Through a Glass, Darkly by Dennis Detwiller; Arc Dream Publishing ; 2011; 275 pgs; $29.99 US
If you know what Delta Green means than I’m going to make a couple of assumptions. First, you are a slinger of funny shaped dice and a player of role playing games, specifically of the game based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu and more specifically, of the modern governmental conspiracy rich offshoot, Delta Green. Second, if you know what Delta Green is then you’ll enjoy this book a whole lot more than someone new to that universe. Yes, the biggest knock against this new novel of Lovecraftian horror in the modern day is that it’s absolutely written with the fans of Delta Green in mind. So if you’re already acquainted with all things Delta Green then you’ll get all the references, throw backs, call outs and knowing nods to the previous volumes of source material written over the last fifteen years. If you don’t know Delta Green from any other colored Greek letter, then you may find yourself lost from time to time or worse, completely baffled. While this kind of fan service is great for the, well fans, it alienates the nonfan instead of bringing them into the fold and showing them what a well-developed, and truly horrifying, world the men and woman of the shadowy government agency known as Delta Green live and die in.
However the best thing for me is that this also makes this book a breeze to review. If you like all things Delta Green then you must get this book. It is very well written, engaging, and full of the government meddling with, or trying to stop, the Cthulhu Mythos. It’s an often espionage-tinged blend of action and horror that made the Delta Green game and most of the previous works of fiction so damn good. For the uninitiated, think of it as The X-Files meets H. P. Lovecraft, although to be fair, pieces of the DG game started to appear a year before The X-Files hit the airwaves.
The story is set in 2001, begins with a boy coming back from the dead, and is full of all the elements of Delta Green’s shadow war against the cosmic horrors that seek to destroy us, not to mention the various misguided and delusional human fools that think they can control such chaos. This is great stuff, as good as it gets for DG fans, and it should be as author Dennis Detwiller is one of the original creators of that world. As someone who knows a good deal about Delta Green, I can say whole heartedly that loved this book to pieces.
That being said, if you’re not well versed in all things Delta Green, then this is really not a good place to start. Mr. Detwiller assumes that the reader has at least a working knowledge of the history of that complex world and he doesn’t slow down his story to explain things to the laymen. That is a shame, as it is a very good story, and if only a little more background was given it might have been accessible to a wider audience.
So to all you DG fans out there, do get this book, it’s great…not that you wouldn’t already do so. To the nonfans, I would sadly have to recommend that you pass on this one, as it would probably be more confusing than enjoyable. Actually I would really recommend that you do some homework and bone up on all things Delta Green, as it is a fascinating and very different take on the usual Lovecraftian horrors that we all know and love. Once you have read a few of the older DG books then by all means give Through a Glass, Darkly a shot. You won’t be disappointed.
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