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Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files #6) by Charles Stross

The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files #6)
by Charles Stross
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 2nd 2015

by Orbit
In this this science fiction spy thriller by Hugo Award winning writer Charles Stross, the Laundry - the British secret agency that fights supernatural threats - must team up with the police force, with one unfortunate secret agent caught in the middle.


Dr. Mo O'Brien is an intelligence agent at the top secret government agency known as 'the Laundry'. When occult powers threaten the realm, they'll be there to clean up the mess - and deal with the witnesses.

But the Laundry is recovering from a devastating attack and when average citizens all over the country start to develop supernatural powers, the police are called in to help. Mo is appointed as official police liaison, but in between dealing with police bureaucracy, superpowered members of the public and disgruntled politicians, Mo discovers to her horror that she can no longer rely on her marriage, nor on the weapon that has been at her side for eight years of undercover work, the possessed violin known as 'Lecter'.

Also, a mysterious figure known as Dr Freudstein has started sending threatening messages to the police, but who is he and what is he planning?

This book had me all over the place. I liked parts, I loved parts, I hated parts, I was bored with parts, I skimmed parts…you get the picture. If you read the blurb, the whole idea of a government agency called "The Laundry” grabbed my attention. The magical system* in place was fascinating and I loved the idea of a government agency building a puppet superhero team as a front for their real superhero team working in the background. The author is British and the story takes place there. I really enjoyed the different flavor of the writing. What I wasn’t prepared for was all the bureaucratic filler. We had to sit through all the meetings with the main character…in detail! This is where the skimming occurred. I really liked the sub plot of “Lecter” a human bone violin. Creepy as hell, but there were too many characters and sub plots and the book felt stuffed too full.

I checked out what fans of the overall series felt and apparently this book was a deviation from the rest of the series. Maybe that is why the author's name is the most prominent feature of the cover. Based on just this book, I do want to check out the rest of the series, as well as other works by Charles Stross, because I got a good feeling that they will be highly entertaining and quirky.

*"A brief recap: magic is the name given to the practice of manipulating the ultra-structure of reality by carrying out mathematical operations. We live in a multiverse, and certain operators trigger echoes in the Platonic realm of mathematical truth, echoes which can be amplified and fed back into our (and other) realities. Computers, being machines for executing mathematical operations at very high speed, are useful to us as occult engines. Likewise, some of us have the ability to carry out magical operations in our own heads, albeit at a terrible cost."

3 “mathematical” Sheep


About the Author:
Charles Stross is a British SF writer, born in Leeds, England, and living in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has worked as a tech writer, a programmer, a journalist, and a pharmacist; he holds degrees in Pharmacy and in Computer Science. He has won two Hugo Awards for his short fiction, and his work has been extensively praised by, among others, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

Stross is sometimes regarded as being part of a new generation of British science fiction writers who use the devices of "space opera" and "hard SF" to innovative new ends; others of this cohort include Alastair Reynolds, Ken MacLeod, Peter Hamilton, Liz Williams, and Richard Morgan. His inspirations and influences include Vernor Vinge, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Iain M. Banks, among other cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk writers, as well as older figures such as H. P. Lovecraft, Roger Zelazny, and Robert A. Heinlein.

Among Stross’s more recent novels are The Revolution Business and The Trade of Queens (in his “Merchant Princes” series), The Apocalypse Codex and The Rhesus Chart (part of the “Laundry” series of novels and stories), Rule 34, Neptune's Brood (in the "Saturn's Children" series) and, with Cory Doctorow, The Rapture of the Nerds.


  1. My opinion of the first 5 books mirrors your for #6 so I've given up reading the series, too slow and tedious.

    1. Oh, no! I was hoping the other books were better...