Bob Howard is a computer-hacker desk jockey, who has more than enough trouble keeping up with the endless paperwork he has to do on a daily basis. He should never be called on to do anything remotely heroic. But for some reason, he is.
©2004 Charles Stross; (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
"In Atrocity, Bob, a low-level computer fix-it guy for the Laundry, a supersecret British agency that defends the world from occult happenings, finds himself promoted to fieldwork after he bravely saves the day during a routine demonstration gone awry. With his Palm, aka his Hand of Glory (a severed hand that, when ignited, renders the holder invisible), and his smarts, he saves the world from a powerful external force seeking to enter our universe to suck it dry....With often hilarious results, the author mixes the occult and the mundane, the truly weird and the petty." (Publishers Weekly)
I quite enjoyed the idea of summoning and arcane ideology told through a lens of modern engineering and not one of esotericism and mumbo-jumbo.
Readers who don't know anything about electrical engineering or computer science may want to steer clear as the story can get a little technical at times. However if you're ready to research just a little (I know I was) You'll find a fantastic sci-fi series with truly epic highs and brutally intense lows.
It is always a risky gamble to start a new author or series. You just never know what you are going to get, even with millions of reviews, the book can still turn out awful. Now, sometimes the risk pays off, and sometimes it pays off in spades, just like with this book.
I picked this book up expecting a simple spoof that I'd use to kill time with while I looked for a different, good book to start.
I bought the sequel before I even finished this one.
Basically this book is satire layered on satire, and so forth and so on, like an ogre, or an onion. You have a satire of office bureaucracy that is further amplified by governmental office bureaucracy. This means there are characters wanting nothing but to kill time until their pension kicks in. Other characters that enjoy stomping on the soul of the working grunt with timesheets, paperclip audits, and forms for acquisition forms. And then after several more layers of people, you have our wonderful protagonist, the conscripted bored IT working mathematician engineer spy-in-training necromancer.
You read that right. Our protagonist is all of the above. His day job at The Laundry is as tech support helping accountants and other punters who get locked out of their computers. As for The Laundry, it is the governmental organization that is keeping Lovecraftian brain suckers from invading the world and eating all of mankind. They still need tech support though. Along with audits, budgets, and all that good stuff, oh my. It would have been better for everyone had some famous mathematician not figured out that an even higher level of math rips holes in the universe and summons unspeakable mind-flaying tentacles from far away dimensions (the far away ones require lower energy requirements).
But Bob, the hero of the story, was bored, so he volunteered for active duty. This was a mistake, and the start of another level of satire. Being a spy against unmentionables doesn't exempt anyone from ISO 9000 certification approved forms for budgetary allocation, wet-work teams, or time sheet approvals. This is then made even more complicated (read: fun) when he meets a beautiful redhead that some creepy cultists are intent on kidnapping and sacrificing.
From here you get a spy thriller - with tentacles - and even more satire. Yeah it may be a standard story, but its dipped in delicious candy for the mind. And the humor of the things that come out of Bob's mouth are priceless. Pretty much because it is everything we all wish we could say to our bosses.
Does this sound funny to you? It is.
Do nameless horrors from the darkest parts of the universe scare you? Well there are actually kind of scary parts in this book.
Do you like satire? Good.
Pick this book up. I can recommend it to anyone who likes to be entertained and want a good book that'll make you laugh and cheer for the hero of the story. And of course want to relate to some other bloke stuck in office purgatory.
Do you like spies and clandestine meetings in the night, false flags, and dead drops? Do you like Lovecraftian horror? Gibbering, soul-eating entities whose existence dances at edge of our perception? How about 'The Office', compete with wacky hi jinx, inter office politics, and paper clip audits? Do you mind bending, genre-shattering fantasy, complete with spy craft, romance, Nazis, IT help-desk tales, and battling the undead? Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives is all this and more, a whip-lash adventure which crosses time, space, and matrix-management Iso 9000 audits!
its cthulhu + misaeng + a touch of the office, with a little x-files thrown in to shake things up.
the series is an odd mix of field assignments and office politics where paperclip accountability and monster incursions from the outer realms are equally dreaded and feared and there is never enough money budgeted to the departments that actually DO things. like save the world. again.
the mix of mundane office BS and the cases bob works on somehow combine together to make a really interesting story with lots of dry humor.
This is fast and tight storytelling with a mythos meets noir meets modern technology flair that I can't put down. I love how little hand-holding there was throughout the book. I am diving right into the next one.
middling. It was interesting enough to keep my attention, but for the most part it left me more disappointed than not.
It paints an interesting universe, which has a lot of potential if adequately utilized. However, the book is dripping with the sort of nerd superiority complex that's rife in the comp-sci industry. Its filled to the brim with "inside" jokes, adulation for petulant man-children, and a distinct lack of self-awareness.
[SPOILERS] Wouldn't a monster capable of sucking energy from entire universes be able to utilize the energy in an atomic bomb regardless of its state of assembly? I mean, the potential is still there?[SPOILERS]
I think I liked this book? I was confused a lot of the time; there were a lot of parts that I found funny, but plenty of techy stuff that made little to no sense to me. I think if I had a better understanding of some of that tech stuff, I would have enjoyed this book way more. I would probably have to give it a second listen to catch what I missed the first time around.
I felt no connection to the characters; at no point did it bother me that they were in distress. The stories were interesting but not compelling. At points it seemed to drag on and on. I would not recommend The Atrocity Archives: A Laundry Files Novel; however, I would not discourage anyone form reading it. I MIGHT listen to the next in the series.
I marked the book Finished half way through so if something happened to my iPhone I would not download it again.
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