Home Crowd Advantage, Rare Book of Cunning Device, and Moments
April 23, 2019 4:45 AM - by Ben Aaronovitch - Subscribe

Short Stories in the Peter Grant Universe - available on audible or the Aaronovitch's website.


Home Crowd Advantage: Peter interviews a French practitioner right before the 2012 London Olympics.

Moments One: Nightingale in 1966

Moments Two: Kimberley Reynolds in 2014

Moments Three (German): Tobias Winter in 2012

(A Rare Book of Cunning Device is an Audible exclusive)
posted by dinty_moore (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A Rare Book of Cunning Device was my first try at the audiobook experience. I enjoyed it, but it's very slight.
posted by PussKillian at 12:18 PM on April 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the short stories seem more like excuses to explore places that wouldn't fit into one of the larger novels - it was fun, and that's all it really needed to be - though again, I had the issue where I couldn't remember what the resolution was right after listening/reading.

Still, I liked the librarian jokes, and Elsie Wynn-Stanley was a fun character. "A Rare Book of Cunning Device" was the first thing I listened to rather than read, too, and while I definitely prefer a text copy for revisiting, Kobna Holdbrook Smith's voice became Peter's for me pretty much immediately, and I loved some of his line readings (the 'I try to learn from fictional character's mistakes', for example)

Also I found out that I'd been unconsciously mispronouncing all of the Latin in my head, whoops.

"The Home Crowd Advantage" felt like the least integrated into the rest of the world - to the point where I'm tempted to treat it more like a decent fanfic than anything else.

The moments were mostly interesting because it's Aaronovitch going for a different voice, and for the most part it seems to work. I'd heard that Tobias Winter was going to be the POV character for The October Man before I'd finished reading the books, and kept on wondering when he was going to pop up - here, apparently.

I still don't have much interest in Kim Reynolds, though the voice and the motel room setting made me think more about early season Supernatural than the X-Files. The look at the prison-industrial complex is interesting enough, too.

The Nightingale '66 moment is definitely the most backstory-rich one - though as many mysteries as surround Nightingale, getting his POV is probably going to answer surprisingly few of them (half of them, he seems really good at compartmentalizing, the other half he's just incurious about). Still, glimpse of both what Nightingale was like, Oswald's life, and the demi-monde are pretty great. Plus, this description of Mama Thames as 'entirely agreeable if somewhat forceful.' is worth everything.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:54 PM on April 24, 2019

Yeah, not too much here, but they are pleasant enough. I liked seeing a more coherent Hugh Oswald, and we do get a bit of Kim Reynolds religion, which could be terrible or could make the character. Tobias Winter makes me nervous — he sounds like a love child of Peter Grant and Bob Howard, and we don’t need that. It is fun seeing what the Germans get wrong about Midnight Riot, though.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:29 AM on April 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed these, and wouldn't have known they existed if not for this Fanfare club, so thanks for posting.

I've read a lot of schlocky scifi over the years, and seen more than a few authors fall into the trap of putting every possible detail and idea into their stories because, damnit, they've done the work of dreaming up every detail of how their universe works and they're not letting it go to waste.

So I love the idea of little offshoots like this, giving glimpses into other aspects of the world and its characters that don't necessarily fit into the main stories but can be picked up by fans if we're interested.

I think I enjoyed the glimpse into Reynolds' work the most. She presents herself to Peter as very tough and largely untouched by the work, in much the same way that Peter does to other officers. But of course a long assignment of lone travel to interview mass killers, with the realisation that most of them are just drably awful humans without the excuse of possession, must be deeply wearing. In the same way that Peter is humanised a great deal by the job's effects on him, this story does a lot to flesh out Reynolds, as well.

And the German story is fun too; nothing much happens in itself, but thinking through the implications of what we're told makes me very curious about what we'll see in The October Man.
posted by metaBugs at 6:51 AM on May 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm a sucker for magical libraries or any sort, so I loved that one thought it was frustratingly elusive in actually giving an answer to any of the big questions about the book creeper thingy.

I am left wondering more about the Russians. We've gotten glimpses now of how the US, Germany, and France handle magic, but only hints about Russia from Varvara. I haven't read the Night Witch comic so maybe there's more there? I want to know more about other continents too. We've gotten hints, but not much more. When do we get to learn more about Michael Cheung and Sahra?
posted by Wretch729 at 10:18 AM on October 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I haven't read the Night Witch comic so maybe there's more there?

There's a little bit more - but even then, it's on Varvara's WWII experience with only the vaguest hints about what anyone would be up to now. I think more than anything, you get a better idea of who Varvara is as a character.

I'm really, really hoping for more references to the book creeper in False Value - something about magical devices and computing makes me think that it'd slot right in.

I'm hoping for more Michael Cheung and Sahra in the main books (along with Madame Teng), but in my heart of heart daydreams, I think it would be awesome if Aaronovitch pulled a Rick Riordan and allowed people from all over the world write stories about how their country handles magic in the RoL universe. As curious as I am about everyone else, part of what makes the series shine is a specific love of London.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:59 PM on October 16, 2019

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