Back to: Do my Homework | Forward to: Book launches for The Labyrinth Index

The Labyrinth Index: sneak preview!

The folks at Tor.com have kindly posted the first chapter of The Labyrinth Index for your reading edification.

Enjoy! (I hope.)

251 Comments

| Leave a comment
1:

(Technical difficulties: it says "4 Comments" but no comments are shown.)

So what's the largest monotheistic but non-abrahamic religion in the UK? Sikhism?

2:

Well that’s something nice for a Friday. Pre-ordered, just a month to wait.

3:

According to Wikipedia, Hinduism is #3, but is not Abrahamic. Sikhism is #4, with Judaism at #5. If you include "no religion" or "religion not stated", then those are #2 and #3, respectively, while Sikhism and Judaism drop two places each.

Of course, people who self-identify as religious will have varying levels of religious observance.

Re: the excerpt. I re-read The Delirium Brief to prepare for TLI. Having the Senior Auditor ask the Mandate "please at least obey the law" was a pretty weak geas to apply - the Mandate simply changes the law, or used unpleasant existing laws to do whatever it wants. Grim meathooks, ahoy!

4:

Sorry, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism all drop two places each.

5:

I think congratulations are in order. That's readable, even entertaining, for fans who have the whole series, but at the same time it provides a new entry point for new readers.

6:

...so Bo’s guess of Sikhism was correct, since Hinduism is not monotheistic and Judaism is abrahamic?

7:

So the Mandate is Trump now (in terms of rambling, incoherent orders). Not sure if that's better or worse than the original impression of a dark and sinister Outer God! :P

I did wonder if this was a full manifestation of Nyarlathotep or if the human host can only handle a small portion (hence the rather foolish attack by the front door of applying to the TPCF). Can't wait to RAFO.

8:

Now that's one way to get Trump White House meeting inanities out in public - leak them to Charles Stross.

9:

What's funny is that I was just thinking last night about when the next book would drop. I knew it was in October but not when... What's interesting is that he rants like Trump, but his concerns are more intelligent.

When should I see it in U.S. bookstores?

10:

P.S. Is that the first Mohammed Kadir we've seen in the series? My books are currently in storage.

11:

Probably. The djinn summoner in The Annihilation Score was named Anwar Kadir, which might be why it sounds familiar.

12:

So Mohammed might be Anwar's brother.

13:

Encouraging fluorine breathing dragonspawn to roost on a building made of limestone can't be good for it.

I suppose it the new PMs time in the tower wasn't a happy one.

14:

OK
Ordering prs-signed copies from the bookshop in Edniburgh?
Used to be in West Port are now, I think in the Grassmarket - no Candlemaker Row - "Transreal".
Have I got that correct?

15:

Nope, Transreal's never been in the West Port IIRC. It's now Candlemaker Row, accept no substitutes :) *

https://transreal.wordpress.com/

* I should declare an interest - I've been buying books from Mike since 1984...

16:

Martin @ 15: Nope, Transreal's never been in the West Port IIRC. It's now Candlemaker Row, accept no substitutes :)

I had the opportunity to visit Edinburgh (on R&R leave) in November 2004. I'm pretty sure Transreal was the bookstore I visited just before leaving Scotland to return to Iraq. Although the website indicates they didn't move to the present location until 2011, the store I see in Google Maps looks more like the store I remember than any of the storefronts down on Cowgatehead, 'cause it's right down the street from the Greyfriars Bobby statue.

17:

But ... the VERY FIRST of Charlie's book I purchased was the last time I was in Dunedin - 2003 - & it was a small shop on th S side of West Port

18:

No idea. Thankfully calcium fluoride is insoluable, OTOH, so is calcium sulfate, and if the carbonate matrix gets dissolved...

I was somewhat more alarmed by the execution scene, the Laundryverse is quite grim under the sarcasm, still, disturbing to get it driven home so much.

19:
So the Mandate is Trump now (in terms of rambling, incoherent orders).

While Delirium Tremens is a Crawling Chaos himself, I somewhat doubt it. Mhari herself muses somewhat about some proposals being traps for yes-men, a finesse lost on the Trumpenfuhrer[1] I guess.

For all it's worth, Nyarly might just be poking fun at and screwing around with his/her/its staff. And then, part of it might be related for Nyarly taking a really long view. He namechecks Akhenaten, so maybe he's of the "everything was better in the past, and then they invented agriculture/photosynthesis".

[1] Umlaut omitted intentionally.

20:

It's, err, complicated. If you squint somewhat, and actually not that much, Sikhism is just a sect or better movement in Hinduism, just as Buddhism and Jainism[1].

There is a sliding scale from polytheism to monolatry or henotheism to monotheism. Might be some kind of human universal to minimize complexity of explanations, just as a TOE in physics.

for added lulz, look at the Latter Day Saints, AKA Mormons, who are surely abrahamic, but may or may not be polytheistic, there is quite some discussion, and it might differ somewhat with specific group.

[1] Hm, I just thought about these guys a few days ago when pondering the ethical and religious consequences of vat meat. At the same time, I showed signs of Alice in Wonderland syndrome, no idea if it's a sign some top-down or buttom-up processes are disturbed, leading to higher creativity.
On another note, from the genetics of being out of it, my parents have no internet and telephone at the moment, getting reminded of the forced migration from analog telephony to VOIP since March didn't suffice...

21:

As for Akhenaten, apparently there were signs of anemia in Amarna:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17308813

Makes you wonder of PHANGS involved...

23:

for added lulz

Yeah well. Christians are polytheists too, as a general case. While they may claim to be monotheistic, the Nicene creed is still definitional for most of them and that includes the trinity. So they have a pantheon consisting of a middle aged white guy with a grey beard, a young white guy with a ginger beard, and a weird thing that is typically represented by whatever the local culture is most scared of. You treat separately the sects that have demigods (aka saints) on top of these. Then there are all the syncretes (ref Eco F’s P).

24:

Not sure if this has been asked before, but is The Mandate / Black Pharaoh the same Nyarlathotep that Bob nearly summoned when he first caught the eye of the Laundry?

I've kind of retconned it in my head as Bob using the name "Nyarlathotep" as a metaphor for A. N. Other Extradimensional Bad Thing, but I wanted to make sure I haven't misunderstood before the next book comes out.

25:
Christians are polytheists too, as a general case.

If you exclude Unitarians, of course. ;)

Generally, talking about the Trinity usually leads to another Nontrinitarianism.

Thing is, LDS ideas about the Godhead are somewhat out of the Trinitarian fold, AFAIK more akin to a Board of Directors.

Though then, Trinitarianism or Binitarianism might have started out as musings about Metatron and like. You might also look at the discussion about the Createdness of the Quran for some ideas what a mess Second Temple Judaism might have been...

26:

And on another note, Xtians concerned with Satan, demons and like would count as another kind of polytheism, namely Dualism.

In the spirit of Monism, are we sure Nyarli and Yoggi(the most likely identification of the Sleeper in the Pyramid being Yog-Sothoth) are not the same on some level? ;)

27:

Keeping with my usual practice and not reading the excerpt—will wait till I have my copy (note to self: get peorder in).

Apologies for being a downer.
I’m here to reply to this tweet about Holocaust survivors with dementia:
https://mobile.twitter.com/cstross/status/1046039165853405184

I had that thought a few years ago, sitting in my synagogue with survivors and alzheimer patients, and realizing what it might be like if the two were together.
Though dementia isn’t necessary for the nightmare.
An acquaintance once told of going to Israel with one of Mengele’s survivors, who wouldn’t fly so they took a cruise and shared a cabin. She woke up screaming every night, reliving her experiences.


Also, to everyone who complains about autocorrect: Why don’t you turn it off?

28:

Thank you for the AiW syndrome link; just emailed it to my mother, she has a bit of micropsia since her mild-ish stroke. Didn’t have a name for it.

29:

My head-canon is that Bob did successfully summon a very weakened form of Nyarlathotep, or perhaps a lesser avatar of same, and that it has been gradually gaining power, until it was finally able to manifest itself as "human" during The Annihilation Score, and it has been gaining power ever since. Eventually we will see that terrible, tall thin form with a head like an elephant trunk and a tri-lobed burning eye, or perhaps look beyond all the forms and see The Crawling Chaos itself.

What seems obvious to me is that there are two "successful" end-games available to the leaders of the Laundry. The first is that the leaders of the Laundry bring humanity a God who will protect us from the oncoming horror in exchange for worship/sacrifices. The problem is that each nation's occult intelligence service is likely to have a different candidate, making for problems at The Highest Level. (Or more likely that the EU has a good candidate, the Black Chamber has a different candidate, and the desperate need to recruit Nyarlathotep against The Thing in the Pyramid has played havoc with everyone's plans.

The other "successful" end game is to play the various high-level entities against each other. We saw the beginnings of this strategy in The Delirium Brief, as Nyarlathotep took out the representatives of The Thing in the Pyramid, but I don't think we've heard the last of The Thing, who's riposte is likely to be thoroughly horrible.

Lastly, what is The Black Chamber up to? They clearly didn't agree with Rev. Schiller about who to summon, and probably don't agree with the EU either. Meanwhile, BLUE HADES presumably has Dagon to protect them, and DEEP 7 doesn't care what's happening on the surface (and probably has the mojo to take out any lesser being than a fully powered Elder God, always presuming the being in question lives on land.)

I guess we'll see in the next few days... Charlie, what is the schedule for the book actually showing up in stores?

30:

BTW, Charlie, I noticed the last chapter of the "relationship counseling" sequence has a note that there are more chapters of the relationship counselling. Are we ever going to see those?

31:

We seem to be missing a monster. The cultists, back in The Fuller Memorandum, described the elder entities as a hierarchy: bind the Eater of Souls to get to the Sleeper; awaken the Sleeper to get to the Gatekeeper; subvert the Gatekeeper to bring forth the Black Pharaoh. We've met the EoS, the Sleeper and Nyarlathotep, but where and what is the Gatekeeper?

32:

My theory is that a lot of this stuff can be handwaved away as the mere humans don't really know what they are talking about. They have scraps of lore, vague theories and information from unreliable entities that probably want to eat them but few hard facts.

Finding out how woefully wrong they were about everything is all part of the fun.

33:

Read Equoid again. The Unicorn knew The Sleeper when she met him, and The Sleeper is not necessarily The Thing in the Pyramid. (The Sleeper could be anyone in a state of non-knowledge - the same people who write weird grimoires also use lots of allegories. If the text said, "...enlighten The Fool" instead of "...wake The Sleeper" it would be a Tarot reference, right?)

And also note that the cultists might not be reporting accurately - the "unreliable narrator" is always important in Strossian fiction, and they're working off of old grimoires, not modern databases of known demonic powers. So I would say three things. "The Sleeper" isn't who you think it is. The cultists may be mistaking someone's pathway to enlightenment for a hierarchy of mystical beings, and "Equoid" contains a profoundly important clue to the series as a whole.

34:

Echoes Strugatskis' Roadside Picnic, maybe, rather than something like Buffy or TheMummy

35:

I thought that was because they where into sacrificing most of the good foodstuffs and so where starving themselves.

36:

I think that was the US Ambassador with the golf course mentioned that had pissed mandate off.

37:

30th /end of October I believe from what my Waterstones says - though pre orders might arrive early.

38:

I reread the Tor link and it does say October 30th.

39:

I had that thought a few years ago, sitting in my synagogue with survivors and alzheimer patients, and realizing what it might be like if the two were together.

My grandfather relived WWI and the Troubles in his last years. My father said it was a growing problem as the WWI soldiers aged, but it didn't get much play in the press. Any trauma survivor is going to be vulnerable to that.

40:

There’s an excellent book about one of the local Pals’ Battalions of WW1 (”McCrae’s Battalion”); near the end, the author describes an old Edinburgh lady thanking him for explaining why every year, at the start of July, her father would lock himself into the front room for several hours in an “annual depression”.

He had been in the 16th Royal Scots. They went over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme; and spent three days fighting at grenade-range while holding a position known as Scots Redoubt, near Contalmaison. They lost three-quarters of their attacking strength.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of_Contalmaison#1_July

http://www.mccraesbattaliontrust.org.uk/the-first-of-july/

[[ fixed links - mod ]]

41:

(Been AFK)

The book is out on both sides of the Atlantic on October 30th. (I'll add a link for ordering signed copies in due course.) As a special short-notice extra I'll be in Toronto, reading and signing early copies(!) at Bakka-Phoenix Books on October 20th — a sneak hyper-local early launch, if you like.

Two not-spoilers:

a) The Mandate is not Trump; he's just so smart that his plans are ineffable and look chaotic to merely human onlookers, and he multi-tasks like crazy. Be afraid, be very afraid.

b) The Black Chamber have Other Plans. This is, in fact, the main plot armature of the novel.

42:

I think that was the US Ambassador with the golf course mentioned that had pissed mandate off.

Ding! And we have a winner! Well spotted!

(In the Laundryverse in 2015, Barack Obama is not POTUS. Neither is his 2012 Republican rival. It's some other charismatic and not-totally-stupid guy. Because, hey, it's a work of fiction and I didn't want to utterly piss off some sizable fraction of my US readership by dissing a real ex-POTUS or other prominent politician. Having Trump be the US Ambassador to London—a political grace and favour appointment—and incur His Dark Majesty's Displeasure by personally lobbying The Mandate seemed reasonable, however. I think the intersection of the set of all Trump fans and the set of all Stross fans must be very small, or able to read everything with a surfeit of ironic detachment.)

43:

Did you have the same troubles in writing a hyper-intelligent creature which I'm currently having for my Inferiority Punk story? How do you figure out what a creature who has a hundred IQ points on you is thinking? I'm currently exploiting human blind spots and making shit up, but I hope to have a couple real zingers by the time the story is complete.

(And it also doesn't help that my Inferiority Punk reads like Lovecraft wrote it... sigh, I'll fix it in the mix.)

44:

"The Mandate is not Trump; he's just so smart that his plans are ineffable and look chaotic to merely human onlookers, and he multi-tasks like crazy. Be afraid, be very afraid."
Huh, just about as I guessed. That would be too inconvenient to spend several hours a day setting up such carefully engineered smoke screen when you can just stare your subordinates into submission, but probably he isn't as powerful as many other entities that threaten the realm.

"The Black Chamber have Other Plans."
Can't wait to see about them. This might be the first book I even use the real money to buy online, and oh do not trow me into that briar patch, because I definitely did not read electronic copies of at lest two other books of the series, not counting the freely distributed stories.

45:

Charlie:
The book is out on October 30th
HOW APPROPRIATE

Almost as good as the amazing coincidence that a human totally-mad & cruel "leader" ( Or should I say "Guide" ? ) topped himself on 30th April

46:

The Mandate is not Trump; he's just so smart that his plans are ineffable and look chaotic to merely human onlookers, and he multi-tasks like crazy.

So pretty much exactly the opposite of Trump.

In much the same way that an Abrams tank and a moldy fruit are not the same thing even though they are both green.

47:
The Mandate is not Trump; he's just so smart that his plans are ineffable and look chaotic to merely human onlookers, and he multi-tasks like crazy. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Hm, I linked to "Death Star" by Atari Teenage Riot before?

"I feel like a death star - Abused by control - Grey - Without any emotions
Pull me into the right direction and I will kill you !
I capture a thousand lives
I wait for instructions I can't wait !!!!
Blow me away !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I only destroy to demonstrate my powers
Born to observe the confusion
Your fear is my freedom - And I eat you alive...
My mistakes are too complex for you to understand !
For you to fight...
I bring the light !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No one survived my shadow - ever !
When I need you - I start protecting you.............
My love gives you life
A death star
I am your death star...
You can't wait to blow me away !!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

If you excuse me, I still have to introduce a few old friends to the Laundryverse...

48:

Pleased to serve you. ;)

Hope your mother is otherwise well, a friend of a cousin was diagnosed with cortical blindness after a stroke, and there are a bunch of other agnosias.

In my case, it was more of a swirls and other distortions when looking at text or patterns. Most likely it's my migraine, though maybe I should ask my neurologist about an EEG to rule out epilepsy at some point. But then, hyperexcitability is present in epilepsy and migraine, AFAIK.

I experienced my first clear visual migraine a few years ago, though there might have been similar experiences before I ignored somewhat or shrugged of as somatizations. Back then, I was afraid my hypertension had finally lead to retinal detachment, thankfully, it got better after an hour or so.

As for this time, it reminded me somewhat of descriptions of HPPD, where I wonder if the characteristics mentioned mean HPPD might be related to ADHD, migraine, dissociative disorders or epilepsy; actually, the whole experience had a somewhat trippy feeling to it, e.g. remembering your first girlfriend and having a clear emotional reaction, when it was quite numbed back in the day.

Err, back to the issue at hand, I'm not sure I already mentioned I was reading "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" at a public library while doing a school internship in archaeology when meeting her? We're somewhat shy of the 100-comment mark, so I should try not to go off-topic...

49:
What seems obvious to me is that there are two "successful" end-games available to the leaders of the Laundry. The first is that the leaders of the Laundry bring humanity a God who will protect us from the oncoming horror in exchange for worship/sacrifices.

... the other "successful" end game is to play the various high-level entities against each other. We saw the beginnings of this strategy in The Delirium Brief, as Nyarlathotep took out the representatives of The Thing in the Pyramid, but I don't think we've heard the last of The Thing, who's riposte is likely to be thoroughly horrible.

I have no doubt that many of the various OCCINT organizations are thinking this way, and in my opinion it's that sort of blinkered thinking that is going to get all of humanity either killed or enslaved.

We saw this a little bit in the last book. Intelligence organizations have certain well-documented pathologies (Tim Weiners A Legacy of Ashes is a great book for a rundown of the CIAs) which include but are not limited to reflexive secret-keeping, brutal authoritarianism, and a firm conviction that they know how to resolve anything they declare to be a problem better than anyone else.

The Delirium Brief is chock full of this. When Continuity Operations was engaged, very nearly the highest priority the Senior Auditor had was re-enslaving as many members of the staff as he could get his hands on. THAT was one of his top priorities; in the face of terrible national annihilation, one of the first items on his to-do list was "re-instate our brutal hierarchy."

For that matter, the Laundry is blinded by its institutional culture throughout that entire book. Never once do they consider "Okay. What if we go loud? What if we dump EVERYTHING we have onto the Internet and make our case before the people and what remains of the non-brain-eaten government of the United Kingdom as to the nature of the threat we're facing, what the Reverend Schiller actually is and what he's done and will do, what approaches us all as CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN ramps up, and demonstrate that we can prove conclusively that the Reverend, a foreign national might we add, has subverted the Prime Minister and much of the cabinet? We have friends in the Home Office and MoD who would back this play."

This might not necessarily have been the best move, but it is a move that should have been CONSIDERED. But it never even shows up on their radar. These guys are so far gone that when Bob attempts to violate the bodily autonomy of a major television personality, and discovers that said personality has been warded, Bob gets mad... at the victim who has protected themselves from his victimization. Because Bob has arrogated to himself the power and the right to play with peoples minds and bodies, as his organization has taught him is right and proper for a sorcerer in his position.

And so the Laundry keeps playing their secret-keeping shadow game. They're so immensely invested in the secret-keeping shadow game that the Senior Auditor decides that rather than stop playing it and starting to play a DIFFERENT game, it is better to make the move of "sell out my country in the hopes that a tyrant of my choosing is better than a tyrant not of my choosing. I make this decision in consultation with precisely nobody and with no legitimacy to do so, moral or political, whatsoever."

Indeed, all the governments of Earth as a whole have this problem. Their OCCINT organizations have been trying to prepare for a calamity on the order of an extinction event in SECRET. Weathering CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN makes weathering, say, the catastrophe of climate change look like a walk in the park. It requires a global response.

The OCCINT agencies did not prepare a global response. They had decades, multiple generations of mankind to prepare for the Stars Being Right... and they prepared a patchwork, shoestring response. Their plans, both individually and collectively, appear to have been "develop whatever defenses we can on a limited budget. Then start lying. We'll lie to everyone. We'll lie to the populace. We'll lie to our own governments. We'll lie to each other. When those lies are exposed for what they are, we'll tell new, even more outrageous lies to cover them up. We will keep lying as long and as hard as we can to prevent people from knowing why their world seems to be crumbling at the seams and why nobody is doing much to stop it. We'll murder or enslave anyone who tries to pop that balloon. This is a great idea and will definitely work."

Because they were intelligence agencies, and intelligence agencies are just about the worst sort of organization to vest with this kind of responsibility and power. They are limited in their ways of thinking, and it is those ways of thinking that lead you down the road of believing "we should sell out to whatever elder god will give us the best deal" and/or "we should try and play multiple elder gods off against each other, because making Earth that kind of battlefield is a good idea, as is thinking we can handle that kind of delicate politics against these kind of beings."

Because that's all shadow game bullshit, and these people aren't capable of conceiving of a world beyond their shadow game bullshit. Well, the shadow games aren't working anymore. The shadow games are going to get the world destroyed. That's been obvious for a couple books now, if not more. When the game can't be won anymore, you stop playing and find a new game, or flip the table.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that, if OGH isn't writing a series that's actually a tragedy and ends with a post-Magical Singularity world ruled by abhuman entities who barely remember what they once were (which to be fair, would be genre-appropriate) that hope can no longer be found within the Laundry or any of its sister organizations. I'm not sure where it'll come from, but it won't be from them. Anyone who tries to stick with them will eventually end up so complicit in the horrors they'll perpetrate that they were unable to break free of them, a terrible, Cthulhu-driven path dependency nightmare.

It'll have to come from outside them.

50:

That's a really brilliant critique of the series, and I like it particularly because I don't think that way (though I do think some of my ideas about the series are fairly intelligent, I'm definitely not in your league!)

51:

OTOH
"Handing the decision to the people" ... gets you Brexit or Trump.
Especially in the Laundry case if the various real & fake relgious organisations / "churches" get in on the act.
[ See Rev Schiller in the Laundryverse or Pence here. ]
Um

52:

remembering your first girlfriend ... I already mentioned I was reading "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" at a public library while doing a school internship in archaeology when meeting her?

Did she have dreadlocks?

(If so, then we're still married ...)

53:

My current headcanon is that "Brexit" in the context of the Laundryverse is "the rest of the EU decided to kick out the nation-state that defected to the enemy in the middle of a war" and that the Brexit vote was the Mandate going "you can't fire me, I quit!"

(I am operating on the assumption that at least one person in the Laundry slipped Michael "Quisling" Armstrong's enslavement geases and pulled a Bill McCracken once they realized their agency head was a traitor, flying to Brussels with a suitcase full of Laundry Files.)

54:

There is no Brexit referendum in the Mandate's universe.

(All is explained later on in Chapter 1 of the book. It's a peripheral point, but: the Mandate is determined to take the UK out of the EU without a vote, for reasons which appeal to Him, but not so much to us. Doubtless he could rig a referendum if he wanted to, but why bother the voters' poor little heads with matters of state?)

55:

A desire to escape the tyranny of EU human rights legislation I presume, not that this seems to have slowed him down much.

56:

I will be very interested in reading that, no matter how peripheral. I had figured the Mandate would want to stay in the EU because it would offer him all sorts of juicy opportunities to spread his power within it, but I'm not as smart as the Mandate.

57:

Does the disquieting visceral horror subside? That sense of being powerless --- and complicit --- in the face of capricious menace is ... too evocative. It does not make easy reading.

(Despite all the sly references to contemporary British politicians, US former property developers, etc).

Or do we segue into events, madcap US capers, and a different, easier horror, evoking comic books rather than memory?

(Regardless, it looks like it is a superb novel. Funny and unflinching and smart. )

58:

There is no Brexit referendum in the Mandate's universe.

I was wondering how he's getting away with capital punishment within the EU, but I assumed he just letting the outrage pile up in Brussels for now.

59:

The Mandate’s natural glamour seems to be so powerful that just being in his presence is enough to force one to bend the knee. Cthulhu knows what a protracted meeting with him would be like when he’s really trying. I imagine a few summits with EU/world leaders and frequent meetings with powerful elites (especially media moguls) would be enough to get the bulk of the propaganda industry on his side as well as getting political enemies to square the circle and see him as a compliment ally.

60:
The OCCINT agencies did not prepare a global response.

Give it time. We've barely heard from the Denizens of the Deep yet. Most of the planet is Water, after all ...

61:

To date I have not found Mhari a likeable character at all. But this excerpt may be enough to get me to buy the book anyway.

62:

To date I have not found Mhari a likeable character at all

Most of our exposure to Mhari has been written from the viewpoint of people without much goodwill towards her. I imagine OGH will be taking this opportunity to -ahem- flesh out her motivations a bit.

63:

Wanting likeable characters in the Laundryverse is a bit of a reach. (Understandable is another matter.) Bob is only "likeable" because he's wilfully blind to his own horrifying condition. Remember, this is the bloke who clubbed a co-worker to death around chapter 2 of the very first book (even if for a very good reason). Alex? Needs to have a Naked Lunch moment at some point. Mo? Is prickly, even when she's not having a nervous breakdown ("The Annihilation Score" was, above all, a midlife/career breakdown novel.) Cassie is a, well, she's what straitjackets were invented for. Nobody here gets away squeaky-clean, not even Officer Friendly (hint: middle-aged shagger with a red sports car and hefty alimony bill, not to mention the pissed-off teen daughter).

Mhari is ... well, she's been through the mill, and she has a very cold-blooded approach to staying alive. But neither Bob nor Mo are reliable guides to her character.

64:

Okay, here's your chapter-one spoiler:

1. The Mandate is of the opinion that there haven't been enough human sacrifices lately. After all, that's one of the strongest sources of occult mojo, right?

2. An execution is ritual human sacrifice before the [very abstract] altar of justice.

3. EU membership comes with a commitment to the ECHR (which bans capital punishment) and freedom of movement.

4. Freedom of movement is Bad because "the sacrifices might use it to escape", as He explains in a footnote recorded by Mhari.

There's another really big reason why the Mandate is taking the UK out of the EU looming over the scenery, but it comes into view later on in the book and bears on the plot of the next several novels. Hint: this is, quite possibly, The Worst Universe to live in.

65:

I picked up on the Tzompantli reference, and I did wonder exactly where those are supposed to be coming from. SO looking forward to this book!

66:

"Hint: this is, quite possibly, The Worst Universe to live in."

The worst universe of all, or the worst universe for humanity? (Lovecraft makes clear that humanity is the newest species in the universe, with competition that might have been evolving for millions to billions of years longer than us.)

67:

Even worse than that seen in "A Colder War" ??
Euw.

68:

Worse than say, Warhammer 40.000? That takes some doing. :D

Also, I wonder how far-ranging the Mandate's mind-control whammy is, because a lot of what I see going on here seems like the kind of stuff that'd have a lot of the public up in arms...

69:

Any fully-fleshed out Lovecraftian multi-verse would be awful to live in. Even without "gods and demons" you have older species who became intelligent billions of years ago, and have evolved their science, philosophies, engineering skills, etc., ever since. If there aren't actual "gods and demons" members of a species that has been intelligent for a couple billion years are a fair substitute. Eventually, some tiny fraction of those elder species will turn themselves into infovores or seek satisfaction in cruelty, and torture whole universes.

Eventually, the younger universes are considered "prey" and it requires major force, or at least an "endangered species act" enforced by someone with an agenda which requires letting young races grow up, to stop them. (I'm sure that when Cthulhu is sued in Elder God Court that the souls of the non-damned he has devoured and shat out will be very happy with his billion-year sentence. Or maybe not.)

If there is no Kthanid, however, at 13-billion-years-old our young, ripe universe is perfect for being introduced to the kind of activities trillion-year-old sadists think of as "fun."

70:

Though there might be alternative explanations; ossuaries are known from other cultures, and lately, in the Bonn exhibition, they stressed the severed heads in the Nazca culture were not necessarily war trophies. There are plastered human skulls in quite a few cultures, possibly in what later on became Judaism, and revering the skulls of loved ones was a known practice in Papua New Guinea.

TL;DR, in the case of the Aztecs we have multiple lines linking it to human sacrifice, but that's not necessarily the case in other cultures.

71:

As Troutwaxer said, that's one of the best interpretations of the Laundryverse I have read.

Though I have one minor point, AFAIR it sounds like Bob is not trying to mindrape the TV host, he just casually notices the ward when trying to relax and looking at the scene with his "inner eye". And it's not so much a problem that the host is warded, but the question is where he got it from.

The analogy closest to hand would be when go hunting, and the guy next door shows up with a mil-spec night vision google. Which you just happen to know are not allowed to be exported from the US. Have fun when he starts to talk about "Deutschland GmbH"...

72:

My mother is fairly well, been left with some nerve problems on the left side, mostly the stroke exacerbated pre-existing problems with balance and vision.
I realized after posting that the Micropsia predated the stroke by a year. It did cause a left-side Hemianopsia (the left half of her field of vision is essentially gone), but has adjusted to it, along with her already limited field of vision (about 10º now) from her Retinitus Pigmentosa, and Macular Degeneration in the left eye, and is considered leglly blind, though she can actually see well enough to get around, do knitting and other tasks, just no driving.

I’ve gotten visual migraines all my life, though didn’t realize that’s what they were for a long time—Praise be to the Web, “You mean other people experience this too?”. In my case migraines are probably related to the Raynaud’s I was born with. My auras resemble the rightmost animation in the link, occurring in the right side. Doesn’t happen with every migraine, but when it does it gives me enough warning to take some meds to mitigate it some.

73:

So, we could represent the third whatever-it-is with Cthulhu?

That would make a *really* interesting interpretation....

74:
As a special short-notice extra I'll be in Toronto, reading and signing early copies(!) at Bakka-Phoenix Books on October 20th — a sneak hyper-local early launch, if you like.

ZOMGWTFBBQ!

Huzzah! I'll be there!

What time? Or is that TBD?

75:

For a good commentary / response to The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, you could do worse than The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson. Asking questions like "where are the women? the people of colour?" etc.

76:

Check B-P's website? I think it's 3-5pm but don't hold me to it!

77:

Murcushio @ 53: My current headcanon is that "Brexit" in the context of the Laundryverse is "the rest of the EU decided to kick out the nation-state that defected to the enemy in the middle of a war" and that the Brexit vote was the Mandate going "you can't fire me, I quit!""

(I am operating on the assumption that at least one person in the Laundry slipped Michael "Quisling" Armstrong's enslavement geases and pulled a Bill McCracken once they realized their agency head was a traitor, flying to Brussels with a suitcase full of Laundry Files.)

OTOH, since I don't accept the Michael "Quisling" Armstrong's enslavement geases characterization, what makes you think the EU is any better able to resist the Black Chamber's minions than the UK government was able to resist Schiller?

78:

Charlie Stross @ 63: Wanting likeable characters in the Laundryverse is a bit of a reach.

The characters whose fates I "worry" for are Reverend Pete, Pinky, Brains, Johnny McTavish, Gery Lockhart, Jez Wilson ... Although, I'm not so sure how well Bob & Mo will fare under the new management, especially with Iris as The Mandate's right hand man or high priestess or whatever, I expect they'll muddle through.

79:

On that note, Mhari compares at one point the mandate's ability to stay three steps ahead of everyone to an ex-boyfriend of hers. Is she referring to Bob? It didn't sound like Bob to me...

On a separate topic, do you have any plans in Vancouver outside of the convention? It falls square on Canadian thanksgiving so I'll likely not be able to attend much of it

80:

Well, she could be referring to Bob, Oscar (from TRC, deceased but - still) or one of several concurrent with Bob (... according to Bob and, if I remember, Mhari too.)

(I see Tor has fixed some Mhari-related typoish things. Good.)

81:

Obviously Angleton.

82:

French would be a lot more relaxed (that whole revolutiory spirit thing) about waxing someone.


And TBH I would have suspected that Shiller when he came back would be on a rat list of people for an Infra red stop.

I suspect Nicoli Panin has access to the A team and not the GRU telephone sanitizer crew recent employed in Salisbury.


The Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei and Mossad's OCINT arm would also not be shy about killing either.

83:
OTOH, since I don't accept the Michael "Quisling" Armstrong's enslavement geases characterization

Both of those things are true. The Laundry uses enslavement geases; indeed, this is the most crucial plot element of The Annihilation Score, because without her enslavement geas that forces Mo to obey the commands of her superiors regardless of her own thoughts on the matter, the grand finale of that book doesn't happen; she tells the Home Secretary to go pound sand.

The Laundry's entire internal security apparatus is structured around the idea that free will is an unacceptable security risk.

And the Senior Auditor absolutely is a quisling. He betrayed his country and the people in it, secretly handing them over to a horrifying inhuman tyrant.

what makes you think the EU is any better able to resist the Black Chamber's minions than the UK government was able to resist Schiller?

Unwarranted optimism, mostly. If the EU can't resist the Black Chamber then the planet may already be fucked, as my understanding is the Black Chamber has already staged a coup in the US and is looking to expand that worldwide.

84:

Thinking about this a little more, the whole "enslavement geas" thing has a bit the flavor of a good thing gone wrong; that is, if you give someone a demon-haunted violin and they can open gates to terrifying hell-dimensions, you probably need a sure-fire method of stopping her. On the other hand, you can't let someone override Mo's sane judgement in her area of expertise - it's worth noting that she was not ordered to do something horrible by the Laundry, but by the Laundry's competition within the British government.

On the other hand, this is a REALLY FRAGILE solution, and regardless of whether a warrant card was ever intended to be an "enslavement geas" it can certainly be abused, particularly when the Black Pharoah is running your government.

And while Michael Armstrong did select Nyarlathotep over The Thing In The Pyramid, the difference in how The Thing In The Pyramid and Nyarlathotep enforce obedience is definitely worth noticing. According to what I've read so far, living under Fabian Everyman is a much better option than living with an ectoplasmic brain control device in place of my manhood. Whether that will play out as true in the rest of the series is another matter. Hopefully Armstrong knew what he was doing, but the kindest, most charitable interpretation of Armstrong bringing The Black Pharaoh into the picture is that he was making a long-shot desperation play.

On the other hand, the lesser of two evils is still very much evil.

But what if the Elves hadn't shown up? Would the Laundry have revealed itself by this point and been (mostly) transparent? I have trouble imagining that.

85:

As a special short-notice extra I'll be in Toronto, reading and signing early copies(!) at Bakka-Phoenix Books on October 20th


Hmm, I just learned that my brother and nephew are going to be in Toronto for the next two months, I might try to send them that way, and maybe talk my brother into getting me a signed copy. Though I suspect they’ll be too busy; afaik they’re there to film the kid’s next film, a horror movie called “Larry”, apparently he has the lead role.
Just over a year ago they spent a couple months in London and an island I don’t remember the name of, filming “Juliet, Naked” which was recently playing and got good reviews. He played the son of Ethan Hawke’s character.
Apologies for the uncle bragging, I could go on, but will spare you all the kvelling. Kinda crazy the way the kid’s career is taking off.

86:
Thinking about this a little more, the whole "enslavement geas" thing has a bit the flavor of a good thing gone wrong; that is, if you give someone a demon-haunted violin and they can open gates to terrifying hell-dimensions, you probably need a sure-fire method of stopping her.

The thing is, though, my understanding of how the Laundry works is that the geas Mo was under is not actually something deeply exceptional; it is the standard geas that they cram into everyone. I might be wrong about this.

And that notwithstanding, they didn't set up a few geases to prevent her from potentially acting cataclysmically. The nature of her geas is that if an appropriate authority (by the terms of the geas) gives her an order, she MUST obey. The Home Secretary could have ordered her to slit her own throat and her body would have done it, because by the terms of the geas Mo is a slave to what the geas views as the properly constituted authority of the British state, and the Laundry rolls up under the Home Office.

it's worth noting that she was not ordered to do something horrible by the Laundry, but by the Laundry's competition within the British government.

By the Laundry's SUPERIORS within the British government.

According to what I've read so far, living under Fabian Everyman is a much better option than living with an ectoplasmic brain control device in place of my manhood.

Here's my take:

The Thing In The Pyramid views us as wheat before his scythe. Nyarlathotep views us as cattle before his goad.

Cattle have to be finessed. They need to be fattened up, they need to be happy and docile. Fear ruins the meat. Stringy, ill-fed, ill-treated cattle don't taste good. A herd of cattle that spooks and stampedes can do real damage and maybe even kill their owner. Some parts of the herd, the prime breeding pairs, might live long, pampered lives, and of course there's always a need for a few Judas goats/steers.

You don't need to do any of that with wheat. You just thresh it. That's about a million times easier. But wheat only makes bread. With cattle you get juicy steaks.

But in the final analysis, both are forms of food, and the person cultivating them will treat them as such.

But what if the Elves hadn't shown up? Would the Laundry have revealed itself by this point and been (mostly) transparent? I have trouble imagining that.

Almost certainly not.

Something worth noting in The Delirium Brief is that the Laundry, which is famous for contingency plans and having SOMETHING on file for any conceivable situation in a file cabinet somewhere in true British Civil Service fashion... doesn't have a plan for what happens if they get outed. Because when they do get outed, their response is to flail, and flail, and flail, and then flail some more. They don't have a media strategy (they sent BOB HOWARD to do the talking heads! Bob Howard!) and they don't have a political strategy.

I mean... I forget who said it, but back when TDB came out, someone noted that the Laundry was founded under an imprimatur from Queen Elizabeth I and its first head was John Dee. Any competent PR flack would make an enormous amount of hay over that. The Leeds Disaster happened in the wake of a Conservative government underfunding the Laundry for many years (never mind that they likely didn't know the Laundry existed) and while they're not huge fans of the security state Labour would have LOVED to make hay over that too. The Laundry could have sought allies in government and among the populace to prevent themselves from being obliterated with a pen-stroke and the government handing their operations over to a private American concern.

They do none of this. They don't have a plan for if they get outed. And that says to me they never, ever planned to go public. Ever. In any circumstances, willingly or not.

87:

Charlie @ 64
4. Freedom of movement is Bad because "the sacrifices might use it to escape",
And what has the Maybot just said?
"Freedom of movement will be ended for ever"
Sound familiar? It did to me - translated back into English, the sign read:

DANGER / BEWARE!
Border Zone
Danger of Death
Mines

On the E. German border, right.
NOT that we ever had real freedom of movement, we always had to show our passports going in or out of the UK & people have been declared Persona non grata? so it's complete bollocks.

At the same time, we are going to have to have freedom of movement across the IRISH border - an unsquareable circle, or so ISTM.
Actually, provided the BoJo leadership bid fails, I'm expecting May to deliberately let the whole thing crash, blame the Brexit-loonies & "Allow" a Second Referendum ( Because "My hand has been forced by the Will of Parliament", how convenient ) & I think we know what result that would return ...
We can hope, I suppose.

Otherwise.
Worst outcome:
Crash-out Brexit, economic collapse, Coprbyn/Maduro "government" economic implosion, civil unrest..
Next-worst outcome:
BoJo guvmint almost crash-out Brexit, total subservience to US corprate greed - also followed by civil unrest & a lot of "protest" - justifiably.

88:

It was me who pointed out the Queen Elizabeth/John Dee thing, plus the underfunding thing. :D

What kinda baffled me was that while their enemies were leaking, the Laundry wasn't counterleaking. They could have sunk the Home Secretary easily with the Last Prom fuck-up, they could have given the tabloids everything they had on Schiller. Or at least, when they were disbanded, give the other intelligence services everything they had. During the climax of the last book Mo runs into a member of MI5/6 (forgot which one) who doesn't have a clue about Schiller. Wat.
What bothered me in that book was not that the Laundry got defeated (disbanded). It was that it felt like they weren't even fighting back.

89:

Actually, provided the BoJo leadership bid fails, I'm expecting May to deliberately let the whole thing crash, blame the Brexit-loonies & "Allow" a Second Referendum ( Because "My hand has been forced by the Will of Parliament", how convenient ) & I think we know what result that would return ...

An alternative interpretation is that the government are negotiating in bad faith, never intended anything other than a "no deal" and are secretly moving into position to make full use of the ensuing chaos.

The fact that the withdrawal bill conveniently makes it impossible to use the courts to force the government to act legally is also suggestive. A cynic might say that such powers are only ever granted to be abused as early and as hard as possible.

Of course you would have to be completely paranoid to take any of that seriously. The idea of conservatives acting dishonourably is ridiculous.

90:

CORRECTION
The idea of conservatives politicians acting dishonourably is ridiculous.
There, fixed that for you.

91:

Well, yes but I don't think the other lot have the imagination for a wheeze like that right now.

92:

I suspect Nicolai Panin has access to the A team and not the GRU telephone sanitizer crew recent employed in Salisbury.

Hush your cynicism, that was no GRU team - they were but two innocent fitness instructors. Colonel Chepiga Ruslan Boshirov and his friend Alexander Petrov were merely eager to see the beautiful Salisbury Cathedral, and will definitely not be receiving a poor performance appraisal this year...*

Those who were most convinced of the possibility of it being a false flag operation by MI6 / CIA / Mossad are of course reassured the timely presence of Russian observers determined to catch them in the act ;)

* Go on, who'd like to hear that meeting. "Ah, Anatoliy Ruslan; sit down. Now, about your annual objectives for the year... I'm going to have to mark you down as "needs improvement", and send you on an NBC warfare revision course"

93:

we always had to show our passports

Nitpick: You've always had to show valid identification.

Freedom of movement is not just about crossing borders, it's about what you're allowed to do once the border's been crossed.

94:

Well, when in Innsmouth...

95:

Oh I don't know
The really good idea of "Worker-Directors" & Shares for employees as in Germany ...
Promptly fucked-over by Corbyn's idiots by restricting the employee-holding ( to £500 ) & the guvmint gets the rest, how nice.
How to miss an open goal - again

96:

Alex? Needs to have a Naked Lunch moment at some point.

Naked Lunch moment?

97:

Charlie being Charlie, I'd presume he means the William S. Burroughs novel, but he could mean the David Cronenburg film Adaption of same.

98:

I guess I'm thick. I read both Wikipedia articles and didn't see any connection (hence my question).

99:

to GT @87
"Sound familiar? It did to me - translated back into English, the sign read:"
Here's the funny thing - the planet we are inhabiting have a whole lot of naturally formed walls that don't need anything more than human supervision. In fact, every wall is only useful as long as it is monitored. I remember very illustrative picture about that called Walled World.
I, in turn, pretty sure there will be no Second Referendum, because if migrant problem will stop working, other "threats to security" will do perfectly well too.

to Martin @92
Worry not, the Lil Brother America is going to come for your help to defend against invisible Russian submarines, top-secret cyberattacks and super-hidden spies of long-dead and inappropriate agencies. I'm sure Britain will be able to do it then, even if it means industrial sabotage, trade war and bioterrorism.

The good arms contracts, F-35 deployment and discount expeditions to most popular US bases all over the world will come to you, but only if you agree to decouple from EU.

100:

I took it to refer to this:

"The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork."

101:

They do none of this. They don't have a plan for if they get outed. And that says to me they never, ever planned to go public. Ever. In any circumstances, willingly or not.

They get decapitated.

The Senior Auditor is effectively a deputy minister (though not actually that high up in the civil service hierarchy) and just as subject to control geases as anyone else. There are things the Senior Auditor (or the Auditors generally) can't decide to do; "going public" has to be one of those. (The whole point of the organization being to keep a particular secret.) The plan for CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN was to go to the appropriate minister, brief them, and say "it's time; we need you to make the following declarations and do this slightly odd thing with some incense". Only by the time the Laundry (heavily on the back foot due to Leeds) realizes they have a Schiller problem, they dare not talk to any of the ministers or deputy ministers.

102:

I might try to send them that way, and maybe talk my brother into getting me a signed copy.

I emailed my brother, he’s willing, if they have the time.

Possibly dim question, what edition do they sell in Canada, US (I assume), or UK?

103:

Oh, yeah! Another thing: I started “A Gathring of Shadows” the other night. How did I not know about first mate Stross? (or maybe I’d heard and forgotten.)

104:

Kamamuri @ 79: On that note, Mhari compares at one point the mandate's ability to stay three steps ahead of everyone to an ex-boyfriend of hers. Is she referring to Bob? It didn't sound like Bob to me...

I thought it was Oscar from the bank. If so, maybe it doesn't bode that well for the mandate. Reliable narrator or not, Bob's self description has him always trying to catch up.

105:

Max Samuel @ 88: What bothered me in that book was not that the Laundry got defeated (disbanded). It was that it felt like they weren't even fighting back.

I read it they were fighting back with everything they had; they just didn't have much. The agency was already constrained not to act against the Prime Minister (The Apocalypse Codex) even if he's suspected of doing bad things that are not in the interest of the country.

The disbanding was sprung on them kind of suddenly and they lost access to facilities they needed for the fight against Schiller. Plus, I think a fair number of their surviving lower ranks were swept up by Schiller's new public-private OCINT agency.

Continuity Operations seems to be the same kind of ad hoc rear-guard action the British mounted to save most of the BEF from Dunkirk and/or how the Free French went underground in Occupied France.

106:

Yes I would have a suitable application of the TUPE (plus the laudrys contacts in the house of lords) would have stalled shillers little game until he had run out of $


IRL the FDA and Prospect would have gone for a judicial review and then gone for delaying tactics with the help of sympathetic house of lords members


The FDA is the v senior union for sir humphrys and Prospect is the union for technical roles in the civil service (amogst other things)


I should point out that though Prospect does have a SIS branch its Satellite Information Services :-)

107:

I thought she was bonking sir David at the bank ill have to re read it.

108:

Next candidate for largest monotheistic religion, if Sikhism is discounted, would be Zoroastrianism. The UK population is small, approximately 5000.

There is some debate concerning Goddess worship and whether it is mono- or polytheistic, or variable depending on individual worship. That could also be a candidate.

109:

Yes, store website states 3 - 5 pm.

I will actually be in Toronto that weekend, too. I might take a couple hours off waiting for my daughter's next game at the squash tournament.

110:

"They do none of this. They don't have a plan for if they get outed. And that says to me they never, ever planned to go public. Ever. In any circumstances, willingly or not."

That's really, really hard to argue with, and I won't even try. You've got a really good eye.

As for Nyarlathotep vs. TTITP (The Thing In The Pyramid) I think you've got it wrong - well, half-wrong anyhow. You're mostly right about Nyarlahotep, though I could think of a few variations on cattle that might make a little more sense - maybe sheep or goats, for example, but probably not chickens...

TTITP, however, is not a farmer. It's something more like a hive mind. It doesn't want food, it wants processing nodes and more fingers. Think of the tongue-biters and genital-eaters as something like junction-boxes or network routers and you're in the right neighborhood. TTITP doesn't want to eat us (well, maybe a few of us; probably the stupid ones) it wants to empty our brains and do massive parallel processing with our genitals and our head-meat. Frankly, I'd rather be eaten.

111:

on the other hand, TRC toward the end sees Mhari viewing Bob with some respect (could be fear, could be fear.) For all his ego, Bob (or the thing that now thinks it's Bob after Bob's death in TFM, if that's what happened, etc.) may underestimate how others view him too.

112:

That's what keeps Charlie from writing 3 books a year - he has to go through a portal and help crew the ship Night Spire.

113:

I've been thinking about this comparison of Michael Armstrong to Vidkun Qusling. Given that Quisling had no effective role in the betrayal of Norway and was at most a figurehead for the Nazi government, the analogy seems unclear.

114:

(NB: I'm not saying Quisling didn't _want_ to have an effective role, he very much did, just that the Nazis didn't _need_ him and that apparently they took over Norway without any help from his apparently rather ineffective work, apparently, according to an interesting book on espionage between the WWs that touches on the subject. I am correctable on this as many subjects.)

115:

One thought more directly connected to this excerpt and if allowed, speculation?...- what if someone, maybe Mhari's ex, really is playing 5 steps ahead (while somehow avoiding, maybe by being dead now, mind-reading by Nyar Nyar...) - a plan to get through Case Nightmare Green by having this not actually -be- Case Nightmare Green, just a simulation of the stars-coming-right-etc so convincing that even all the Monsters come in prematurely- until the simulation ends, well ahead of schedule and with humans having the upper hand again much sooner than expected...

116:

Well, BLUE HADES presumably got through their own version of Case Nightmare Green, as did the dwellers in the mantle (whose name escapes me at the moment). So CNG is theoretically survivable. The question of course is: let's say that humanity isn't wiped out by the year 2200 (or whenever CNG ends) - does that mean that the Mandate is PM / god-emperor of the UK in perpetuity? We'll see, I guess.

117:

I'm not sure that's a given. CNG is primarily driven by the rapid rise in human population growth, leading to an extremely high density of minds "over observing" reality. Unfortunately at the same time with the solar neighbourhood being in some sort of configuration that means the walls between worlds are thinner than usual ("when the stars come right"). Finally mankind's occult knowledge and R&D is significantly worse than the rest of our technology, for most of the Laundry series >>99.9999% of humanity doesn't have any direct experience with the occult and it's only really been since the second world war that the various clandestine groups in the world have been able to investigate it.

These three factors: Rapid population increase, thin world-walls and primitive occult industry are a perfect storm of shit that leads to CNG. Other intelligent species on Earth (and throughout the multiverse in general) may have avoided CNG or weathered it far better if any combination of these factors is untrue.

In some respects CNG mirrors climate change. Caused by rapid worldwide industrialisation combined with a period of inefficient cooperation on both national and international stages and a still-primitive eco-friendly sector.

118:

Very much fear. Alex and Mo are both similarly afraid of Bob, and they're no pushovers. Even Lecter backed down in the face of a pissed-off Bob. Mo's comments about being afraid of him using death magic as he turns over in his sleep, I don't think are to be taken as exaggeration. The last book hinted at Mo perhaps no longer being human; but it did a whole lot more than just hint that Bob is over the horizon and accelerating. Like Angleton before him, his remaining humanity is only habit.

119:

Blue Hades has a god to help them, though whether the Laundryverse version of the Deep Ones worships Dagon is definitely open to question. As for DEEP 7, I suspect they're part of the problem, not part of the solution.

120:

Very much fear. Alex and Mo are both similarly afraid of Bob, and they're no pushovers.

The analogy is Len Deighton's "Bernard Samson". IIRC, eight of the books in the series are written from his internal perspective as an unreliable narrator; the ninth is written from an external perspective, and reveals an external perception of him as a hard b**tard with a streak of ruthless.

121:

Murcushio @ 86: They did have plans though. The idea of Mo and Mhari's superhero team was to ease the public into the idea that occult stuff exists, and that the government has it kind of in hand. The public didn't need to know at that point *why* superheroes were appearing, but they did need acknowledgement of the situation, because covering it up was not possible.

Had this gone approximately to plan, even with the massacre at the Proms, they could have taken things public in a more measured way. Even with the infighting that brought down the team, people knew that supernatural stuff was now going on, and there was an opening to make progress. They'd even kept Iris Carpenter on ice for years, knowing that there was a chance they'd be able to use her in the endgame.

Then Leeds happened, everything went to hell, and Schiller saw an opening. Too many black swans, not enough people to field them.

122:

Graham @ 118: Very much fear. Alex and Mo are both similarly afraid of Bob, and they're no pushovers.

Again, I got a slightly different read on that, at least where Alex is concerned. It was not so much fear as he's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder from when they first met - "Alex boggles slightly. He is not a fan of Mr. Howard. The first time they met, Bob tried to zap him with some kind of banishment taser." [Nightmare Stacks p.73 - Pinky is telling Alex how he & Brains used to share a house with Bob & Mhari.]

123:

Blue Hades has a god to help them, though whether the Laundryverse version of the Deep Ones worships Dagon is definitely open to question.

This was a point I wanted to make too. Given the limited understanding Lovecraft (and his characters) had it's unwarranted to assume they're gods at the level of The Sleeper In The Pyramid or even the Very Nasty Pony.

Assuming Dagon and Hydra exist, they could well be the BLUE HADES version of Angleton. Indeed, they might well be the BLUE HADES equivalents of Mo and Alex - Deep Scary Sorcerers, if you'll forgive the pun. It's plausible that damp versions of Angleton exist but don't care enough to bother talking to monkeys.

124:

Again, I got a slightly different read on that, at least where Alex is concerned. It was not so much fear as he's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder from when they first met...

That does tend to make people uncomfortable. Bob basically has to tell an undead sorcerer "Sorry I tried to eat your soul. Reflex, you know." That's a reflex? What does he do when he's angry?

And the mad scientist boys shared a house with this guy?

125:

(Let-lagged in a Vancouver hotel ...)

On the "why didn't the Laundry even fight back?" in The Delirium Brief subject — the problem is, they got caught wrong-footed in a Never-Happens situation.

Resources are limited in the face of multiple threats. So the Laundry focussed on contingency planning for CNG, because it was seen as more or less inevitable. Other CASE NIGHTMARE scenarios got less attention, based on their perceived relative likelihood; for example, CASE NIGHTMARE RED was seen as quite unlikely and so, while there were plans for dealing with it, there were no backup plans for how to react if the response was only partially successful and the usual cover-up techniques failed and the government was subverted by agents of a hostile power and several shit-storms brewed up simultaneously. They just ran out of planning resources before they got far far down the decision tree.

Arguably, the Laundry's big failure was the usual hominid failure to understand how exponential processes work: they were prepared to manage change, just not exponentially accelerating change. And this is, after all, the story of a Lovecraftian singularity.

The oath of office thing: some Laundry personnel are effectively WMDs. You put permissive action locks on WMDs, you don't simply rely on goodwill to keep them from detonating messily. It's not as oppressive as the Black Chamber's habit of treating people as things (see Ramona in "The Jennifer Morgue") but it's on the same continuum. The problem is, it restricts their freedom of action.

On secrecy: the Laundry's predecessors managed to almost completely suppress public awareness of magic in the late Victorian/Edwardian period. (This gets explored in future stories.) They thought they could do it again, and the screw-up at the Albert Hall proved that, up to a point, they could. It just failed to work when the fuck-up was sufficiently large (i.e. the destruction of Leeds, out in the open, rather than contained within a single concert hall).

126:

Scott Sanford @ 124:

Again, I got a slightly different read on that, at least where Alex is concerned. It was not so much fear as he's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder from when they first met..

That does tend to make people uncomfortable. Bob basically has to tell an undead sorcerer "Sorry I tried to eat your soul. Reflex, you know." That's a reflex? What does he do when he's angry?

And the mad scientist boys shared a house with this guy?

Two things - OGH goes to great pains to explain that those infected with PHANG syndrome are very much still alive. Residual Human Resources are "undead"; PHANGs are not.

The "mad scientist boys" shared a house with both of them at one time or another, and of the two, Alex was the far more dangerous at the time they were sharing (as Bob had not yet become The Eater of Soles Souls when they moved out on him).

127:

"Quisling" is and has been for decades used as a generic synonym for traitor. If you call someone a Quisling, you don't mean that they're specifically a wannabe Norwegian fascist, you just mean they're a traitor.

128:

Charlie @ 125
they got caught wrong-footed in a Never-Happens situation.
Usually called an Outside Context Problem", isn't it?

Murcushio @ 127
Specifically a willing, eager traitor for a specific religio/political "cause". [ Not necessarily fascist, though ]

129:
CASE NIGHTMARE RED was seen as quite unlikely and so, while there were plans for dealing with it, there were no backup plans for how to react if the response was only partially successful and the usual cover-up techniques failed and the government was subverted by agents of a hostile power

Here's the thing, though, Charlie, if I may.

I can't speak for others, but for myself... the "agents of a hostile power thing" is important, but it is by no means dispositive. Even if Schiller hadn't gotten his hooks into the UK's government in the way he did, it is entirely within the scope of possible actions that a UK PM, either Tory or Labour, would one day decide to lower the boom on the Laundry in ways that endanger the entire nation-state, either out of malice or incompetence.

That's something that it seems to me shouldn't have been way, way down at the bottom of a decision tree. "There's a public, overt, legislative assault on our institution" should be something that every government institution has a top-level plan for. You can be DAMN sure that if a PM led a public line of attack on MI-6 or MI-5 and proposed imploding it and handing the remains over to an American-run public/private partnership, both of those institutions have plans in place to marshal their allies within and without of government to try and prevent that from happening, regardless of whatever massive event was prompting that assault on them. They'd have the plan ready; its need, from an institutional perspective, is obvious.

Hell, we're seeing this play out in real life here in the US of A in the age of Trump. The Trump Administrations, such as it is, very clearly has it out for a number of government agencies it wants to implode messily. And ALL of those agencies, including things like NASA and the NOAA, had plans in the drawer and ready to go to try and fight off those assaults. Some of them leapt into action before Trump was even inaugurated.

The Bureau of Land Management, of all things, had plans ready to go to fight off an attack by its own government. If the Laundry, which is a state security organ, felt it didn't need one, because it was special or something, I can only describe that as either incompetence or hubris on their part.

130:

@Murcushio But this was pretty well explained the first time we met Schiller. It's not that they felt they didn't need a plan against their own government, it's that they *couldn't* make that plan. Literally, anyone who tried would die. That's the conditions of the geas on Laundry employees, and that's why they had to tackle Schiller on his home turf.

For an organisation dating back to absolute monarchies, it's easy to see why it works that way. Even today, military coups are not considered a Good Thing, however mad or dangerous the allegedly-democratically-elected government may be. Back in the days of Queen Bess though, there was no separation between "the good of the state" and "the will of the monarch". Anyone opposing the monarch or their government, even if they thought it was a good thing for the country as a whole, was by definition a traitor. If they were *lucky*, traitors got a quick death; if not, rather less so.

131:

If the Laundry, which is a state security organ, felt it didn't need one, because it was special or something, I can only describe that as either incompetence or hubris on their part.

Bear in mind the difference in UK/USA culture when it comes to government... as exemplified by the BBC comedy series "Yes, Minister" (and eventually "Yes, Prime Minister") [1].

In the UK, along with the separation between head of state and head of government, we don't have a directly-elected head of government. In other words, (just like Gordon Brown, and initially Theresa May), our Prime Minister's coat hangs on a far less-secure peg; they can only lead with consent, and if they go "too far", they're sacked from within [2]. This creates less directive environment in Cabinet.

Regardless, it means that we just don't operate in the same way as the US; you could call it another example of an institutional blind spot. After all, GCHQ / the Intelligence Service fall under the Foreign Secretary, and the Laundry / Security Service fall under the Home Secretary... it's unlikely that those two jobs would joyously hand over a large chunk of power elsewhere.

We also don't tend to regard key civil service jobs as "political appointments" - they're posts for career civil servants; i.e. you don't get to be the Ambassador to France because you're a college drinking buddy of the Prime Minister. This has both advantages (in continuity, and independence) and disadvantages (in inertia, and defence against capture/corruption).

[1] Allegedly rather popular in the Peoples' Republic of China, for some reason... ;)

[2] The Crown holds the ultimate sanction in such a scenario - never used, of course. After all, they are Her Majesty's Armed Forces... and Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department. It isn't a politician's signature on my Commission.

132:

Martin @ 131: Regardless, it means that we just don't operate in the same way as the US; you could call it another example of an institutional blind spot. After all, GCHQ / the Intelligence Service fall under the Foreign Secretary, and the Laundry / Security Service fall under the Home Secretary... it's unlikely that those two jobs would joyously hand over a large chunk of power elsewhere.

How would that work in a case of political appointees involved in simple criminal misconduct prior to entering office, possibly continuing after they'd taken office.

NOT a Trump reference BTW. I'm thinking of Nixon's Vice President Spiro Agnew.

Agnew took kickbacks from contractors doing business with Baltimore County and the state of Maryland both as Baltimore County Executive (CEO of Baltimore County) and later while Governor of Maryland ... with illegal payments continuing during his Vice Presidency. The original investigation didn't include Agnew, it was aimed at then current Baltimore County officials & the contractors who did business with the government.

How would that kind of thing be handled in the UK, if someone in high office were to suddenly revealed to the police as a criminal after they'd already reached Cabinet level?

133:

if someone in high office were to suddenly revealed to the police as a criminal

Jonathan Aitken resigned as Chief Secretary to the Treasury after The Guardian and World in Action investigations claimed he had been taking kick-backs from Saudi Arabia. He sued for libel, lost, and subsequently spent time inside after being convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

134:
But this was pretty well explained the first time we met Schiller. It's not that they felt they didn't need a plan against their own government, it's that they *couldn't* make that plan. Literally, anyone who tried would die. That's the conditions of the geas on Laundry employees, and that's why they had to tackle Schiller on his home turf.

Well, three things.

First of all, does the Laundry actually have a geas against interfering with their own government at a high level, or do they simply choose to operate that way as an institutional safeguard due to the unpleasant in the 70s. I genuinely don't remember either way.

Second of all, assuming that prohibitions on "acting against" their own government are geas-enforced, that geas seems ridiculously easy to subvert. Mike Armstrong absolutely acted to interfere with what was happening to his government at a very high level; he simply used the organizational fig leaf of "I have hired an independent contractor" to cover it up. And Persephone isn't even really an independent contractor; we find out later on in the same book she is in fact part of the Laundry's upper management, they just fiddled with the org chart a bit.

Third of all... you seem to be interpreting "acting against" very broadly and in ways that I don't think the text supports. The Laundry is absolutely allowed to make its own cases as to why it should get its own way even if other parts of the government don't want it to. Sending Bob on TV was part of a PR strategy aimed at helping the Laundry to get its way. Sending that House of Lords member to talk to the PM to try and convince him not to sell out was the Laundry acting to make its case as to why it should be allowed to get its own way. Their various methods of enslaving their personnel absolutely do not prevent that in any way, shape, or form. And they especially didn't prevent it AFTER the PM imploded the place and they all unraveled.

135:

How would that work in a case of political appointees involved in simple criminal misconduct prior to entering office, possibly continuing after they'd taken office.

What are these political appointees you speak of? In the British system they aren't supposed to exist. We have a career civil service and all those niches that are kinda-sorta elected offices in the USA — from supreme court judges down to municipal dog-catchers — are appointed by promotion within existing institutions that are notionally loyal to the crown.

There are some external elements. SPADs — special political advisors — work with/within the higher levels of the civil service but are appointed/paid for by their political patrons; QANGOs (Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organizations) used to handle a bunch of tasks, but are now mostly replaced by private sector contracting companies. But the PM doesn't get to appoint ambassadors or nominate supreme court judges: the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Justice take care of those tasks and there's a fairly clear career path within the diplomatic service and the judiciary that leads all the way to those posts.

MPs or ministers involved in simple criminal activities before they enter office tend to resign while dealing with police investigation and prosecution; if they refuse to resign they can be removed from office by a non-partisan administrative process if they're found guilty, but in practice ... the British system didn't traditionally have fixed terms, so MPs under the shadow of investigation were seen as a liability by their own parties (because an election could be called at as little as 10 weeks notice at any time, at which point the opposition could be counted upon to shine a spotlight on them, potentially throwing the entire election campaign out of joint due to the ensuing scandal). So MPs who were under even suspicion of corruption would usually be forced out rapidly by their own party. This has, oddly, fallen by the wayside to some extent since the Fixed Terms Parliament Act (2010) came into force. Can't think why.

136:

Re: 'Some of them leapt into action before Trump was even inaugurated.'

Recall reading about the EPA sending climate data to U of Toronto for back-up. Later found out this wasn't the first instance.

'The event is being held in collaboration with the Internet Archive's End of Term project, which since 2008 has saved US government websites at risk of changing or disappearing altogether during government transitions.'

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38324045

137:

Second of all, assuming that prohibitions on "acting against" their own government are geas-enforced, that geas seems ridiculously easy to subvert.

We know with considerable confidence that the Laundry geas uses a specific chain of command with authority derived from the Crown, and that it precludes using magic on those with lawful authority. (So Mo cannot vaporize the senior police person as an alternative to following orders.)

We also know that the thing that happened was that Continuity Ops switched Crowns; that seems to have freed them up a great deal with respect to HM Government.

So I think the whole thing hangs together fine if you look at it as "we can't magic the PM, or Cabinet", "Schiller can and has", "we've lost, bother, now what?" No amount of PR or political processes is going to do anything useful in the face of magical control.

138:
So I think the whole thing hangs together fine if you look at it as "we can't magic the PM, or Cabinet", "Schiller can and has", "we've lost, bother, now what?" No amount of PR or political processes is going to do anything useful in the face of magical control.

If that were true, every nation on Earth would have been ruled by sorcerer-kings a very, very long time ago. Regular people absolutely do still wield power.

139:

JBS @ 132
How would that work in a case of political appointees involved in simple criminal misconduct prior to entering office, possibly continuing after they'd taken office.
Well, this is a USA reference .... is it possible to remove a US Supreme Court Judge under those rules?

Charlie @ 135
The disgraceful case of the revolting Ian Paisley Jnr comes immediately to mind, where obstacles (Note*) were put in the way of getting the number of votes required for a "recall" - which worked.

Note* :
But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

140:

We've seen that world with the elves. It doesn't work here because hardly anybody had the power before modern-day computing - a sorcerer might be able to control a few people, but sooner or later K Syndrome kicks in. You can't adopt a hierarchy because your underlings can't do what you can. And a few people isn't enough to stop someone from doing an adequate job on the HUMINT side then assassinating you if you use them for overt power.

So no kings ruling by magic. Maybe the odd overly-trusted advisor. Maybe even some poor bastard geased by more than one sorcerer. But being good enough at magic while not fatally bad at the political games you need to play is going to be pretty difficult.

You might have some magic sustained by computers built of humans and paperwork I guess? But probably not a whole lot of it.

141:

Vulch quotes just one example in #133, and not the one I first thought of.

Basically, neither the legislature nor administration enjoy any special protection by virtue of their office in the UK (oh and BTW even if the UK Head of State has never been prosecuted (don't know or care) her children have been prosecuted and convicted of offences, albeit minor ones like driving a motor vehicle in excess of an arbitrary set velocity).

142:

If that were true, every nation on Earth would have been ruled by sorcerer-kings a very, very long time ago. Regular people absolutely do still wield power.

They did; it's not clear how many still do.

CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN involves magic getting easier and easier to do; it used to be very difficult and literally eat your brain even when you did it correctly; now it's ridiculously easy (and getting easier, and getting stronger) so there's an outbreak of super-heroes, etc. (and I'd expect the UK government needs to do something about people holding rituals near Stonehenge!)

So we're seeing at least three things; something that used to be a "Class 5 entity" (e.g., the Eater of Souls) is now... maybe not class 5. Maybe the Class 6+ Black Pharaoh is off into realms unknown. Nobody knows, and it's changing fast in an environment unsuited to systematization of observations. Belief (those superheroes) becomes manifest. And the foundation of political power may still be belief, but now you can mass-coerce it.

I think the Laundry set up makes a lot of sense in a context where you had a wartime government look at the very beginnings of the systematization of magic -- remember in the Laundry continuity Alan Turing invented computing all right, and did it so they could do sorcery with it -- and did everything in their power to make sure this capability would remain subservient to the civil authority. Which affects the design of the geas and given what things were like in 1950 made perfect sense. Only now the stars have come right and it's a singularity and the old controls and social mechanisms have come apart under pressure of a whole lot of entities that are (from a human perspective) purely hungry.

143:

Charlie Stross @ 135: What are these political appointees you speak of? In the British system they aren't supposed to exist.

"Appointee" was not the right word then. My understanding of the British system is the Prime Minister, Home Secretary, Cabinet Ministers, etc are not directly elected as the President & Vice President are in the U.S., but are "chosen" (again probably the wrong word) by the majority party (coalition?) in Parliament.

I'm guessing the party leadership works their way up through the ranks the same way American politicians do, running for local offices, state (equivalent) offices, Congress (Parliament) ... "working their way up the ladder."

And again going back to the example of Nixon's Vice President Agnew. He was already in high office before the evidence of his prior criminal activity turned up in an unrelated criminal investigation.

Looking at what is said in The Apocalypse Codex about the Laundry not being allowed to investigate the Prime Minister because of the way the security services abused their power against Harold Wilson ... and extending that to how the regular police would operate.

In a situation similar to Agnew's, where the Prime Minister was not being investigated, but an unrelated investigation uncovered credible evidence that the Prime Minister had committed crimes before achieving high office - would the police be allowed to investigate those crimes and would it be possible to prosecute a Prime Minister for actual crimes he/she had committed before obtaining high office?

Would the Harold Wilson precedent apply to regular police investigations?

Another thing ... Prime Minister has to be a Member of Parliament? (Do I have that right?) How do the parties guarantee their potential "candidate" for Prime Minister wins a seat?

What happens if he/she loses his/her election while the party wins the majority?

144:

Greg Tingey @ 139:

How would that work in a case of political appointees involved in simple criminal misconduct prior to entering office, possibly continuing after they'd taken office.

Well, this is a USA reference .... is it possible to remove a US Supreme Court Judge under those rules?

Yes. Federal Judges (including Supreme Court Justices) can be investigated, prosecuted and convicted, just like any other person. No one is above the law.

If they are convicted and refuse to resign they can be impeached & removed. I think the most recent case of impeachment subsequent to a criminal conviction was in 2010; a Federal Judge in Texas. There have been more recent cases, but the Judges involved resigned before impeachment/removal.

The only Supreme Court Justice I know of was Abe Fortas who resigned rather than face impeachment after being accused of accepting a retainer from a client seeking a presidential pardon. AFAIK, the evidence against him was never strong enough for him to be prosecuted, but impeachment proceedings were already under way when he resigned.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_investigations_of_United_States_federal_judges

145:

Let me answer that, after putting on my pointy wizard's hat (I need to get one, someday): speaking as someone sho's been a (neo)Pagan well over half my life, "pagan" is like "christian" - it's an umbrella. Now, we are talking modern/neo pagans, not paleopagans, nor (forget what word we used in the alt.pagan FAQ) the trad pagan religions, like Shinto, or Hindu. Under that, though generic pagan* dominates as probably the largest group, there are also Heathens (Norse trad), Egyption Pagans, and on down the laundry list.

However, 20 years ago, it was estimated there were around 100,000 reael pagans in the US, and growing rapidly.

* I say "generic Pagans", rather then "eclectic Wiccan", because I'm picky with my language, and I personally feel that if you're not a Gardnarian, or an Alexandrian, you're not Wiccan. But that's me.

146:

I dunno, I dunno. Here in the US, I REALLY was expecting the intel agencies to leak/find so much on Trumpolini that the GOP would have been forced to impeach last year (and I'm suprised that some of them haven't been threatened with Stuph.

147:

After a General Election, the Monarch will invite someone to form a government. If one party has a clear majority then it will be the leader of that party, if no party has a clear majority then the invitation will usually go to the previous Prime Minister for a first attempt although if the previous main opposition party is now the largest their leader may get the invitation.

All ministerial positions are filled by the Prime Minister (technichally the Monarch acting on advice from) though parties may have procedures in place to create a pool of candidates.

Ministers do not necessarily have to be MPs, the Attorney General was often a Law Lord, but I think Lord Carrington was the last major office holder to not be. Only MPs may speak in the House of Commons, so a Minister or Prime Minister from outside the House would have problems.

A potential Prime Minister will normally have been parachuted into a "safe seat" where the voting record over the years are overwhelmingly for the appropriate party. If they lose then tough, someone else gets the job. Parties will normally have a few safe seats occupied by people who can be kicked upstairs into the Lords, or will stand down due to ill health or family concerns, etc., thus precipitating a bye-election to get someone back into Parliament.

There is no reason the Police wouldn't be able to investigate crimes committed before or during someones tenure in Parliament. They couldn't use active surveillance of the suspect if the Wilson doctrine applied but any other means of evidence gathering would be fair game.

148:

The problem is not confined to Trump. The problem is that the entire neo-confederate power structure is guilty of something. Whether that's taking improper campaign contributions, conspiracy, election tampering, or more tangibly material crimes, it's increasingly clear that the whole thing is a criminal conspiracy. But you can't -- there simply aren't enough US marshals or FBI agents -- arrest that many people, and given that the people are sitting representatives, etc. in many cases, it facultatively would be a coup when you did. And the whole "rule of law" thing involves "no coup".

So there's no consensus inside the US security aparat about what to do. I don't expect one to emerge until July of 2019 or so.

149:

Other than RICOing the entire GOP... there's one other faint hope: that AG Sessions finally gets tired of "that Yankee bounder" pissing on him, and before he gets the boot... writing a new directive, to supercede the two previous directives, from '74, I think and from the late 90's... to the effect that a sitting President *CAN* be indicted.

There ain't *nothing* in the Constitution about it, it's just a bloody guideline, and I *strongly* suspect that the Founding Fathers would have been appaled - the whole "no man is above the law" thing....

Sorry, Charlie, living in this on the edge of a dictatorship/oligarchy sort of drags conversations this way....

150:

As I was just thinking after I hit , hell, I'd be *quite* happy to put on a slinky red dress, libstic, and heels as high as I could stand... and a crown, if I could start yelling, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!, and have people listen to me....

151:

hell, I'd be *quite* happy to put on a slinky red dress, lipstick, and heels as high as I could stand..

What, you're considering joining the Royal Marines?

152:

Ok, Charly, you GOT me here!

Started reading "The Atrocity Archives," which had been queued on my kindle forever. And now I am sucked into the vortex! I am planning to read the series in sequence and already bought "The Jennifer Morgue" to avoid any chance of withdrawal rigors.

I guess this is just the thing to read in these miserable times.

153:

Wasn't thinking of them....

Go ask Alice, I think she'll know....

154:

Charlie,

A headline:
Hundreds of tons of human body parts and surgical waste are being stockpiled in the UK

What are the Laundry alumni planning?

155:

Whitroth / Graydon 148/149
Yes, as you say the whole "Neo_Confedarate" thing is plainly a just-about legal coup.
It could be worse - it could be Turkey.
See here for info

@ 154
Mass-production of HOG's?
Spare blood for the PHANG's?
Ready-use stockpile for quantity-production of Igors? ( Oops, wrong universe & author )

P.S. Provisional order for "Labyrinth Index" placed with Transreal ....

156:

Ready-use stockpile for quantity-production of Igors? ( Oops, wrong universe & author )

Not Igor; the Laundry is getting ready to mass-produce Harry. You get to meet Harry in "The Labyrinth Index". You don't want to meet Harry. Trust me, given a choice between meeting an angry Dalek and meeting Harry, pick the Dalek: the Dalek will only kill you.

157:

"We also know that the thing that happened was that Continuity Ops switched Crowns; that seems to have freed them up a great deal with respect to HM Government."

There's a term for 'switching crowns', at least of one loses........

158:

Just checked. My local public library has 19 copies on order. I'm number 17 on the "hold" list. So I should get to read it fairly early in November.

I'll wait to buy it until it comes out in paperback so that it will more or less match all the other volumes on my shelf.

159:

Reply to self @ 155
Maybe it is worse ... it looks as if Kavanaugh will become a Sup Court member ...
How long to a repeat of something like the Dred Scott decision? [ Civil War 4 years later, remember? ]

160:

I don't think it will get nearly that bad. News organizations will continue to investigate Kavanaugh, and I don't doubt that they'll continue to find ugly stuff. I'd further suspect that the question of how Kavanaugh's gambling debts got paid will be of enormous interest to Mueller & Co., so I'm actually not worried. Is there anything Trump touched that didn't turn to shit?

I'd also suggest we drop the issue. I think we're skirting too close to "American Civil War" issues for the moderator's comfort.

What will be very interesting to see is how this translates to further books in the Laundry series. It's true that the Cthonian Jn'vmrgl'mpk was hatched under U.S. soil 11 million years ago. Will the slimy tentacled things on the Supreme Court rule that she's therefore eligible to run for President? Also, is Bojo a cryptid? Stay tuned!

161:

I'd also suggest we drop the issue. I think we're skirting too close to "American Civil War" issues for the moderator's comfort.

I am busy working as guest of honour at an SF convention in Vancouver this weekend, and next week driving cross-country to Edmonton. I've got very little access to interrnet here—visiting Canada is like time travel back to 2008—so don't expect much input from me over the next week.

I will say that I'd like to keep Brexit/Trump out of the main discussion threads here, but I quite understand people wanting to talk about it.

Is it time to spin up a new blog topic specifically for discussing the state of global political crises?

162:

I think that might be sensible, with restarts once a month or so as needed.

163:

> Is it time to spin up a new blog topic specifically for discussing the state of global political crises?

>> I think that might be sensible, with restarts once a month or so as needed.

I'm tempted to agree with Troutwaxer but fear that, given the fulminating nature of such crises these days, it would eat up the blog. Whether that would be a good, bad or indifferent thing is up to OGH to decide and act on. For myself, I'd like to keep a broader focus. Maybe limit gpc topic postings to a few per poster per month???

164:

Kinda depends on whether Charlie wants to support a conversation on a (potentially complex) topic, or a venue for stress-howling.

One of the problems with politics as a subject is that nobody really knows what's going on; the other part is that stress-howling. There are mechanisms for generating consensus, but I doubt that's what we'd be trying for and those mechanisms require that you can't reply. (Just upvote, or not. It's an upvote contest.)

Me, I figure that the stress-howling is inherently anti-conversational and we might-maybe not want that.

165:

@ 161-164
Agree with all of the above, contradictory as that might seem.
We ought ot do it ( I think ) but it depends not on CHarlie ( For reasons he has given ) but on whether the other moderators are prepared to carry the load.
Also we don't want an ivasion by mis-labelled "US-Conservative" ( Fascist by our reckoning ) trolls, either.
The current US right have nothing at all to do with conservatism ( Note the small "c" ) - they are reactionary-revolutionaries, attempting. like Rees-Thugg to take theor country back to their version of the 18th Century, or possibly a European 15th C ....

166:

Questions:

Mhari drew 18 vials of blood during the execution. Later it says she's responsible for providing blood-meals to 7 PHANGS.

There's Mhari, Janice, Alex, John and Dick* ... who are the other two?

Eighteen is not a whole number multiple of seven. Eighteen vials divided by 7 PHANGS is 2 apiece (blood meals for 2 weeks?) with a remainder of 4. Where do the other 4 go?

*And Dick was already headed for the Black Assizes at the beginning of The Nightmare Stacks.

167:

Ryan @ 7: So the Mandate is Trump now (in terms of rambling, incoherent orders). Not sure if that's better or worse than the original impression of a dark and sinister Outer God! :P

I didn't see "Trump" in the Mandate. He doesn't seem to be as driven by his appetites and although he's cruel, it doesn't seem to be a careless, indifferent cruelty. His rambling, incoherent orders may draw as much from The Madness of King George as it does from "The Donald's" narcissitic sociopathy.

Plus, as is mentioned elsewhere, there's that "US Ambassador" with the golf course in Ayrshire and an aversion to paying taxes.

168:

I'd guess it wasn't the only execution that week.

169:

Wasn't it established it only takes one blood sample to make the link and the PHANG parasites keep munching until the victim is dead? There's also a number of Alfar Sorcerors interned in Okehampton Battle Camp who need feeding, not just the locals.

170:

Mhari drew 18 vials of blood during the execution

No, she drew 18 more — 20 in total, or 200ml.

She's feeding 7 official PHANGs ... but don't forget the Alfär Magi, one of whom is a significant character who appears later in the novel.

171:

the Alfär Magi, one of whom is a significant character who appears later in the novel.

The Magi should get along with the Mandate like a house on fire - lots of screaming and property damage, inflicted on others, of course.

"Finally, I get to obey someone who isn't so wishy-washy!"

172:

Weren’t the Alfär fleeing something worse?
It would make sense to ally with the local Big Bad.


...Meanwhile; after yesterday’s news, my brother is joking about staying in Canada.

173:

Moderators: please remove if this is too Usaian-centred.

Harry Turtledove's quoted Rabbi Jill Jacobs on Twitter yesterday:

"There were four judges in Sodom and they were named for their actions: Shakrai, meaning liar, and Shakrurai, habitual liar, Zayfai, forger, and Matzlei Dina, perverter of justice." Talmud, Sanhedrin 109b
174:

Charlie Stross @ 170: She's feeding 7 official PHANGs ... but don't forget the Alfär Magi, one of whom is a significant character who appears later in the novel.

Ok, I got that she drew one, then drew another, then drew 18 more. I misread it the first time as she drew 18 total.

Sorry to be so thick, but who are the 2 other "official" PHANGs besides the 5 I remember (survivors from the scrum at the bank)? That leaves 13 Alfär Magi assuming 10cc is the minimum blood meal necessary to keep a PHANG from running amok?

I had surmised that since Mr. Kadir will be surviving for two weeks or so the quantity drawn allowed for two "weekly" blood meals per PHANG. Apparently each PHANG gets only a single blood meal from each execution?

175:

A different Harry, not harry the horse?

I could see there being a crash course to x train SF / SOE types to act as a large para military force.


Oh I came across an ideal weapon for shogoths that I am sure would Harry the horse would love - a direct fire semi automatic 20mm grenade launcher - designed for disabling SVBIED's

176:

“these people aren't capable of conceiving of a world beyond their shadow game bullshit. Well, the shadow games aren't working anymore. The shadow games are going to get the world destroyed.”
Sounds a lot like the plots of the Merchant Princes” books.

177:

“Well, BLUE HADES presumably got through their own version of Case Nightmare Green, as did the dwellers in the mantle”
Not necessarily. If they are individually far more intelligent than humans they might be able to build a culture capable of mastering science, technology, mathematics and necromancy with a population numbering in the millions rather than billions.

178:

“DEEP 7 doesn't care what's happening on the surface“
If so that’s unwise of them. As we have seen elsewhere, swarming monkeys having a CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN” can result in anything from the destruction of the Moon to the destruction of the universe. Even short of that, some of the inter dimensional infovores we attract will think BLUE HADES and DEEP SEVEN look tasty.

I think the issue is more whether they are aware of it. Can they even conceive of life (let alone intelligent life) on the surface, which to them must look like outer space?

179:

I think they can, as shown in The Jennifer Morgue.

Still, there's some multifarious weirdness going on here. Unless BLUE HADES is in the process of evacuating Earth via a side door, the apocalypse is rather, erm, superficial, at least as Earth is concerned. Ditto DEEP 7.

180:

Blue Hades are probably trying to decide whether The Mandate is a violation of the Benthic Treaty, and if scouring the UK clean of life is going to be sufficient.

There was a mention in one of the books that simply killing everyone would make things worse but it probably looks tempting to them under ground and beneath the waves right now.

181:

“There was a mention in one of the books that simply killing everyone would make things worse”
Surely by the time of the novels that’s the case. But there must have been a time when the human population was small enough that the result of killing 90% of it would be less generally dangerous than CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

So why didn’t they?
(1) Mercy? From folks who use tortured dolphins as auto engines? I don’t think so.
(2) They didn’t see the industrial revolution and resulting population boom coming? I think they’re too smart for that, especially considering they were in ongoing contact with the residents of Innsmouth, who were aware of the ongoing changes.
(3) They deliberately let it happen, maybe even helped it along. When the stars are right, and the walls between the worlds are thin, and our population is at its highest point, they’ll release a series of tsunamis that will cause five billion deaths, powering a magical working to give them ultimate victory over DEEP SEVEN.
We’re not their cannon fodder. We’re a sacrifice they’re fattening up.

182:

I actually emailed OGH about something similar a while back (BLUE HADES plan for global warming). The response was "so long and thanks for all the fish." There's probably something more detailed, especially given what happened with the Alfar, but they probably plan on making a run for it.

183:

I keep wondering what happens if it turns out the Laundryverse is a simulation running on limited "hardware," and trying to accommodate too many humans. Presumably BLUE HADES and DEEP SEVEN know about the nature of reality, and have taken steps to deal...

184:

"...they’ll release a series of tsunamis that will cause five billion deaths, powering a magical working to give them ultimate victory over DEEP SEVEN.

They don't need to do that; remember the bit about optimization in Atrocity Archive? What you really want are a couple good sacrifices, a properly calibrated Dho-Nah curve, and the computational resources to optimize the summoning. Killing five-billion people is massive overkill for any such project.

185:

"Please choose a less accurate codename"

186:

3a. They spotted some smarter than average monkeys that could make decent sacrifices with just a little uplift. Erich von Däniken was looking in the wrong direction.

187:

Combine such optimization with a five billion sacrifice and you’ve got a powerful spell.

188:

"Mass-produce Harry"? As in Harry the Horse, the armourer? Purveyor of high-velocity weaponry, dealer in dodgy East End accents? And they're going to mass-produce him?

This must be the worst of all possible worlds. Not only do we have to face an apocalypse of Elder Gods, it's a Guy Ritchie film.

189:

That's funny! (Grimdark, but definitely funny.)

190:

As in Harry the Horse, the armourer?

Nope. Someting else. Something worse than Daleks: possibly on the order of Cybermen.

191:

Something worse than Daleks: possibly on the order of Cybermen.

Not... not... Teletubbies?!?!?!!!!!!!!!111one!!

192:

possibly on the order of Cybermen.

[Nerd Alert]

The Cybermen certainly aren't anyone's idea of a good party guest but their requirement to grow in numbers by cyber-conversion sounds fitting for the laundryverse; hive mind assimilation as a CNG survival strategy.

We are the Harry
Lower your wards and surrender your souls
We shall add your biological and magical distinctiveness to our own
Your culture will adapt to serve Nyarlathotep
Resistance is futile

[/Nerd Alert]

193:

Robert van der Heide @ 178:

“DEEP 7 doesn't care what's happening on the surface“
If so that’s unwise of them. As we have seen elsewhere, swarming monkeys having a CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN” can result in anything from the destruction of the Moon to the destruction of the universe. Even short of that, some of the inter dimensional infovores we attract will think BLUE HADES and DEEP SEVEN look tasty.

I think the issue is more whether they are aware of it. Can they even conceive of life (let alone intelligent life) on the surface, which to them must look like outer space?

Also, where is the evidence that DEEP 7 doesn't care?

If they don't care why would they make treaties with surface entities? Or provide liaison officers to The Laundry and TPCF for the super-hero "singularity"? They were still cooperating with The Laundry during Case Nightmare Red, because the swimming pool in the new headquarters was being set up to provide them with compatible office accommodations.

194:

Charlie @ 190:

As in Harry the Horse, the armourer?

Nope. Someting else. Something worse than Daleks: possibly on the order of Cybermen.

Both Daleks and Cybermen still have organic brains, so I'm betting The Eater of Soles Souls can take them.

195:

AFAIK there is no mention of any treaties between humans and the cythonians. Only Blue hades with both other parties, and the arrangement with the Deep Sevens is characterised as a truce or a standoff.

196:

"Little by little, their brains tired - computers worked just as well!"

- Back cover blurb on "Doctor Who and the Cybermen" (Target)

197:

I had so many of those books when I was a kid.

Of course, when I was a kid, I could only see Doctors Three & Four, playing on a months-long loop on TVO, my local public broadcaster. When they got to the end of their purchased episodes with Tom Baker, back to Jon Pertwee they went.

198:

He is, at least for now. And I wasn't the only person to think of the word impeachment for lying to the Senate, if we take badk the Senate... which is possible. Right before we impeach Trumpolini. There was, for example, an op-ed about impeaching Kavanaugh.

As I think of it, the Malignant Carcinoma *thinks* he's the Mandate, and actually doesn't understand why everyone doesn't believe him.....

199:

In this case, I don't think cannon fodder's the right phrase. If you've read Turtledove's Darkness - another world, most in the southern hemisphere, and magic works, they need manna, which they get by killing....

200:

Speaking of the Mandate... I may have missed a recent book, since I see people here mentioning him making rambling, semi-incoherent statements. That leads to my question #1; the more powerful the paranormal... don't I rememeber the shorter their life. Given how powerful and visible he is, he must be glowing in the ether.

Then there's another question: how does he affect someone who's totally deaf?

Which leads to the idea of such a deaf person with a modern, expensive... sniper rifle. From behind.

201:

BLUE HADES responsible for 4 submarine losses in 4 months in 1968?
See this You Tube

202:

Speaking of the world building in general, I was recently perplexed by a question, how big really is the world of OCCINT in the Laundryverse - certainly somewhere between Harry Potter amounts of secludedness and Cold-Er War mass-produced weaponry. I guess I have to read some more to get the references. What about remote planetary sensing that would measure the thaum-field exposure of different parts of the surface? How about stockpiling of WMDs - I think it was referenced in Equoid that BLUE H did sign some treaties regarding that aspect.

In that light, there's a concept of "remote support" I was thinking of recently - the principle that would greatly expand the military capability of the individual and therefore offer them an advantage of performance beyond that of ordinary B. Howard with a handful of macros at his disposal. It includes two major components - a large stationary facility that is capable of pumping out enough of well-managed energy and control authority - and a channel directly to the location of said agent. In the same manner that Black Chamber has, erm, access to their agents via sort of telepathic link and apparently is able to see through their senses and act through their hands (am I right?) that would also allow the power node to supply the necessary energy reserve and even equipment in field, even if initially there was only an ordinary bloke with a could of summoning grids stuck to him. Well, possible backfires may include attracting a horde of daemonic invaders from other worlds, but, again, it mostly depends on the facility capacity to deal with the consequences, isn't it? Come to think of it, even Alfar did not show any signs of such tech except their dependence on leylines, and probably for a good reason.

203:

Also, the other day I was casually reviewing a history of rocket artillery and I remembered about German version of compact rocket cart that is capable of impressive firepower.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebelwerfer

Look, it even has this neat photo of Sd.Kfzf 10 towing the thing around.. Well, of course a Kettenkrad is quite smaller than this vehicle, so it would be harder to move the thing around.

But then there was a similar thing in British army, it turns out. Not as famous as the other two, but it got me thinking.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattress_(rocket)

Okay, I am aware that it touches upon OGH considerations about the plot, but I want to voice my discomfort with this scene in Nightmare Stacks where the Kettenkrad is finally brought in action to shoot over the hill. Even initially, I thought that application of 7.62 mm minigun in this quality was a case of widely popularized, but not very well fitting way to deal with such a problem. After all, staring into the alien anti-air monstrosity for more than the fraction of a second was described as sticking your face into the blast furnace workshop. But I agreed back then that it is possibly just the best solution with broad range of options. Now I'm not really sure. Consider the following - placing a compact rocket artillery carriage in complete safety beyond the hill and with little adjustments correct the fire to bring maximum effect on the target.

I can only imagine the effect achieved with such a hideous weapon not even the AA division would be able to shoot because, you know, rockets are mostly made of steel, not organics. On the downside, apparently, there's only one surviving unit out there on display. Somewhere in Canada, no less.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHUJzJMLxTQ

204:

Well re reading the annihilation score p13 Ramona says "My Ma--People" when she is chatting with MO so possibly the Blue Hades are suborned.

205:

Well one of the original uses of HMG's was an indirect fire area weapon and I bet Pinky and Brains could improvise a indirect sight assuming they didn't get hold of a gunners quadrant Or for DF use a periscope (either a ww1 era trench scope or a repurposed go pro and some gaffer tape)

But my reading was they got into a hull down position the backed up so the only the gun was showing and let rip - and fuck the barrel life. The Point Defence basilisks where looking up and where taken by surprise and would have difficulty locking on to a small target.

Pinky and Brains seem to have hit the dragons fuel dumps aka Me163 fuel on steroids - "game over man"


Dereck the dm erred in not having preregistered artillery tubes or MRLS or even mortars preregistered you can get up to 30 RPM in emergency for 81mm


206:

Well I am sure the pattern room has a "Panjandrum " or two in store :-)

BTW that is the bonkers giant Catherine wheel thing https://www.wired.com/2015/01/well-didnt-work-rolling-rocket-bomb-designed-kill-nazis-almost-killed-dog-instead/

207:

Cyber Leader: You would destroy the Cybermen with four Daleks?

Dalek Sec: We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek! You superior in only one respect.

Cyber Leader: What is that?

Dalek Sec: You are better at dying. Raise communications barrier!

208:

"shut it you slag You're a big man, but you're in bad shape. With me it's a full time job. Now behave yourself"

209:

Feed em to the pigs Harold.

210:

And if you don't have it yet, The Delirium Brief is $2.99, at least at the US Amazon today. https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01LM09RDM/ref=pe_170810_358142150_pe_KDD

211:

I'm a tad confused. I thuoght the shelling from the battleships before Normandy would have opened the walls....

212:
I was recently perplexed by a question, how big really is the world of OCCINT in the Laundryverse - certainly somewhere between Harry Potter amounts of secludedness and Cold-Er War mass-produced weaponry.

Actually most nations have an OCCINT department of at least one of their intelligence services[1], though individual members most likely act on a need to know basis.

AFAIR the European OCCINT commmunity was somewhat decimated during an ill-fated Powerpoint presentation in JENNIFER MORGUE, no idea how much they recovered.

What about remote planetary sensing that would measure the thaum-field exposure of different parts of the surface?

Satellites with appropiate sensors are mentioned in the Laundry RPG, but OGH already indicated the RPG is of questionable canonicity.


How about stockpiling of WMDs - I think it was referenced in Equoid that BLUE H did sign some treaties regarding that aspect.

Most likely a BIG NO, I don't know how much you know abou Basilisk weapons; their history is described in "The Concrete Jungle", apparantly they recreate the nervous system of somebody afflicted with a certain brain tumor. The Nazis tried to weaponize individuals with said tumor (nickname: Medusas) and stopped it when the UK threatened escalating WWII to chemical warfare on urban areas.

In the same manner that Black Chamber has, erm, access to their agents via sort of telepathic link and apparently is able to see through their senses and act through their hands (am I right?)...

The Black Mark, yes.

...that would also allow the power node to supply the necessary energy reserve and even equipment in field, even if initially there was only an ordinary bloke with a could of summoning grids stuck to him.

Problem might be where to get the energy from. Quite a lot of the magic in the Laundryverse requires destruction of information, e.g. animal or human sacrifices.

For the Black Chamber, Control takes physical control of their agents and might do some magic. AFAIK it gives them no mana, the agent relying on it met the end of a shotgun quite fast.

[1] I'm not sure how the Thirteenth Directorate, the Russian OCCINT, fits into FSB, GRU etc. and if the other Russian services have their own OCCINT. The US intelligence agencies are quite diverse due to federalism and HISTORY, and as for France, it's similar. For Germany, there is the Faust force, no idea how they fit into the German intelligence agencies, theAmt für Militärkunde would have a cool logo, and then there is this abomination. ;)

213:

As for basilisk warfare, no idea how the British don't run into political problems with SCORPION STARE, though it's for domestic use mainly, and the situation might be similar as with tear gas, e.g. prohibited chemical agent in warfare, OK in policing.

214:

whitroth @ 200: Speaking of the Mandate... I may have missed a recent book, since I see people here mentioning him making rambling, semi-incoherent statements. That leads to my question #1; the more powerful the paranormal... don't I rememeber the shorter their life. Given how powerful and visible he is, he must be glowing in the ether.

I suspect N’yar Lat-Hotep can think much faster than the body of his avatar Fabian Everyman can speak. It's rambling & incoherent from this side because his human auditors are only getting a small percentage of the message. If the host could speak at the rate the entity can think, it'd sound like a high pitched squeal similar to Dolphin vocalizations.

Then there's another question: how does he affect someone who's totally deaf?

That's how they kept him locked up in the Tower. All of his guards were profoundly deaf and they were required to remove any cochlear implants before starting their shifts.

Which leads to the idea of such a deaf person with a modern, expensive... sniper rifle. From behind.

I don't think he goes out much other than his appearances in Parliament and he is surrounded by "robo-cop" bodyguards (apparently drawn from the TPCF). I expect the probability of success would be correspondingly low.


Maurice @ 205: Well one of the original uses of HMG's was an indirect fire area weapon and I bet Pinky and Brains could improvise a indirect sight assuming they didn't get hold of a gunners quadrant Or for DF use a periscope (either a ww1 era trench scope or a repurposed go pro and some gaffer tape)

But my reading was they got into a hull down position the backed up so the only the gun was showing and let rip - and fuck the barrel life. The Point Defence basilisks where looking up and where taken by surprise and would have difficulty locking on to a small target.

Pinky and Brains seem to have hit the dragons fuel dumps aka Me163 fuel on steroids - "game over man"

That was Brains & Vicar Pete. The Alfär had no experience with firearms. Their basilisks were not entrenched deeply enough, nor prepared to face the mini-gun. When the basilisks were hosed with several thousand rounds of 7.62 AP 1 in 5 tracer, they went berserk. Plus the armor piercing ammo penetrated the shelters from which the battle-magi were controlling the basilisks.

The combination of the magi's loosing control with sudden exposure to sunlight and the writhing, wounded basilisks resulted in a large amount of "collateral damage". The wounded basilisks took out the "dragons fuel dumps". I may be wrong, but I think one of uncontrolled, wounded basilisks took out the other one.

215:

I did mention a real modern sniper rifle. I have read of someone during 'Nam taking out someone at 1300 yards.

For that matter... doesn't he ever catch a cold, or the flu?

216:

THe current record is 3,540 meters for a confirmed kill, by a Canadian sniper in Iraq.. That happens to be twice the gun's rated distance (per the article, heh heh).

Note that for someone whose eye is 50 centimeters off the ground (a prone sniper, perhaps), the horizon is at 2500 meters or so. What this is saying is that modern rifles let snipers put bullets in anyone they can see, at least on the ground. Now if they're way up high, that's not true, but it's still kind of chilling.

217:

The stutter may be that in Jennifer Morgue she was described as a construct IIRC, which would make the deep ones her makers. But since she's turning into one of them, they're her people too.

218:

But was she going to say "Makers" referring to DEEP 7, or "Masters" referring to the Black Chamber?

219:

Um, Deep Seven are the Cthonians, BLUE HADES are the Deep Ones, and I think Ramona got sprung from the Black Chamber back in book 2.

220:

Yeah, I mixed them up, but the question remains; Makers or Masters?

221:

What the article about the longest sniper shot didn't mention was the twenty or thirty attempts to get a bullet on target before the last one actually hit something. "Spray and pray", see.

Effective range for a modern sniper rifle, call it a 50% probability of a stopping hit on a targetted human being, given perfect conditions of wind, light, air temperature etc. is about 800 metres or so given the sniper is actually holding the rifle, breathing, her heart is beating etc. After that distance the probability of hitting what they're shooting at goes down rapidly. There's been development work on robotic snipers, getting rid of the quivering fleshy meatbag component of the shooting system which should extend the effective sniping range but it's going to be clumsy to carry around and set up, at least in the first iterations.

Smart ammo that can be fired from a shoulder-mounted or man-portable weapon is a better bet for ranges of a kilometre plus but the designers of such weapons systems tend to make a shoulder-mounted rifle-shaped design (frex the XM25) because it's easier to adopt whereas it might be more effective as a miniaturised TOW-type missile package for long-range sniping purposes.

222:

I did mention a real modern sniper rifle. I have read of someone during 'Nam taking out someone at 1300 yards.

For that matter... doesn't he ever catch a cold, or the flu?

I doubt anything as mundane as a sniper rifle would kill an entity like the Mandate (not without a bullet inscribed with thousands of banishment runes and likely forged from metal recovered from an executioner's axe). Consider that in Rhesus Chart a mere two hundred year old human vampire had developed their occult craft enough to make a coat with anti-bullet wards.

I expect the mandate, whilst probably not a full manifestation of Nyarlathotep (I like the theory above that the rambling is due to his human brain not keeping up with the main mind) would be a powerful ritual sorcerer. At the very least he could direct appropriate government departments to manufacture warded protective gear. Likely outsourced to some private company as part of a workfare scheme that provides rudimentary maths training to people on unemployment benefit followed by an internship in a sweatshop where they risk K-syndrome sewing wards into clothes.

223:

Strictly, "Effective Range" is the real-world range when there aren't perfect conditions - and 800m is about right for a scoped support weapon in the hands of a properly-trained firer (not just sniper rifles).

If you had perfect conditions / high-quality rifles, you'd easily see that range double; the ISSF bullseye at 50m is just over 10mm, and most club-level firers can group to the bull from the prone position. Scale that up, and you're able to point a target rifle repeatedly within a 50cm-wide target, out to nearly 2km. The technology to improve Pk isn't about removing the fleshy bit; it's about removing uncertainty.

The obvious stuff is about improving both range measurement (because if you overestimate the range, the round will fly over the target's head) and windage (IIRC, the old rule of thumb for 0.303 rifles was an inch, per 100yds, per 1mph of crosswind) - obviously there's added complexity when the wind varies over the flight path.

One improvement was apparently to allow the firer to aim, but acknowledge that the hold isn't perfectly steady; and then to use that (slight dithering) movement in the aim to give a fractional delay so that once the centre of aim matches the centre of the movement, gun goes bang. Another is steerable bullets; with the tip capable of changing shape ever-so-slightly, such that it can track a laser designator. You won't be surprised that most of these ideas come from existing tank fire control systems - miniaturisation has its advantages...

The fundamental problem, however, is time. Firstly, it takes a second or two to go from "alert" to a solid aim (you can't stay in a good aim for more than a few seconds at a time); a quarter-second from "deciding to fire on seeing a good aim picture" to your finger actually moving on the trigger; and over two seconds for the bullet to fly 2km.

This is the real advantage over guided vs. unguided weapons - your ATGM is being guided, or is homing onto, the target however quickly they're moving.

224:

Martin goes into the details better than I do. I'd simply direct you to the US reality show Top Shot. The show was about contestants using everything from throwing knives and bows to gatling guns and Barrett MRADs, with someone eliminated in each show after some challenge or other. By the last season or two, hitting a target a mile downrange with a Barrett MRAD was a regular challenge. Martin's right, it took about 6 shots, sometimes less, for them to hit the target, unless they were having a bad day. On the other hand, conditions weren't perfect, as the area they shot in (Santa Clarita, CA) was pretty gusty.

225:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmteh_NChOQ

Modern sniper rifles are coupled with smart scopes that do automatic calculation of impact point, and similar. They take in account a weather conditions(wind, humidity and temperature, including remotely-sensed parameters), gravity, spin drift, and even the movement of a target considering the distance. They can considerably increase the precision of a shot even with already extreme well zeroed gun. The only real challenge remaining is the imperfection of the rifle itself, the barrel, the gunpowder and the bullet balance.

I don't know really if there's system that can do a precise shot into moving object with the same reliability (most likely not, because it involves too much dynamics in equation), but some limited capacity is available still. You can probably spot such a scipe with really sensitive lens spotter and laser radiation detectors when the rangefinder is in the active mode, but it is probably can be fixed as well. There are definitely glareless scopes, and probably UV-emitting rangefinders. But all of this costs money. An absurd amount of money, and all of this is controlled very well in our world, so only very high-placed special forces team can access something like that.

There's also an option of guided bullet, and there was quite a stir about this technology 3-5 years ago. So practically one might expect some top-secret technology to be involved in the hunt, but with two drawbacks - first, the technology is raw and still in testing stage at best, and two, the guided bullet can be easily identified by the remaining evidence. Not that it would have an effect on something in general if the deal is done. But if you are in that area, an ATGM or a guided artillery shell would be... cheaper.

So yeah, probably about 10 to 100 or so people in the world can make a shot that would go through the Mandate's head from outside of the limits of his domain, and of them barely 10% would be available for consideration. And if he is at least 1% as smart as he should be, he can probably cover that flank as well - he can, for example, stare the unwitting sniper into paralysis the moment he is got his aim to the shot. In effect, the only practical solution is to nuke the entire site, preferably with low-profile hypersonic missile so he wouldn't have time to run into the bunker.

227:

Looks like Britain had quite an impression with fast-spinning things at the time, but at least one time it was good enough to work out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOGRTlrYCIE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouncing_bomb

228:
Did she have dreadlocks?

Err, no, a Bob, IIRC, my memory of faces and physical appearances is somewhat erratic.

No idea if she sported one later, though.

As for severed skulls in South American cultures, the catalog from the Nazca exhibition arrived, and the most likely tradition associated with them is calles huayo (or wayu).

From this article:

"If they captured a man in warfare, they would first flay his face, and then make it dance, saying ‘‘This is our valor!” And when a man was taken prisoner in war, that man himself would say, ‘‘Brother, soon you’ll kill me. I was a really powerful man, and now you’re about to make a huayo out of me. So before I go out onto the plaza, you should feed me well and serve me drinks first.” Obeying this, they’d offer food and drinks to the other huayos, saying, ‘‘This day you shall dance with me on the plaza.” They actually used to bring out the huayos and carry them in a litter for two days. On the following day, they’d hang them up together with their maize, potatoes, and all the other offerings. About the hanging of the huayos, people remarked, ‘‘The huayos will return to the place where they were born, the place called Uma Pacha, carrying these things along with them.”

Hm, Angleton's office toy at the end of Concrete Jungle doesn't sound that nice, but exceptional employess might not just be eaten first, but also get a pension as a huayo?

229:

The problem of assassinating the mandate could be solved by all sorts of means: kamikaze with a civilian plane being probably the most likely.

Sniping would work, simply because the bullets are supersonic, so the first warning you get that you're being targeted is the bullet arriving (assuming you don't notice the flash). Talking to someone 500 yards away is difficult, so you don't need a deaf sniper.

The problem is: where are you going to park a sniper in London where he'll get his 500 yard shot? And also, how are you going to get the gun in? Sniper rifles aren't short.

Conversely, someone suiciding with a plane would be difficult to stop, because if it's aimed accurately, shooting it just turns it into an unaimed projectile, and if the pilot doesn't have his earphones in, he can't hear anything.

Or perhaps you can train a dragon to salivate every time he sees the Mandate, and to home in unerringly on him or something.

230:

These ideas all seem predicated on the Mandate being a man. Yes he has a physical body and he's almost certainly not the full manifestation of Nyarlathotep; but at the very least he's automatically an incredibly powerful ritual sorcerer. One that, once let out of an ultra-secure warded cage (which he only got put into because his powers were weak and he was confused at first), there wasn't even an attempt to put him back in by the combined strength of Mahogany row.

We've seen wards that stop bullets, rituals that shorten the distances between locations, spells that make a person impossible (or dangerous) to see etc. I somehow doubt a lone gunman or a hijacked plane is going to help.

231:

The real security the Mandate has from Mahogany Row is the presumption that there are Bigger Things Manifested Elsewhere, and that he (it) is the lesser of two evils.

232:

Doubling the range more than quadruples the error at point of impact for several reasons -- variability of wind and atmosphere conditions en route, the loss of velocity due to the extra distance travelled more than doubles the flight time and the high parabolic arc also increases flight time of the projectile which aggravates the error.

The report of the record sniper shot quoted earlier, over three kilometres distance, suggested the bullet that actually scored the hit was in flight for ten seconds or so between muzzle and target and that the shot required compensation for curvature of the earth. I find the last assertion questionable, my guess is that the spotter called fall of shot for the earlier attempts to hit a target and the sniper simply elevated his sights, walking his fire in until he got lucky. The other detail is that if he deliberately aimed at a specific person three kilometres distant that person would have had to be in the same place after he fired ten seconds later for the bullet to hit him which is another piece of luck.

Sure, being lucky because you're good, have practiced, been well-trained, learned how and have developed the skills to carry out that sort of task is a given. We don't hear the reports of the other snipers who attempt shots like that and fail dismally, of course.

233:

Probably misled you on that. The record-breaking sniper was up in a building, shooting down. I'm not sure curvature of the Earth mattered. My point was that, if you're shooting prone on the surface of the Earth with a modern sniper rifle, you can literally hit anything you can see, if maybe not with the first shot.

234:

Doubling the range more than quadruples the error at point of impact for several reasons...

I really wouldn't be too sure about that (polite mode: in other words, it goes against my experience in firing out to 1km+). For instance, the size of the central scoring mark on an ISSF 300m target is directly proportional to that on the ISSF 50m target. Likewise, the NRA [1] targets for 300yds up to 1200yds are roughly proportional.

See page 120; note that "long range" covers targetry used at 900yd to 1200yds.
https://nra.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/historical/bible/2017/Bible%20Main.pdf

I've shot competitions at all of the above targetry except for the 1200yd "Match Rifle" stuff. Certainly during the 1980s, there were still some strange-looking traditionalists using the supine firing position...


...and that the shot required compensation for curvature of the earth. I find the last assertion questionable, my guess is that the spotter called fall of shot for the earlier attempts to hit a target and the sniper simply elevated his sights, walking his fire in until he got lucky.

You're absolutely correct, and I will almost guarantee that "lase for range, good guess at elevation, have a go, spot and correct for fall of shot" is your best bet at what happened. That whole "correct for curvature of earth" thing is for indirect fire, not direct-fire weapons.

Personally, I'd take the probability approach to long-range shoots. Namely, get the MMG Platoon out - nine guns firing 200rpm, the beaten zone is impressive. Unfortunately, that's also twenty people, and quite literally most of a ton of metalwork to hide. The video on this webpage demonstrates the C2 sight in action...

https://www.forces.net/news/machine-gunners-test-their-combat-marksmanship-skills

[1] They've only recently taken to referring to themselves as the "National Rifle Association of the UK" - strictly speaking, they needn't bother with the "...of the UK" part, because they formed in 1859, while the "National Rifle Association of America" (to give its correct title) didn't form until 1871...

235:

Myself @ 214: That was Brains & Vicar Pete. The Alfär had no experience with firearms

Correction: That was Pinky & Vicar Pete, and I'd forgotten that Pinky brought along a Hand of Glory (I've actually been rereading The Nightmare Stacks this week and got to the passage where they're just about to take on the basalisks with the minigun last night).

236:

You true about classic old school sniper using improved variants of ww1 or pre war rifles.


There is an interesting podcast series on snipers done by a couple or serving officers the last episode The Once and Future Sniper which comments.

"In our season finale, we look at the future of the sniper and whether the mythos they’ve cultivated over the centuries can withstand scopes that aim for them, guns that can fire thousands of yards, and robots that do what they do, only better."


https://warstoriescast.com/2018/04/09/2-9-the-once-and-future-sniper/


I suspect that given the laundry verse has the ability to mess with physical reality via aurduios you could certainly imagine a javelin firing a round that on impact briefly opened a gate to the centre of a sun.

237:

Heteromeles @ 231: The real security the Mandate has from Mahogany Row is the presumption that there are Bigger Things Manifested Elsewhere, and that he (it) is the lesser of two evils.

He (it) is the lesser of many evils. There's more than just two.

238:

"In our season finale, we look at the future of the sniper and whether the mythos they’ve cultivated over the centuries can withstand scopes that aim for them, guns that can fire thousands of yards, and robots that do what they do, only better."

That's easy to answer. Of the various sniper skills that the British Army assesses (seven, IIRC, but I never did the course), only one is marksmanship.

A lot of what they do is observation and communication (snipers form part of the Battle Group's surveillance and target acquisition plan; they don't just wander off as lone killers, they work as pairs within the BG plan). Then there's concealment (not just against visible light, but also IR threat). The ability to navigate, and "read the land" to place themselves in the right place for the task at hand (and to move there without being detected). Then there's target selection, and the decision as to when to pull the trigger. Oh - and all of this may have to take place under strict counter-surveillance control measures (e.g. radio silence, no use of lasers, no light emission),

It's not just about "accurate rifles", either; on one offensive planning exercise, I tasked the snipers to take some anti-tank weapons, move to a depth objective to locate and then destroy a particular command vehicle; and then to correct artillery fire. NB the most dangerous thing on the battlefield is often a trained observer with a radio link to supporting fire...

Precision effects require judgement; that will be best done by a skilled and thoughtful person, for some time to come.

239:

"We've seen wards that stop bullets, rituals that shorten the distances between locations, spells that make a person impossible (or dangerous) to see etc. I somehow doubt a lone gunman or a hijacked plane is going to help."

All of the previous speculation assumed both the the Mandate was where you saw him to be, and that focusing on It with intent would not trigger it's glamour.

240:

a bomb... a large nasty bomb. job done.. you cant really possess a body is its a loosely associated cloud of fleshy bits breaking the sound barrier...

241:

OGH has brought our attention to the fact that a certain person who is mentioned in the sample chapter may legally have access to such things.

I would say that the Godzilla threshold has already been crossed so I expect it is a matter of when.

242:

...you cant really possess a body [if it's] a loosely associated cloud of fleshy bits breaking the sound barrier.

You can't. I can't. Fabian Everyman has never been tested on the question.

243:

Technically we haven't been tested either but I can report that I have a 100% invincibility record so far.

244:

Remember that it's the Lovecraftian singularity, and the consensus has it that if you use a nuke on Great Cthulhu, a little while later what you have is a reformed radioactive Cthulhu and no diminishment of your troubles.

245:

At this point they are still messing around with avatars though. Avatars seem to mostly be constrained by physics so it is worth a pop..

When real Cthulhu or one of his mates turns up in person then I agree with you - time to be in a different universe.

246:

Cthulhu and friends... wonder if anyone's ever tried doing the ritual from the Abominalbe Book backwards. And/or with the opposite symbols (fish instead of bull, maybe, or a piece of rebar, rather than a wooden staff).

Uhluthc! Uhluthc! Go! Go! Go!

Ghu... that reminds me of a long, long time ago, when my first wife and I were invited to a Buddhist meeting. That turned out to be Nichiren Shoshu, and they had, er, interesting ideas of recruiting. They actually sang, and held up poster boards, to try to get us to sing along, tunes like, "Go, Gohunzin, all the way, chant every day" and "get a Gohunzin, get a Gohunzen, chant every day..."

Really. I don't make up stupid idea, though I will report them....

247:

This is so true.

Report: Students Who Take Latin Have Better Chance Of Summoning Demon Later In Life
https://www.theonion.com/report-students-who-take-latin-have-better-chance-of-s-1829686631

248:

Thank you for that Important Information (UnAltered...) I need to forward that to a friend who's just gottern her Ph.D in Latin....

249:

I can report that a couple of years of latin at school is insufficient to trigger spontaneous summonings.

250:

Well, damnit, figure it out, and do in intentionally, and then do something about the Malignant Carcinoma and BoJo Hokum....

251:

I take them as evidence that summoning is possible.

Leave a comment

Here's the moderation policy. If this is your first time, please read it before you post.

If you need to sign in and want to create a local account on this blog, select "Movable Type" from the "Sign in ..." menu. You will need a working email address.

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on September 28, 2018 10:04 AM.

Do my Homework was the previous entry in this blog.

Book launches for The Labyrinth Index is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog

Propaganda