Monday, January 08, 2024


I don't consistently write about series I read - sometimes they feel too ephemeral, other times I want to see how a whole arc plays out before organizing my thoughts. It looks like it's been about five years since I last checked in on Kage Baker's fantastic Company series. I'm slowly but surely making my way through, and really enjoying it. I just finished reading Black Projects, White Knights, which is the first short story collection in that series. Some of the stories sounded very familiar, and I eventually realized that they had been included as passages in one of the novels (perhaps "Life of the World to Come"?). These particular stories were very fun romps, especially as explicit riffs on literature. Thanks to the time-traveling conceit of the story, we get some great little vignettes about Robert Louis Stevenson, Shakespeare and other historical figures, as well as some great lore-expanding stories set in the very ancient past or the somewhat-distant future.



I've also kicked off a new series by Charles Stross, who has become one of my go-to authors for enjoyable reads. The series is "The Laundry Files"; the first volume is "The Atrocity Archives" which also includes the novella-length "The Concrete Jungle". The basic conceit is that magic is real, and being kept under wraps by secretive government agencies. The overall feel is kind of like Lovecraft crossed with James Bond crossed with Dilbert. The plot of this particular story gets pretty bonkers, quickly getting to the jaw-on-the-floor point I reached around book three of Merchant Princes. The book is also reminding me of what initially attracted me to Stross, his deep familiarity with computers and technology. Much like Halting State, there are great and fully legible sections here dealing with TCP/IP routing, blinkenlights, kernel security, daemons and more.


Lastly, while it isn't a series, I'll note here that I enjoyed Roberto BolaƱo's "Last Evenings on Earth", a collection of his short stories. They cover a wide assortment of styles and settings. Some are minimal plot-heavy sketches, others quietly and contemplatively explore a character's soul. Many of the stories only use letters for characters - like "B wrote an article about A's novel" - which at first glance makes this seem more like a draft than a finished story, but also gives a feeling of abstractness, or maybe eternity, as if it's discussing generalized relationships rather than a particular meeting, even though these stories are still filled with detail. My favorite is probably "Henri Simon Leprince", about a talentless poet who improbably performs heroic deeds during the French Resistance.


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