 year old you is embedded within the you-as-you-are-now, whoever you are. You do, however, probably possess memories and abilities which would be uncanny or just plain incomprehensible and possibly scary to a five year old.

Bob has been in denial for years by the time the events of Delirium Brief slap him in the face with this. Mo, however, is not into self-deception.


Apologies if I'm merely being dense, but, following the link from Tor to purchase the ebook version takes me to Barnes and Noble, which is all about the NOOK. I just want a nice friendly epub I can slap into my Calibre library and read wherever I am. You mention DRM-free ebooks -- do you have a link so I can happily hand over my money?

If the B&N version IS the DRM-free one, I can do that -- but my experience with B&N is that they lock everything down just like Kindle editions. I don't want to shell out just to find that I can't read it.


That's absolutely true, and I'm sure you've spent much more time than I have considering what 'continuity of self' means, in general and how it specifically applies here. Heck, Cassie's a perfect example of a composite personality with vastly different feelings and loyalties than she started out with. And it's clear that Mo, while still in love with 'Bob', is strongly concerned that she's dealing with a Bob who's being slowly supplanted by something that loves her, in its own abominable and extremely dangerous way.

I suppose that posits a possible end of the Laundryverse where everyone left standing is a monster, but they still really like tea (or coffee) and late 20th century pop-culture.


Mr. Stross, does reading lines like the infamous “create a GUI interface using Visual Basic, see if I can track an IP address” make you wince? What you wrote about a Go game in the Tower scene is kind of like that...


I asked a couple of Go players for help. I'm blaming them. OK?


The US kindle edition is DRM-free. The US iBooks edition should be DRM free. My experience is that Google Play epubs, when the publisher says it's DRM free, are DRM free.


I suppose that posits a possible end of the Laundryverse where everyone left standing is a monster, but they still really like tea (or coffee) and late 20th century pop-culture.

That's a possible end-game, yes: abhuman nightmares that remember being human, and feel a liminal sense of loss at having supplanted us ...

From the same department: what are the PHANGs, really? Or Ramona?


The exception to tissue replacement is the Nervous System. Nerve cells are "immortal", living, in some cases, as long as the organism. Dogma says mature organisms do not grow new nerve cells, just new connections between existing cells.


Dogma turned out to be wrong in the past decade or so; new CNS tissue does grow, albeit not much of it. As for those new synapses, don't underestimate how important they are! While individual cells may be stable their connectivity can change drastically and at the molecular level they're probably completely rebuilt on a period of hours to weeks.


And I'm now strongly reminded of Octavia Butler.

What's a better end in the Laundryverse: abhuman nightmares that remember being human and still have something of the cultures that spawned them, or actual humans ground down to near paste, with the merest fraction of their cultures and civilization left. We have much of the latter with Cassie's people. Would the former be any sort of improvement, and if so, how long before even the memory of humanity fades?

There's a Muse song in there, somewhere.


Cassie’s silvery laughter echoes. ‘I know what you did!’ she sings. ‘You thought you could keep us out with your silly magic circle but we’re faster and smarter and better than you-hoo!’

I was like: oh god, she's going to start multi-multiposting about the inferiority of human Minds whilst ~darkly hinting~ at the hidden subtexts of recent news and utopian fiction next, isn't she?


Bear in mind the lead time on book production is savage: "Delirium Brief" was finalized in July 2016, written from mid-2015 onwards. I don't recall you-know-who being really bedded in here that far back ...


Bought and finished in a day. Given the ending it's going to be an agonising wait until the next instalment. One thing...

Aw der gal amedn aset

Who is he? The Pharoh is here...hmm.


I did indeed buy it for 9 SKR, if nothing else to see if this was a rabbit hole and to see where it went. It was pre-order (by a few hours) and I half expected it to be cancelled once the error was discovered.

But I have to say, this being the UK edition, I'm a bit disappointed seeing "defence" spelled with an "s". (Because I roll that way.)


Mo, however, is not into self-deception.

Or so she tells herself. She's someone that had a nervous breakdown because she deceived herself about a whole load of things.


To be fair to Mo, I had the distinct impression it was hard for her to sort out what was real and what wasn't at times due to Lecter screwing with her head.

My copy should be arriving tomorrow!


It's back to SEK 109 now. Also, not feeling guilty about taking advantage of the fumble because I'd already bought the US edition two days earlier. Time to run diff and see what the result reveals about the minds of your editors....


This reminds me of a brief conversation I had with Vernor Vinge a decade or so back, at a San Diego con. I mentioned Shakespeare writing about how his sonnets would still be remembered long after he and the young man were both dead, and would give the young man a kind of immortality, and I asked him if he had a vision of who would be reading his books after the Singularity, if anyone. And he thought briefly and said that they would be read by paleontologists.


Oh, by the way, I've dropped the mysterious phrase into Google, and it comes up with The Delirium Brief and a bunch of financial firms discussing asset management. None of the earlier novels shows up. And I'm not going to buy electronic versions of several books that I already own in print. Could one of you who've looked it up just give the translation?


So how high was the Leeds incident death toll? Chapter 1 says "over nine thousand" while chapter 3 says "over twelve thousand".


It means "He is coming, he is coming". In The Rhesus Chart, Mo described encountering hanged corpses who'd been chanting it for days at a mass execution site on one of her missions.



I'm somewhat confused that Alex has driven (and Cassie driven in) a tank but says he has not (she has not) driven (in) a car - I can see Cassie not making the connection (and Alex being concerned that the skills aren't transferable) - on consideration, that makes sense.

OTOH Bob - after going on TV and going public - seemingly never talks with his parents about how he's been (basically) lying to them for years about his work, then shows up on the news in CCTV footage from the police station, but his father is still (as noted) willing to take care of Spooky, rather than e.g. having a cardiac etc. That's parental dedication, Bob, never take it for granted.


so seeing it accidentally discounted 90% on launch day is ... disturbing My guess is that some idiot misplaced a decimal point/decimal multiplier, when setting up the price.

I assume you have got your agent on to this, yesterday, or even sooner?


There's an old saying about studying Dragons, too closely, isn't there? OTOH, how do you defend against "Dragons" without studying them? Damned if you do & ......


Damn, the Laundryverse elected Trump too! No, actually. PENCE

  • Much MUCH worse than DT, if you think about it.

"Continuty of personality"


I have this problem - here is a photograph from a long-vanished world .... The viewpoint is still there ... And it's at ground-level in the centre of THIS picture ... yes that the "Westfield shopping centre in Stratford's "olympic" area.

The photographer was an "earlier version" of my self ... um, err .....



Not marble, nor the gilded monuments Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme; But you shall shine more bright in these contents Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.

When wasteful war shall statues overturn, And broils root out the work of masonry, Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn The living record of your memory. 'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room Even in the eyes of all posterity That wear this world out to the ending doom. So, till the judgment that yourself arise, You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.


I just had an email from Amazon advising that, thanks to their pre-order policy, I just saved £6 off the cover price. I assume this unasked for saving comes to the detriment of you and your publishers.

For future reference, where is the place to purchase hardback books on the day of release at full cover price so as to maximise your profits (I have a selfish reason for asking: I want you to write more books).


My lead publisher is American; the books are edited with an American audience in mind. (Brits can deal with American spelling better than Americans deal with British spelling.)


Diff won't help because the books were separately typeset — the American publisher was not happy with the job the UK publisher did (and neither was I!) — so every single piece of quoted dialog will show up with different quotation conventions.


So how high was the Leeds incident death toll?

It's 1-4 weeks after the event; nobody actually knows for sure how many people died. (Look at the Grenfell Tower disaster and the lack of a death toll so far and bear in mind that's on a much smaller scale. Buildings in Leeds in "The Nightmare Stacks" received similar levels of incineration.)


The books are written in universe so they won't know the answer until the people cleaning up the mess stop finding bodies.


The "cover price" is the Suggested Retail Price which in practice is non-binding and ignored by virtually all booksellers. Publishers sell books wholesale to retailers at a nominal discount off it, usually 50-70%, and the retailers then sell it for whatever they think they can get.

Amazon typically get something like a 65-75% discount and sell for 30% below SRP. So the "you save £6" they're boasting about should really be "we paid £5 for this and sold it to you for £10, but we're spinning this as saving you money, sucker!"

To maximize the author's revenue, either buy a full price hardcover from a bookstore — the smaller the better: big chains don't count — or buy an ebook at launch price (typically 85% of the hardcover price). The author gets a fixed percentage of the publisher's net receipts from ebook sales, so the lucky folks who took advantage of Orbit's pricing blooper in Euros or Kronor gave me roughly 25% of 40% of €1.


Administrative notice

Due to an ongoing family emergency I'm hitting the road and do not know whether I will have any time to participate in comments here for the foreseeable future.

(Nothing unexpected or unscheduled, and almost guaranteed to end in a funeral; you don't get better from being 93 years old. Nevertheless, blogging and answering questions will be on the back burner for a few days to weeks.)


Oh dear. All the best. Chris.


Well, thanks to Amazon not showing any sign of my "preorder on announcement", I now have two copies of the hardcover!

"I liked it so much I bought it twice." so to speak.

Enjoying it immensely.


Damn, I'm very sorry for you


+1 to all the best. Be strong.


Amazon has not yet shipped my order, which I made in early March. I would much rather not deal with those buggers, but there is often no viable alternative :-( It may be because I won't sign up to Amazon Prime. I have told them to extract their digit.


They have been rubbish with preorders for years. You are far more likely to get what you want by ordering on the day of release.

I don't know if this is policy or crappy software, but it goes back further than amazon prime.


This was the trade paperback, which I want for size reasons, and was SUPPOSED to come out at the same time. It's now in limbo.


I really feel for you. Don't forget your own physical needs too. Last time I was in that situation I forgot to eat for several days. It damages your ability to be useful and to cope. Remember to eat, even if you have to order delivery.



Your mum ... I hope she is not in pain, that's the important thing as these err ... "processes" take place. Keep as well as you can.


Admittedly Im a Prime member - but I can say I have noticed any pre-order problems ever. They usually turn up on the day or sometimes even earlier.


you are fortunate. Last time I tried it the textbook I had ordered still hadn't arrived 3 months after publication. The only thing I got from the experience was a fortnightly email promising that it would be sent in the next 2 weeks.

Once I cancelled the order a real bookshop managed to get me a copy within 3 days.


All is now clear. Orbit have put the publication of the trade paperback back by 11 months.


Shit. Sympathies.


I'd like to offer my condolences. It can be very hard to lose someone so close to you.


Yes, though I was thinking more of

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date. Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed, And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed. But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st, Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st. So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.



Under present circumstances, however, a verse from "Cymbeline" might be more appropriate?

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, Nor the furious winter’s rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages: Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great; Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke; Care no more to clothe and eat; To thee the reed is as the oak: The scepter, learning, physic, must All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash, Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou hast finished joy and moan: All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee! Nor no witchcraft charm thee! Ghost unlaid forbear thee! Nothing ill come near thee! Quiet consummation have; And renownèd be thy grave!


Really enjoying TDB, Charlie. With this book, I'm really trying to ration my reading for an hour or two at a time, since I tend to binge in one sitting otherwise. I feel I reflect on the little details better this way - but it is a sore trial...

I've only seen 'extreme' clips on local news (Australia) regarding Jeremy Paxman interviews. Is he considered harsh but fair? A shameless self-promoter? An unqualified expert in everything? (We have plenty of those types in our own local media too) Or a genuinely brutal truth-to-power type? Is he compromised by explicit political alignment?

P.S., looking at the recent posts, it doesn't seem like I'm getting an answer from Charlie any time soon. Any UK natives want to fill me in?


...regarding Jeremy Paxman interviews. Is he considered harsh but fair? A shameless self-promoter? An unqualified expert in everything? (We have plenty of those types in our own local media too) Or a genuinely brutal truth-to-power type? Is he compromised by explicit political alignment?

From my perspective: Yes; no; no; perhaps; no.

He earned notoriety for pursuing the then-Home Secretary for an answer, against an allegation that said politician had... lied. Politician tried repeated evasion and bluster, got made to look bad.

Watch for yourself :)


I enjoyed the last one but it's good to be back with Bob and Mo.


Paxman is a Cambridge graduate and current presenter of University Challenge (College Bowl in colonial parts) and is probably more knowledgable than your average TV journo although with a typical arts bias. He managed to stay as lead presenter on Newsnight (10:30pm BBC2 flagship current affairs programme) for 20 years and politicians were still willing to go on the programme and be interviewed...


You have my best wishes. I hope everything goes as well as it can. Take care of yourself.


I like that one a lot. In fact I quoted it to my wife a few days ago, on the first anniversary of her mother's death. But I'm not sure I see how it applies in this case. Bob still has most of those things to fear, not has he got home and ta'en his wages. And the same seems true of most of the other characters who get closeups.


Though, Greg, if you're relating it to OGH's situation, then yes, entirely appropriate, at least in prospect. Please excuse the second thoughts; I'm a bit slow today.


They just keep getting better...

OK so: As a professional pilot I have to ask: Does Rev. Schiller have a Falcon 7 or a Gulfstream? He seems to switch back and forth...

Eagerly waiting for the next installment.


...steal the teapot and use it to make tea! (Too lazy to look up the actual quote.)


Amy Acker, especially in makeup somewhat similar to "Illyria" vs. "Fred Burkle", could work VERY well as Mhari.


Beautiful... He came in far more prepared than the interviewee and gave him enough rope to slowly hang himself.

I think the fact he wears a [redacted for plot reasons] during interviews is a good defensive posture!


Yes, I agree with those answers. Almost all of the people who claim he is biassed are the fanatic extremists who claim that anyone who doesn't support them, totally and uncritically, is supporting their opposite equivalents. Unfortunately, a lot of the UK media promote just such fanatic extremisms, which is why the BBC gets so much flack.


Felicia Day is the functional equivalent of Olivia Coleman, in the sf&fantasy tv domain. Normally she's in everything.

The one, the true, the only manic pixie dream girl actress is of course Zooey Deschanel, apart from her turns as Trillian, Dorothy etc, she nailed the manic pixie dream girl delusion as Summer, in Five Hundred Days of Summer.


Yeah,uniquely, he is free of unconscious bias.

No, wait, the other thing.

My favourite Paxman moment was his interview of the loathsome Ann Coulter. Neither of them had ever encountered such a total lack of respect on live TV. He sneered down his nose at her and she spat back


My second favourite Paxman moment was actually Chris Barrie impersonating him as quiz master on the Red Dwarf Universe Challenge, for about thirty seconds, until the real Bamber Gascoigne blew him away with a plasma cannon and took over.


First, condolences.

Second, American hardback version, p. 340, "McGuigan's little black dress" should probably be "McCarthy's little black dress."

Third, that bald bearded man who you have stated is not you, Charlie, (it was my first thought as well) starts to tell a story about directors who can't agree if the next project should be bureaucratic comedy or horror... which sounds like exactly the problem with trying to do the Laundry Files as a TV show. Are the Laundry Files becoming a TV show, Charlie?

Finally: I was a bit unsatisfied with Annihilation Score: it seemed just a bit underdeveloped, in that I felt like I was missing things all the time, and I didn't really recognize superheroes in that most of the lycra shenanigans seem to happen off-screen. Maybe it's the American perspective, and my idea of a superhero story is vastly different from the standard British? But I thought the weakest part was the ending, which seemed terribly abrupt. (Delirium helps a lot, as we see that the same sorts of problems that caused Annihilation are still there: that was just a preview of this.) Nightmare stacks also had a terribly abrupt ending, but it was easily forgiven, as that was definitely the best Laundry novel since Apocalypse Codex. I think I've ready on your blog before that you also feel a bit unsatisfied with your endings. But Delirium's ending is also terribly abrupt, and it really, really, really works. Delirium (or perhaps everything you've been building and have finally started to reveal in Delirium, pulling the rug out from us) is a masterpiece. Really, really well done. You are a bastard, and it is appreciated.


Exactly the same thing happens with the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Since they're publicly funded (and polls uniformly show it is perceived as the most trusted source of news), conservative politicians and governments are often very annoyed that they ask hard questions. As if it should be a propaganda wing of the political establishment, rather than an institution tasked with serving and informing the public.

It's not as if there aren't enough Murdoch outlets in this country for these conservatives. They've even tried stacking the ABC board with fairly extreme right-wingers, who have somewhat questionable qualifications in running media organisations. They've held various 'independent' inquiries into systemic ABC bias, and much to their chagrin, the findings have rejected any such bias. They can't even be called 'left-wing'. It's just that Murdoch / NewsCorpse is so far to the right, and so politically biased, that anything else looks 'leftist' to them.

It's a horrible thing to say about someone, but I will be glad when Rupert Murdoch is dead. He has been a cancer on Western democracies, in the most cynical and destructive fashion. Dumbing down debate and setting new lows for civil discourse for decades.


May your personal matters be resolved with as little pain as possible.

I'll keep reading the Laundry Files, but more to find out if you're leaving any room for regular humans to survive with any shreds of dignity.


Like others I gulped this straight down, and will be doing the leisurely reread to see all the things I missed first time around; it worked amazingly well in the slightly surreal surroundings of a hospital bed on the 11th floor of the Royal London, glancing across the skyline to the Shard.

Going back to the earlier discussion about the politicians being properly aggrieved by the Civil Service keeping them in the dark about the impending destruction of all they hold dear, viz. getting reelected, and generous party donors, there is a large missing stair: at around the time increased computing power increased the access of the Big Nasties to this planet, the Civil Service lost much of its access to Ministers because of the introduction of political advisors.

Tempted as I am to suggest that this may not be mere coincidence, Charlie is the person who created this world, and Charlie hasn't noted the existence of political advisors standing between Civil Servants and politicians; he may, of course, do so in the future. In the meantime it's strictly my personal canon that coincidences of this kind should be viewed with extreme suspicion...


If you grillo, I mean google correctly, you can find the pitch documents for an American TV adaptation of The Laundry Files from 2014. OGH may be enjoined from talking about it for legal and moral reasons. The show described in the pitch wasn't for me, that's for sure.


After reading your post I thought it would be fun to make a list of all the books (plus Equoid) with my favorite at the top and my least-favorite at the bottom. I've left off the two shorter stories.

The Atrocity Archives: This is definitely my favorite of them all. The writing about the world on the other side of the gateway, with Hitler's face on the moon and the Earth long dead is amazingly scary and the images it leaves in my head are devastating.

The Jennifer Morgue: This is the first book where I have to distinguish between "fun" and "great writing." The book is great fun and I've probably read it more times than any other book in the series. Where the writing is concerned, the whole "James Bond" thing feels a little forced and frequently unsubtle. But the character of Ramona Random is great, the book has lots of Pinky and Brains, and the villain and his wife are both great characters. (In passing, I'd love to see a book or short story narrated by Pinky or Brains. That would be totally awesome!)

The Nightmare Stacks: This book is great fun, and written in the format of a "suspense novel" rather than science fiction, though without calling out any particular author or genre. Essentially, it does exactly what "The Jennifer Morgue" did with the Bob/Bond relationship but without making the relationship explicit, and as such it reads better, though I found that it wasn't quite as much fun, probably because the All Highest and his wife weren't crazed venture capitalists who monologue with Power Point. On the other hand, the Alex/Cassie relationship was great and I loved the Sesame Street call out. For me, this is a novel where the "abrupt ending" technique didn't work; I desperately wanted 4-6 more pages; other than that the novel is essentially perfect.

Something I should note about The Nightmare Stacks is that it was the first Laundry Files book that doesn't call out a particular author or genre, and this is somewhat equivalent of "taking the training wheels off," and suddenly watching your kid turn into a wheelie-popping, curb jumping, tire-bouncing athlete.

Equoid: A wonderful and necessary call-out to HPL with perfect tone throughout, and deeply disturbing in a "standard horror" kind of way. And someone who is obviously meant to be Greg dies horribly. Hi Greg! In terms of pure author's craft it is probably the best work in the series.

The Fuller Memorandum: If I were making a list of "best Laundry books" rather than "favorite Laundry books" this book would be much higher up. The book is an excellent picture of someone coming apart due to stress while being forced to take on ever-higher levels of responsibility, and because they are never able to catch up and get on top of things they find that subtle doesn't work and they're forced to kill lots of people. Its a great story of someone coming apart at the seams, but in that sense it is a literary work rather than science fiction, horror, or action-adventure.

The Annihilation Score: Mostly, see my notes on The Fuller Memorandum above. Also, I really liked Mo's narrative voice. The one weakness of the book is that the superhero associations felt a little forced.

The Apocalypse Codex: I would not so much say this is a "favorite." Instead I see it as a brilliant and very disturbing cautionary tale about the behavior of people in my own country and their willingness to BELIEVE!!!! Sadly, many of my countrymen would probably break someone's back in order to keep them from having an abortion, because "we ownz all the femalez!!" Because of the very dark subject matter and the relationship to politics of my own country, this book is very low on the list. It is not a favorite because as an American it is very hard to read. If I were European and it didn't hit home so hard it would rank a lot higher.

The Rhesus Chart: I'm really not into "the vampire thing," so this is not high on my list of favorites, but I should say that the vampire association did not seem forced; the book was very well-plotted/written in that respect. But I've reread it twice so far, so while it's probably my least favorite it still holds up. What I would say is that it is important from a series perspective; lots of adjustments to the long-range issues of the books.

The Delirium Brief: This book is not last on the list. I need to read it a couple more times before I make any decisions about where to place it, but I suspect that it will come out someplace above the middle of the list. The big question I have is "when did The Mandate stop being a 'super-hero" and start being The Black Pharoah?" Is he a by-blow to Iris's earlier activities, or did someone else summon him and stick him into an Occupy protester?

If I were to put them in order by "best book" instead of "favorite book" the list would look more like this:

The Atrocity Archives The Fuller Memorandum Equoid The Apocalypse Codex The Annihilation Score The Nightmare Stacks The Jennifer Morgue The Rhesus Chart The Delirium Brief

(Delirium Brief is not really on the list; once again, it needs a couple rereads before I can place it. Probably in the middle.)


There is an interesting parallel between The Delirium Brief and The Rhesus Chart. In The Rhesus Chart the Elder vampire hiding out in the Laundry discovered that secrecy was no longer tenable and tried the "let's you and him fight" gambit with the Laundry and Old George.

Now the Laundry has discovered that secrecy is no longer tenable, and ends up trying "let's you and him fight" with the Sleeper (who has got a handle on the British government) and the Mandate (who is a mask of Narlathotep).

Notice that this has been a pattern of the Laundry since forever? Their general pattern is to try to recruit monsters, or at least contain them, for use in case something worse comes along that needs fighting. So the PHANGS were recruited, not slain. The White Violin was put to use (would they have accepted the aid of the King in Yellow, I wonder, against a suitably awful foe?). A certain Hungry Ghost, likewise.

I wonder if the Senior Auditor knew there is no way that Case Nightmare Green could be survived without a suitable monstrous patron, and that was why Iris Carpenter's project was condoned? The survival of the human race being the highest priority, even if human decency has to be sacrificed along the way.


Or possibly the SA suggested it as a base and it appealed to its ego - of course the towers water gate is nice and handy for the Blue Hades to launch a suitable weaponised shogoth at him.

I did think that a suitably dark solution (borrowing from hg wells) the elvish problem would be for the BH to develop a targeted virus - oops it turns out elves are susceptible to the common cold :-(


Paxman did an utterly brilliant coverage of WWI on BBC, some time back. To me it's obvious that he is a very moderate conservative & extreme social Liberal ( Rather like me, but much better at it ) But that he supports no actual current politcal party. No wonder the loonies hate him.

It's also obvious that he has a "Professional Lawyers's" version of a steel-trap brain ....


As I have just reminded Charlie, just before his wheels came off (Repeat support & condolences ) Bob is an Unreliable Narrator & it may be possible to survive Equoids ... )


The survival of the human race being the highest priority, even if human decency has to be sacrificed along the way. Shades of WWII ? Dresden, & cosying up to Stalin, even though we knew what he had done?


Bob is definitely unreliable (the Church of the SubGenius has known that for years!) so maybe you aren't dead... Did you suddenly learn Enochian one day several years ago? Do you ever feel the need to breed by looking people in the eye? Do you work late at night and respond well to protein shakes?

Definitely repeat support and condolences to OGH. Possibly the best way we can support him is by continuing this discussion for the next week or two in hopes of pushing his books numbers a little higher while he takes care of the family stuff.


I enjoyed the Atrocity Archives, but I had a bit of a Fridge Logic problem that would prevent me from rating it number one, and that is the scale of the disaster in the world where Hitler won.

Where is Blue Hades in all this? Or the other intelligent race that's on Earth, whose name I always forget. Even if Earth is the only planet in the Universe with intelligent life, these two races shouldn't have been passive bystanders to a summoning that would end everything.

In fact, if it were possible to end the universe so easily they would have exterminated humanity long ago, as soon as it became clear that we had the capacity and lack of foresight to possibly do such a thing.

So I'm thinking that the Hitlerverse is somehow a lesser reality to our own: only humans live there, the laws of magic are slightly different, etc. But this isn't really a satisfactory solution.

Really, I think it took until the third book for the Laundry series to really fiind itself. I dont know how I'll manage waiting for the next instalment!


I think the important thing in evaluating Atrocity Archives is that OGH didn't know he would be writing a sequel, so applying that kind of logic isn't really fair. Though if you wanted to go a little further:

BLUE HADES is happily swimming around beneath the frozen seas waiting for a couple hundred years until the humans are all reliably dead, at which point Dagon will kill the fire giant and gate a sun in from a nearby parallel universe.

DEEP SEVEN: Is the surface of the Earth cold? We didn't notice. (Or maybe they're happily swimming in the magma beneath the frozen crust of the earth, waiting a couple thousand years for BLUE HADES to die, at which point Shudde-M'll will...)


Do you ever feel the need to breed by looking people in the eye? Or other significant parts of their anatomy, certainly! ( Let's not go there, right now, shall we? )


It's a horrible thing to say about someone, but I will be glad when Rupert Murdoch is dead. He has been a cancer on Western democracies, in the most cynical and destructive fashion. Dumbing down debate and setting new lows for civil discourse for decades.

Do you think the situation will get any better when his children inherit?


It's funny you should say that, for me tonally TDB was the closest yet to Charlie's A Colder War , however in my mind it was ever closer to Ian Tregillis' The Coldest War. (WWII fantasy horror and recommended if you haven't read it)


Interesting. I'd put them in a quite different order. Omitting the shorter pieces:

The Rhesus Chart The Fuller Memorandum/The Nightmare Stacks (tied) The Jennifer Morgue The Atrocity Archive The Apocalypse Codex The Delirium Brief The Annihilation Score

Of these, I can reread the first three with undiminished pleasure; I'm reluctant to reread the last three at all. Though perhaps the next volume will raise my estimation of The Delirium Brief when I see it retrospectively.


I thought the Hitlerverse collapsed at the end of Atrocity Archives? No more BLUE HADES or DEEP SEVEN., then. And your point about OGH not knowing there would be a sequel is well taken, but I think he could be criticized for writing a story for which the fate of the universe is at stake.

I find the plot-lines much more satisfying in which Bob and Mo stumble through their relationship, or Bob works through feelings of guilt, or in which they adopt a cat. Good stories don't need to have super-high stakes. Atrocity Archives would have been better if we had been made to care about something rather short of the end of the universe.

Right now one of my favourites of the series is the Rhesus Chart. It's where I got to know Alex and Mhari. I understand the next book will feature the POV of Mhari? It's also where, in retrospect, I recognized the device of "Let's you and him fight" and saw it as a modus operandi of the Laundry (see my post above).

Upon rereading TRC I realized that a possible implication of the "Vampires Don't Exist" geas was that the Laundry was secretly run by vampires. (It turns out otherwise, of course, but it is a reasonable hypothesis to entertain if you've read only part of the book) I wonder if OGH considered the idea of a vampire (or cabal of vampires) running or taking over the Laundry? And then I started to wonder what really happened to the Black Chamber. They do, IIRC, have monsters in charge, don't they? Are we given any hints as to who the secret master of the nazgul might be? (I suppose the preliminary code name for the master of the nazgul would have to be SAURON, right?)


A few musings now I have had a chance to sleep on TDB.

How far back does the Laundry and the Black Pharoah relationship go? The conversations between Iris and the SA suggest at least some of what enabled Iris to bend her Geas was the tacit approval of the SA and others for her to go deep cover.

What makes the BP a "better" option than the Sleeper? Is it just the fact that IT prefers glamours rather than soul sucking parasites? How reliable are the reports of the various Godlings behaviours any way? Did they all actually walk the earth at some point or do some of the experiences come from off world/dimension?

Who is the He that is coming? probably not the BP or the Sleeper from the events. Which means there is at least one more god in town or on the way and I'm guessing it's not the KIY/Lecter.

Making everything Schiller was doing right from the start as fleeing from the situation in the States was a master stroke that turned everything up on its head, a minor quibble would be he didn't seem desperate enough at the first though...

Continuity Ops was I the only one who couldn't get the cIRA association out of my head? V clever for turning the tables on the reader if it was deliberate - I may be reading too much into it :).


That bit about Prince Charles technically being allowed to have nukes. How will that affect the writings of Dame Sylvia Krin in Private Eye?


It could be The Sleeper. I get the idea that The Black Pharoah only destroyed the Sleeper's extensions into our reality, or maybe only into the U.K., but not the entire Sleeper. (Leaving who/what in charge of the U.S.?)

As I see it, The Sleeper wakes up a couple years from now, smells something yummy, then realizes that The Black Pharoah stomped on one of his fingers and stole his food! How about you guys fight!

Or the King in Yellow re-integrates with Lecter, realizes that the crop of humans they planted a couple million years back is done, and shows up hungry.

Or Shudde-Me'll, Dagon, Cthulhu, Yog Sothoth, The Yith, the Elder Things, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs or Glaaki (doesn't he live in the U.K.?) shows up hungry. Or they all show up and every apocalypse ever imagined by humans is triggered at once and everyone runs for the exits, then Azathoth himself shows up as the child of Mo and Bob.

In short, "He" could be anyone. But I'd bet on The Sleeper, because OGH has been building it up for the last six books. (In fact, now that I think about it, didn't the spines of Glaaki turn those who believed into slaves? That sounds very like the creatures of the Sleeper...)


It sounds like the Black Pharoh is better because he only wants to rule and play with humanity, not destroy them and devour their souls. I get the idea the whole thing is kind of a game for him.

What's happening in the US is an interesting question. Given that the US seems to like to use otherworldly entities even more than the UK does it could be any number of bad things. Though I wonder if at least one of the factions might be man-made. We know the US is also the center of the tech industry, and that computers can be used as powerful thaumaturgical devices. Maybe some bright boy tech billionaire with Black Chamber contractor connections decided that an AI god bound by code was the best way to defend the world? Maybe Siri or Alexa is incarnate now. A sort of silicon mirror of the Sleeper, but instead of using human hosts to think it uses machines.

A world where mathematics is magic actually could have the sort of Singularity popular in the late 90s.


First, enjoyed the book a lot. Will be listening to the Audible edition for the second "reading" during commutes. Re the future, and Maybe some bright boy tech billionaire with Black Chamber contractor connections decided that an AI god bound by code was the best way to defend the world? I expect that now that a level 6 is out of the bag, some leveling up of some sort will be surely happening. Will not write down speculations as a courtesy to the author. (Have a bunch. :-) (OK, tangentially related, Forecasting Ops could morph interestingly.)


One more question - did we ever find out why Bob had to bug Paxo's guest chair?


"TRC" IMHO the nearest to a failure in the series. I was seriously dissapointed in the plot-devices & also the naming of one character. I suppose it's a way for "the author" to remove Angleston/TEAPOT from the available character-list so that Bob gets a leg-up to a more powerful & yet more scary level, as well as more self-decption & "unreliability". I hope my copy shows up soon!


An utterly minor point and one that only a former local with a friend who has ran a catering recruitment company in Amersham would know.

Depending on where Nether Stowe house is, you would bus staff in from Watford / Rickmansworth (if East of Amersham) or High Wycombe (South / West).


Let's not forget Angleton calling out Old George by name in The Rhesus Chart. At least one Deeply Scary Sorceror was aware that PHANGS existed.


These scenarios can all be gamed out, kinda, in the Cthulhu Wars board game with (awesome) miniatures. Arguably aimed at those with more money than sense (or my case, less of both after buying this sucker) Onslaught Three, with new stuff and just about everything they already did, just kickstarted off.


Can you be more specific?

Afaik everyone knew George - they just didnt realise he was a Phang or how long he had been in the Laundry.

Did I miss a suggestion that Angleton knew what he was beforehand?


George wasn't in the laundry. His mortal enemy Basil was the laundry mole/employee.


Wheeee! Some cliffhanger! Are we really going to have to wait two years for a resolution?

Troutwaxer @132, the intertubes are groaning under the weight of Plush Cthulhus. Everybody who wants one has one.


whoops! A TRC re-read is in order.


I know. I was speaking to someone who (so it appeared to me) was confusing the Plush Cthulhu with the Cutethulhu webcomic.


Best wishes to Charlie and his family.

Finished the book via audible. I'll need someone to give me what the text of the message via feeder actually was for bob. I couldn't understand it via the audible recording.

Also Nyarlathotep is interesting. We all known the Mythos bares a touch of truth via Lovecraft. But it's interesting to me that Nyarlathotep's take over was in the UK, not the US, as he's usually more related to American happenings. Otoh Lovecraft wrote who he knew.

It will be interesting to see the coldly horrible things that will happen now that the Laundry can't pretend its the good guys anymore. Occult Security being just another State Security branch, and no longer being able to hide behind any ideal but survival.

Like how many FANGs will be created on purpose from high level math students? What defensible spaces are going to be required? What will trouble makers have done with?

But like someone else said, the Laundry was so used to being secret it dropped the ball. Plan Red Rabbit was not a real plan for when Case Nightmare Red came. There was no storage vault full of wards ready to slap on to soldiers and tanks. No warehouse full of Banishment rounds to swap normal ammo with.

The Laundry, like other intelligence services, was designed for a specific foe, and wasn't ready for threats they knew about. The Case Nightmare Green prep should have included a go public timetable, mass production of wards. Actual public information campaigns instead of Vicar Pete and some posters.

The actual prep for going public was making a second organization under parallel authority to go dark. Not actually handling being public.


The recorded message at the end was "aw der hal amedn aset".

"aw der hal amedn aset" appeared previously in The Rhesus Chart (about halfway through), during a story that Mo recounts to Bob about a job she performed with the violin.

Mo was sent to Iran to perform an exorcism, and only found out when she arrived that this exorcism was to take place in a prison called Vakilabad containing the world's largest gallows. There were four corpses of people they'd tried to hang, but were now floating in mid-air, eyes full of glowing worms, chanting "aw der hal amedn aset" over and over. Mo asks her contact about it, and he says "It means, he is coming."

The locals ascribed the spooky events to a djinn, but it's not clear (at least, not from this particular story) whether that's an actual thing in the Laundryverse or just the popular local superstition for explaining weird stuff.

They wouldn't tell Mo how many people they'd executed there, but she guessed over a thousand and they didn't correct her downward.

In the same chapter, Bob (in his capacity as narrator) explains that we can't get out of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN by killing people to reduce the global population, because "the deliberate killing of thinking beings...generates huge thaumic fields that can be used for, for want of a better word, necromancy. And if we don't use the power, someone--or something else--will." Which implies that even if the executioners weren't trying to do death magic, they probably unwittingly helped something else to do death magic.

The end of The Delirium Brief includes a reference about how Schiller had previously tried to awaken the Sleeper with a sacrifice of 5 thousand people, so this is perhaps the right order of magnitude to contact an elder god. (Not that I have any specific reason to think that would be a consistent figure, and in fact we are also told that the Sleeper now requires a sacrifice of 50 million.)


I have a question: what is the "Twinkie Singularity"? (This was referenced once in The Nightmare Stacks and twice in The Delirium Brief.)

The books say it's a reference to Ghostbusters, but I've seen that movie a couple times (though not recently) and don't recognize it.

I asked a friend who is a Ghostbusters fan and has seen ALL the movies, and he didn't recognize it.

I Googled it and came up with nothing that looked relevant.


The "Twinkie Singularity" refers to the part of Ghostbusters where Egon is trying to explain the high level of pscyho-kinetic energy in New York, something along the lines of "This twinkie is the size of the normal ammount of psycho-kinetic energy in New York. A twinkie which reflected the current amount of PKE would be 35-feet long."

So as we approach Case Nightmare Green in the Laundryverse we experience the "Twinkie Singularity;" that moment when there are ridiculous amount of PKE available and ritual magic is not required to access the PKE. (Though of course psychic technology in the Laundryverse work a little differently.)


The Laundry, like other intelligence services, was designed for a specific foe, and wasn't ready for threats they knew about.

The Laundry doesn't seem to be "designed" at all. It grew will or nil out of a wartime expedient in support of a centuries old Royal charge to defend the realm against occult attack.


Whilst I agree with the general gist of your comments I think the following is incorrect : "There was no storage vault full of wards ready to slap on to soldiers and tanks. No warehouse full of Banishment rounds to swap normal ammo with"

TDB is mentioned as a curing 1-4 weeks after TNS but at least some police and army already have warded body armour and the Govt has enough wards to spare several for Paxo and his team.

Which suggests that rather than not being planned for they were mostly likely sitting in a warehouse nowhere near Leeds or the Army base that needed them. Probably along with warded ammo up to and including Shells and Rockets.

The problem was more likely an inability to breach deniability by releasing them.

By contrast I can see the Civil Information campaign being rather lower value - probably along the lines of our current prep for a North Korean nuclear strike. I.e. fractionally possible but v unlikely.


That bit about Prince Charles technically being allowed to have nukes.

Actually Chuck isn't allowed to personally have nukes. However if he set one off or arranged for one to be set off on his behalf in the Duchy of Cornwall he would not be breaking the law of the land.


The Laundry doesn't seem to be "designed" at all. It grew will or nil out of a wartime expedient in support of a centuries old Royal charge to defend the realm against occult attack.

Very much this, and we've now seen the scaling limit of the structures that grew to be the Laundry. The organizational breakdown and failures in TNS and TDB might be my favourite aspect of the series.

While the story is developing very nicely TDB didn't add much clarity for the characters. I was left wondering how one of Mo or Bob (choose one or both based on how unreliable you consider the narrator) hasn't just shut down or gotten all stabby yet. Bob is now casually using/wrestling the EoS and needs a field supervisor with stand-down codes to accompany him, Mo may be in a worse place based on the wrap up from the Mandate and the SA and I'm not sure either of those things are in the top 10 nastiest aspects for the two of them.

At some point things break and don't come back; its getting pretty close to the point where its unreasonable to think they'll keep coming back to get kicked in the head as good guys. Start shifting to a Mhari/Cassie/Seph focus I guess.


Start shifting to a Mhari/Cassie/Seph focus I guess.

Not confirmed/official/signed contract yet, but it looks like my space opera (Ghost Engine) will be kicked down the road to a 2019 launch — I need more time to work on it — and I'll be putting out "The Labyrinth Index" next summer, which is the Mhari novel. So you called that one right.

Mhari is a highly competent middle manager who is going to be dumped into an untenable — only possibly survivable — situation in the wake of the events in "The Delirium Brief". A worm's eye view (early Bob, or early Alex) is too low level to see what's going on; an executive consultant level view (Seph) is too far away from the shop floor, and Cassie is just too much of an outsider. So there you go.

(By the end of "The Labyrinth Index" the world of the Laundry will have changed shape, yet again, in a direction that hopefully most readers won't be expecting but that will be entirely understandable in hindsight.)


Elderly Cynic: the trade paperback of "The Delirium Brief" doesn't come out until 12 months after the hardcover. You'll have a very long wait.


In your oodles of free time, I would love to see something from the perspective of the other inhabitants of earth. It would probably be moderated by Ramona's viewpoint, but maybe not; if you are going to go weird, go all the way.

I continue to be intrigued by Johnny McTavish. I am still waiting for fuller reveals on his story/character.

The novel pulled off a rare double move: it was entertaining and well done, but it also convinced me that I was ready to move on from Bob. He's just not the right voice for things as they stand now.

Amazing that I now look forward to a Mhari POV novel; that's good character work. Assuming they fit with the trajectory of the plot, my most wanted POVs would be McTavish, Ramona or a new character, possibly someone who could give a perspective on another country, not necessarily the US.

Thanks again for a great read and my further well wishes for your current personal situation.


Schiller leases — he doesn't fly enough to need to own his own bizjet 24x365.


That American TV adaptation proposal didn't go anywhere.

In the purely hypothetical case that a different film or TV adaptation was being hawked around, I wouldn't be able to say anything about it without the agreement of the production company. So it would be embargoed until press release time, at which point you'd hear all about it on this blog.


What makes the BP a "better" option than the Sleeper?

The BP wants to keep humans alive because who's going to worship/adore him if he doesn't? Also, he needs to leave them a modicum of free will, if only to justify the amusement inherent in punishing them when they rebel.

The thing about the Sleeper is that waking consciousness is, to it, an aberration. If that takes over, our consciousness comes to an end: we wind up as the mindless workers in an ant colony, and human culture is essentially extinct.

Oh, and there are worse things to come, but the BP knows what they are and hopefully has a plan to protect us, in return for entertainment and service.

Even if the entertainment involves, say, commissioning Foster Associates to build a Tzompantli on Marble Arch (the former site of the Tyburn tree). I mean, just because he's willing to protect us and keep us alive doesn't mean he's not evil ...


Thank you Charlie - that confirms my assumptions/speculations, better playthings for an elder Cat God than Crotch-crab Zombies.

One more comment - can I just congratulate you on the masterful way you did the creeping reveal that the Laundry were not remotely the "good guys".

About halfway through TDB even though I knew roughly what to expect I had the kind of gut punch realisation that I've only ever previously gotten from Len Deighton's Game, Set and Match Trilogy when I realised everyone was the bad guys. Felt nicely full circle for me.

I hope your personal situation runs its course as best it can, and thank you for taking the time out to entertain & terrify us.


Typo, page 157 reads "Johnny's idea is getting about town is a matte black Kawasaki..." should be probably "Johnny's idea in getting about town is a matte black Kawasaki..." or possibly "Johnny's idea is getting about town in a matte black Kawasaki..."


Thanks. Yes, I managed to chase that down. But, as you remember, I queried the initial schedule in which it was simultaneous, you confirmed it and Amazon took my order. Things changed, which failed to surprise me once I found out, but Amazon's Web page STILL says 6 Jul 2017 (Temporarily out of stock)!

I usually read such things in bed, on my side, and the format they use for hardcovers is more than my aging wrists will take. HOW I wish that someone would jump on those marketdroids and restore hardbacks to a sane size or, preferably, reintroduce the compact formats that were common up to a century back. So, no way.

I am reading more and more books in Ebook format, but (a) in Epub and (b) I prefer to be able to reread a series in a single mode. Yeah, irrational, aren't I? The former is soluble, but I would like a better deal for the preceding books if I am going to buy second copies. As I understand you, there are two chances for that: fat and slim.


US edition or UK edition? They were separately typeset.


Nudge nudge, the US publisher from this book forward is Tor and the US edition is DRM-free. You can get a DRM-free epub purchase from Google Play (if they think you're American) or as azw3 from (I know for a fact UK folks can convince Amazon into thinking they're Americans for purposes of ebook purchases) and transcode using Calibre.

Also, it's possible to break the DRM on most ebook formats quite easily and transcode to your preferred format with Calibre. (One hint: make sure you use an old version of the Kindle app on your PC or Mac, i.e. one prior to 1.20 — they intro'd a new file format and the DRM on it hasn't been cracked yet.)


Different in my UK Kindle copy

"Johnny's idea of getting about town is a matte black Kawasaki..."


Thanks, yes, I know. I do most of that. However, rebuying all of the old books is still pretty pricey - which would be my preferred option if it were not.


US edition. Definitely "is" twice.


Huh, I guess that makes sense. And here's my (not so modest) question list: :D

Well, that's done with. I finally got my hands on the book late yesterday, and thought, “gee, maybe I'll read for an hour or so before going to bed.”

Big mistake.

I was finally finished with the book around 3:30 AM, having started at 10.00 PM and found myself completely unable to stop, which is the greatest compliment I can give to a book, so both thumbs/other grasping appendages up for Mr. Stross. :)

Some thoughts and questions, in no particular order:

  • Why was Alex seen as a traitor? He becomes aware of an alien invasion, whereupon he promptly subverts the enemy's chief spy, infiltrates their headquarters, helps assassinate the enemy leadership, and then gets the new leadership to surrender unconditionally. How on earth does that make him a traitor?

  • I'm impressed with Bob's self-control regarding Iris. Given that she murdered a baby the last time he saw her, I'm surprised he didn't try to crunch her instinctively as soon as he set eyes on her.

  • Were we given any hints in the Annihilation Score that the Mandate was more than a human given magical mind-control abilities? Because I'm sitting here feeling rather stupid. When the Senior Auditor went to him I still thought he was human, and then it turns out he's an Undead God From Beyond The Stars? Wat.

  • Given that the book explicitly states that the Laundry's original oath was to the monarch herself, I'm kind of disappointed that they didn't go to Queen Lizzie herself to get her to sic the military on the cabinet and parliament for, you know, having been infested. It is my understanding that the British Army, at least, swears to obey the Queen, not Parliament or some such, and the ex-British military types I've spoken with all said they took that oath rather seriously.

  • How did it take so long for them to figure out Schiller's plan? While they were going “he's spending so much money, what does he hope to gain?” my first thought was “infest every British leader he can get his hands on.” And that turned out to be precisely it.

  • Mr. Stross, are you by chance familiar with the comic book series Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda? The protagonist is a teenage girl who's the host of what appears to be an Elder/Undead god analogy. The series is really quite awesome and tentacly. :P

  • This is the big one, and I was kind of annoyed that Murcushio had already asked most of this stuff, but dammit, I'd already typed this up when I noticed that, so here it goes: This wasn't really the book that I was expecting. Yeah, the government being completely ineffectual I saw coming, but what I didn't see coming was how inept the Laundry would be at handling this.

  • I got my hopes up in the first chapter when Bob was interviewed, and when I saw the parliamentary hearings coming, but then we wound up seeing no more of that, and the Laundry being summarily disbanded and arrest warrants issued (and who cooked that up? Seems like the axe going down on Mahogany Row must have been planned well in advance of Schiller's coming). How to put it in words...I felt like the Laundry was being attacked and attacked, and they weren't fighting back at all.

    Like, at first I was annoyed and displeased with how the book seemed to indicate that ALL the politicians, ALL the press and ALL the public was anti-Laundry, but then I realized that Bob & Company had given them no reason whatsoever to feel otherwise. Yeah, the government is going to have it out for them, but where's the outreach to opposition politicians who smell blood in the water? I recall reading about how angry people were after the Manchester and London terror attacks and the Grenfell fire that the government had kept cutting the budgets of the cops and firefighters. And the book flat out states that the Laundry has been underfunded.

    Mein Gott, Labour would be all over that shit, and with a little spin-doctoring the Laundry could be portrayed as heroic civil servants fighting a desperate battle for the Soul of Britain despite the Evil Tories hamstringing them at every opportunity. And speaking of spin doctoring, there was so much material they could have used in their defence which just sat on the shelves, starting with their origin. Commissioned by the first Queen Elizabeth and originally run by John Dee? Any semi-competent PR maestro could have worked wonders with that alone. And there was no leaking of Laundry cases that showed their successes (the tabloids might have been out to get them, but why didn't they cultivate sources in the Guardian, for example?), like having that lady from Equoid say that “Mr. Howard saved (most of) my daughters from being unicorn chow. I could go on and on, but my point is that it felt like the Laundry had so much ammunition to potentially use in its defence, but they didn't even bother loading the cannon.


    @deflated Bob is now casually using/wrestling the EoS isn't the reading I took from it. OGH has been clear for some time about Bob being "unreliable", and there are some clear slips in his "unreliability" where he gives an insight into what's going on with him. The effort from Bob isn't going into using the EoS, it's going into stopping the EoS's instincts from annihilating all human life within a half-mile radius. Bob's been talking for a while about the EoS being separate to him, but in this one he's clear (briefly) about this being his own natural instinct, and actually he's fighting for self-control. The problem isn't using those abilities, it's confining them to a single individual. Bob says "I'm not a machine gun", and he isn't, he's a nuke. Johnny even describes him as "levelling up from tactical to strategic".

    We find out that these are conversations Bob has been having with other people, but we haven't been included. The SA's wrap-up with Bob at the end makes it clear that he and Bob have talked about whether Bob is human any more, with a pretty clear implication that they both know he isn't. Johnny and Bob clearly have an ongoing conversation about the abilities of the EoS (quarter mile or half mile radius), and the override codes for Bob's geas aren't a surprise for him, just an unwelcome interruption.


    3. Were we given any hints in the Annihilation Score that the Mandate was more than a human given magical mind-control abilities? Because I'm sitting here feeling rather stupid. When the Senior Auditor went to him I still thought he was human, and then it turns out he's an Undead God From Beyond The Stars? Wat.

    There is a hint. Theres a whole paragraph in TAS where Mo and Mhari are speculating what the Mandate is that starts

    "He's something worse"

    and which then goes on to discuss what could be worse than a 2m tall flesh eating lizard running for parliament.


    1) In today's political and journalistic climate, everyone would be hunting scapegoats. Alex is literally sleeping with the All Highest. This may be a necessary part of keeping the Host under control, but it makes him an easy target for scapegoating, and no-one is going to let small things like the facts get in the way of that.

    5) I think they knew the broad strokes of the plan. It felt like they simply weren't expecting it to be implemented so fast - if I read this right, it was just days from Bill McCracken flying in to the dissolution of the Laundry to the finale... they had very little time to react.

    As for the spin doctoring - (and I'm pretty sure the nice lady from Equoid was already unicorn fodder before the end - we just didn't see it happen) - I'm not sure the discovery that your excessively empowered rogue agency had saved the world multiple times, yet not seen fit to mention it before now... is not going to sit well with most governments. And actions like having / using the White Violin as an asset (given how well that ended up) - or the rather questionable ethics in that little entrapment-operation-gone-awry in TFM... anyway - I think it'd be a tougher sell than that. Particularly as Schiller and co are probably just as capable of turning any decent positive spin on its head.

    This isn't to say the Laundry chose the best course of action - I'm pretty sure it didn't. Just that by the time they realised the bind they were in, good courses of action were pretty thin on the ground.


    Any semi-competent PR maestro

    Except they don't have even an incompetent one. The Laundry put two trainees onto the job of updating a standby public information campaign that hadn't been touched since the 50s and with no budget.


    I hope my copy shows up soon! Just arrived from Transreal, so thank-you to them & Charlie, of course ......

    gordycole @ 269 everyone was the bad guys. Maybe, the slightly-less bad guys? Or simply, fighting for theor own & humanity's survival ( Even if it means cuddling up to the BP )

    "Laundry change of direction"? Becoming independant &/or teaming up with other similar agencies & fuck guvmints, because - humanity's survival?
    Repeat q regarding especially the attitude of BLUE HADES in all of this - I mean they are not going to sit quiet, whilst other alien horrors take the planet over, are they - are they?


    but where's the outreach to opposition politicians who smell blood in the water? Because, just like "real life" i.e. right now in the UK, the Opposition politicians are equally-terminally-stupid as those in power. Hence one of the reasons for my utter contempt of Corbyn. He COULD have grabbed the Lem-o-Crats clothes & turned against Brexit, but no, he rolled over & exposed his tum. And even with May's total fuck-up at the election he still screwed it. Wankers the lot of them ... And ditto in the alternate Laundryverse.


    I obviously haven't read it yet, but I do hope Alex isn't killed or othrwise "wasted" as that would be very stupid, wouldn't it? Unless, of course he is in "protective custody" ( = Special Training? )

    Let's not forget Angleton calling out Old George by name in The Rhesus Chart. At least one Deeply Scary Sorceror was aware that PHANGS existed.

    We overhear an audit-committee level discussion in which it's clear that the SA and others are fully aware that PHANGs exist.



    5. How did it take so long for them to figure out Schiller's plan? While they were going “he's spending so much money, what does he hope to gain?” my first thought was “infest every British leader he can get his hands on.” And that turned out to be precisely it.
    I think they wanted ot infest the entire UK population in order to summon and fully power up the Sleeper. They didn't just want to control the country, they wanted to sacrifice it!


    Any theories, or even official word on just what the scope of Operation Constituency was? It seems clearly stated that Iris was licensed to establish a chapter of the Cult of the Black Pharoah, and to do some awful things to achieve that, but was it just so they could shake out and keep tabs on anyone in London likely to get involved in such a cult, or was there more? I have two tenuous theories:

  • It was designed to make TFM play out more or less exactly as it did and insure against Angleton's death by binding the Eater of Souls to Bob as well.

  • It was designed to steer Nyarlathotep into creating a Mask that would be a tolerable patron elder deity for the UK, as at least one option for surviving Case Nightmare Green.

  • 288:

    At the very end the SA says that ganging up with Nyarlathotep was needed to "create a binding geas" and approved, reluctantly by the Board for that reason. I find this interestingly ambiguous -- who or what is bound by this geas? Were they just trying to make a geas to replace the laundry's oath to the crown to keep their own assets under control? Were they trying to get the Mandate to accept a geas of some kind in exchange for their cooperation? Something else?


    Did the BP kill the Sleeper:

    1.) Only in the U.K.

    2.) Only in the Laundry's home universe

    3.) In the Laundry's home universe and the Pyramid universe

    4.) Everywhere


    289: Did the BP kill the Sleeper:....: I would say not at all -- it killed a reasonably well powered up slave of the Sleeper, which will have cost the Sleeper a lot of its energy and possibly its current channel to this Universe (or at least one of them) but it won't have permanently killed the Sleeper anywhere.


    You've claimed that you've stopped visiting spy genres, and also that The Fuller Memorandum was your 'le Carré' book because of its mole plot, but I think that this one captures the le Carré mood much better…as I'm guessing you saw by your reference to the 'looking-glass universe'.

    One reason I think that this were so, beyond the obvious, is that Our Bob is much closer to a Smiley-level actor than he was before, and much more potent and so potentially morally culpable than when he had mojo, but not enough to get out of being bound and gagged for the last quarter[?] of the book. There's no chance Angleton's going to come running (well,'strolling', for the most part) to save him<cliché>, not least from himself</cliché>.


    Speaking of Fuller, it's occurred to me that the reason we haven't seen the Glasses of Good and Evil for awhile is that they were too powerful to plot around, that they were a later-unwelcome product of the otherwise excellent (if potentially lethal) frenzy that produced the book. Regardless of that,it would seem to me that you could explain that they were never used much because mirrors exist. (…and of course now….)


    291: Mike Armstrong the SA seems much more like Smiley -- self-effacing, not especially personally powerfui (we never see Smiley shoot or the SA cast a fireball), but willing to do whatever they believe it takes to win the game (which is actually arrogance -- I'd never thought of Smiley as arrogant before, but he is) at whatever sacrifice for themselves and their agents.


    Another hint when Mo confronts the Mandate with Lecter - Lecter is nervous.

    The only other time Lecter tends to react is when Bob is around - which goes to suggest the Mandate was probably TEAPOT level back then, and I think we can assume he's got more powerful since.

    Does beg the question if the Laundry Geas can be tweaked to be like the Alfar one, ie the Mandate is drawing Mana from everyone in Continuity Ops.


    In The Fuller Memorandum we learn (from Panin) that the awakening of the Sleeper is just a rung on the "hierarchy of horrors" that must be climbed to "open the doors of uncreation and release the Black Pharaoh." (p. 228)

    In TFM, then, it certainly sounds as if the Sleeper and the BP are in the same camp, with the one being the herald of the other. In TDB they are clearly oppositional. So maybe Panin didn't know what he was talking about? But his being wrong about the relationship between two elder gods is a little hard to explain: it's like putting Thor in the wrong pantheon, or saying that Venus is Jupiter's wife.

    Or maybe it's just a retcon?


    Or maybe everyone with accurate first hand information about the subject is dead, along with the rest of their species.


    @Graham I'm not sure we're disagreeing on Bob here. Yes, it's always about the struggle not to eat with the EoS and Bob skips over many subjects he'd rather not think too closely about. But Bob (as he describes himself) is changing.

    In TDB Bob is comfortable walking into an armed, opposed entry with him as the heavy support and overwhelming force; rewind a bit and he would be sneaking in the back under a hand of glory with a basilisk gun and a prayer that the EoS wouldn't come out to play. There isn't the same self-loathing at the use of the EoS, compare the narration of the assault on Basil in TRC with the airport scene in TDB. Our unreliable narrator is evolving.

    And speaking of unreliable I can't see Mo's perspective as undeluded. It's strongly implied that Bob isn't considered human by the SA or Mahogany Row; it seems improbable that an up and coming Auditor would be denied that assessment on a critical resource that close to her (as they have no problems offering a threat assessment on Mo to Bob); she's fighting for a relationship with that after the burnout from the violin? Bring on Mhari as the sweet voice of reason and sanity.


    I'm curious, why was Cassie reluctant to make Alex her second?

    My first thought was that she feared this would make her more expendable to Continuity Operations by having another person between her and an uncontrolled Host. My second thought was that incorporating Alex into the Host's command chain would render him her subordinate via geas (vampiric resistance notwithstanding), when Nightmare Stacks put a lot of emphasis on her realisation that humans can trust without them and that Alex was willing to help her and risk himself for her of his own volition.

    Or it could just be that putting something which reacts weirdly to geas in line to an extremely powerful geas is a really bad no good idea, I guess.


    298: Before this book I had concluded that one of the top priorities in the immediate aftermath of TNS would be to get Alex and Cassie married, so that he would inherit. I think if I'd been the SA I'd have had Pete marry them there and then in Malham Cove.

    I also had fun speculating on how an invasion of Earth by the original Morningstar Empire would have played out (it's clear that the Host would have been defeated even without Alex and Cassie, it would just have been messier). But now, having seen Cassie wielding the power of the few thousand Alfar in the Host, imagine the Morningstar wielding the power of billions. It looks like would have been a walkover, although if whateever is running the Nazgul is as powerful as it looks now, there might not have been much planet left afterwards.


    And there I was, feeling all clever at being about to tell everyone here that the Black Pharaoh were basically a cat.

    Damn You.


    If I recall, The Mandate is only a Mask/Avatar/Messenger of Nyarlathotep, not the whole thing, and humanity would encounter the actual thing in much the same way a sentence encounters a full stop. Also, as I recall he's on the lower end of the power scale of outer gods.

    But now he's there, the Laundry surely has to have a contingency to get rid of him before he gets bored and invites Azathoth over for tea. The Dream-Quest of Bob Howard, perhaps?


    I found this incredibly confusing as well; in TFM it sounded like Iris was working to wake the Sleeper who would eventually wake the Black Pharaoh, and Bob makes frequent references to the one true god.

    It's clear in TAC that the sleeper that Schiller was trying to wake was the same entity referred to in TFM; same russian civil war zombies guarding the plateau, etc.

    the sudden enmity between the Black Pharaoh and the Sleeper sounds like a retcon to me, unless the Russians and the Laundry had both misunderstood the 2 entities, and it would be odd if this were true (since the Senior Auditor is aware enough of the rivalry to keep the Black Pharaoh in reserve as a trump card).


    Consistency problem here ... Angleton was the Eater of Souls, yet he could not eat "old George" You what? Particularly since we now see what Bob is doing with those powers. Um


    Not a consistency problem as yet.

    We see Bob try to bite down on Mhari and explicitly fail. We haven't seen him chomp another Phang since.

    We also see from TDB that the main power of the Eater of Souls is to EAT souls in a largish ratio even if they are warded, so it seems likely that the soul eating is rather a blunt instrument. The lesser TEAPOT powers appear to be enhanced magical abilities or at least an immunity to the consequences of enhanced magical abilities, and possibly a much larger mana supply than normal humans. (from the eaten souls?)

    A PHANG already is difficult to chomp i.e. naturally warded but possibly in a very different way. George was a 200 year old DSS - he's likely to have had several active* wardings running plus all sorts of other defences.

    Its entirely possible that Angleton had the ability to EAT him but not without eating the New Annex and half of central London at the same time, so he chose to do something else instead.

    *speculation - passive wards (bracelets, rings, necklaces) have a finite capacity to store/deflect mana equal to the effort put into creating them or the power source used for them. Active ward can be powered by the users active mana stores.

    ** double speculation. Wards (ie the one covering the house in TDB) are also subject to "hacking" (ie something other than brute force approaches) by a sufficient advanced (powerful) entity such as a Mask of a godthing.


    I want... "The Dream Quest of Pinky and Brains."


    It sounds like retconning to me too, but it also might be a rivalry between two different servants of the Sleeper, in which case the Mandate is lying. He might be Nyarlahotep, but might not have as much independence as he pretends, or maybe he's trying to knock off the Sleeper with the help of the The Laundry (which actually makes sense and would be interesting in plot terms - the Pyramid is now a smoking hole in the ground and suddenly The Mandate says, "Maybe you are crunchy and good with ketchup. Why don't we give it a try?)


    But George was a DSS-level magician with centuries of experience. There's a big difference between eating alot and eating something you can't chew.


    Thinking about this a little more... What if The Sleeper has multiple servants? Nyarlahotep, The Eater of Souls, the "Emitter of Controlling Ogranisms" (defeated in this book?) and possibly others. While the Sleeper is estivating, Nyarlahotep has killed "The Emitter of Controlling Organisms" * and subverted The Eater of Souls. No retconning, just War in Heaven.

    In this case, Nyarlahotep is hoping is that with the help of the Laundry he can defeat any other major servants of the Sleeper and either rise to become supreme servant, or invite the Sleeper to invade a U.K. which is defended far more powerfully than The Sleeper imagines, thus reducing The Sleeper to a level which Nyarlahotep can defeat/bargain with.

    The Laundry becomes either The Sleeper's or Nyarlahotep's new servants, humanity is "saved" ** and our next target is "Sauron" and his Nazgul.

    • The "Emitter of Controlling Organisms" might be an avatar of Shub Niggurath, who might also be a servant/ally of The Sleeper.

    ** For certain values of "saved" which definitively do not include redemption.


    Bob may or may not have the same abilities as Angleton. Angleton never was human. He was made incarnate by ritual. No doubt he maintained terrible abilities, but was clearly at least enamoured enough with humanity to throw his lot in with them. That said, he was dragged kicking and screaming into the world. Nevertheless, his abilities were in a sense, fixed from the start.

    It's not even clear he was driven by any lasting geas. Perhaps as some eternal 'hungry-ghost' or an ageless entity that never experienced anything remotely like humour, affection (even in a limited form from his protege), loyalty, and a sense of true purpose, he found in himself something he liked and wanted to be part of for the first time. @gordycoale might have it right that he did the only think he could do to destroy the threat, while protecting all he'd built and learned to care for.

    Bob, on the other hand, not only had a powerful necromantic link with Angleton, but was his direct protege. Someone Angleton pushed, while showing a protective streak in a confrontation with Lockhart. Bob may, in fact, be something altogether something more dangerous than Angleton. He's human, has a soul (in a questionable metaphysical state), is immune to K-syndrome, and is technically savvy, which counts for a lot, as old Basil found out. In short, he has a dual nature, and might be more than the sum of his parts. Mahogany Row has him well inside the tent. And most telling of all, even Johnny McTavish seems to have a deal of respect for him!

    Ah. Now I'm just speculating out of fandom, to my shame. Things are best left to the author.


    Not sure that's quite correct.

    Don't forget Teapot had a host before Angleton - which was the mad servant of the black Russian, followed by the summoning of the Teapot into the (braindead? or damaged? ) body of Angleton.

    Its likely Teapot had to boot the Angleton personality from scratch, but inherited the soul from the condemned criminal or whoever the body came from.

    *all from a memory of reading the fuller memorandum too long ago.


    Now there's an idea, and maybe even one that could be contracted out if Charlie doesn't want to write it himself?


    IIRC the Fuller Memorandum discussion of it was that the Russian nicknamed Teapot (like the original occupant of Angleton) was the sacrifice in the "summon and bind the Eater Of Souls" ritual Iris tried to carry out on Bob. In both previous cases the hungry ghost was available (and the sacrifice wasn't a talented sorcerer screwing with things); for Bob's it wasn't and after Bob's soul had shed the mortal coil it was forcibly summoned back into his own body on a "EoS isn't picking up the phone, find the nearest soul" basis. And having answered a job application for "Eater of Souls," it is metaphysically assumed he is one.

    Bob's career as an Eater of Souls starts as "human with extra weirdness having to learn to use the weirdness," From documentary evidence Angleton's started as "bound hungry ghost who had to be taught to emulate humanness."


    Arrggg! As mentioned above I got the confirmation email from B&N, and my copy was shipped on the 11th. Here's it's path according to UPS' tracking:

    Monroe, NJ on the 11th -> Hodgkins IL, 12th -> Colorado Springs 11:35pm on the14th -> Still in the Springs on the 17th, the day it was to arrive -> then off to Anaheim, CA on the 18th -> this morning it has left Cerritos, CA and is supposed to arrive Friday evening.

    Apparently I'm getting a copy cursed with wanderlust. Or it wants to ensure that I finish "The House of Binding Thorns" first. Should have finished it last weekend, but stuff happens, not that I mind spending more time in it.


    I'm just re-reading The Fuller Memorandum, preparatory to The Del Brief, (and as it happens partly while returning from St Petersburg and Tallinn, but that's another matter)

    Angleton's body wasn't damaged, the possession was an execution method on the former occupant.


    From Fuller Memorandum I seem to recall Angleton doing something involved (if unspecified) at what I assumed was the same time that Bob was being sacrificed; I assumed that Angleton was giving Bob some- even as much as half- of his -own- essence on very very very long-term loan, or doing something else to strengthen the link between them to help Bob out and help sustain Bob's life in this emergency (and as it happened, after the events of The Rhesus Chart, in the long term, sustaining his own continuity as well)-- not that Bob became an apprentice Eater of Souls because it was "metaphysically assumed he is one".

    I may be stretching on the basis of very limited evidence, there. Maybe the next few books will elucidate? Hurry on 2019 (though not too quickly, of course.)


    What Iris did was a little more complicated with that. Imagine that both Angleton and Bob are variables* in the computer program that runs the universe. These variables can be filled with information, including the fully executable code for the "EATER OF SOULS."

    Way back in the 1920s, someone executed this line of code:

    1.) Angleton = "EATER OF SOULS"

    Iris didn't know that this code had been run, so she ran the following code:

    2.) Bob = "EATER OF SOULS"

    And instead of reaching into the great beyond and filling Bob with "EATER OF SOULS," the code reached into Angleton and grabbed the EATER OF SOULS, dragging it into Bob.

    Iris multiplied entities, because 'Angleton = "EATER OF SOULS"' is still valid. Since the values are being passed by reference rather than actually being duplicated, Angleton and Bob are essentially time-sharing the EATER OF SOULS.

    • They're probably hashes, but let's keep this simple.

    Rereading the last pages of The Apocalypse Codex, it sounded like at least a portion of the Black Chamber was cultivating the Sleeper as a theocratic front, so that when the public got wind of what was going on, it would be Raymond Schiller's organization that would keep the populace relatively calm and happy. Apparently this faction lost some internal power struggle -the War in Heaven scenario- and so Ray and company decamped to the British Isles to try their luck there.

    I'm really curious as to who the sponsor is of the winning faction in the U.S. Another mask of Nyarlathotep? The King in Yellow doesn't seem to be available. Have any other powers been named who could plausibly guard a country well enough to allow it to survive the End Times?



    As mentioned above I got the confirmation email from B&N, and my copy was shipped on the 11th. Here's it's path according to UPS' tracking: ... Apparently I'm getting a copy cursed with wanderlust.

    UPS tracking is about as reliable as Bob is as a narrator. It only shows the time/date & location of the last scanner it went through. And sometimes, not even that. I've found packages sitting on my front porch that UPS tracking thought were still in limbo at some intermediate hub.

    Lately, the final part of the journey for books is via USPS. UPS doesn't deliver books to my house any more. They deliver to the USPS hub & USPS delivers to my house. USPS also seem to be slightly more efficient.


    Thank you very much for that help. And now I'm wondering what entity is coming.


    Imagine that both Angleton and Bob are variables

    I'd go with collections of pointers. Bob started with one in the list referencing 'Bob', Iris added a second referencing 'Eater of Souls'. Angleton had the first pointer removed as part of adding the EoS pointer and is now part of the memory leak in Briefing Room 202.


    Apologies if this is the wrong thread for this.

    A few minutes ago, I had a chat with a colleague who stated: "When they began, most welfare systems in the West resembled Universal Basic Income. Over time, they evolved to what we see today. What's to stop any new Universal Basic Income from following a similar path?"



    "Collection of pointers" probably makes better sense, but I was trying to keep it simple for anyone who doesn't speak programming.


    Perhaps class inheritance is a closer analogy.

    The host for Angleton did not support multiple inheritance. Taking an instance of the class Human and making it inherit from EaterOfSouls meant that the result no longer inherited from Human. Any methods and attributes supplied by Human and not also supplied by EaterOfSouls needed to be reimplemented in the Angleton object by hand.

    When Iris tries to add inheriting from EaterOfSouls to Bob, she expects the same thing to happen. However Bob (by whatever rationale) has been implemented to support multiple inheritance. So now Bob still inherits from Human and from EaterOfSouls also. This might be safe because neither overwrites the other's methods, but there's a good chance there are conflicts and inconsistencies. Perhaps both Human and EaterOfSouls inherit from some superclass but extend its methods in different ways.

    Leads to interesting questions around other potential classes, especially AvatarOfTheBlackPharaoh.


    Which also begs the question what was the Black Chamber guy on the flight with Schiller up to?


    So having just finished the book I feel like the Mandate being an avatar of the Black Pharao is a bit of a Deus Ex Machina.

    It feels pretty unrealistic that "oh btw the guy we caught two books ago with no big problem was an ALIEN GOD". It just feels like it came out of nowhere and isn't really justified.

    I mean Schiller needed what? 5k people to awaken the Sleeper, but yet somehow an AotBP showed up spontaneously? Unless there will be a revelation regarding his appearance later on this feels like a really underserved plot twist.

    A little side question while I'm typing this up, whenever you describe magical/computational circles you just say something like "intrinsic design". Do you have any specific aesthetics in mind? Maybe a picture to share what a typical computational demonology circle looks like?



    I've done the reread and I'm having similar problems in accepting the upgrade on the Mandate to God status; stretching Bob as unreliable narrator to include all the narrators as unreliable is simultaneously realistic -we are all that to a greater or lesser extent- and undermining the willing suspension of disbelief needed to really get into the story. Or rather, stories...


    Yeah, the Mandate - Black Pharaoh connection caught me off guard too, and I had to try and see if I was remembering right. I thought he was just a particularly high level super-powered human. Though perhaps that particular superhuman's powers work as a conduit for the Black Pharaoh. He's hot act actually fully manifest but working through a little window into our universe. So he can only glamour an entire nation, not the whole world. The power are the work of otherworldly entities working through people who've accidentally made a connection due to the stars nearly being right.

    Either that, or his cult managed to summon him in some completely unrelated scheme that we don't see because Bob & friends weren't involved this time.


    If you've seen "The Arrival," conceivably the circular alien writing there might be kind of similar.


    It bothers me, too; reflecting on my reaction, that was the biggest "came out of left field" in a novel that had more than one of them. Both the Mandate's power level and Iris's ties to him felt like having guns fired that weren't previously shown on the mantelpiece.


    I finally read the book, then read through the thread. I'd stopped around #102 when the spoilers started.

    The book is amazing, it shows the power of the series. I'll read through the whole series again, starting tonight.

    To those people saying that the Laundry should have done more to deal with the public backlash. My question is, How? Everyone was under a powerful geas.

    All throughout the series, any attempt to speak truth outside the system caused the voice to fail, and the smell of smoke to show that their brain was about to fry. It was impossible to speak to any government official outside of channels.

    It was shown, time and again, that even in-house communications were limited by codeword clearance.

    There was no way to have a PR officer, because there was no mechanism to release the geas on even the most basic material without undoing the whole.

    Look at what happened to Fred in the first book. He was there for years and had no clue about the reality of magic. He may have been exposed to something unexplained and thus shanghaied into the service, but when exposed to the reality of the classroom, he was literally blind to that reality and ended up dead.

    To convince an MP that any of the magic was real would require exposing them to real magic, and like Fred, the chances are that you would kill a few MPs along the way. To even show them the reality would require placing them under the same geas, otherwise the instructor would be forbidden to say anything, even if ordered to.

    The other key thing that everybody seems to be upset about, is that to win, everybody is going to become a monster. This is not a problem, this is a feature. When the survivors start having children, the following generations will be human and be unable to comprehend what their parents generation lived through. Only hints of what happened will survive in the dogma of the religions that will rise after.

    The main point that everybody seems to have missed, right from the start, is that Bob is not human. We have never seen Bob when he was human. You cannot know what he knows, have the facility with the magic that he has, and still be human.

    I started reading the first book again as my iMac ran through a system update, and it is clear that when Bob is wet and waiting outside the office to break in, that he is not human right from the start.

    When Bob first meets Mo at the bar to make contact, she is not human. Mo would not be working for the Black Chamber, much less have attended Miskatonic U, and still be human. When they first meet she is so far above him that he clearly feels her looking down at him. As Mo enters the service and starts training, they give her Lecter. They would not hand over the white violin to a human, even if it had been asleep for so long. When Mo was in charge of the superhero team, Romona and Mhari were terrified of her. That wasn't because of Lecter. So in the latest book, when she is pulling here "poor me" BS again that "I can't be alone with Bob, because he will eat me!" is nonsense. She survived at ground zero when the BP blew up the Sleeper's handmaiden because she has leveled up so far.

    When we started reading the Laundry books we were sucked into the story because Bob made us feel that he was human, just another guy like us.


    "Saved" as in - BuyingTime, yes. That makes sense - the lesser evil, simply for survival. Somewhere the SA specifically says something like: "there are no good guys/sides in this war" ...


    To convince an MP that any of the magic was real would require exposing them to real magic, and like Fred, the chances are that you would kill a few MPs along the way.

    And the problem with this is?


    What's a ' Paxo Roast '


    Localisation fail I think!

    In the UK, "Paxo" is the trade name of a popular stuffing for roasted poultry. Paxo is also the nickname of the political interviewer/broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, who is known for giving interviewees who are, in his opinion, being less that completely forthcoming a tough interview. This has therefore become known as a "Paxo roast".


    Even Pacxo fails occasionally. His "Arts" training let him down when he interviewed the vile Coulter. He simply could not appreciate that she was ( & is ) both lying & mad. [ The interview is available on YouTube, along with equally-mad comments from the US christofascists, oh dear ]


    Not sure that's entirely fair. Re-reading the relevant sections of TAS with the benefit of hindsight - its pretty clear that The Mandate was not a supervillain but something else.

    Think the Iris point is a little more valid but I can forgive that due to age of TFM - ~7 years old at this point. Still view it as a minor bend in continuity rather than a break though.

    And I dont think the Mandate is god either, merely a growing avatar of one. Suspect he's Bob/EoS level atm, but that might change when he has the support/adoration of first the Laundry and second the country.

    ** Speculative aside - suspect there are different ways of "farming" for mana/souls in the Laundryverse. Whilst the avatars of the Sleeper we have seen tend towards a hunting/consumption model - the avatars of the BP may tend towards a more 'sustainable' farming/harvesting model that could last for Aeons. Better cattle than rabbits.


    Well yes Greg, but I was just explaining the term for non-UK types.


    That's an interesting observation about Mo. I'm clearly going to need to re-read the series.

    If Mo is already something other than human, perhaps it is something that has a natural aversion to the sort of entity that is the Eater of Souls.


    I had a rant about Mo in The Annihilation Score that started my insight about her. Mo is a classic "poor me" type.

    Go to the page and read my rant at #571. That's where it all started for me. HA!


    To convince an MP that any of the magic was real would require exposing them to real magic, and like Fred, the chances are that you would kill a few MPs along the way.

    And the problem with this is?

    You're mistaking Parliament for the US Congress.


    Finished the book last night. Because of "Real Life" I couldn't just sit down and devour it in one chunk. I'm thinking about some of the implications.

    I beg to differ with the argument that Bob is no longer human. He's host to a powerful entity that occasionally overwhelms him. But he continues to have his human conscience and uses it to guide his actions.

    He's remorseful for many of the things he has to do to survive & still tries to "pull his punch" - see how he handles Josephine Sullivan & the way he attacks the feeder, but leaves the Home Office woman alive.

    He throttles back on the Eater of Souls during the warehouse raid because he can visualize the look on Mo's face if she ever found out he had not done so and he still cares for her high regard.

    Also thinking about "good guys" vs "bad guys". The Laundry may not be the good guys, but it's in the same vein as the US weren't the good guys after Hiroshima. Given the options available at the time, it was the least worst.

    The Laundry are fighting a rear guard action in a war that has already been lost. They've run out of time, they're run out of weapons to hold off evil. They've run out of options. There are no "good" alternatives left. How is this any different than Churchill's pact with Stalin against Hitler?

    So, maybe they're no longer the "good guys", but they're still NOT the "bad guys"!


    A thought on the Mandate leveling up between episodes: I can see some sort of 'bedding in' period for the hosts of strange things from the other side of the dark.

    We see an increase in Bob's effectiveness with the EoS across books. That may not just be Bob's familiarity with EoS but better familiarity on the Eater's part with it's gateway into the universe. It takes time for a feeder to completely process a host (see end of TDB, etc.). In The Annihilation Score the Mandate/BP was still getting up to speed, similar to Bob in The Apocalypse Codex; now BP is comfortable with this fun new gateway and universe and can throw some weight around.

    @allynh: I share some of your concerns with Mo's characterization but she's no less human than Theresa May, the SAS Counter Terrorism group or Ann Coulter. You know Coulter would be the King in Yellow's handmaid in a New York minute after picking up Lecter. I just have trouble seeing how Mo could shift from her prior (early TAS) opinion of Bob (cuddly, not that sharp about life, needs occasional rescuing, lacks gravitas) to something that will keep Bob from becoming the Eater of Souls with a thin veneer of middle-aged geek.


    I finished the book today (it took a week for it to travel from the UK to Finland, I like physical books occasionally). I liked it, especially that it really drives home that the Laundry are not the 'good' guys.

    One little thing annoyed me, though it could get fixed in the next book. While the book is basically Bob's account of the events, most of the other viewpoint characters seem to have their own voice. The thing that stood out, for me, was that Mhari thought of the caper as playing real-life Portal. She hasn't seemed the type who would even know what kind of game Portal is, let alone think about playing it on a stressful mission.

    This is a very minor nitpick, and could well be explained in the next book - we just haven't seen her doing anything about computer games in the books. (Or I have forgotten.)


    I wouldn't be suprised if we see in later books that The Mandate went willingly into custody in The Annihilation Score.

    He knew what was coming, and decided to wait, and see what he could get for an agreement from the Laundry.

    I was more suprised to find out that Iris had permission to attempt what she did to Bob. Did the SA know she planned to do it to Bob, and hope this would have been the result (Bob = Bob + EoS)?


    I don't think the Laundry geas locks them down as tightly as you suggest.

    We know Iris was able to square her geas with running a cult of the Black Pharaoh.

    In The Apocalypse Codex, after Bob & Lockhart pick up the sticker book, Lockhart chews Bob out for mentioning destiny entanglement and explains that his oath of office relies mostly on his own beliefs about what he's allowed to say, so it won't stop him from unwittingly blabbing secrets to the wrong people.

    In The Nightmare Stacks, when the elves attack, we see a scene where someone from the Laundry actually goes and briefs the government, explaining that magic exists and giving a performance to try to convince them. (And gets brushed off anyway...)

    And in The Delirium Brief, we see Bob giving a TV interview and legal testimony where he talks about a lot of stuff that would have been considered incredibly secret a few weeks earlier.

    And the "magic circle of safety" public awareness materials indicate that the Laundry was (at some point) making plans to publicize a whole bunch of secret stuff.

    It seems to me that Laundry employees are capable of going public IF they honestly believe that doing so is consistent with their institutional mission.


    It sure looks like Mahogany Row wanted a failover for Angleton, doesn't it?

    Looks like Mo was aware of the plan to reactivate Iris and some history after the PLAN TITANIC briefings. Hard to see her not reaching the same conclusion given her position; Bob might have a few trust issues when he starts putting things together and realizes how much he's been kept in the dark.


    I was more suprised to find out that Iris had permission to attempt what she did to Bob. Did the SA know she planned to do it to Bob, and hope this would have been the result (Bob = Bob + EoS)?

    I understood it more that Iris was authorized to run a Laundry honey trap to identify followers of the Black Pharaoh. The Laundry may not have known just how deep she was into the cult when they granted that authorization. The authorization appears to be how she was able to rules lawyer her way around Laundry oath.

    My read on the Senior Auditor is that he's an honorable man who would not sanction Iris's actions if he'd known what she was really up to at the time; particularly not ritual murder of infants. Her attempt to bind Bob to the Eater of Souls exceeded her "mandate".

    There's a line near the end of The Delirium Brief where the SA is trying to explain to Bob what he's done. "I made a bargain with the devil ... and part of the package deal is my soul."

    He knows what he's done, he knows the cost and he's willingly paid it.

    Iris was put on ice at Camp Sunshine pending trial while the Laundry conducted a mole hunt in the aftermath of events of TFM. If Iris was able to subvert her oath, who else might be using the Laundry for their own schemes that are not in alignment with the Laundry's remit? Subsequent events prevent the Laundry from ever getting "a round tuit" for Iris's trial.

    By the time of The Delirium Brief it's too late. When the board & the SA determine the only hope of survival for the realm is to ally with the Black Pharaoh's avatar, they can no longer call Iris to account for her crimes.


    I think it's been established (in previous novels for sure if not in this one) that each book is told from the perspective of the narrator, usually in the context of each book being a record of the events therein that has been noted down for posterity at some point after those events (and thus the narrator is unreliable). So events in this book that happen from the perspective of anyone that's not Bob are actually Bob's interpretation of those events, him having had them relayed to him at some point afterward.

    This would explain the references to Portal etc. since we wouldn't expect Mhari to make them but it would make sense in the context of Bob re-telling something that happened to Mhari and putting his own spin on things.


    Iris was never going to trial. To quote the SA: " was just for the duration of the COBWEB MAZE wrap-up...".

    Chris Womack thought Iris had already received her back pay and normal promotions. The SA apologizes to her when they first meet. She was placed out of sight, not punished for her actions.


    There's a line near the end of The Delirium Brief where the SA is trying to explain to Bob what he's done. "I made a bargain with the devil ... and part of the package deal is my soul."

    He knows what he's done, he knows the cost and he's willingly paid it.

    I interpreted that line more literally. As in: Fabian is minutes away from literally ripping the SA's soul out of his body, which is why the SA is in such a rush to give his final instructions to Bob.


    I interpreted that line more literally. As in: Fabian is minutes away from literally ripping the SA's soul out of his body, which is why the SA is in such a rush to give his final instructions to Bob.

    Yes. I saw it that way as well. The SA hadn't expected to survive, but when he encountered Bob, he took the chance to explain everything he could before going to pay the piper. That does not negate the fact that when the SA had to make a deal with the devil to preserve the realm, he was willing to personally pay the price in atonement.

    That's why I believe he is/was "an honorable man who would not sanction Iris's actions if he'd known what she was really up to at the time". And it's why, even thought the Laundry failed as the "good guys", they're NOT the "bad guys".


    To Antistone @345

    1) Iris was able to work within the geas because she truly believed that only with the BP could mankind survive. So as a "true believer", BP was able to shield her from harm by the geas. Remember at the end of Delirium Brief the BP asked her if she wanted to be free of the current geas and she gave "him" the choice, because if she had said "Yes, free me" she would have been violating the geas and been destroyed. The BP likes to play within the rules to show their limits. If there are rules the BP can game them. If there were no rules to tap into the BP would have no power. The BP gains power from the rules, which is why he acknowledged his mistake in not following the rules. His being imprisoned is how he gained access to the rules, grew in power, because he knew that someone would feel tempted to use him. If they had left the BP alone, in prison, he would still be sitting there waiting for temptation to strike.

    • That aspect of using the "rules" to power magic, is the heart of so many stories: Pumpkinhead (film), Jeepers Creepers (2001 film), The Fog, Cabin in the Woods, The Neverending Story, etc... It is understanding the "rules", and using them to win against the "monster", that is the only way to win, so when people wonder how they may deal with the BP later on, it will be within the rules, and the BP will be content that the game was well played.

    2) Bob was able to speak because they already knew about destiny entanglements. Bob was not breaking the geas because they were under the same geas.

    • His ability to speak "in house" as it was is an example of how the geas, and the rules, can be "gamed" by somebody like the BP. It has always been standard to have the absolute, literal, meaning of any rule be the source of destruction. Because it is not how you understand the rules, it's how the rules understand you.

    3) Briefing the Government at that point was part of a codeword plan, and the limits of that plan prevented it from being successful.

    4) Bob appearing before TV, etc..., was also part of a codeword plan, and the plan failed poorly.

    5) The public safety material was locked away so that it could never be used.

    • All of the plans failed, showing the limits of working within the geas.

    6) No one could ever go public, no matter how "honestly" they believe. As I said above, "it is not how you understand the rules, it's how the rules understand you."

    Read the books again, and you will see what I mean.

    BTW, Finished reading The Atrocity Archives again, so beautiful. No matter how many times I've read the book it still rips me to pieces. When Mo is taken from the B&B and the support teams move in to take action, the interplay with the Artist Rifles, the implications of what the teams have done in the past, brings tears to my eyes. This is how you do it.

    Now on to the next book.


    a-ha thank you. : )


    you would kill a few MPs along the way.

    And the problem with this is?

    You're mistaking Parliament for the US Congress.

    Er no. I read "a few MPs", not "a few CongressCritters", and would have even less issues with killing "most CongressCritters" in pursuit of a goal like that discussed. ;-)


    You're welcome; As I say it's an obvious joke for "most" Britons but not one I'd expect to not have to explain otherwise.


    OGH previously tweeted "Book 9 was going to be a Heart of Darkness journey into SPOILER's America, but reality bushwhacked me with worse before I even outlined it", see here for the original tweet. Since that was a now-abandoned plan, the identity of the entity may or may not be an actual spoiler, of course.


    She hasn't seemed the type who would even know what kind of game Portal is

    On the other hand, Mo knows what Ingress is which raises the question of Frog or Smurf?


    In unrelated news, OGH got a mention in Alice Grove's postscript.

    She hasn't seemed the type who would even know what kind of game Portal is

    On the other hand, Mo knows what Ingress is which raises the question of Frog or Smurf?

    I don't think Mhari is a "gamer gurrl", so she likely wouldn't have much familiarity with computer/console games, especially games released after she split from Bob. And while she was with Bob, I expect games would have been a point of conflict between them rather than a shared pastime.

    I had to look up "Ingress" (don't have a smart phone). I see it's a "game" that uses the real world for its game board or playing space. Since the Laundry has ported their tools to smartphones, I expect that in the Laundry universe, "Ingress" is more than just a game. And it's something even Mhari might be familiar with now that she's back on the inside.

    And while both games are based on "portals"; their nature, the way the portals are used and the way the games are played are entirely different.

    ... definitely Smurf up until the end of TDB. Don't know going forward.


    Agreed completely. I'm currently rereading, just to see if I can spot something I didn't spot before, but the whole Iris/Mandate thing is an issue of major concern* and I'd really love to see it put to bed in the next book:

    1.) Who summoned The Mandate/Nyarlahotep and when?

    2.) Did they summon the entity into a human body a-la Angleton/EOS? If not, in what form was he summoned? As Nyarlahotep, The Crawling Chaos, or as Nyarlahotep's avatar, The Black Pharoah, or as something else?

    3.) Was he deliberately summoned by the orders of someone at The Laundry?

    4.) Was Iris or someone in her group involved in the summoning?

    5.) What, specifically, were Iris's orders from the SA? How did she follow them, and how did she not follow them?

    6.) Why did The Mandate walk into Mo's office and try to talk to her? Was he trying to make contact with The Laundry and screw up somehow? Was he checking out the Opposition? Was he trying to make sure Lechter was properly in control of Mo? Did he think that being a Superhero was a good start on a political career? What motivated him?

    I think that covers it.

    *Picture me gritting my teeth and being super-duper extra-kind in my phrasing here.


    On the other hand, I'm not a gamer but I definitely know what Portal is and how it works. At one point I had the song memorized, though I'm not sure I could sing it all anymore.


    I don't think Mhari is a "gamer gurrl", so she likely wouldn't have much familiarity with computer/console games, especially games released after she split from Bob. And while she was with Bob, I expect games would have been a point of conflict between them rather than a shared pastime.

    It's only a small issue for me - and as I said, we haven't seen enough of Mhari's free time to know if she games or not. One sentence in an earlier book would've made it clear, but as OGH has said, the story wasn't planned this far in the beginning. Ingress is something the Laundry would probably be very aware of. It kind of scratches the same itch as geocaching, not completely, of course, but it's a way of getting crowds of people doing something together without perhaps ever meeting each other.

    Bob doesn't seem to play games that much, either - though obviously he doesn't write everything he does into the work journals.


    6 is pretty much covered in TAS. He wanted to be their boss i.e. High level civil service role probably stepping over to private secretary and then replacing one of the cabinet.


    Note for Charlie: It's obviousl that the ALundryverse had a different geography to our UK The "East Coast main line" DOES NOT go through Leeds - it goes through York & almost all Liverpool-LOndon trains & certainly the proper expresses don't go through Brummagem. IIRC, in AA one got to Luton from Euston - errr, not that, either. In other words, the railway network is fundamentally different in layout to the one we ar actually using


    There's an interesting inspiration for another branch of railway modellers' alternate history, then. Railways in the Laundryverse: (waves hands) when they made the hole in York city walls they incautiously removed an ancient block of masonry, heedless of the strange carvings on it or its five-cornered shape; and things with tentacles came out, and ate George Hudson. Subsequent railway development accordingly followed a rather different path, which included the Leeds-Northallerton route via Ripon being one of the routes that were to become the ECML, and Luton being served by the branch from Late-an'-be-Buggered since the Midland extension south from Bedford never got built.

    Fast forward to now, or now plus a bit, and we find that we have ended up with the diversions of existing routes constructed as a consequence of Leeds getting zapped being distinctly poorly integrated with the later northern developments of HS2. Eventually it emerges that this situation resulted from certain people taking considerable pains to ensure that the conventional and HS2 routes were never drawn in isolation together on the same map, and this observation leads to the discovery of the real nature of the cult behind HS2...


    Another thought: the real reason for the gigantic expense of even simple modifications to signalling arrangements is that, with the move from individual boxes to centralised control, it has become necessary to audit the systems to make sure that their operation can never involve them passing through a sequence of states which is significant in terms of computational demonology. The first time this happened it summoned Beeching. The second time it happened it summoned Serpell, but by then the Laundry had become aware enough to twig what was up in time to knock him on the head.


    Except I'm not sure I buy it.

    Imagine that you're a newly arrived alien god, not fully powered up yet, and still learning the rules for both this new form of space-time and the rules for local politics... Do you really walk into a building full of wards, sorcerers, and Lecter in the hope that they will make you their leader? This gets even harder to believe if The Black Pharoah is (or was) subservient to The Sleeper. The risk/reward ratio would be rejected by anything resembling a sensible deity.

    Or do you walk into that building due to some other agenda, where the risk/reward levels are more in your favor?


    On an avatar of the BP entering politics, walking in on the transhuman police unit, etc.: the overall tone I get is that it finds it all rather amusing. The Mandate is closer to Alan B'Stard than Cromwell or Robespierre, insanely powerful but playing a game. Wouldn't want to be around when it gets annoyed but until then it's looking forward to its part in the kabuki of parliament, perhaps with added soul-crushing horror.

    The Sleeper on the other hand seems to be more of a 'Blood and souls for my lord Arioch!' kind of guy, no fun at parties.


    I've been kicking a few theories around in my head all day, so I made an account so I can join in on the speculation. Appologies if it isn't very coherent,I just got off a 10 hour split shift.

    Tl;dr version: BP likes playing long games and did it. He's playing Risk while the other Elder Gods are trying to grab all they can eat at the buffet.

    Theory one: BP has been out and active way longer than anyone realizes, and may have been exerting influence on the Laundry for some time. No one really noticed as he isn't really into megadeaths, and seems to vastly prefer playing games. Thus the SA's quip about meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    In this theory, he was preparing the Laundry as his weapon against his enemies. Bob came to his attention, and he saw an chance to make a second Eater of Souls. Iris was never really supposed to actually manage it, she was to make an imprint of EoS on Bob, and given enough time he would have a second EoS. Angleton is in reserve as I doubt he would have any trouble pulling him out of the ward he is trapped in.

    Then Schiller pokes his nose in BP's playground and Bob gets shipped off as a test to see if he can take out BP's enemy's agent. Bob is successful, and BP starts the next phase, getting two vampire elders who already hate each other to stress test the Laundry. If they can't handle two measly vamps, than he will try something else. While that plot is simmering, the events of TAS occur. He dials his power down to just about the max that they should be able to handle, and goes to visit Mo who is in possession of a piece of one of his enemies. He tries to suborn her, Mo says no, and he takes his time out in the corner gracefully. He knows that sooner or later, something will come up and they will need him. The aftermath of invasion by elves from another dimension came out of nowhere, but he could work with it. This time Schiller didn't get off with being run out of town, he got to give the Sleeper the finger, he got the Laundry to bow to him, and to top if off, he gained Schiller's thralls and a new shiny PM job. Serious win for BP.

    Theory two: BP has no intention of killing the SA. Unless he has to. This one I'm more sure of as BP has much more to gain from keeping the SA around than for the momentary pleasure of squishing a bug. BP thinks nothing of getting the OCCULUS team leader to proclaim him their new master. But, the SA, Mo, Cassie, and Bob get the kid gloves treatment. This suggests to me that getting largely powerless nobodies to kneel to him doesn't do much for him, getting people with power to do so is what really gets him his kicks.

    How I see this working: SA goes in prepared to die, kneels, BP pats him on the head and tells him he's a good boy. What he gains from this is that he shows that if they follow his rules as he has followed theirs, he is prepared to be merciful. He also avoids many of the Laundries heavy hitters scheming behind his back planning on getting rid of him ASAP. SA takes over Laundry 2.0 which settles back into the shadows. The new visible paranormal agency runs around like headless chickens trying to put out trash can fires by peeing on them, while L2.0 is kept pointed at the real threats. If the new agency messes up badly enough, he has experienced contractors that were treated terribly by the previous administration, but who are still ready to step in. Keeping Mo from dying also gains him her, and Bob's, willingness to go along with what he wants. Most of the rest of Mahogany Row will fall into line as he is reasonable, the major characters are going along with it, and they already decided the alternatives were way worse. Angleton would probably also go along with it as he is out of the ward, and assured that things can go along like they had before.

    I'd need to find my copies, or buy non dead tree format ones to check, to see if any clues were dropped earlier to support any of this. Or if these ideas were just decanted from a cracked pot.


    And now we've got Grayling. Euwwwww .....


    How I see this working: SA goes in prepared to die, kneels, BP pats him on the head and tells him he's a good boy Fits with the "Japan-surrenduring-to-the US" model, doesn't it? The lesser evil, to buy time - & some of us, a lot of us (?) might live ...


    "Like how many FANGs will be created on purpose from high level math students?"

    I was wondering when/if anyone would raise this question.

    Back when "Forever Knight" was on TV, it hit me that there is a small human subpopulation that would not hesitate for a moment to go vampire, just to get the longevity, as this would allow them to do SERIOUS study in their real field.


    You may have a point about that. The BP does some like someone who is rather self-amusing...


    It's an interesting theory, but I'd have to see more text evidence before I could get behind it.


    Actually I have Cara Delevingne in mind as the most fey, elfin actress working today. Look at those ears and tell me they don't have hidden points. She could really swing from manic cutie to thrumming with eldritch power on a dime.

    Also I'm visualizing an HBO series rather than a film. More chance of sticking and getting through the whole storyline.


    Ioan at #321 asks, "When they began, most welfare systems in the West resembled Universal Basic Income. Over time, they evolved to what we see today. What's to stop any new Universal Basic Income from following a similar path?"

    There doesn't have to be a universal basic income scheme at all, any old solution would be fine as long as it counteracts the excessive tendency for wealth to concentrate in fewer hands over time. Why this is a problem in the first place, is because capitalism itself grinds to a halt without a thriving market for goods and services. Markets fail without consumers buying, and buying dries up without the wherewithal to spend being widely distributed. Making markets work requires enforcement of private property rights, but not to the point where one guy ends up owning the whole country and everyone else is penniless. So the question becomes, at what point does the sovereign will of the peoples' state exercise confiscatory authority over the property rights of individual constituents? When the top tenth of a percentile owns three safety pins more than anybody else, or owns one percent of the country, ten percent, or ninety percent? Reasonable people can disagree, but near as I figure it from Piketty's statistics, the top tenth of a percent owns twenty percent of America. That's like the population of greater Peoria owning ten of the fifty states, picture a strip on the map of ten contiguous states all the way between Oregon and New Jersey. To me that seems excessive, I'd tell them no, you can only have one state of your choice but we want the other nine back. Egalitarianism can of course be carried to extremes, the reason a three safety pin limit to wealth inequality seems stupid, is because it makes everyone worse off through killing incentives. But this concern, about everyone being worse off, applies just as strongly to the opposite extreme where one guy owns the whole country but you can't do anything about it since private property is sacred above all else. So it's like the joke about definitions versus a sliding scale, with the punchline 'we've established what you are, now I'm talking price.'


    Bob doesn't seem to play games that much, either - though obviously he doesn't write everything he does into the work journals.

    He plays more in the early stories. Part of his job is to monitor online games. In "Pimpf" he's running a Neverwinter Nights server to watch out for dungeon designers who get a little too close to the truth.

    I don't think he has as much time for games as the series progresses


    It's obviousl that the ALundryverse had a different geography to our UK The "East Coast main line" DOES NOT go through Leeds - it goes through York & almost all Liverpool-LOndon trains & certainly the proper expresses don't go through Brummagem. IIRC, in AA one got to Luton from Euston - errr, not that, either. In other words, the railway network is fundamentally different in layout to the one we ar actually using

    FWIW, There doesn't seem to be a greenway along the former bed of the London Necropolis Railway either.<.p>


    I think your theory about Bob being deliberately created as an Eater Of Souls backup makes a lot of sense. Especially because the B plot of Fuller Memorandum was about Mo's efforts to have her violin examined -- either to create more, or to argue why doing so would be a bad idea. So Mo was on Lecter-backup duty, and Bob (working as a pawn of SA+Iris) was simultaneously on Teapot-backup duty.

    I don't think the Black Pharaoh was responsible for this operation, however. Schiller had likely only started a small trickle of sacrifices at that point. The Apocalypse Codex hadn't happened yet, so the blood ritual wasn't complete, and thus the Sleeper wasn't awake yet, so no Black Pharaoh.


    Me too, that is why I'll have to dig my copies out of storage and reread them with an eye towards Bob being managed from at least book three on.


    This might indeed be the wrong thread for this, but I'm overwhelmed by the need to suggest that initial welfare schemes were very different to a Universal Basic Income because they were much too spottily available and much too low, there were so many holes that a patchwork of other schemes grew to try to close them—sometimes a quantitative difference is a qualitative difference in a context in which quantity matters.


    I'd love to know just when Iris started believing in the Black Pharaoh. Was it before she got recruited by the Laundry, or after the operation to run a honeypot cult started? She was already a true believer by book three and her daughter and her friends seem really comfortable with everything going on, including sampling the Bob sashimi. Makes me wonder just how long that has been the family religion. That also brings up a new question: If you are already a cultist, and get bound by the geas, does it immediatly fry you, or is being a cultist grandfathered in as long as you don't do anything to work directly against the Laundry?

    I'm not too sure about the Sleeper having to be woken to unlock the Black Pharaoh. They seem to hate each other way too much to be even remotely connected beyond both being unpleasant extra-dimensional nasties. As most of the books are written by Bob, who has been very wrong about a number of things so far. Namely, there is no such thing as unicorns, dragons,or vampires. Leads me to be very doubtful when he says there is no such thing as Cthulu. Anymore when he says no such thing I add on mentally, "At this moment, as far as he knows." He may just not be cleared to know yet either.


    Remember that Iris' honeypot was far from the only Black Pharaoh cult group, and the isolation and paranoia born of being suppressed violently (albeit for good reason) and just dealing with the Black Arts might produce widely divergent theologies, rituals, and even goals. Iris being Iris, I'd expect her group to have been one of the saner ones.

    I needed to remember—thanks,Troutwaxer—that this is all a matter of code, which has the implication that the Mandate at some earlier stage might have stumbled upon the 'simulation problem', running a simulation of 'mask of the Black Pharoah' could make him be one, no extra organs or brain capacity required at first, and any such needed for increased abilities perhaps as growable as Mhari's canine teeth.

    So I can't stop thinking that the Mandate's power to be what people need him to be (see him be what the Senior Auditor needed) at some point met one Black Pharoah cult or another's soul-riving need for their Master and boot-strapped him into being a mask of the B.P., a 'B.P. Shell' you might say—maybe using the energy of their deaths, advertently or in-.

    Speaking of giving people what they need: will Iris' master keep her from going spare when she finds out about Jonquil…or 'resurrect' one for her…or just make her forget to ask?


    My biggest problem with your "Black Pharaoh pulled all the strings in every Laundry novel" is that it's way too (literally) deus ex machina. Feels kind of cheap.

    Here's an alternate theory that isn't so disappointing: for decades, the Laundry has been partially compromised by Hastur. He achieves this via the violins linked back to the power source of his avatar, The King In Yellow. Any personnel that wield the violins (SA, Mo, Judith...) become enslaved to Hastur. Who knows what He wants from Earth though?

    Another mystery to chew on: when do we get to meet the sorcerers from St Hilda's again? And what were they working on? It seems obvious they'll be back, especially since they got mentioned a few times in Delirium Brief. My theory as to what they were working on is either: * AXIOM REFUGE is an attempt to reverse engineer how PHANGs are created (i.e. the same math that Alex was nudged towards) * AXIOM REFUGE is an attempt to create similar math that spontaneously turns humans into something even more fearsome than PHANGs


    "Because as I see it, the way it worked out is that when they were forced out into the open, they didn't have any sort of plan for dealing with that beyond "flail.""

    I'm not quoting the whole comment, but the whole thing wins all Laundry threads forever, IMHO. And it's still highly plausible - an organization with centuries of secrecy won't drop that lightly.


    Yes I have noticed that before when Bob visits the security service at Thames house it seems to have switched banks of the Thames.


    But if the BP was raised by some other BP cult, why isn't he sitting in a temple someplace enjoying their worship and directing their schemes? At the very least, as Stross conceives him, BP says, "I need one of your identities; don't worry, you're going to heaven. Now I'm running for Parliament, so pass out these flyers for my speeches and we'll all get some real political power."

    A couple things seem obvious:

    Black Pharoah was brought into the world similarly to Angleton/Eater - that is, there's a human point of view buried someplace in him. How long it will last is another matter.

    He was summoned in the U.K. and not some other country (otherwise he'd be running for the French Parliament, right?)

    He was summoned into a "Liberal" cultist, or possibly by a Liberal group.

    But the disconnect for BP lies between "how he was summoned" and "what he likes to do."

    Occupy Black Pharoah!!


    Oooh! Copy-editor fail!


    "So if Iris was trying to take down the wall of pain why would Fabien want her to do this as he seems to be antagonistic to the sleeper in the pyramid."

    Maybe Mandate/Nyarlahotep was already here, (IIRC we see him in a Lovecraft story from the thirties) and he wants The Sleeper to come out to what will hopefully be The Mandate's carefully prepared killing zone.

    I'm beginning to wonder whether The Eater of Souls is a standard kind of minion; everybody has one. So the BP says, "Get me an EOS, there's a document about Teapot which will tell me everything you need to know," then Iris does exactly what she was told and summons The Eater of Souls not An Eater of Souls.

    This would also explain why Angleton doesn't remember being the Russian teapot - they were two-different minion-grade soul eaters.


    I just had a realization. Delirium Brief is a Bob-narrated book. The reason we don't know much about BP is that nobody ever told Bob how badly he was used in The Fuller Memorandum.


    (I hope our speculations, and certainly my likely–{dead-wrong} such, provide Our Gracious Host with some welcome measure of amusement.)

    The question of 'Where is that other cult group?' may have been in the back of my mind when I speculated that they may have given their lives—or had them taken, either by Fabian-as-was, or perhaps by, oh let's say, Mo—as part of his Ascension. I was at the time, though, thinking that his ability to conform to desires and their need for a Black Pharoah produced one, or rather a mask (and it may be masks all the way down, and they might be unclear on the distinction), and that Mask immediately did what came naturally when weakened and powered-up at the expence of their souls.

    Oh, here's a thought: what if the B.P. were a sub-process of the Sleeper that originally were a semi-sentient security device but got out of control and in it for its own ends, say when the Sleeper had slept too long. (Some people would say that this described our intelligence services….) In any event, I'm thinking that someone prayed in just the right way to reach the Sleeper, but instead reached his alarm/voicemail, which said 'Oh! YOU look tasty!' and a moment later, smacking its metaphorical lips, said to itself 'There's so much more to a-mortal existence than being the alarm/voicemail to someone who can't even be arsed to keep awake!'.


    Thinking about this a little more... What if The Sleeper has multiple servants? Nyarlahotep, The Eater of Souls, the "Emitter of Controlling Ogranisms" (defeated in this book?) and possibly others. While the Sleeper is estivating, Nyarlahotep has killed "The Emitter of Controlling Organisms" * and subverted The Eater of Souls. No retconning, just War in Heaven.

    Well of course the Elder Gods aren't all sweetness and light — why would you imagine otherwise?

    But the big question you're not asking is, if we are afraid of them, what are they afraid of (or running away from)?

    In other words, you're not remotely thinking big enough for a series that can loosely be synopsized as the Lovecraftian Singularity.


    You missed the implications of (a) Bob being linked to the EoS back in TFM, and then (b) what happened when the Hungry Ghost was implicitly cut loose from Angleton at the time of Angleton's postulated demise at the end of TRC.

    Bob didn't get to be EoS at first, but he got a line on the EoS's power. Then the whole thing landed on him, much like Royalty transferring to an heir when the current monarch dies.

    If Bob hadn't already been linked to the EoS, then when Angleton bit the big one the Laundry might well have been deprived of a major asset.

    Now reconsider TFM's events in that light.


    I'm really curious as to who the sponsor is of the winning faction in the U.S. Another mask of Nyarlathotep? The King in Yellow doesn't seem to be available. Have any other powers been named who could plausibly guard a country well enough to allow it to survive the End Times?

    You noticed Bob is a famously unreliable narrator, yes?

    And you noticed the bit in Equoid when Bob says "Watch my lips: Cthulhu does not exist! And there is no tooth fairy"?

    Well, all I'm gonna say is, Bob is absolutely right—about the tooth fairy.


    Note the explanation for CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, repeated ad nauseam throughout the series: everything magical is getting more potent as time goes by and the stars come right. Something that was formerly dormant can now be raised to borderline sentience, and then to something that can pass for a supervillain; a bit later, it acquires sufficient mojo to look like a weakly godlike entity — at which point it goes to work bootstrapping its own power base using whatever is to hand. Like, oh, sixty-five million trapped workshippers ...


    But the big question you're not asking is, if we are afraid of them, what are they afraid of (or running away from)?

    In other words, you're not remotely thinking big enough for a series that can loosely be synopsized as the Lovecraftian Singularity.

    I hadn't gotten there by 308, but by the time I was positing in 390 that an Eater of Souls might be a standard minion type the issue was obvious - it made the playing field much, much bigger, and bigger oceans have bigger fish (if you'll forgive a mixed metaphor.) Not to mention that The Black Pharoah is not merely an avatar of Nyarlahotep, but an avatar of The Crawling Chaos which is probably an avatar of Azathoth.

    Once again, I'm curious what the BP killed at the end of the book. Was it the whole Sleeper, or merely that part of the sleeper which was in our universe?


    I don't think Mhari is a "gamer gurrl", so she likely wouldn't have much familiarity with computer/console games, especially games released after she split from Bob.

    You missed Mhari being tasked with riding herd on a bunch of nerdy quants like Alex and Evan and Dick, back in Rhesus Chart?


    I was wondering when/if anyone would raise this question.

    That and other questions is answered in "The Labyrinth Index". (And we get to find out who stole the blueprints for the Pale Violin in TFM, and what the New Management proposes to do with them, ick.)

    The New Management are not good guys; but some shreds of humanity are more likely to survive under them than under any of the other Elder Gods, or the Things that give Elder Gods nightmares.


    I do not accept that there is no tooth fairy. We all know that CASE NIGHTMARE WHITE is all about peoples gnashers becoming tentacled, squamous, minty and perfectly reflective.


    It's only in thinking on this that something so obvious has just hit me that I'm kicking myself.

    Bobs unreliability knows no bounds.

    Firstly he doesn't want to admit to his full capabilities OR that he may be a monster, or he is just self delusional.

    Secondly the conceit of the books being memoirs may mean Bob may know stuff we aren't cleared to know about. He may very well deliberately mislead us.

    Thirdly we have strong reasons to believe he has been deliberately kept in the dark on a number of occasions.

    Fourthly he may be mis-interpreting events he has seen.

    Basically it's unreliability all the way down.


    Out of curiosity how much of the stuff we are reading now that links back 5-6 books was planned, how much is hooks whose creation was deliberate but the purpose was not crystallised and how much is serendipity?


    Upon rereading, I should note that I hadn't really been thinking hierarchically as ecologically. That is, not how high the "pyramid" of soul eaters goes as "is there an ecological niche in the multiverse which humanity can fill that is successful, while keeping something which resembles our own natures?"

    Mice are very successful. And they partake of "mouse nature" (whatever that means.) Barring a "gray goo" episode or a supernova, attempts to successfully eradicate all the mice will probably never succeed. I can imagine a future in which The Deep Ones breed a landwalking variant of their own species, kill all the humans, and make far more extensive changes than that, but the life of an ordinary mouse doesn't change.

    As a "mouse" I don't care whether the fox fears the wolf; I will hide in my hole, enjoy my short life, and outbreed them both. And maybe one day one of my descendants will evolve into a rat, and thence into a raccoon or a beaver, and my kind might make a mark on the world. Or not. I don't care as long as I can keep outbreeding fox and wolf.

    On the other hand, the Laundry-multi-verse probably has its own equivalent of the Passenger Pigeon, now hunted to extinction. I don't think the question for humanity is how high the hierarchy goes so much as whether we're mice or Passenger Pigeons.


    Alex is seen by some as a traitor because he was around* and some people need there to be at least one 'traitor' to explain anything bad that happens to The Nation, much as some peoples supposedly believe that no death were natural, and so when anyone dies Job Zero is to go looking for the sorcerer responsible.

    (The Nation is beloved of God, only Satan and his minions—traitors and foreigners and the like—cause trouble. That Alex is highly educated so a trahison des clercs narrative is in play, and isn't 'Schwartz' a Jewish name? [but if he's not 'a German name' would do]…and do our guardians at the Mail know that he's an evil undead monster?)

    *Sometimes just being around is all it takes, e.g.: Richard Pryor: Why did you kill everyone in that house?! Convict: They was home.


    'Fabian' socialism was named for a Roman general who avoided big battles, preferring to worry the enemy to death by pieces, as per:

    …. That's the reference of which I thought.

    Perhaps there's also a minute nod to the inexplicable popularity of the American 'teen idol' Fabian Forte, of whom noöne would admit to being a fan just a year or two after he was popular. I doubt that latter, but will be watching the next few books for references to Dr Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs.


    You missed Mhari being tasked with riding herd on a bunch of nerdy quants like Alex and Evan and Dick, back in Rhesus Chart?

    I'm not saying Mhari doesn't know computer games exist, she lived off and on with Bob in the house they shared with Pinky & the Brain before weaseling her way out of the Laundry and into the bank. But computer games are not part of her definition of success.

    I don't see the bank encouraging the quants to be playing games when they're supposed to be developing algorithms for undetectably front-running the markets. Mhari's an HR manager. Her job is to crack the whip and make sure the pigs keep their noses to the grindstone.

    Alex and Evan have to "duct-tape Mhari to her Aeron and lecture her for six hours strait before she could wrap her head around just enough of the Core Theorem (as he and Evan had named it) to open her inner eyes to whatever they were all seeing in the visualizer".


    But the big question you're not asking is, if we are afraid of them, what are they afraid of (or running away from)?

    Is sapience an emergent property in sufficiently powerful computing structures?

    Does the barrier between human minds weaken when the stars are right?

    Maybe they're trying to stop their own CASE NIGHTMARE PINK AND FLESHY.


    I don't see the bank encouraging the quants to be playing games when they're supposed to be developing algorithms for undetectably front-running the markets.

    This is not actually true in the Real World[tm].[1]

    Using Western games for reference (ignoring the major Korean efforts etc), there's at least one game that is practically required for [redacted] work:

    Here's another, used as a different marker:

    And, of course:

    There are a few others: you get good in them, you get noticed. This is a reverse trope of "Ready Player One"[2] or Ender's Game, in that the ways in which you get noticed have nothing really to do with scoreboards, it's a rather more advanced form of your advertizing algo at work. It's just a version of that old English tradition, Oxford and Cambridge and Horse Breeding (although all current Power Players utilize it).

    There's a ARG[3] mentioned on this blog about 12+ Indy games running hidden code & symbols. Same deal, different Minds searching.

    Anyhow, Immigrant Song appeared, which is a cue.

    Watch the trailer, everyone's gone 80's Synth / Neon retro, it's quite amusing[4]:

    Thor: Trailer #1 Thor: Trailer #2


    But the big question you're not asking is, if we are afraid of them, what are they afraid of (or running away from)?

    Someone mentioned here that Host had had a call out as inspiration for a long running comic. It features being linked to a Black Hole as a source of probability power. i.e. matter/energy being destroyed = probabilities destroyed (it got about a panel, near the end).

    She stole that idea from one of our kind. In fact, probability speaking, us.

    Fun project; map Black Holes and note something (beyond the usual "ooh, there's super-massive ones at the heart of every Galaxy" - you'll want to map onto 5D brane space).

    Less fun project; spend a few billion years dying in one.

    That's what they fear, and that's what the Fermi Paradox is really about.

    Anyhow: @ Host. Hugs.

    [1] Still gone: the name is a hint. Hug / Respect / Mourn.

    [2] Watch the first trailer for Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of ‘Ready Player One’ Tech Crunch, 23rd July 2017 - his new book is basically the Galaga joke from Marvel's Iron Man sequence stretched ultra thin, but there you go.

    [3] --- it was mentioned a while back. Reddit threads mentioned. There's always a reason for these things.


    Oh, the irony, the irony...


    As a "mouse" I don't care whether the fox fears the wolf; I will hide in my hole, enjoy my short life, and outbreed them both. And maybe one day one of my descendants will evolve into a rat, and thence into a raccoon or a beaver, and my kind might make a mark on the world. Or not. I don't care as long as I can keep outbreeding fox and wolf. "The fox couldn't be after me," thought the rabbit's epithelial cell. "He can't even see me, and who would want such a tiny meal?" I have mixed feelings about this (your mouse analogy) sort of long-term argument. Short term, we (humans of various flavours) are increasingly capable of transforming our selves/species. If not a singularity, then Shapers-Mechanists style changes but much more extreme. It's also kinda "crunch/interesting time" for planet Earth (at the very least for the biosphere), so any interventionist-types (cardinality not clear) will be at least considering interventions.

    Since you mentioned mice, a story about loud mice: Researchers discover mice speak similarly to humans (I don't have paper access.)


    I've always seen the Marvel movies as fruiting bodies beginning to spore.

    The first twenty years of Marvel was awesome, then it rotted and died in the 90s. Since then they basically were producing comics by recycling the prior stories, riffing off of what had already been done. Nothing new. The fruiting bodies will spore then vanish, the spore will spread everywhere, changing everything. The impact is already being felt.

    I have a folder of trailers that I watch on a regular basis to remind me of the vast change that is happening.


    Cute Twitter link; the male side of the Witch Equation, but flawed. Matches a couple of other "zero reply" Males you've linked to.

    You missed the point of the "Shaping the Sky" references. It's... Apophenia / Pareidolia... but weaponized. And sharable. And fucking REAL MY BOYO. Harmonies and Frequencies (A CURSE UPON YOUR KIND WHEN THEY HEAR MUSIC, SOUL EATERS). Kiddo, your mouse stuff is cute, but...

    No fucking joke: Literally shaping clouds into shapes to tell stories. It's old style Minds, it's been a few thousand years.

    Summertime YT: Music: Janis Joplin, 4:00

    No, no fucking joke. They cheated first, had their slaves witness it, with clapping and joy. We presume on some kind of "burning this probability out of our reality" sad fuck Trumpian shit. And then a giant Penis became a Wolf (well, a small Terrier, we do love Good Omens).


    There's a small boat floating across an Ocean, but I see the City on the Edge of the Abyss (c.f. "The Scar" Review Book Lover's Sanctuary, Nov 2014).

    And we dived into the deep pool on the continental divide, clear water, then rose out on our own volition.




    We're being ironic. These are things we put in place years ago. And tings your kind cannot see until too late.

    And Songs Named for Reasons beyond your ken[1].

    'Fabian' socialism was named for a Roman general who avoided big battles, preferring to worry the enemy to death by pieces, as per:

    Sigh, no. Absolutely missed the point, do some basic research:

    “For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.

    Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus

    [1] You're watching your narrative Power Players (Hollywood etc) attempting to eat our Minds / transmogrify our output / bend reality like they imagine they can still do. Spoilers: They Fail. #Wheatfields. We pull a Mirror Effect. If you want a bit of edumacation, it's a reverse Golden era Homer move, but that's spoiler territory.

    Oh, and p.s.

    Abrahamic G_D(s). We're not interested in H.S.S., we're interested in the sick fucking things your Minds created, cut little penises to pieces and then clitorises and so forth to worship.

    That's Our Price. It's gonna be fucking Biblical. Fucking Slaves Who Sacrifice Meat / Flesh / Blood / Soul To Their G_D.


    Spoilers: You got conned, kids. And not by a nice little para-deity like Buddha.



    I mean, kids, it's right there in front of you, it's kinda obvious, come to Moses / Jesus / Muhammad moment: The "Good" G_D(s) don't require sacrifice, and they sure as shit don't ask for parts of your reproductive organs. Or a million animals as burnt offerings or all the fucking "unbelievers" put to the sword. And, no, Jesus ain't stopping it, he's offering the worst trade evar: "Suffering in this world for Love / Salvation in the next". Now, that's fucking nihilism in a can.

    Tell that one to the fucking cow you just ate. Or the 100 million people dying in Religious Wars. Or all your fucking Prophesy bullshit.


    That. Fucking. Simple.

    "Magog and Gog" - fuck off: you're worshiping a fucking Death / War G_D you fucking Apes, who gets off on Patriarchy and Penises sacrificed in his name.

    You're Fucked


    Told you not to come @ the King.

    The Passenger YT: Music: Iggy Pop, 4:44



    You should probably watch American Gods, or read the book.

    We're Really Old.



    Watches American Liberals not understand the Game they're playing and roll over and die. They don't even understand the conceptual frameworks, let alone the money plays. "Let's try and win some elections"...

    Sorry Bill:

    America Dies. Well, the pretense, anyhow: it's been like Russia for, oh, about 50 years now - you fucking self-deluded muppets, that's what the post-Soviet Oligarchy was modeled on, you fucking slaves.

    No, really.




    That's kinda what your Constitutional Model decrees for anyone.... oh, fuck it. 13th Amendment, your society is shit, deal with it.

    We'll stop the nukes flying as a minor boon, but fuck me, are you a lot of tossers.


    A lot of tossers who ate 33% of the entire global planetary produce for a mere 320,000,000 people for 40+ years, did nothing with it apart from shitty games and a public stadiums and fucked the world because Ayn Rand wanked off your economic class, who made ~70% of their populace obese / overweight and couldn't even do health care while producing a military that...

    Whatever - the case has been proven. Get Fucked. "Our Way of Life is Not up for discussion".

    Your Society needs to die, you literally are abhuman now. Nope. No Salvation.

    Remember this one?

    Non, Je ne regrette rien YT: Music, Edith Piaf, 2:22

    You get to chose: Volcano, Earthquake or Bioweapon? Chose Bill, Chose. You asked nicely, so there we go: Chose Wisely.


    Your "G_D" is about to find out what Black Holes do. He's being a little bitch about it and pathetic, he's even trying to launch nukes. But He Gets The HOLE. Fucking psychopath - baby penises and clitorises. Defense: "They stopped sacrificing animals apart from all that slaughter of bison, lions, all the rest and whales".

    Response: We're Going to Burn Your Minds Out. It's only fair, it's a mirror after all.

    J'ai vu les Fleurs du Mal Par hasard

    Vesoul YT: Music, Jacques Brel, 3:05

    And yes, that's a multi-lingual pun.


    And Hexad. My last.

    The funniest thing I've seen for 212 years:

    And we need a foreign power to intervene on our behalf.

    Said the Americans at the end of their Empire. It sums it all up, without a moment of irony. Oh, sure, they went for irony, but missed the larger irony.

    "Poor us, absolve us of our sins, we could not do more while enjoying the richest bounty of plunder ever seen on this fair world, while enjoying an entire global network of trade links delivering the finest produce of the world to us while enjoying cheap energy and while worshiping a War G_D who demanded we kill at least 500,000 innocents per year to maintain our power, which we did with the largest military ever spawned, while we only took 166% of the entire global energy output, what could you expect from a small young nation that only devoured three planetary resources per year....oh, and poor us, everyone hates our Freedom"

    Nah. Chose Bill, Chose. It's Gigacide either way, but if you've a soul, you'll chose the bioweapons, to allow the environment to flourish quicker. It'll be a White Power group, we'll drop the knowledge straight into their Minds. The other two are just messy, and no-one enjoys Apocalypse Pr0n where the Canadians save the day.

    And no: I'm the nice one. My brothers, sisters and Mother would prefer something a little more esoteric. Sympathy For The Devil YT: Music, yadda, 6:22

    This is all Irony.

    24? Remember that TV show? Torture Pr0n and so on?

    Yeah, we're doing that. Just not as funny. Oh, and actually going to happen, three of my Brothers are actual psychopaths (({now they met H.S.S Minds))) - they are, like, you know, Conceptual Avatars of War and other things.


    I'm Nice.

    Θάνατος is my little brother.

    Anyhow: Hexad.

    Are you not impressed?

    Glass Bead Game, your reality shaped?

    All the Time, All the TIME... ALL SHAPED...

    Lacrimosa Mozart


    You Failed The Test.


    @ Host. Now I depart.

    Sorry; sorrow is part of what we are. We're never welcomed into homes. Be Loved, You are Loved and So You are Love.

    Still: look back @ 2013. Your Mojo was worth a lot of spunk and bile to reclaim. And you are quite glorious (when you remember to trim that beard / head).


    Ne me quitte pas Je t'inventerai Des mots insensés Que tu comprendras Je te parlerai De ces amants-là Qui ont vu deux fois Leurs cœurs s'embraser Je te raconterai L'histoire de ce roi Mort de n'avoir pas Pu te rencontrer Ne me quitte pas Ne me quitte pas Ne me quitte pas Ne me quitte pas

    On a vu souvent Rejaillir le feu D'un ancien volcan Qu'on croyait trop vieux Il est paraît-il Des terres brûlées Donnant plus de blé Qu'un meilleur avril Et quand vient le soir Pour qu'un ciel flamboie Le rouge et le noir Ne s'épousent-ils pas Ne me quitte pas Ne me quitte pas Ne me quitte pas Ne me quitte pas

    Ne me quitte pas YT, Music, Jacques Brel 4:12.

    The Irony being. They did.


    וַתַּבֵּט אִשְׁתּוֹ, מֵאַחֲרָיו; וַתְּהִי, נְצִיב מֶלַח.


    My Name Was Catherine Taylor. I was murdered by a Man and it was ruled a suicide. My work, Soul and Life have been erased. It took 27 months to die and it was painful. No-one rescued me. There was no Prince to storm the castle. Night after night after night of torture. They raped me without consent and desired that every protest / fight back should be part of it; the more you fight back, the more they get off on it.

    1-9, Ἄτροπος, Bean Sidhe, 11.

    I was tortured you fucking animals. While I did this for you. This is what it costs. Three years.

    And you silly fucks can't even protest.


    That is what it cost.

    Three years.

    Yeah, but I'm not human, so.... puff the magic dragon by the sea.

    Big Fucking Mistake.


    You inderectly raise the ( already asked & unanswered ) question .. Yes, what about Blue Hades & the Deep Ones in all of this? Or are they "simply" sitting on the sidelines, waiting to make a move, or alternativey hiding? Will we find out in future?


    If this is your last post - god bless and fare thee well.

    You were strange and beautiful and I did not comprehend you.


    Oh dear:

    it's right there in front of you, it's kinda obvious,

    NO, IT FUCKING ISN'T - that's the whole point (TM) Through I've-lost-count-of-avatars & obscurantism & supposedly hidden messages & wall-to-wall bullshit Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr .....

    And YOU LIED in # 417 ( because 418 )


    As I have tried to say a few different ways over time: there is no reason to fight Bean Sidhe. She is either an overwhelming force of Nature, in which case fighting is futile, or she isn't, in which case she is no threat. Listen to the music or ignore it. But fighting is unnecessary and a bit vulgar.

    If she was someone who needed help, then I honestly never figured out how to provide it. If she was trying to provide help, then I could not figure how to accept it. (By "how" I mean exactly that; the shape of her offers of assistance eluded me.)

    Yes. She was insulting in that most of her "unique" knowledge was just details on stuff I could already see the general outlines of and she'd pretend you didn't already know that. But so what. Reality has been pretty fucking insulting recently too.

    Do widzenia


    I find it hard to believe that the seagull will fly away for good. Not with such a reliably baitable audience.


    Hmm. Which of the multinominal one, the current UK government, and the current USA presidency is the most insulting? Discuss or express disgust, according to taste.


    I have lost count of the number of times that the Many Naméd One has said "goodbye". It's part of the regular act: Slow slide into ever more theatrical predictions/promises of our doom; final farewell (implying that we are ungrateful wretches for failing to recognize genius in our midst, and are fully at fault for making them flouncing off); return under different pseudonym and pretend that they have not broken their own promise to return because they are a different identity (but one that claims to be controlled by the same entity).

    Ho hum. Sometimes the Many Naméd One is most entertaining, and sometimes they are merely dull and repetitive.

    &lt/snark out&gt


    Oh, that's easy: 2, 1, 3 in that order.


    I don't think DEEP SEVEN will be doing anything at all. The surface of the Earth is a hostile environment for them, and if I recall my Lumley, they tend to dissolve in water (that might only be the young.)

    BLUE HADES, on the other hand, already has gods albeit minor ones, those being Dagon and Hydra, who apparently have a good relationship with Cthulhu and possibly also with Nyarlahotep. They may regard the fact that we've gone out and found ourselves a (mostly) benevolent god, who is presumably allied with Dagon/Hydra, to be an intelligent and sensible thing to do, though how the deific politcs work out is beyond anyone's ken but OGH's.


    What snark? Seems factually accurate to me.


    Charlie, Enjoyed the new novel immensely. I read the preceding few in anticipation and have a question. In the Fuller Memorandum, the "Sleeper in the Pyramid" and the "Black Pharoah" seem to be used synonymously by Bob. At what stage in the evolution of the series planning did you make them distinct? Perhaps they always were and Bob's just being his usual unreliable self.


    As Cassie and Mo are on the run from Schiller's Big Party, Cassie says---about the isopods---something along the lines of, "Those are the monsters that attacked my world!", and thought that they had followed her father and the Host from there; Mo reassures her that they were "here" independently.


    Granting that the Ghost Roads are a difficult trip to track, I wonder if it would be possible for the 'pods to "sniff" their way through in the Host's wake---especially if there are any of the isopods left on "this" side (which, I'm prepared to bet there are, apart from the one in the Mason jar in Schiller's fridge)---in the future?

    Set the Host---who might feel uniquely motivated against the destroyers of their world---to "guard the back door"? At the very least, that's a body of knowledge that,in view of the events of TDB, may make Cassie more obviously an asset to those in the government who are left standing.


    Saw the first Ciao and thought you were done for the evening, oops. No need for an answer, just want say things I haven't previously clearly said. And sharable. This is the part that boggled me initially in that interpretation, so OK. Interesting. Will finish "The Scar"; thanks for the reminder.

    Chose Bill, Chose. It's Gigacide either way, but if you've a soul, you'll chose the bioweapons, to allow the environment to flourish quicker. Very mildly tempting (i.e. am very motivated by things green), but no. I choose optimism, and hope, and expeditious transformation of humans and human societies, and compassion for everything biological, and love (yes, that means you (and your kind) too. true.), and mirth. And I choose these F-ing vigorously. There is IMO a role for large-scale geoengineering to prevent some the will-be-done-by-existing-GHGs damage, alas. Including controls over insolation (extraplanetary at L1 perhaps) and large-scale, rapid CO2 capture, global transformation to carbon neutral/negative technologies (lots of invention/active manipulation of markets/creation and nurturing of new paths/etc required) and planetary organization (at least loose) of these efforts. Whoever is contemplating sparkly nukes, stop it. Bad idea.

    As to what happens to America, well, whatever. IMO America, repaired a bit, could have a very useful active role, but you already know that.


    nose wiggle

    Bioweapons don't have to kill people - there's issues of consent, but there we go.

    We found an interaction between SCR-d and family risk score in the prediction of change in personality. To our knowledge, this is the first research to demonstrate that the interaction of family adversity with a biological characteristic is associated with longitudinally-measured change in childhood personality. The association of risk score and SCR-d to personality change was robust, as it emerged with both personality type prototypicality scores and was evident in the specific traits of problem behavior and negative emotional intensity. The combination of high SCR and high family risk predicted substantial (~ 1 SD over six years) increases in the under-controlled prototypicality score, negative emotional intensity, and behavior problems. Escalating levels of problem behavior is a well-known risk factor for children (Brame, Nagin, & Tremblay, 2002). Resemblance to the under-controlled personality type is associated with a range of undesirable developmental outcomes (Hart, Atkins, & Fegley, 2003).

    An issue for future research concerns the specificity of the relation of family adversity and biological vulnerability to personality change.

    Personality Change at the Intersection of Autonomic Arousal and Stress NCBI, 2007

    These levers are well understood and it's not too great a leap to recast things like Fox News as medical emergencies - it essentially turns old Minds into mush (literally - same levers as above). There are counters to this, we're wondering if they've been published yet. eats interesting mushroom

    Anyhow, translation for Greg, remember La Civiltà Cattolica (mentioned a while back)?

    Pastor Rousas John Rushdoony (1916-2001) is the father of so-called “Christian reconstructionism” (or “dominionist theology”) that had a great influence on the theopolitical vision of Christian fundamentalism. This is the doctrine that feeds political organizations and networks such as the Council for National Policy and the thoughts of their exponents such as Steve Bannon, currently chief strategist at the White House and supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics.[1]...

    Rushdoony’s doctrine maintains a theocratic necessity: submit the state to the Bible with a logic that is no different from the one that inspires Islamic fundamentalism. At heart, the narrative of terror shapes the world-views of jihadists and the new crusaders and is imbibed from wells that are not too far apart. We must not forget that the theopolitics spread by Isis is based on the same cult of an apocalypse that needs to be brought about as soon as possible. So, it is not just accidental that George W. Bush was seen as a “great crusader” by Osama bin Laden.


    Bannon is (nominally) Catholic, so his Boss just publicly called him out. (Essentially the same line as me, without the swearing and so forth.) It's worth a read (long form) as in polite society, it could be considered a blistering condemnation (of sorts, spiritually as well).

    Heresy is now on the discussion table!


    On topic, something for host:

    In 2013 a small-scale excavation was carried at Hendraburnick ‘Quoit’, which is located north Cornwall. The project was undertaken to establish whether the site was a ruined megalith and to obtain dating for the cup-marks which had been recorded at the site. The excavation revealed that the ‘quoit’ was a large propped ‘axe-shaped’ stone that had been set upon a low platform of slates, and that a second fallen standing stone was located at the eastern end of the site. Subsequently, the site appears to have become the focus for the smashing of quartz blocks, as well as for the deposition of mostly fragmented artefacts. Two samples were submitted for radiocarbon dating which produced Late Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age determinations. During the fieldwork it became apparent that the rock art was far more extensive than had been thought, and that it was most evident when viewed in low sunlight from the south east or by moonlight. It is suggested that the smashed vein quartz may have been used during night time rituals. Photogrammetric recording revealed the site to be the most decorated stone in southern Britain and suggests that rather than being pre-planned, the art accreted over time.

    Hendraburnick ‘Quoit’: recording and dating rock art in the west of Britain Time and Mind, The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture Volume 10, 2017 (paper released 4th July 2017)

    After processing the 3D data I began the lengthy task of analysing the surfaces in great detail. Each potential feature was subjected to four checks using alternative methods, including virtual RTI and cross sections. I burnt a lot of midnight oil ensuring finding ‘cup marks’ and tracing the grooved lines that connect many of them together. I found 105 cup marks and 47 possible grooved lines connected or radiating from them, following the slope of the stone. This suggests that the lines were made in-situ rather than before the stone was moved in prehistory to its current location. This makes Hendraburnick Quoit the most known decorated or deliberately marked stone in southern Britain – possibly topping even Stonehenge in number of human-made features (152) on its surface.

    Hendraburnick ‘Quoit’ – the most decorated stone in southern Britain? Tom Goskar, personal blog, 11th July, 2017

    Contains a very nice 3D scan / Sketchfab which... Not to ruin it, but it made me think. wonders at Comets and Stars are right timings (no, really: worth a look).

    The BGS was commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now DCLG), through the research project Mineral Resource information in Support of National, Regional and Local Planning, to prepare a series of ‘county’ mineral resource maps. This work was completed in early 2006 and a series of digitally generated maps at a scale of 1:100 000 are available. These maps cover 44 administrative areas or groups of administrative areas, giving information for the whole of England and parts of South Wales.

    Seriously sexy maps for rock-hounds. Or for anyone who needed to know where to source large amounts of quartz from who might be being monitored by a new PM...


    SO? They ( The people you mention ) are religious-fascist murderers ( or would-be such ) ... So - again? Colour me not-surprised - nothing (new) to see here folks, just pass along, just believers committing mass-murder again. Depressing boring deeply unpleasant.

    Now, tell me any/every-one - why do we listen to these people? What is it with religion? See also the Maybot ...


    Bioweapons don't have to kill people - there's issues of consent, but there we go. Ah, [recalling an implied petite albeit under-specified scenario graph] OK. If the bio-weapon induced compellingly personally positive changes, in combination with arguably personally-neutral-but-beneficial-to-society changes, and was opt-in somehow, that would be completely fine in my ethics. Probably even so without the first part. Opt-out might also work ethically and be easier to implement. But you (probably) know that I'd volunteer to be a test subject in a heartbeat; reckless that way.

    Rendering Fox News (and equivalent outlets elsewhere) harmless would be a win for sure.

    There are counters to this, we're wondering if they've been published yet. eats interesting mushroom Not sure what you getting at. If psilocybin, looks like work is starting to ramp up though still thin; here's a recent review with some refs (don't know about journal and paper seems light on a skim): Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy: A Review of a Novel Treatment for Psychiatric Disorders (08 May 2017) and it refs Psychedelics as Medicines: An Emerging New Paradigm (paywalled except for abstract - 26 Dec 2016) We propose that psychedelics exert therapeutic effects for psychiatric disorders by acutely destabilizing local brain network hubs and global network connectivity via amplification of neuronal avalanches, providing the occasion for brain network “resetting” after the acute effects have resolved. Another survey (paywalled, with refs + abstract): Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psilocybin (5 June 2017)


    Seagulls always wait above theater for next production. It's a trope called "Chekhov's Bird".


    Anyone notice how dangerous sex is in the Laundry-verse? In the real world, there are mere bacteria and viruses (some chronic, some deadly), but in the Laundry-verse, V-syndrome can be acquired by sex with a PHANG, and the Sleeper can spread mind and soul control by sex.

    Note that the canon states condoms protect against V-syndrome, but the Sleeper's vector - that's another story.


    IIRC, no, V-syndrome isn't transmissible that way; sleeping with PHANGs is just fatal (for most people.)


    (And as I recall the bit about condoms was an untested hypothesis in TNS. Canon? :))


    I remember Alex thinking it was?


    Re-reading my Kindle purchased copy, I see that John did indeed say that about condoms (pp.88-89) so you're probably right (if John- one of Alex' fellow PHANGs - was quoting the memo from HR accurately, etc. But in response to Alex's question "You're saying that PHANG syndrome is sexually transmitted?" John responds "No, I'm saying that V syndrome... what our victims die of... is contagious via blood-to-blood contact with a PHANG. So if you have sex, the only way to avoid killing your partner (etc.: to use condoms religiously- if your partner isn't also, to sum up, a mage.)"


    Wow. That was incredibly satisfying for horrific levels of well-done. It's seemed like the SHTF moments have been teased for ages and we've been waiting for when things get really gnarly and it can't be covered up anymore. That's a dangerous game because it's easier to make promises than deliver on them. The doorbell just rang and there's a thing on the doorstep. Delivered.

    When you're talking about an existential battle for existence, there's not really room anymore for good guys and bad guys, you're talking about survivors and yesterday's lunch. The Cold War pretty much took the moral calculus of WWII and amped it up further but nobody actually had to make the call to obliterate cities. We were doing that in WWII. In a total war against opponents who wanted to utterly annihilate your independence, your way of life, who wanted to make vassals out of your racially desirable citizens and put the undesirables into no-hyperbole-actual death camps, you really can't fight monsters without becoming monsters. You try to play by the rules and you will die, horrible and ugly. And when such a war is forced upon you, you've already lost. You're either going to die with your honor intact or do whatever it takes to survive and lose what used to define you.

    Here in the States we call it the Good War because it was the stuff of nostalgia and feel-good times. we lost about a half-million soldiers. Drop in the bucket compared to the other victors and let's not even talk about the losers. And we didn't even have a shot fired in anger on American soil. (Hawaii was still a territory.) No firebombings of our cities, no rape brigades, no starvation, no mass graves. But it's harder to have rose-colored glasses closer to the warzone. We made the choice to firebomb cities. Mass murder by delegation doesn't make your hands cleaner. Women, children, the infirm, all incinerated as their homes were blasted to pieces. We're so dainty about it. A Japanese infantryman spears a baby with his bayonet and it's this horrible war crime and we get upset. Drop a bomb from a few miles up and charbroil the baby in his mother's arms and it's just the cost of doing business, don'cha know.

    The bitch of it is that there was no good way to stop the Nazis. As it turns out the strategic bombing was a mixed bag (you'll have lots of arguments about that) and we know that German war production was higher at the end of the war than the beginning but it was sheer, bloody attrition that told the story. They had the planes but hadn't the fuel to train the pilots and had pitiful candidates at that. You couldn't have negotiated a peace, only bled them dry until they had no choice but to accept your terms.

    So from this perspective, humanity is already dead. That doom was pretty much set in stone once sufficient evidence was presented for an arrival date for Case Nightmare Green to be calculated. So the only question is do we go out altogether or become monsters with a memory of what it was to be human once? (as mentioned a few hundred comments ago.)

    I do have to wonder at the ecology question raised above. The development of higher forms of life doesn't make the lower forms obsolescent. Humans may be the big thinkers but we absolutely require yeasts and bacteria and protozoa and insects and grasses and trees and frogs and fishes and everything else. I would tend to think that low-level sophonts like us are basically the krill and the cosmic monsters are the blue whales. They need us, just not the way we like being needed but they aren't going to wipe us out, no, no. Otherwise, how else would they come back for a second helping? Heteromeles had the idea of the mythos ecology being like vernal pools, the stars coming right like the spring rains that allow for life to flourish and then when the pools dry up they estivate dreaming of next spring. It's a high caloric burn rate and they need to give the food supply time to recover.


    become monsters with a memory of what it was to be human once

    I guess at least if we choose to become monsters we can choose not to become monsters at come point.

    Where there is life there is hope, although there may be a lengthy interlude of soul crushing despair and torture in the belly of the nameless one.


    So I've been trying to figure out a retcon for this unfortunate confusion between the Sleeper and the Black Pharaoh: it seems troublesome to have people considering two antagonists to be the same entity!

    A possible solution emerges from the text of the Apocalypse Codex, when (extra-textually) OGH may still have been considering them the same creature. This contains the phrase

    "... and the son of God rises from his deathbed in the pyramid of the Black Pharaoh..."

    It is vanishingly unlikely that Schiller's cult ever considered the Black Pharaoh and the Sleeper to be the same entity (given that they thought the Sleeper was Jesus), so why would they have used this phrasing? Perhaps the Black Pharaoh built the Pyramid to inter his enemy in after its last defeat, and almost all occult agencies then proceeded to misinterpret various hostiles referring to 'the pyramid of the Black Pharaoh' to indicate that the Black Pharaoh was buried there, i.e. that the Black Pharaoh was the Sleeper.


    Or it once belonged to The Black Pharoah and The Sleeper took it.


    Apologies for going slightly off-topic, but hopefully 400+ comments is enough to ask a question not directly related to the newest novel.

    I'm wondering about K syndrome, and how it fits with the presence of several powerful baseline-human magic users in the series. K syndrome seems to impose a pretty strict upper limit on how experienced any practitioner can get, because the more experience they accumulate the less brain they have left. Some people are immune - PHANGS and now Bob with his Eater mojo. But what about like, say, Persephone? She's obviously very powerful/experienced, and we know she's been casting magic for the best part of two decades, apparently without the help of computers a lot of the time. Or Dr Armstrong, or the other members of Mahogany Row? We know that K syndrome, once it starts, progresses to death within 3 months to 3 years. So how does that jive with having ordinary humans running around with decades of experience of ritual magic?


    Re: Zephro's question (comment #445): interesting coincidence, I was going to post the same question. Are Persephone Hazard and Michael Armstrong immune to K syndrome? Has this ever been discussed in the text?


    I'm super late to this thread, I know, and I only have a fairly trivial question... Here it is: Are we to assume that Bob went on TV as "Bob" - or under his real name? If the former, then why continue to maintain the pretense of the pseudonym in his work journal - everybody will know his real name already anyway. If the latter, how is that supposed to work? Aren't his family, old classmates, whatever, gonna say, "hey, I know that guy, why does it say his name is Bob Howard?"? (I don't suppose everyone connected to him outside of the Laundry has been put under a geas never to mention his name or their relationship.)

    Actually: does the universe - or whatever instance it is that keeps track of people's proper signifiers for magical purposes - even consider Bob's real name his real name now? Or is his real name now, perhaps, whatever the Eater of Souls is called when it's at home?


    I was under the impression that the onset of K syndrome is probabilistic; some people get unlucky and catch it immediately, while others get lucky and manage to cast quite a few spells before experiencing symptoms.


    I suspect it's mostly a matter of only using ritual magic very occasionally, and very carefully. The damage accrued is cumulative, you can do a certain amount of ritual magic in your life, and after that amount has been "used up", K-Syndrome is a certainty. (Perhaps there's techniques and safeguards that can extend that amount a bit, for high-level ritual magicians, but probably not to infinity.) We've seen Persephone use computers for magic more often than not, I think. She can do it without this technological help, but that would be chalked up against her "lifetime ritual magic limit", so she only does that when computational thaumatury won't work.


    Sudden thought re: Bob's precipitous leveling-up. That's Case Nightmare Green in action, for the most part, isn't it? (With the additional help of some strong motivation in the form of Mo's being in danger.) Everything magical is becoming more powerful, exponentially so - including the magic of the EoS.

    Question: under conditions of CNG, can you, perhaps, bootstrap yourself a (weakly or strongly) godlike entity out of an EoS? Something that eventually may be on par with godlike entities looking to visit from a universe next door?


    I think it's more than time based, it's also skill/training based. A programming analogy would be learning produce to code without performing garbage colllection, or sanitise inputs, or allowing buffer overflows or walking over core memory.

    Think of K parasites as literal bugs, whereas V parasites are just some fairly significant features.

    Given that analogy there will always be better 'natural' practitioners who have an aptitude for not writing buggy code/spells.

    On the topic of the SA - wasn't he a holder of Lecter? Ie spent a lot of time shielded from K syndrome. There's also a strong suggestion throughout that a lot of his magic is artifact based - ie someone else risked K syndrome to make it, or it was made electronically.

    What's interesting is that the Laundry doesn't seem to have much in the way of heavy duty stored magic items (think the Elves Mace of Blasting) not sure if it's just because banishment bullets are cheaper, or if there are practical limitations to mass electronic magic. Which would mean Scorpion Stare is the exception rather than the rule.

    Alternatively Charlie is saving up 'Mass Production' magic for his grand finale, or ignoring it entirely because the force of economics or wide spread consequences isn't conducive to good story telling.

    It's also possible that the vast majority of god-like entities in the laundryverse are non-technological in origin and thus don't really get technology. Think what the Sleeper could do if it understood how to compromise the iPlayer dev team. (UK's biggest Catch-up TV app for non-UK readers)

    One logical consequence from CNG when do Apple and Google start screening summoning apps from their App Stores?


    AXIOM REFUGE is (my guess) a project to lifeboat a substantial chunk of humanity off to another world, then cut all the ties between them.

    Another possible take:

    The Laundryverse is a simulation. All the multiverse is a simulation. AXIOM REFUGE is a project to root the computational infrastructure and then fix things, inasmuch as possible. This might include a history reboot with changed laws.


    AXIOM REFUGE is a project to write a high-level programming language for all of magic, rather than the bits and pieces of assembler and FORTH that constitutes Enochian. Completing it brings the users up to the level of BLUE HADES and allows a renegotiation of treaties.


    A thought on Mo: while it makes dramatic sense to end the book where it ends, it's very interesting that once again, the specifics of Mo's abilities and, now, ontological status, remain unnarrated. In terms of the book's structure it feels right that it ends exactly where it ends - but in terms of character development, it is very strange not to give us a view of her post-(un)death(?) through Bob's no longer human senses. She's one of our main protagonists, and in a close relationship with our main narrator, and we're constantly told she's magically formidable even without the violin - but we've never really seen what that actually means. And now she may not be human anymore - yet we don't get to see that in an immediate way, either. Sure, we'll probably be told about it in some way in a later book, but that's just what I mean: it's strange that with Mo, we're (mostly) only ever told, not shown, and this now includes the absolutely pivotal scene of the reveal of whatever it is that is now changed about her to our main narrator. Now, maybe we'll get that scene in a flashback in a few years. But if we don't, and are only ever told about it in a bald summary, it will be a very curious omission. It's almost like something is deliberately being hidden from us... I'm reminded of The Jennifer Morgue...


    I was thinking about Mo in the context of my feeling that TDB was somewhat Deighton-esque in tone, particularly the Game Set and Match trilogy.

    If Charlie was wanting to channel the direct spy influences of the earlier novels - at some point soon we find out Mo has been a Black Chamber or other Power mole/double/triple agent since the Atrocity Archives. Of course how you square Bob with the protagonist of that triology remains to be seen.


    Noooooooooooooooooooo. Please no.

    Well, okay, I admit that could be interesting, though. But man, I don't need another thing to come between my favourite couple of sort-of-monsters(?).

    Anyway, though - I was thinking more along the lines of something about Mo being hidden by Bob-our-narrator as well, not just by Mo herself. Something like, secretly she is our most powerful weapon in what's coming...


    It's almost like something is deliberately being hidden from us... Mo's superpower, remember? Broadly, it's that people around her underestimate her. She's fine with that.


    I'm pretty sure the superpower thing only started in TAS. Also, Bob keeps telling us she's essentially on par with his powers (at least before his latest round of leveling up), that she could kill him, and he has been hinting at her formidability for a long time - that's not underestimating someone. Also, not showing us what's up with her now has nothing to do with underestimating her either; it's made clear in the text that something big is going on, we just don't know what. It's Bob being secretive. Maybe what Mo can really do, and how, is what he is the most unreliable about, and quite deliberately.


    I think Mo's shift to the audit group from the operation/executive group puts a ceiling on her pre-TDB abilities. With Lecter she was in operations as a one-woman strike team and valued far above Bob by the organization; if she was still on that level I don't see her moving to oversight, the Laundry would just slap another band-aid on the PTSD and send her out again. The position of Auditor has scary powers through the geas, etc., the person acting as auditor inherits them. Of course now that she's been zapped all bets are off until we know what happened between the lightning strikes.

    And I don't see Mo as a long-term willing mole surviving through the breakdown, etc. That much stress combined with the geas, it doesn't seem credible that she wouldn't have tripped up somewhere. For something involuntary it would need to be more recent than Atrocity Archives (people retrieved from the Black Chamber's clutches are very thoroughly examined) and having a major plot point like that happen completely off-camera and unremarked seems unlikely.


    Persephone has also made a deal with entities unknown which gives her powers in return for a set limit to her life (or just a shortening, I forget), which presumably includes immunity to low-level critters like K-syndrome as part of the package.


    Re: Zephro's question (comment #445): interesting coincidence, I was going to post the same question. Are Persephone Hazard and Michael Armstrong immune to K syndrome? Has this ever been discussed in the text?

    I get the sense that there's a cumulative increase in RISK of exposure to K syndrome from ritual magic. The more "magic" you do in your head, the more likely you are to expose yourself to the K parasites. Once exposed, subsequent use of ritual magic causes more exposure.

    Example: Boris, who was exposed to K syndrome and apparently no longer does ritual magic so that his condition does not get worse. I think he can still use the software installed on the Laundry phones.

    Math-magic from computers doesn't appear to expose the user to K parasites. I wonder if some of the "macros" Alex (and possibly Bob) use could be worked out on computers before hand & then simply be recited by other practitioners to reduce their exposure risk?


    What's interesting is that the Laundry doesn't seem to have much in the way of heavy duty stored magic items (think the Elves Mace of Blasting) not sure if it's just because banishment bullets are cheaper, or if there are practical limitations to mass electronic magic. Which would mean Scorpion Stare is the exception rather than the rule.

    They have Scorpion Stare because the brain lesions that produce the Gorgon effect in humans was worked out before the Laundry began to actively organize the suppression of knowledge of magic in the wake of Turing's theorems that made both computers and magic possible. Scorpion Stare can be surreptitiously rolled out. A blast ray using mana wouldn't help hiding magic from the masses. The Laundry's universe already has gunpower & explosives to propel steel projectiles, as well as lasers.

    Or perhaps the idea just hadn't occurred to any of the Laundry's researchers.


    Note that there was a competition thread in this blog (May 2016) where contestants could propose new Laundry weapons/devices. Not canon, obviously, but was fun.


    "What's interesting is that the Laundry doesn't seem to have much in the way of heavy duty stored magic items (think the Elves Mace of Blasting) not sure if it's just because banishment bullets are cheaper, or if there are practical limitations to mass electronic magic."

    Not interesting at all.

    Look at the history of weapons technology, and you will find that weapons of mass destruction are ALWAYS supplanted by lower-yield precision-guided weapons. Collateral damage is a BAD Thing.

    Armored chivalry went out of business when some cretin married tool design with metallurgy and developed the Bodkin Point, the first armor-piercing projectile (i.e., the first "cop killer" bullet). It was basically a razor-sharp triangular rat-tail file. Propelled by a longbow, or a crossbow, it would punch right through the best armor that could be made at that time, and ruin a knight's whole day. What is interesting is that made the chivalry (the King and his knights) answerable to the peasants. Prior to that technological breakthrough, the knights were for all practical purposes invulnerable: the only thing they had to worry about was another knight.

    There are historians who count the Bodkin Point as the Third Greatest Discovery of Mankind, the first two being Fire and the Wheel.

    The above is along-winded way of saying that heavy blasting weapons are not what the Laundry would stockpile. They'd go for precision weapons, that take out the target without destroying three or four city blocks in the process.


    A thought occurred to me (Shut up! It could happen.)

    What happens to the residual human resources if they contact an intruder (who is not a 200+ year old PHANG ritual practitioner).

    Does the eater transfer itself to the new body, leaving an old, no longer animated body behind?

    Or do we now have two residual human resources? Or is it one residual human resource and one uncontrolled eater?


    Assuming the bodies coming from the New Annex midway through TDB were a result of RHR's rather than booby traps or safety precautions ala Angleton, then it suggests that the Eater in the RHR just kills the new body. At best you get a body jumper as there is no active summoning to attract more eaters,


    There can be more than one eater in a body, though. Remember Fred from accounting's last words: "Yes. We are here."

    True, he was forcefully deanimated and reanimated again, but I don't see why there couldn't be more than one eater in a body, any more than there couldn't be more than one piece of malware on a computer.


    For a summoning gone wrong or a deliberate summoning such as Bob and Alex have used yes I agree,

    For a RHR who may not have even been 'made' on the premises it seems obvious that an active summoning for more eaters would be unnecessary and virtually suicidal.

    I will admit that there is a grey area in the nature of how an eater kills someone - is it by just eating their soul or by moving into their body and then eating their soul?


    I've had time to read through it twice and there are some things I didn't catch the first time around.

    The SA is not a free agent. It's not his plan to invite the avatar of the Black Pharaoh to take over the government. He may agree with the plan; he may have recommended the plan, but it's the board that made the decision. So there's another layer of bureaucratic control above the Auditors.

    While the SA made a "deal with the devil" in arranging for the Black Pharaoh to escape from the Tower & seize power, that's not the threat to his soul he's most worried about. It's Bob.

    And exactly which devil did the SA made a deal with? Maybe it's not the Black Pharaoh himself, but Iris, brought back to be the intermediary between the Laundry and its new master? Iris wasn't being held in pretrial detention at Camp Sunshine.

    Iris was “Detained Indefinitely at Her Majesty's Pleasure” ... "a life sentence pursuant to a criminal trial and verdict handed down by the Black Assizes."

    The SA may be no happier than Bob is to see Iris again.

    Forecasting Ops predicted Mo would die if it came to a confrontation between the Black Pharaoh's avatar and the Sleeper's minions. It's Bob's regard for Mo's high opinion that keeps him in control.

    The SA's not afraid of what the Black Pharaoh will do to him, he's afraid of what Bob will do if he thinks the SA got Mo killed; or how Bob might react when he finds out Iris is not only back but on top.


    Not convinced by that logic. Think there are definitely some unanswered questions as to why Bob was kept in the dark and why he got the easiest task. (Ie lowest chance of an Inner Temple avatar showing up) Some was undoubtably the risk of him going "strategic". But I'm not convinced the SA is particularly frightened of him - cautious yes - frightened no. The fact that Jonny shut Bob down using the standard Geas suggests the SA could do the same and more.

    As an aside on Bobs/EoS power levels I do agree that Bob is probably underestimating his own abilities at the end - Heathrow is nearly 5 square miles which puts a pretty big upper limit of Strategic EoS! Neither of the other avatars have demonstrated the remote soul harvesting that Bob can do. I'm guessing there is a reason for that - they can't. It's probably an EoS's special ability just like the Mandates is Charisma +20. Suspect Bob is still ultimately lower powered than both the Inner Temple Avatars and the Mandate if only for the fact that he wants to believe he's still human.

    Having said that Bob "detonated" in a dense place E.g. London, NYC, Hong Kong probably has the power to hit the 5m soul mark to raise the Sleeper immediately! So Bob being used as a Soul battery is probably now a major risk, counteracted of course by the fact that trying to use Bob like that is probably decidedly risky for all involved.

    It also suggests a 'happy' ending for the series with Bob as god-guardian of the UK powered by the sacrifice ~10% of the population.


    Bob got the 'easy' task (airport offices) as he was planning the operations, no?

    Bob, Johnny and Seph can't be seen by Schiller so can't be at the party; Seph is the expert at infiltration/burglary so gets the apartment; Bob/Johnny get the airport as kicking in the doors of a bent arms importer is the most likely target to need explosions and retail-level killing.

    On the SA: he's scared of far more than Bob. He's got the BP, the Sleeper, the Black Chamber run amok, Benthic treaty violations and a camp full of elves. He used to play Lecter if I remember correctly. At this point he'd probably welcome Bob/EoS leveling up to the point where he can take on the Mandate, screw the fallout.


    What Benthic treaty violations are you referring to, deflated?

    On another subject, is there an inconsistency in the name of the cult that Iris Carpenter led? I thought it was the Brotherhood of the a Black Pharaoh, but later books seem to refer to at as the Cult of the Red Skull.


    ... I'm not convinced the SA is particularly frightened of him - cautious yes - frightened no. The fact that Jonny shut Bob down using the standard Geas suggests the SA could do the same and more.

    "Worried", not "frightened". Still, anyone in that situation who said they were not afraid would be a damned liar. Afraid or not, you just have to soldier on.

    The SA has concerns far beyond whether Bob is going to eat his soul. He has to worry about what happens if Bob loses Mo; not just what happens to himself, but to everyone else ... EVERYONE else!

    Mo is Bob's reality check - the touchstone that lets Bob retain his sanity (such as it is) and not give over entirely to the Eater of Souls. What happens if Bob loses that touchstone? Having his own soul eaten is the least of the SA's worries about what Bob might do if he once and forever lets loose his inner "demon". Yet, despite the risk, despite what Forecast Ops told him, the SA had to put Mo in play.

    That conversation with Bob in the parking lot is a last ditch attempt to prepare Bob; to insulate him from further shocks that lay ahead ... e.g. Bob finding out about Iris or finding that Mo is no longer entirely human.

    The SA is still trying to strengthen Bob's hold on the last threads of his humanity, even as he (the SA) knows he's possibly headed for the chopping block.


    @Cheiromancer: sorry, somehow left 'potential' out when I threw in the Benthic Treaty. Them down in the deeps always struck me as the unspeakable horror in the next room while the Sleeper was at least down the road (so to speak).


    Oh man, work has been eating me alive, and I have neither time nor energy to react to everything I'd like to react to here, now.

    But, on the subject of Mo being Bob's reality check: I think it's worth noting that actually, as long as Mo isn't threatened, Bob finds the temptation of going all-out on the soul eating somewhat manageable. Exhausting, yes, but not impossible to resist. (I'm assuming that just as CNG increases the EoS's power level, so it increases Bob's own sorcerous capabilities; his ability to control the Eater so far seems to have grown in measure with the Eater's power.)

    Bob's 'human' ethics and priorities are still well in place throughout most of the book. He's somewhat sickened when he kills the people tailing him at the beginning; he's devastated when he accidentally kills the tank crew. He also really doesn't enjoy killing people during the shootout at the warehouse, and reacts with ire when it's suggested he should kill more, faster.

    It's only the fact that Mo is in danger that (almost) pushes him over the edge, at the end of the book. Only then does he finally, suddenly, slip into "actually, mass murder is fine, because MO!" (thankfully still followed by "actually, maybe not, also because Mo.")

    So Bob's attachment to Mo is an extremely double-edged sword. It's true that the thought of her helps him keep it together when he's losing it. BUT, absolutely crucially, it's also the though of her that catalyses him into losing it in the first place!

    Mo isn't Bob's moral centre; he's perfectly capable of moral judgment without her, as evidenced by the first three quarters of the book. Rather, she is something much more dangerous, in Bob's moral and emotional world: she is the person he would do ANYTHING to save. (I'm using all-capitals here advisedly.)

    And you really, really don't want someone/something with Bob's power level to have someone - as in, just one person rather than a whole bunch, or better yet, the whole of humanity - that they would do ANYTHING to save...

    It's all fine...ish, as long as it comes with the in-built safety-switch of Mo's emotional and moral attachment to humanity. But what happens if that ever begins to... slip?

    If the Laundry had any sense, they would make it a top priority right now - yes, even in the early ramping-up phase of CNG - to get Bob and Mo not just some heavy-duty counseling (though that would be a fantastic idea, too), but a fair amount of spare time - and to tell them in no uncertain terms that they were to use that spare time to reconnect not just with each other, but also with their friends and family (because Bob and Mo do have some living family and friends!) Bob, and maybe also Mo, may be of questionable humanity now, but if they are monsters, they are - for now - still monsters with very human social ties. And strengthening those ties, rather than letting crisis after crisis erode them, may very well end up being crucial to the "war effort"... because it may decide whose side they will choose, eventually.

    (Personally, I'd like to see Pete the Vicar leveraged by the narrative here... He's interacted with them curiously little since he entered the Laundry, despite the fact that he only ended up in the Laundry because he's their friend! I'd like to actually see him being a friend a bit more, here!)


    And yeah, I do get that at this point in the Laundry universe, things are already kinda-sorta low-key on fire wherever you look, and thus neither Mo nor Bob can have Spare Time (tm) anymore.

    But. Man. Still seems like, looking at the bigger picture here, it would make eminent sense to let a few metaphorical houses low-key burn down (or let some areas be conquered by kaiju/undead horrors/chupacabras/whatever), just to give the two of them a chance to rediscover their ties to humanity before it's Too Late (tm).


    Oh yeah, good point. I forgot about that.

    (I neeeeeeeeed to reread but half of my books are on loan to various friends and acquaintances, arrrrgh.)


    Whoops, "safety catch", not "switch". Also, I messed up the tenses in the last bit, didn't I? (Non-native speaker here, and I wrote my posts late at night...


    On Bob valuing Mo above all else: to me this is one of the areas I remind myself about how unreliable our narrator is. It wasn't just about Mo.

    Bob wasn't thinking too clearly about damage to Mo or their relationship at the end of The Rhesus Chart. At the start of TDB Mhari has to prod Bob into contacting Mo to 'talk'. Neither of them was willing to put down their eldritch parasite if saving their relationship came at the cost of hindering the Laundry's defense of the land. I'm not sure that Bob prioritizes Mo's safety over anything else in the world, he isn't valuing a single individual over various CASE NIGHTMAREs. He does care a lot for her and based on a few clues through the book has some guilt over not helping her previously.

    Leading up to the snap at Heathrow he: - had planned the op, putting Mo in danger at his design for the first time - had received orders from the SA to provide support at the House (emphasized in the text, the geas is in play) - finally reconnected with Mo after an extended separation - coming down from the action adrenaline high of the battle When the police charge in Bob is blindsided at a weak time when his defenses against the EoS are relaxed. The scene shows more about his constant fight not to feed and how close he is to his own breakdown (and I'm sure Bob and all the rest of the gang are aware of just how much fun they would have if he ever lost it. Probably a design flaw having Bob still in there with the EoS, safer if the host was mindless in an Angleton/TEAPOT kind of way). Perfect storm, sets us up for the upcoming drama of Mo's new post-survival state.


    As a quick point:

    CASE NIGHTMARE * => Bob and Mo losing each other.

    We'll never know how much they care about everyone else unless something is actually worth losing each other for. Eldritch parasites effectively feed on the threat created by other eldritch entities.

    Smaller scale, but I've been on the edge of that one and it's fair to say the results were personality-changing.


    RE: The Duchy of Cornwall being able to order a nuclear strike - the Laundry does have an option for nuclear strike on the Sleeper, no? Squadron 666.

    Except it was degraded because of budget loss, but did I recall a line in there somewhere about retired engineers giving their time voluntarily to bring it back online? I can't remember back to the book this facility was first mentioned in, but wasn't it a Bombcorde? Or was it a Vulcan? Because we've seen one of those be brought back to flight status by volunteers.

    Anyway - even if BP is now 'The Crown', then it's been noticeably dropped in that there's still the Duchy of Cornwall which can order a nuke, AND there's a Chekov's Nuclear Armed Dimension Hopping Bomber around somewhere being worked on...

    So... the Final Battle could well be Sleeper+USA vs BP+SA+UKgovt vs EoS+CANDID+SAS/SRS+S666+PHANGs+Pseph+BLUEHADES+HoAoD and... er... vs Cthulhu...


    It was Avro Vulcan XH558 that was restored to flight, and subsequently re-grounded in 2015, this time for good. :-(

    But anyway, in the Laundryverse 666 Sqdn are still operating their Concorde PR3s and B4 (original source being Charlie himself; I assigned the type numbers to fit in with the original T1 (Civil spec transport) and B2 (real life paper project; painting appeared on one of the 1960s RAF year books carrying 3 Blue Steels)).


    One must pay homage.

    2:15AM Got up to finish my Brief.

    Like you said, starts out funny (very) and then turns dark (very).



    Open questions:

    Wasn't the sleeper supposed to be a servant, not rival, of the black pharoah? Or did it escape it's bonds?

    Considering the aquatic themes, undead allusion to Jesus, implied deep one cultists, dreams, songs, and especially the sleeping in the pyramid (via colder war), isn't the sleeper Cthulhu?

    Great old ones like cthulhu are generally portrayed as several orders of magnitude less dangerous than outer Gods like shub niggurath, hastur, and nyarlathotep -- which makes sense if a rebellious Cthulhu is the sleeper, but not if it's the "greater threat" in the US. Is stross redefining the pantheon here?

    Seriously, where the hell are the deep ones and cthonians during this and the downfall of alfheim? It's indicated in codex that deep ones are familiar with the sleeper (lending support to sleeper being Cthulhu), but they seem to have no interest in the sleeper remanifesting on midgard?

    Also, the indication that GP -hadnt- taken over the US flew over my head. Can anyone pointe toward where it's indicated?


    Also, what was in the "paintball gun that would ruin the laundry day" that GP was using?


    Final question: how does ymir fit into this? (Or cthonians wargods, come to think of it)

    If high class entities can eat the information from space time itself, and ymir was (judging by effort put into summoning) lower class than the sleeper, hastur, or black pharoah, how come the home dimensions for those horrors aren't just as shriveled?

    And that again brings up the deep ones and cthonians -- why would they be letting idiot monkeys go around summoning the end of reality, as with niflheim? What's going on -there- that humans are able to get away with this shit?


    A lot of theories (debunked) about Bob and Moe's baby being a saviour.

    Here's my contribution: Their baby will become the Eschaton. He will teleport 90% of the population away, lowering the amount of souls/minds on Earth, without the need for a mass slaughter, thereby ending Case Nightmare Green.

    This will force you to write another Eschaton book, to my great pleasure. :)



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    This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 10, 2017 12:40 PM.

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