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I read a novel (or possibly short story) years ago about a sort-of "cosmic balance" in the San Francisco Bay area. I recall the cover (or illustration) depicting a giant old-fashioned scale superimposed over the bay area, though that could be my imagination over time.

I believe it was by one of the writers in the Cthulhu Mythos world, possibly Derleth, Ashton Smith, Bloch, Long, or the like, though I don't think the story itself was really of the mythos, though there was definitely a feeling of foreboding and, iirc, a certain sense of hopelessness on the part of the protagonist.

I've scanned through the bibliographies of the likely culprits but no title jumps out and Google is no help.

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South Bay or North Bay? If it was Marin County, that would probably be Dick, but I don't recognize the story. More details about the story would help. Were there actual scales in the story? When is “years ago”? – user56 Apr 3 '12 at 23:59
To help make "story-identification" questions more useful, I'll note that while I wasn't able to remember a lot of details, I found the book to be utterly fascinating. The descriptions of how one can feel the balances, stressors, and energy of a city really rang true for me. I look forward to re-reading this excellent story. – Matthew Frederick Apr 4 '12 at 4:07
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It sounds like it could be Fritz Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness. The book is about, in part, the fictional pseudoscience of megapolisomancy, which was developed by fictional occultist Thibaut de Castries, an associate of Clark Ashton Smith's. The Wikipedia entry sez

According to De Castries, excessively large cities pose a clear danger to the people living in and near them by allowing mass quantities of certain substances (city-stuff) to accumulate, which in turn draw the attention of paramental forces. Through the manipulation of the paramental forces, a megapolisomancer could predict and alter the future.

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Bingo, thanks! The Wikipedia entry also includes mention of the San Francisco part: "The book is set in San Francisco, California, and the city and some of its buildings are integral to the story-line. In particular, Corona Heights, the Sutro Tower, the Hobart Building, the Trans-America Pyramid and 811 Geary are critical story-elements. Though the book was published in 1978, many of these elements remain." – Matthew Frederick Apr 4 '12 at 3:32

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