Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Audio book reviews: Accidental Time Machine and Atrocity Archives

Yummy has a long commute. Sure, we've all heard about people who live three hours away and make the commute three times a week. People who commute an hour aren't uncommon at all. But, just because lots of people do it doesn't mean it's not an idiotic commute.

I'm getting off my point. Take two.

Yummy has a log commute. A what kind of commute? Is she a lumberjack? No.

Trying again.

Yummy has a long commute. About an hour one way. To help with this commute she hits the library and runs through a lot of audio books. Some of the books appeal to me so I have a listen, too. Here's the story of a couple.

The Accidental Time Machine
I already read this book. See? Some books are better when read. Some books are better when listened to. Some are much worse when listened to. You can debate whether it's because of the person doing the reading or how the text flows or some whateverness about it. I thought "The Accidental Time Machine" was better when listened to.

You can read my original review [link], but the short version is that some guy finds a device that's broken in some 4th dimension so each push of the button moves it forward at exponential increments.

The Atrocity Archives
In a world... Hold on. You can't hear the voice I'm doing right now can you? Yeah? Ok, pushing on then.

In a world much like our own the supernatural is real. More to the point H.P. Lovecraft wrote educational pamphlets without changing a word of what he wrote in our world. Magic, necromancy, speakable horrors, and computers are all real and all work together.

Our hero is... was... a math nerd. He thought he was working on an equation that created some spiffy special effects. In truth he was close to summoning something that would likely have eaten the world. So "The Laundry", top secret organization created to prevent shit like that, came and shut him down. He could join up or they could do something to him to make sure that his math and computer skills were pretty much useless. So the book starts with him as a computer geek in The Laundry.

Soon his requests to become a field agent, part time at least, pay off. He's torn between late night stakeouts in the rain and the bureaucracy, between fighting universe eaters in other dimensions and making sure he fills out his DD-421 before taking a few days to do the stuff that human resources isn't cleared do know about. (i.e. fighting universe eaters in other dimensions).

It's actually two stories, neither of which are quite long enough to be accepted as a book these days. In the first our hero fails is checking out someone who is making a mistake like the one he once made. Her research would lead her to horrible creature land. When things go pear shaped he breaks protocol and saves her. This leads to a series of events that lead to fighting a universe eater in another dimension.

There's also some people with glowing worms in their eyes. He kills one. Don't worry, the deceased still makes it to work later. There's an investigation. The bureaucracy that goes along with all the monster killing is one of the things that makes the book fun.

In the second story there's a network of cameras that can be uploaded with some software that makes the camera act like a Gorgon or a Basilisk. The cameras turn people to stone. But someone has hacked it in what turns out to be an attempt to take over The Laundry.

My favorite part was the research into how Gorgon vision works. The double slit experiment results in patterns of stone and semi-stone in the subject medium.

I recommend both audio books. But don't just rip them, put the MP3s on your iPod, and return the disks to the library so other people can check it out and enjoy it sooner. Nope, nope, nope. That's illegal and stuff. Why? Oh... uh... look, I'm out of paper.

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