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Charles Stross. Subterranean (, $35 (112p) ISBN 978-1-59606-664-9

Stross’s Hugo-nominated Laundry Files novella, first published in in 2013, is an entertaining mash-up of Lovecraftian mythology and an extremely twisted take on a fantasy trope. Bob Howard, bureaucrat and agent for the Laundry—a secret British agency that fights extradimensional terrors—has been called into the field to fight a possible manifestation of unicorns, the evil spawn of Shub-Niggurath. There’s not a whole lot of plot beyond a brief mystery as to how Shub-Niggurath is getting away with hiding its tracks, but Stross does a great job with the truly nasty backstory. Lovecraft’s “lost” letters add a nice secret history element, explaining the cause of his nervous breakdown, and contain some truly ghastly imagery. Laundry Files fans accustomed to more action-oriented spy riffs might be a little disturbed by the horror elements, but if they can stomach it, there’s plenty of traditional action (including a car chase and a close-quarters zombie fight) and Stross’s trademark wit. (Aug.)