Empire Games by Charles Stross
This is a new story set in the multi-timeline universe of the Clan. This exhausting geopolitical six book saga was last heard from with “The Trade of Queens” (2009), and seemed pretty thoroughly over. Massive thermonuclear war is a huge downer and generally considered the end of the story.
But, of course, with an infinite number of timelines, and the ability to travel between them, Stross has given himself a really big piece of paper to write on. Merely wiping out a planet or two is scarcely a blip in the big picture.
Empire Games picks up the story more than a decade later and the many political factions are still jockeying for power and survival.
With everyone geared up with nukes—and cross time delivery systems—a tense espionage game is underway. The worlds are teetering blindly on the brink of mutual destruction.
The original refugees and survivors are aging, so now it will be up to the kids to get us out of this mess.
I was not sure I wanted to pick this story up again, with the earlier series ending so depressing. But here he manages to create both hope and agonizing suspense.
The main downside is that this is “book 1”—there is so much more to come, and we have to wait. “Cliff hangers” doesn’t even begin to describe the current state.
This is the stuff we expect from Mr. Stross! He’s still one of the best writers today.
- Charles Stross, Empire Games, New York, TOR, 2017.
Sunday Book Reviews