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A shaggy horse story?
on 4 November 2013
I was bewildered to find Stross had managed to shoehorn in multiple references to my favourite band, Half Man Half Biscuit, to a tale of angler-fish-like unicorns set in the horrid countryside of the Home Counties. East Grinsted is bad enough without eldritch, squamous and rugose horrors. Maybe next he'll have a go at Croydon.
Equoid is set before the fourth Laundry novel (The Fuller Memorandum) and at first it's a funnier piece than the way the Laundry novels have been heading. They started off as lighthearted fun for office inmates surrounded by Lovecraftian beasts, and, as the cycle has gone on, have become progressively doomier. Equoid starts feeling like one of the earlier stories, but it has a dark heart to it, despite all the clever allusions to H.P.Lovecraft, Cold Comfort Farm, Half Man Half Biscuit and everything that I assume went over my head.
For the most part it's fun and entertaining, and then in its final pages it approaches 'proper' horror again, so it's not the lighthearted read one might have expected, but it's still worthwhile.
I did feel it was oversalted with in-jokes though. One Half Man reference is amusing, two feels a little gratuitous. Then again, perhaps for non-aficionados of obscure British indie pop, those references may have passed by unnoticed - I'm not sure what else I've missed. Perhaps a lexicon is going to be required for future reading.