I have a stack of backed up book reviews. First on the pile is The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross.
This book comprises a slightly short novel, "The Atrocity Archive", and a novella, "The Concrete Jungle", both previously published. The two episodes connect reasonably well. There is another volume of these stories and I'm not sure how they all fit together, but this volume stands alone well enough.
Stross is a very good world builder, and this book is no exception. The major assumption the world is built on is a very weird one. It posits that the structure of reality is such that simply performing certain kinds of mathematical calculation can actually have meaningful effects which would otherwise be described as magic. Odd as it is, I'd almost be ready to call this science fiction, except that he also includes some other, more traditional magic that doesn't come from the same source and isn't well justified. The mathematical basis of the important magic provides the excuse for enough references to obscure higher mathematics to warm any math geek's heart. The magic is very dark, Lovecraftian stuff; this book could be shelved as horror as well as fantasy. This is juxtaposed against a satirical depiction of bureaucracy run amok; the horror of extradimensional brain eaters is mixed with the horror of accounting for paper clips, so that we're not quite sure if the latter is just comic relief, or if the analogy between the two is really the main point of the book. Against this background, we have plenty of breathless action and things blowing up.
Too far into horror to really be to my taste, but well done for what it is. 7 out of 10.
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