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Dark State
Merchant Princes Multiverse
Empire Games #2
by Charles Stross
Tor, $25.99, 349 pages
Published: 2017

Divergent timelines;
no danger of meeting yourself —
only The Other.

Which timeline are we in?

Dark State is the immediate sequel to 2016’s Empire Games, part of The Merchant Prince series. The next book, Invisible Sun, is due out January, 2019. (I hope that title is a reference to the song by The Police!) 

Actress and spy Rita Douglas from time line two finally meets her mother, Miriam Burgeson, on opposite sides of a time line cold war, after the hot war of 2003. Both are inheritors of a matrilineal tradition of time walkers, and both have the best interests of their worlds and times at heart. And honestly, if spies and politicians would just leave her alone, Miriam would probably cultivate a quiet garden and mind her own business, but noooooo, there are all these ambitious meddlers…

Then there’s Princess Elizabeth Hanover, daughter of exiled royalty in time line three, who’d very much like to be more than a political pawn to be brokered in marriage.

My favorite character, Paulette Milan, has a rough time of it. Arrested for smuggling pharmacological products across timelines to save an entire generation, she is offered a hard choice: cooperate, or be traded to China for organ-harvesting. Of all the grim ways to pay down a multi-trillion-dollar national debt! But with unguessable threats from time lines known and unknown, the government-appointed guardians of time line two will use any person or ploy they can leverage.

Laced with sharp-edged humor, this SF political thriller is like a George Smiley novel by Le Carre crossed with Dune.  ~~ Chris Wozney

For other titles by Charles Stross click here

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