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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Scottish author Charles Stross' newest release is a dramatic departure from acclaimed hardcore science fiction thrillers like his Hugo Award–nominated Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise. The Family Trade is a fantasy about parallel realities and a powerful clan in charge of an "interuniversal import/export" business.
The novel's first few sentences are guaranteed to captivate readers: "Ten and a half hours before a mounted knight with a machine gun tried to kill her, tech journalist Miriam Beckstein lost her job. Before the day was out, her pink slip would set in train a chain of events that would topple governments, trigger civil wars, and kill thousands." After Beckstein is unceremoniously fired for uncovering a billion-dollar money-laundering scheme that involved her magazine's parent company, she seeks counsel from her foster mother. Instead of advice, however, her adoptive mom gives her an old locket that used to belong to her biological mother -- one of the few possessions her mother had on her when she was found brutally murdered when Miriam was only a baby. The intricate knotwork on the locket hypnotizes Miriam and mysteriously transports her to an alternate Earth where she is no longer a journalist but an elder member of a corrupt family reminiscent of Mario Puzo's Corleone clan.
Comparable to Harry Turtledove's Crosstime Traffic sequence and Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber, The Family Trade is intriguing, to say the least. Equal parts entrepreneurial adventure, organized crime thriller, and world-hopping fantasy, this novel brings new meaning to "limited liability company." Paul Goat Allen