RogerBW's Blog

Overtime, Charles Stross 27 March 2016

2009 modern occult secret service novelette, between The Jennifer Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum in the Laundry Files series. The Laundry is down to a skeleton staff for Christmas… so Bob Howard is the one man who might be able to prevent the annihilation of the world.

The narrative jumps back and forth between the actual night shift and the Christmas party that preceded it – because, as always in this world, there is human as well as supernatural nastiness afoot. This is another piece that's mostly setup, all rather abruptly resolved in the final moments; if you enjoy the writing style that's fine, but even on first reading I found myself impatient in places.

This is where the nature of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN becomes explicitly redefined. In The Concrete Jungle it was quite clearly the Stars being Right and the invasion of the Elder Things; it was going to need orbital battle stations and petrifying rays as well as more conventional defences against brain-eaters. And it was due in September 2007. By The Jennifer Morgue, the "real nasties" wouldn't turn up until ten years later, which is fair enough if real time has caught up with your deadline for the end of the world. But now, and hereafter, it's changed to a short span of time (a mere seventy years) in which the things that too many people believe are prone to come true. In other words this is now a world of immanentising the eschaton, and what the Laundry ought to be doing is running a massive PR campaign about how Magic Is Completely Useless.

The Christmas theme is played up to, with the Bringer of Gifts (the Filler of Stockings) as the main supernatural hazard. Slight but fun.

Freely available at tor.com.

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