Come, I will conceal nothing from you: part of the amusement value in reading Charlie Stross is in seeing him struggle manfully to get out of the hole that his typically overconfident (and typically off-kilter) predictions of the future has gotten him into. Stross is an excellent writer, so he can typically can give it the old college try, and I can’t wait for the next Laundry novel, given that it was written in response to a particularly horrifying (for him) double-whammy by objective reality. As I think that I’ve noted in the past, reading Stross these days is like reading Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red Hook; I understand that he’s legitimately terrified, but it’s at things that simply don’t scare me in the same way, or sometimes at all.
But, moving on: Dark State is an alternate history novel, and in classic SM Stirling-like fashion it has an appendix in back explaining various timelines. I read that first, and I have to say that it’s an absolute shame that there’s probably not enough money in enticing Stross to write the whole thing up as a GURPS Infinite World. I’m reminded slightly of Reality Cornwallis, but the whole thing does show how interesting the world would have ended up, sans the Enlightment, representative democracy, and capitalism. With ‘interesting’ being meant in the Chinese sense, of course. We’ll see if the rest of the book holds up to it.