BOOK REVIEW – CHARLES STROSS – THE CONCRETE JUNGLE In THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES 2004 ORBIS PRESS
Horror novella added for good bonus to The Atrocity Archive, to which it is a sequel. The Laundry summons Bob Howard for another paranormal super-spy mission, when it is discovered that a real cow has been ritually killed in Milton Keynes, among the concrete cow statues the town is so noted for. As he is taken there by helicopter he is given top secret files dating from World War One and beyond, revealing that gorgons, as in Greek myth, are real, and in a few cases they have been captured, killed or subjected to experimentation by British Intelligence. From such experiments, The Laundry has been able to develop Gorgon Stare technology and install it in the CCTV cameras around Britain, as a means to take down potential invaders and terrorists. Unfortunately, someone from The Laundry has successfully hacked into the system, and plans to use the gorgon stare as a weapon against the British people. The slaughtered cow was an experimental first victim, and Bob discovers that the van used to transport it to within range of the cameras is now in a police pound. Bob assisted by a fiery tempered lady cop. Goes to the pound where the camera system almost kills the pair of them. His boss arrives with the SAS and they take out the camera network itself, before having to attack the Laundry headquarters itself when the Gorgon Stare scheme points to an attempted corporate take over by Bob’s boss’s chief business rivals, who unleash zombies and other abominations, but fail miserably as Bob once again saves his career and possibly the World as well.
In addition to the novel and this terrific short adventure, Stross provides a fascinating essay showing that the spy story and horror story have more in common than we might ever have imagined.
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