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A Colder War

Narrated by: Pat Bottino
Length: 1 hr and 19 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Summary

The biggest single threat to NATO may be the Shoggoth Gap. The wild card is Lt. Col. Oliver North, President Reagan's man. Roger Jourgensen, CIA operative, is at the center of this crisis. If all the political wrangling doesn't work out perfectly, there will be hell to pay, or worse - far, far worse.

Here is a modern novelette in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos that is rich in detail and frightening in execution. Stross' stunning tale will pull you back into the cold-war era, engendering fear and then magnifying it into non-euclidean infinities. Imagine David Cronenberg directing Dr. Strangelove, based on a script by H. P. Lovecraft. Imagine an alternate history in which nuclear bombs are not the ultimate weapon, but instead are merely a stepping stone to eldritch technologies accessible through certain trans-dimensional forces first encountered in 1920s Antarctica, technologies that neither the United States nor the USSR can quite contain.

Stross has admitted that "A Colder War" was directly inspired by Lovecraft's novel At the Mountains of Madness. The amount of research and historical mastery Stross sprinkles throughout the narrative creates the verisimilitude necessary for truly effective alternate history.

©2000 Spectrum SF3 (P)2005 AudioText

Critic reviews

"Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!" ( sffaudio.com)

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Toby
  • Frome, United Kingdom
  • 30-04-09

Great Story - Poor Reading

A superb story that mixes 80s military paranoia with Lovecraftian cosmic horror in a world where a nuclear holocaust may be preferable to the other weapons the superpowers can unleash.
Sadly, the reading is rather poor - badly paced, almost monotone at times. Due to the speed at which it is read punctuation is ignored in places. Maybe the idea was to capture a feeling of numbed senses and rising hysteria, if so it failed. Overall, one loses the subtleties of Charles Stross' writing beneath the poor delivery. Such a shame with such a good story.

I hope that Audible will produce the same author's excellent books "The Atrocity Archives" and "The Jennifer Morgue" that re-work and develop some of the themes found in "A Colder War", however, if they are produced I hope more attention will be paid to getting the reading right.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

An unnendurable narration...

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

The book might be fine, I just couldn't stick it out long enough to find out.

Would you recommend A Colder War to your friends? Why or why not?

I'd recommend buying the book perhaps, but not the audio book.

Would you be willing to try another one of Pat Bottino’s performances?

Categorically, no. I've heard text-to-speech programmes with more life in them - I'm not sure, but perhaps they decided a rambling, robotic monotone would be more science-fiction-like than a natural human voice? It was like listening to a list being rattled off, not at all easy on the ear.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment once I realised it was going to go straight onto the DELETE pile.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

slow thriller

Great follow up to The Mountains of Madness! it builds slowly but the end will leave you shivering.

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    5 out of 5 stars

A classic story, and a great listen

'A colder war' is Stross's reframing of the Cold War as a Lovecraftian balance of terror in which the arms race revolves, not around nukes (here humanity's last-ditch defence) but around possession and control of the horrors from beyond the stars. The point of view is that of an intelligence analyst processing reports in a Reagan-esque USA, and very forcefully makes Stross's case that what spooks truly fear is paper. However, there are worse things out there than paper and the story does not end well, at least for the humans. Much of the fascination of the story is that it is an intelligence procedural, neither a spy story nor a tale of magicians, with the central character drawn ever deeper into the black ops orchestrated by the Colonel (at the least a very close relation of Oliver North). Stross's voice here is perfect - unsensational, unemotional, letting the horrors speak for themselves, and the narrator supports it perfectly. The audiobook is a great delivery of a great story.

If you're a Laundry files fan, you'll probably like this a lot. As well as being eminently worth a listen for itself, it gives an airing to a lot of themes later explored at greater length by Bob Howard and his colleagues. If you aren't, please give it a go anyway. It's Lovecraftiana's answer to le Carre.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Story.

Absolutely excellent story that combines significant elements of the Cthulhu Mythos and 1980's Ronnie Raygun Military-Industrial complex black-ops. Stross later developed the 'horror-spy' theme in 'The Atrocity Archives,' and 'The Jennifer Morgue' - alas neither available on Audible, yet.

Historical events of the Reagan era are seamlessly woven into the story culminating in events Lovecraft (and Reagan) never envisaged.

The only downside is the slightly odd way the in which the story is narrated. Overall though well worth buying.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Erich L. Swafford
  • 05-02-08

Really fun listen

If you love HP Lovecraft, then you'll go crazy for this "modern", tongue-in-cheek alternative history.

I have one phrase for you:

We have a Weakly-God-Like-Entity Gap.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Max Draco
  • Max Draco
  • 03-04-08

Good story, Bad narration

The narrator's decision to read this fast and without relaxation makes this a hard to enjoy book (mimics a 1940-50's army/news flick). The story is a nice HP Lovecraft twist, but listen to the sample first before you decide to buy. In fact I've listen to a couple of samples narrated by Pat Bottino and I think his reading style and voice are suitable for only certain characters.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew Price
  • 10-05-19

Great story, but wooden reader

I loved the story, but the reader was very flat and stilted through out the tale.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • cjh
  • 04-01-19

Terrible narration

The narrator speaks too quickly and doesn’t annunciate clearly - it comes out as a hard to follow rambling mess.

I can’t give the story a fair rating as I couldn’t begin to follow it.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for EctoSage
  • EctoSage
  • 25-09-18

My Lord! The narration is appaling!

While the story is alright, showing a alternative cold war, with the added problems the existence of Lovecraft's fabled beings would cause, the narration lacks any pacing.
One sentence leads directly into the next, completely unrelated one, and everything is read as if a gun was held to the narrators head. The characters almost talk on top of one another due to the narrators breathless pace.
if this book had been 3 minutes longer, I would not have finished it. Avoid this version like the plague.

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Profile Image for Uusitalo Laura
  • Uusitalo Laura
  • 18-06-18

Hated the narration

I hated the narration, it was a rtlly weird mix of robotic voice & monotonicity & overemphasis. :( Couldn't really enjoy the story because of it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anthony
  • 19-02-17

Confirms HP Lovecraft's genius...

Charles Stross seamlessly embraces alternative universe of Chtulu Mythos in modern day historical settings. The distance between science fiction and scientific fact is growing shorter exponentially even Lovecraft's universe never foresaw Social media or did it. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Pinterest... World eating mind not living but never dead...

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nelson
  • 12-06-16

Cthulhu in the Black Sea?

I thought he was in sunken R'yleh, in the Pacific (see Google Earth coordinates)! I came across a reference to this story in (of all places) a blog about how modern society may be creating a hydrogen sulfide Canfield ocean, prevalent in the Mesoproterozoic, invoking Cthulhu (with name misspelled). The Black Sea is now the poster child for a(n) euxinic body of water, which is where the Soviets dredged him up in this story.

I did not care for the voice changing effects to mark chapter headings (just a personal opinion).

Recommend.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Alexander Marhenke
  • Alexander Marhenke
  • 30-05-16

Good continuation

Was very happy to see a good continuation of Lovecraft's st "At the Mountains of Madness".

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Profile Image for Abram Ortega
  • Abram Ortega
  • 03-09-15

Great stuff

What did you love best about A Colder War?

I really liked the growing doom as the story went on, the shear scale and vision of the story was incredible.

What did you like best about this story?

Probably the descriptions of strange locations.

Which character – as performed by Pat Bottino – was your favorite?

The Colonel

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A colder war is coming.