The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump
|Cover artist||Stephen Hickman|
The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump is a novel by American writer Harry Turtledove, published by Baen Books in 1993. While having some aspects of an alternate history, it is mainly a work of science fantasy depicting a world where spells, pragmatically used by some to achieve the same results as the use of technology, call upon a spectrum of major to minor deities of the present to the past that are functioning when called upon or omni-present and restricted to local use or having a greater area of influence. Spells are not toxin-free and can have an ill effect on the environment when the appropriate deities and practices are not considered. Disaster can follow.
The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump is set in a recognizable present-day United States (specifically, in a very recognizable analogue of Los Angeles), with many present-day technologies and institutions having a magical equivalent (for example, the analogue of the CIA is staffed by actual, literal spooks, and computers use a multitude of imps instead of microchips). The title refers to magic spells that can have toxic side-effects, much the same as industrial practices in our world; therefore, there is the need for a place where those toxins can be dumped to avoid damaging the environment.
The book also employs many of the conventions of the hard-boiled detective novel, transposed to this setting. The protagonist, EPA (Environmental Perfection Agency) agent David Fisher, is assigned a case that would appear to need little attention and a simple solution soon becomes complicated and dangerous. Clues lead Fisher to the spell dump that threatens the city with the resurgence of a malevolent Mesoamerican god. The Lithuanian god Perkūnas, worship by some today in our world, heeds the prayer of a Lithuanian American devotee, lends his assistance to defeat the bloodthirsty local god, and is successful.
- The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Review by Doug Linger
- Review on the Baen Books website
- Review by Jeph Gord
- The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump at Goodreads
- Online text