Saturday, February 06, 2010
Discovering Charles Stross
Recently, I walked into my favourite SF bookshop, Of Science And Swords, and asked for something science fictional, as opposed to fantasy. "You're in the mood for SF today ... as always," said the proprietor. He knows me. It's not that I don't like fantasy at all - hey, I write the stuff! - but that I'm picky. Any Tolkien wannabe is right off my list, as is anyone who writes about long-lost heirs to kingdoms that have been usurped, anything with a Dark Lord (see above, Tolkien wannabe), any Mary Sue about an ordinary girl who suddenly discovers she is the princess of wherever (well, I'll make an exception for teen fiction, kids love more of the same) - you know the routine. But when I buy a new book, I want something with a little hard science in it.
I had heard of Charles Stross in Nova Mob meetings, but never read any of his books. So I picked up The Atrocity Archives which is a cross between spy fiction and Cthulhu horror, in which things worked a little differently back in the past and there's an entire branch of the public service dedicated to keeping the Lovecraftian monsters out, when they're not having to attend committee meetings and account for spending on paper clips.
And it gives very good scientific arguments for the magic in the book.
It's a hoot and I am about to read The Jennifer Morgue, the next book about Bob Howard (Bob as in Robert Howard ... geddit?) the monster-fighting computer geek.
If you live in/visit Melbourne, drop into Of Science And Swords - it's well worth the visit and the folk there love spec fic, unlike some bigger shops.
By the way, I have just started teaching this year's 8A and have discovered one of the boys is madly into the subject of alchemy. Who'd have thought it of a 13-year-old?