Equoid by Charles Stross: Hugo Winner

EquoidEquoid by Charles Stross is a Hugo winner, in a year that’s had quite a bit of controversy. Initially, I was impressed by the story, but the more I think about it, the less I am. Intelligent, articulate, and witty, it has undercurrents that are dark and disturbing.

It’s hard not to see echoes of Larry “Lord of Hate” Correia in Charles Stross’ Equoid. Sure, there are fewer guns in Equoid than, well, anything that Correia writes, but I suspect that’s only because Correia knows his firearms better than Stross. Both deal with a world under assault from supernatural monsters and both are occasionally influenced by the Lovecraftian. Both fall into the category of fiction that could best be described as a cross between horror and what happens when the victims are armed to the teeth.  And both have a really great voice.

End comparison. Stross’s hero is a government bureaucrat who calls in the artillery , while Correia’s protagonists usually ARE the artillery, and while they both have different means to accomplish the same ends, they are very different voices.

In Stross’s Equoid,  Bob Howard is a computer geek that works for a secret British government agency. It’s his job to look into the things that go bump in the night, as well as to file the appropriate paperwork to deal with it. It’s a soul crushing job–and that’s just a comment on the paperwork.

This week Howard has been sent out in to the countryside to look into a rumor about unicorns, and lest you keep that fond smile on your face, be warned that unicorns in this construction are anything but rainbows and sparkles. Rather, the threat of a unicorn infestation is a Lovecraftian horror that would drown the world and end humanity.

It’s just another day for Howard, though.

If you pick this up, note that it’s not the first in the series, but this is one of those times when you can jump in mid-stream and never miss a beat. Equoid by Charles Stross is winner of the 2014 Hugo in the novella category, I picked it up primarily for that reason, but, due to how much I enjoyed it, I suspect that I’ll go back and find others in the Laundry series, of which it is a part, as well. Stross has a style that is equal parts intelligent, relying on a reader’s knowledge and reading outside the story, and humorous.

If you like British humor–heavy in sarcasm and dripping with grim humor–you might enjoy dipping into Equoid. Bonus points if you’ve any taste for Lovecraft. Be warned, though, that there are some disturbing aspects to the story–especially if you like unicorns.

Equoid Book Cover Equoid
Laundry Files, #2.9
Charles Stross
Science fiction/fantasy
Tor Books
October 16, 2013

The "Laundry" is Britain's super-secret agency devoted to protecting the realm from the supernatural horrors that menace it. Now Bob Howard, Laundry agent, must travel to the quiet English countryside to deal with an outbreak of one of the worst horrors imaginable. For, as it turns out, unicorns are real. They're also ravenous killers from beyond spacetime...

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.