Review of OVERTIME by Charles Stross
Tor, June 2010
With not a lot going on at home, Bob is happy enough to be assigned as 'duty officer' during the Christmas holidays. Someone has to stay on the job because the extra-dimensional monsters and ex-gods the Laundry exists to protect our world against don't respect the clock. Things start to go wacky when an egg-head from the forecast department announces that this will be the last office holiday party...and is, in fact, the last thing anyone has been able to forecast at all. When Bob comes across a series of body-part photocopies, the last being the hindquarters of what appears to be a giant cockroach, he realizes that his overtime has just gotten a whole lot more complicated.
All around the world, children are calling out for Santa Claus to slide down their chimneys, to take the goodies. One thing the ancient and hungry gods are good at is listening carefully and taking advantage of every opportunity they can find. Unfortunately, it's up to Bob to respond to the threat.
Author Charles Stross (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of SF/F by Stross) creates a fun situation, using the Christmas holiday as a setting and myths of Santa Claus as his mythical danger. It's a clever concept, as is the top-secret 'Laundry,' the government agency charged with dealing with extra-dimensional threats. It took Stross a while to get into the story. While clever and accurate about the way offices sometimes work, I found the opening pages to be a bit slow-moving. It wasn't until we arrive at the photocopies that the story accelerates.
Overall, OVERTIME is a clever and interesting tale. With a bit of pruning at the beginning, it could have been even better.
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