Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Review: The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross


     Once again, Charles Stross manages to take something completely serious and make it…odd. Not so much hilarious, but odd.
     We find Our Hero, Bob Howard, on his way to what he thought was a typical board meeting. Instead, he finds himself put in an entanglement spell with a beautiful and deadly agent from the States, who happens to have a succubus possessing her. Suddenly Bob is thrown into a whirlwind spy adventure, given a tux, special gadgets from his genius friends, and told to get aboard an evil mastermind’s yacht. He can’t help but think there’s something oddly familiar about all this...
     Stross does an excellent job of parodying the James Bond genre, while still somehow managing to tell a completely original and compelling tale. He also manages to pull out several twists right at the end that completely reverses the James Bond stereotype, and it is magnificent. The end is also rather touching, which was surprising. Stross usually writes with his tongue firmly planted in cheek, so that bit of sentiment left the book on a rather warmer note than expected.
     Again, some of the technobabble went over my head, but again Stross explained the effects enough that it wasn’t too distracting. If you like the James Bond films or books, you’ll enjoy this.

     “Pimpf” was the short story contained with The Jennifer Morgue. Bob finds himself in charge of training an intern, only to have the intern get sucked into his MMORPG (designed for finding others like himself who like to play around with eldritch stuff too much and accidentally summon things). Bob goes virtual to save his intern, but finds that the Big Bad of his game seems to have developed a mind of her own…
     This one was really hilarious. It was short, light, and contained a cross-dressing orc. (It’s a long story.) If you’re up for some sheer nonsense then go for it.

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