The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross



The Atrocity Archives The Atrocity ArchivesCharles Stross; Golden Gryphon Press 2004WorldCatWhile it may be a highly top secret government organization, The Laundry offices are filled with petty bureaucracy. Bob Howard is a low level computer technician who gets along in his job well enough. It’s not great, but once you’re in the Laundry, it’s hard to leave. It wouldn’t do for England to find out there really are occult monsters out there…

During a repeat training class, Bob sees an accident waiting to happen. When it does, he is able to save almost everybody in the class. He does so well, he starts getting field assignments. Now he may be gone rescuing a professor from being abducted to “the other side”. When he returns, he has to account for his time, his paperwork, and why he wasn’t available to maintain the computer system. Then he may nearly be killed, then return to work and be berated for missing meetings, the waste of government money in the tight budget, and for being out of the office with no explanation for a few days.

I had to laugh at Bob’s quandary. He can’t tell his office supervisors what he is doing when he is out fighting monsters. Their security clearance isn’t high enough. He goes home to weird roommates (who work for a different section of the Laundry) and has the day to day problems with them. Bob’s life jumps back and forth from the mundane to the fantastic. Anybody who has worked in an office with tight budget and clueless supervisors will appreciate Charles Stross’ The Atrocity Archives.

While I enjoyed this book, I missed many of the sly references, especially to the occult beings. I looked at some other reviews after I finished the book. I’ve never read any books by H.P. Lovecraft or Len Deighton; Stross takes their vision and style to create the tongue-in-cheek novella and short story in The Atrocity Archives.

Charles Stross manages to keep the most fantastical events sound fairly ordinary for Bob. These stories are told in first person by Bob. He joins a team to rescue a woman who is snatched to an alternate reality on the other side of the “curtain” between the worlds. It’s touch and go as they try to escape. Not everyone makes it. Then he goes into his cubicle at the Laundry. His supervisor approaches him with a list of failings with the intent to fire him. That’s a normal day for him.

The Atrocity Archives includes the novella The Atrocity Archives and the short story “The Concrete Jungle”. In the second story, the Laundry has to fight with a stranger enemy yet – the coup of co-workers wanting to take over and economize the Laundry. To understand all the humorous references and sly digs, I’m told you should have a good knowledge of Lovecraft and Deighton, as well as understand The Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking and a few other books. As a big business office worker (for a few years) I understood the bureaucracy of Bob’s life. I had to chuckle more than once at the clueless middle management.

Notice:  Non-graphic violence

More books by Charles Stross

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