Monday, April 23, 2007

Im watching my back, I'm awaiting my visitation

I find if I fail to bring a back-up book on a trip, I won't like the book I am reading. This weekend certainly fit the pattern. I brought the survival tale Skeletons of the Zahara, which for whatever reason didn't grab me. I live in mortal terror of being without a book and I was in coastal Oregon, which is not rich in bookstores. Not feeling hopeful, I stopped in one of those all remainder bookstores you find in outlet malls and to my gleeful surprise I spotted Charles Stross's Atrocity Archives, which I have been meaning to read.

I initially avoided the book because it sounded a little too much like a mix of Declare and the Kings of Infinite Space. I loved both books and figured the Stross book couldn't do better. Well, I read quite a few of his other books and then got a good recommendation and decided to proceed. I'm glad I did. Its highly entertaining and while sharing some similarities with the books above, is very much its own novel.

The book is told from the perspective of a British Man in Black. The idea is that certain mathematical formulas can be used to tunnel into other dimensions where many Very Bad Things lurk. The Laundry tries to suppress this knowledge and combat incursions where necessary. The hero and his coworkers pursue this goal while combating their own bureaucracy which becomes most displeased when funds are misused.

The flaw in this book is actually the story. The central mystery is interesting, but devolves at the end to some highly cliched elements (damsel in distress, the selfless heroism of the secondary military character and so on). Even with this complaint, this is fun read and I recommend it.

Here are some related Stross freebies. A Colder War is a sequel to Lovecraft's at the Mountain of Madness. His Missile Gap has also just been made available.


Anonymous said...

I also read the Skeletons book Tripp-bo. I was similarly bored. Basically, a few hundred pages of some guy repeatedly drinking his own pee and being traded between guys riding camels. Somehow, in the middle of the desert, he has the uncanny ability to run into his shipmates over and over.


Tripp said...

You made it farther than I. And I can't say I am sad to miss the pee drinking.