The "Merchant Princes" series by Charles Stross.

Charles Stross, "The Revolution Trade"

2013-12-31 · in Books, Merchant Princes · 94 words

Suitably apocalyptic ending to the original Merchant Princes trilogy, with refreshingly few interventions of luck along the way. The chapter at the end (you'll know which one I mean if you read it) is chillingly effective.

I do wish someone'd do an alt-history series with primitive electronics that isn't based on valves — it could have been the FET (or even something wackier, like magnetic amplifiers) that took off in this universe...

The next three volumes (one and a half volumes?) are currently under construction.

Charles Stross, "The Traders' War"

2013-12-30 · in Books, Merchant Princes · 104 words

Second book in the series. The point at which things start getting seriously complicated — i.e. I feel like this is Stross writing SF, rather than sticking to the bounds of the urban fantasy genre he was aiming at when the series began.

There's some slightly odd pacing here, especially in the first book (perhaps influenced by finding out that he'd have to head for a cliffhanger rather sooner than expected, going by his retrospective?). As a whole, though, this works well; it's an engaging setting, and it lets Stross explore some interesting political questions.

Charles Stross, "The Bloodline Feud"

2013-12-11 · in Books, Merchant Princes · 67 words

The revised director's-cut edition of the first two Merchant Princes books. I wasn't very surprised to find myself ordering the rest of the series...

This is (as he says, deliberately) quite different from what I'd think of as Stross's usual style: the fun here is in exploring the consequences of changes to a satisfying complex alt-history world.