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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Days Of Atonement

Copyright 1992 by Walter Jon Williams

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Very good (4/5)

I most recently read this on the 28th August 2002.

Loren Hawn is the police chief of the small town Atocha, New Mexico, population 10,000 and 41 churches.

Sadly, Atocha is dying. It was a company town, a mining town. Now the mine is being closed, local men will lose their jobs, the businesses that fed on the miners income will struggle to survive. The only major company in the town, ATL, is a high-technology, highly secure modern industry and few of its employees are town folk.

With forty-one churches Atocha is a religious town. Hawn himself takes his religion seriously. The Holy Church of the Apostles of Elohim is an offshoot of the Mormons and this week will celebrate the seven Days Of Atonement, one for each of the seven deadly sins. Loren has a lot of sins, and these seven days will see his behaviour and beliefs challenged by his family, his friends and reality itself.

When a dying man comes into Hawn's office and begs for help, and when his car belongs to staff at ATL, and when ATL security staff seem to be blocking the murder investigation. Loren knows he has problems. But these are incidental, Loren's problem is much worse: he knows who the dying man is, and knows that he died many, many years ago.

A superbly atmospheric delineation of small town America with a powerful cast of characters. Williams has created a magnetic, flawed hero in Loren Hawn, selfish, corrupt and arrogant, but clever and very, very good at his job. All this in an stimulating mix of good ole' boys and high energy physics proves to me that Williams really is a very good writer. I'm also rather astonished that he's so flexible - compare this with his good, but very different, "Metropolitan" and "City On Fire".

Loaded on the 24th September 2002.
Cover of Days Of Atonement
Cover art by Marin Andrews

Reviews of other works by Walter Jon Williams:
Knight Moves
City On Fire
The Sundering
Walter Conventions of War