March 20, 2009

Review of Charlie Stross' Atrocity Archives and Glasshouse

I've finished two more Charlie Stross novels recently. The first is Glasshouse. I highly recommend it. A far-future sci-fi novel, instant transfer wormhole gates, personality downloads, backups, and editing. The main hook is: in a society where mass memory editing has taken place, how can you track down things that might have been completely erased from collective history? It was a very interesting read and has some provoking things to say about memory and history.

The second book is the Atrocity Archives. I also really enjoyed this book. I went in without knowing much about it except for the keywords Lovecraftian, Turing theorem, and some relationship between the two. This is really good for people who have a computer science background and have read lots of fantasy fiction. The book uses a system of well-defined magic mixed with technology. There is another series that I really like that does things the other way: Rick Cook's Wizardry Series. In that series a computer programmer is transported to a world of magic. It has rules and as a programmer he's good at doing things in structured environments. In the "Bob Howard Laundry" series in the Atrocity Archives we have the opposite approach: magic leaks into our technological world, and is also accessible to computer programming-type people.

The book is actually two short stories smashed together, which makes the book really seem disjointed. That bothered me until I realized that it was intentional (just smashing some existing writing together - a lot like my phd thesis...) and then I didn't have any issues with it. There is a sequel (The Jennifer Morgue (Decorating & Design)) that I am interested in reading now also. The book was lots of fun, and pretty funny also. Highly recommended. (Seems like that is how all my book reviews end...)


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