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Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 3.0

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Picked up The Last Sun and Anno Draculi and looking forward to getting into them.

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On 9/13/2018 at 8:25 AM, C.T. Phipps said:

Anyone here watch VAMPIRE REVIEWS on Youtube? It's a great series where the host (who pretends to be a Goth girl who doesn't quite 'get it') reviews movies, books, and other vampire related media.

She did a great review of GUILTY PLEASURES which highlights how feminism, urban fantasy, and other elements have changed its reception as a series.


Lol.  That lady is kind of hilarious.  Her accent is so annoying, but kind of funny. 

I would say that the Anita Blake books were pretty good, up until about book 7ish.  But a lot of that reviewers' comments are correct, and I would point out I did read them back in the nineties!  And the writing does reflect where the cultural views were back then. I've not been reading the series and didn't realise it was still going. 

I would point out the review spoils the entire book, if anyone wants to read it. 

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Read the latest (two) October Daye books, biting the bullet that they won't come out on Kindle and purchasing the physical books.  In my view the series continues to be strong, with further development of the characters and hints at a deeper over-arching plot they may capture Toby in the future.  Plus a few curve balls.  They were a lot of fun.  

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My review of the Labyrinth Index, the latest Laundry books:


THE LABYRINTH INDEX is probably the book which is the most like a James Bond pastiche after a long period of the series poo-pooing on the very concept. It stars an arrogant sexist protagonist who fights against a sinsiter cartel with a world-ending scheme that doens't actually make a whole lot of sense. The big difference being that Mhari is a woman sexist against men (referring to her boyfriend and partner as "****boy" for most of the novel) plus she has a team of minor Laundry characters accompanying her on a mission. In that respect, it's more like the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies.

I can't be too hard on Charles Stross because he's reversed one of his earlier decrees of the Laundry when he declared that everything from Howard Phillips Lovecraft was true(ish) other than the existence of Cthulhu, who he calls Old Bat Wings. Charles said that was the one element of the series which wasn't true--and is apparently now like vampires in that he was totally lying. Cthulhu's presence is revealed early on and he is also revealed to be the master of a longtime group of petty antagonists for the Laundry in the Black Chamber.

In this book, Mhari is dispatched by the Prime Minister (Mr. Everyman who is basically Johm Simm's Master with godlike power and a hatred for all Jews--which include Christians and Muslims BTW) to the Americas. Someone has wiped the President of the United States from its 300 million citizens' memories and this is probably the prelude to something bad. Much gunplay, shoggoth summoning, and character growth for Mhari occurs. We also get snapshots into other characters views on events.

Charles Stross has been struggling to keep the Laundry relevant with the cataclysmic weirdness in politics these past few years and this is the book he finally gives up on. Brexit, Trump, and other contemporary issues flat out don't exist in the Laundryverse now with a fictional new heroic President taking their place while the U.K. has bigger issues than its withdrawal from the EU. It's probably for the best but costs the series some of its meticulously researched realism. Then again, I suppose that went out the window with K-syndrome superheroes and PHANGS.

The short version is this book is...okay. I give props for the use of the Black Chamber, Cthulhu, American military history, and the return of characters I like such as Peter. However, the fact Stross writes his heroes as overtly evil (siding with Nyarlathotep versus Cthulhu is even namechecked as "Stalin over Hitler" but that's not exactly reassuring). A bit like Mo in The Annihilation Score, Mhari is a deeply unpleasant person. While she undergoes some character growth, it seems consistent Stross prefers to write his men as nardy and devoted to their partners while the women are overtly dismissive to them when not doing "necessary" evils. It showed up in The Nightmare Stacks as

So, it was okay, I guess? I think the series has lost a lot of its charm without Bob Howard and none of the other protagonists really work well. I liked Mhari more than Mo and she's probably the second best protagonist but this feels like the kind of fiction which Charles Stross used to mock in earlier books and that's a bit odd to now have to take completely straight.

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