Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson
sbisson

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A Monday evening "A quick dose of the Strosses" review: The Atrocity Archives

Charles Stross' fascination for all things Cthulu goes back a long way. We can see it rear its ugly head in "A Boy And His God", but things don't get into their stride until we reach "A Colder War" - an alternate history of Reagan's America where the US had a very good reason for deploying some of the darker nightmares of the Cold War years.

Now we come to The Atrocity Archives, a compilation of his short novel "The Atrocity Archive", which first appeared in Spectrum SF as a three part serial, with the new novella "The Concrete Jungle". Here we're in a world where the true horrors of the world of espionage are turned on their head. Mathematics can open holes in the universe, holes that lead to deeper darker worlds where amoral entities lurk. Bob Howard is a hacker and sysadmin at "The Laundry", the last remaining piece of SOE, which just happens to be the UK's sole intelligence arm devoted to dealing with those horrors that lurk behind the corners of our comfy universe.

Bob's got tired of being a desk jockey - he wants to see some action. And between the office politics, and the actions of a middle-Eastern secret service that's delving into bits of history the West doesn't want uncovered, he's going to find it. It's a journey that will take Bob from the bowels of Mornington Crescent to Santa Cruz to Amsterdam and finally to the frozen surface of a world in another universe. Stross navigates Bob through a complex world that's more arcane than the equations that summon the Great Old Ones from the Dungeon Dimensions. If the eldritch horrors don't drive you mad, the complexities of reporting chains in a matrix management structure surely will... Oh, and it pays to count the concrete cows.

Stross mixes hard SF, Lovecraft and Len Deighton in a single convoluted story that makes more sense of the world than Fox News ever could...

Excellent stuff, and well worth reading. I'll look forward to the further adventures of Mr Howard.

[Disclaimer: Charlie's an old friend, and it's my and marypcb's house where Mo seems to be living...]
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