Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Atrocity Archives

I've read a few things by Charles Stross before (Glasshouse, Accelerando) and have really enjoyed his brand of genre fiction - big ideas, hard sci-fi, cool characters - so when I saw The Atrocity Archives on the library shelf I decided to give it a go. I knew from the blurb that it wasn't sci fi per se, but it seemed pretty interesting. It would be tempting to call it a supernatural spy thriller, except supernatural doesn't seem quite right, and it has a lot of pure horror overtones. And the supernatural aspects are explained as a deeper understanding of maths and physics, connections with other dimensions and parallel universes - and not just explained in a hand-wavy kind of way either, especially when we get on to things like Ragnarok's Ice Giants, come to put the world in eternal winter...

While it might be difficult for me to tell you exactly what genre The Atrocity Archives falls into, I have no troubles in telling you that it is a great read, a real page turner. The lead's mix of intelligence, humour, and theoretical knowledge with limited experience in the arena that the story is set make him a really engaging character, and the plot is in the best tradition of noir and spy thrillers, dangling lots of loose ends and plot strands that you know must connect somehow, a jigsaw whose picture you can't see until the final chapters. If you see it on your library shelf or in your local bookshop, I'd recommend you give it a go.

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