Brothers Macbeth and Drederick Tooms should have it made as fair-haired scions of an impossibly rich and powerful family of industrialists. Alas, life is complicated in mid-1950s USA when you’re child heirs to the throne of Sword Enterprises, a corporation that has enshrined Machiavelli’s The Prince as its operating manual and whose patriarch believes, Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds, would be a swell company logo.
I’ve been a fan of Barron’s work for a while now, and his fiction can be very dark. There’s certainly darkness here, but there’s a decent amount of comedy and light-heartedness too.
This novella sees rival Men-In-Black-esque corporations, Lovecraftian mythos, twisted characters with convoluted pasts, and a mind-bending plot. It’s some truly bizarre and compelling stuff.
The characters have very little agency, but that’s rather the point it seems. On the one hand, it annoyed me initially as I read, because it seemed like nothing more than a litany of stuff happening to people. But as we observe these people juggled like inconsequential balls by cosmic powers beyond understanding, the larger truths of the story become clearer. Though never clear. And the novella is a perfect length for stories of this kind. All tremendous fun.