Some while back, I mentioned I was on Book Four of the six-book "Merchant Princes" series by Charles Stross. An interesting concept, well-executed; but along about the point where I set them down to write my review, things started to get a little silly.
Well, either silly or what I'd assumed to be our familiar Earth was not (and this does appear to be the case based on other evidence in the text): you see, when one of the prime villains showed up, he turned out to be Dick Cheney.
And not just any Dick Cheney, either; the short- and/or ill-tempered political opportunist and operative of our world had been replaced by a deeply eeeevil chap who lacked only a waxed mustache to twirl. Yes, the ham-handed shotgunner who briefly endeared himself by violating the spirit of Senate Rule 19* when he suggested Senator Leahy might want to enjoy an intimate moment all alone, that guy. In the books, he's not the old pol who went from "most powerful Vice President in history" to retirement in 2008 but a spider more ruthless than Moriarty. If a sparrow falls, he felled it.
The character is readily recognizable as the Mother Jones/European press version of Cheney, embodying practically everything that worries them about U.S. politicians, especially Republicans. In hindsight, it reads so over the top that it become part and parcel of Stross's setting, one of three alternative worlds, this one very like our own and yet almost risibly different.
If you are easily riled at caricatures of politicians, you may want to avoid this series. If you'd like a look through eyes on the far side of the water, you may find the series offers it as a sort of unintended bonus. And if you always suspected the man was up to no good, you'll probably find Art more convincing than life.
* The Senate at that time not officially Senating, the grade-school-type rule barring "harsh language" wasn't in effect. (And it may not apply to anyone but actual Senators even then. Does that mean they can have their staff swear for them? Probably not.) A pity they have it, really; if Senators could indulge in some really vile invective while on the clock, they might spend more time doing that, less time checking for a loose fiver or billion in the public purse, and find themselves having to get a move on to accomplish their Constitutional duties in the remaining time -- but I dream.
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