NESFA Members' Reviews

The Atrocity Archves

by Charles Stross

Golden Gryphon, 2004, ISBN 1-930846-25-8

A book review by Elisabeth Carey

If you've read Tim Powers' Declare, this is a really different take on the same idea: Most major world events of the last century, especially the ones that have killed lots of people, are due to government efforts to both conceal and contain dangers far more horrific than the ones they're telling us about. The essential problem is that mathematicians and computer hackers, if they're good enough, can accidentally arrive at solutions that can open doorways to other dimensions, where things dwell that are utterly malevolent and which will consume our entire world if they get the chance. What are these monsters like? Lovecraft wasn't writing fiction, basically.

Bob Howard is a computer hacker who did the wrong kind of really good work and got forcibly recruited into the super-secret, but badly underfunded, agency that deals with this threat. Eventually, he's unlucky enough to get what he asks for—promotion to field work. Suddenly, Bob is dealing with demon-possessed terrorists, philosophy professors who've found a new and different way to get too close to the truth, and threats to the very fabric of existence.  Life is isn't boring anymore. And that's all just in The Atrocity Archive. This book also contains a novella, "The Concrete Jungle," the further adventures of Bob Howard through the really dark side of the world.

Very, very good.

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