Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  11,390 ratings  ·  954 reviews
The Laundry is a secret UK agency fighting dark forces in and out of our world. Bob Howard computer whiz asks for more active role at work than form-filling for Bridget and Harriet. Bob rescues 6' stunner Mo. Angleton sends them to see atrocities in archives of Nazis who summoned evil. The Concrete Jungle has heat weapon to stop monsters, turned on Bob and policewoman Jo.
Paperback, 345 pages
Published January 2006 by Ace (first published January 2004)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Ready Player One by Ernest ClineThe Martian by Andy WeirOld Man's War by John ScalziThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsAnathem by Neal Stephenson
Best Science Fiction of the 21st Century
76th out of 382 books — 4,339 voters
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsThe Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas AdamsLife, the Universe and Everything by Douglas AdamsSo Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas AdamsDirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Best Comedic Sci-Fi Books
35th out of 411 books — 847 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
mark monday
so there's all sorts of nerds in the world, right? so many different kinds and really they don't have a lot in common outside of their basic nerdiness. I was out for drinks last Friday and someone made some kind of joke about renaming a lesbian club "Aphrodite" and I responded that that doesn't make sense, it should be called "Artemis" or at least "Athena", some goddess who isn't so connected to the male gaze and men in general etc. then I proceeded to describe what each of those goddesses overs ...more
Aug 29, 2015 Apatt rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf-f
Charles Stross is an author I want to like. I like his blogs, I like his personality and honesty (in so far as one can gauge such things based on the author's writings, interviews and such). The only snag is I am somewhat ambivalent about his fiction. I don't doubt that he is a talented writer of science fiction. He comes up with some great ideas and is quite popular within his chosen genre. Unfortunately from the three books I have read so far there is something about his fiction writing style ...more
Jul 24, 2015 Carol. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: computer geeks who like spies and UF
Stross’ take on the urban fantasy is engaging but clunky in parts. The Atrocity Archives is first in currently seven book series–for those of you looking to sink your reading chops into an established series–that feature Robert Howard, computer programmer and now employee of Her Majesty’s Secret Supernatural Service. Bob found his way into the top-secret government organization when he did something precocious with a computer, and now he’s facing the unusual dilemma of being a stipend collecting ...more
Charles Stross’ 2004 publication The Atrocity Archives introduces readers to his Laundry Files and protagonist Bob Howard.

Taking inspiration from HP Lovecraft and Robert A. Howard (too much of a coincidence that his hero is named Bob Howard) Stross describes an urban fantasy world building where “The Laundry” is an ultra-secret British agency that deals with the paranormal and occult, kind of a British Men in Black.

Stross’ science and mathematics appear to be solid and he artfully mixes in conce
A genre bending debut from Stross that takes its cues from Rankin and Holt as well as Morgan and Stephenson, Deighton and Le Carre - Highly recommended.

Read on the plane from London to Vienna and whilst being bored to tears by Vienna

So Vienna is dull, a complete waste of time for anyone looking for a vibrant, friendly and warm city. On the plus side it gave me the chance to sit in the sun drinking coffee and finish reading this great book.

I'd always thought Stross would be a difficult read, henc
Jan 26, 2008 Belarius rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Horror/Spy/Comedy Fans
Every so often I come across a book so laden with obscure references that only my own particular predisposition to trivia sees me through to the other side. Charles Stross has accomplished just such a feat with The Atrocity Archives, a bewildering, fascinating, and very funny look inside the bureaucratic world of top-secret British occult espionage.

If I had to capture the tone of the Atrocity Archives in one sentence, I'd describe it as three parts Men In Black, two parts The Office, and two par
⊱ Irena ⊰

The Atrocity Archives consists of two stories connected only by the main character Bob Howard and his weird job. It is more of an introduction to this series than anything else.
And I liked it.
I admit that the mathematical-engineering-scientific stuff mostly went right over my head, but the way Lovecraftian themes are used is enough for me to continue the series.
Imagine that mathematics and magic are the same thing. Also imagine that all those people in madhouses in Lovecraft, H.P. stories are right and there are other universes where ancient malevolent entities are just waiting for an invitation to visit for a quick massacre of humanity before breakfast...

...plainly all nations would have a secret agency dedicated to protecting the public and keeping them blithely unaware of the outrageously dangerous world they really live in.

Enter Bob Howard, junior
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Incredible concept realized by an outstanding author. Combine James Bond, H.P. Lovecraft, the X-files and science fiction and you get the Atrocity Archives, the first book of the Laundry series. The Laundry is an ultra top secret British agency in an alternate version or our modern world that battles supernatural forces right out of the Cthulhu mythos. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. RECOMMENDED!!!!
Mar 05, 2015 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sysadmins registered to carry Hands of Glory, undead space Nazis on Pluto
Bob is a hacker who accidentally came to the attention of a super-super-no-for-real-secret British agency known as the Laundry, and was recruited into an intelligence agency that literally makes you sign your oath of secrecy in blood. The Laundry is dedicated to saving the world one day at a time from eldritch horrors who threaten to blot out the sun, and also to maintaining Total Quality Management and keeping Parliament from cutting back on their office supply budget. In other words, it's mean ...more
Mona Temchin
Two Funny Romps through a Fantasy Universe

Bob Howard works for The Laundry (aka Capital Laundry Services), a secret British agency in London. He does double duty as a systems administrator and a field agent specializing in thaumaturgy (that's magic to you guys). In either capacity he's very capable and he has an uncanny ability to attract trouble.

This book contains two novels.

In the first, the title novel, Bob is sent to California to extract a U.K. citizen who can't leave the U.S. for some re
I'm about 140 pages into this and so far my opinion is rather low. If it's meant to be funny, it's not particularly so. Certainly there is no sense of dread or horror as pertains to Lovecraft's body of work that Stross seems to be paying homage to - though I think he was aiming for something far more slapstick - perhaps a Douglams Adams/Terry Pratchet take on the Cthulhu mythos. Thus far, Stross isn't succeeding in my view. It may also be that the main hero - Bob Howard, strikes me as just the s ...more
I keep trying Stross' work, because I've read other novels of his and I know that there are some elements which interest me, some things which I do keep turning the pages for. I was actually more interested in The Atrocity Archive and "The Concrete Jungle" than I have been in most of his other books, which is a start, but I'm afraid a lot of it went over my head (not geeky enough) and some of it went under (fart jokes).

All in all, the alternate history conjured up here is interesting, though I c
Mike (the Paladin)
*This is an audio Ebook by the way. It's what I had access to through the library, but then I like audio books as well as text, at least for some fiction.*

I'd never heard of these... they ended up on my "to be read list" because someone "here" had read them. I keep adding books faster than I can read them. (Thank you Stephen).This is actually Atrocity Archives and The Concrete Jungle in one "volume" (are Ebooks volumes?).

I don't know if I can accurately describe these/this books/book. The influe
Starting from an absolutely brilliant premise -- that there's a point where higher mathematics and Lovecraftian monsters meet, and computer hackers are as likely to tap into that realm as sorcerors -- Charles Stross digs deep into the bureaucracy of intelligence operations to come up with one of the niftiest plotlines about left-over Nazi occultism ever. Sensitive readers may be offended by some of the interpretations Stross gives to the Third Reich's activities, but other than that this is an e ...more
Sherwood Smith
Feb 25, 2015 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fiction, sf, spy
At the end of this edition, Stross includes an interesting essay about how he feels that Deighton wrote horror more than spy novels, and Lovecraft vice versao. He also talks about why horror works (for some readers) and at the end, says that his editor had warned him not to read Declare by Tim Powers until he was done.

I have yet to write up my review of Declare, which I think a brilliant novel (it needs another read or two); but I can safely say that the touchpoints between this novel and that a

Note: This review is for The Atrocity Archive - the short story included in the book "The Concrete Jungle" will be reviewed separately.

How can I describe The Atrocity Archive? What I've been telling people thus far is to imagine Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, take away his tendency to be completely insulting, turn him into a hacker and then force him to become the sci-fi version of a secret spy.

I can't quite say I enjoyed my read of The Atrocity Archive

Jumpin' Jehosophat, did I just have an encounter with Tim Powers and The Anubis Gates? Is The Atrocity Archives not a reincarnation of that 80's70's cult book? But I could just swear that is what I just read on finishing this, Charles Stross's maiden offering in this series. The similarity in style and sheer wackiness are striking. Stross is decidedly more technological. But the stream-of-consciousness flow of thoughts and references is deja vu inducing.

The volume also includes the much more co

Okay, how to describe this....Hmmm.

It sort of reads like a Robert Rankin story but it had some IT nerd humor that most people won't get. That in addition to all the science behind timespace travel, the development of supernatural weapons and the whole premise of parallel worlds, well... I did find myself skimming a bit (too complex for my simple brain). However, this was a unique story and really interesting and I look forward to reading more about the Laundry.

Our hero, Bob Howard, works in the
There is a list floating around Tumblr of Bioware voice actors who have narrated audiobooks. Having fallen in love with Fenris’ voice in Dragon Age II, I decided that The Atrocity Archives, read by Gideon Emery, was a necessary listen from Audible. Not that I blindly listen to an audiobook just because I want to hear sexy sweet nothings in my ear all day. The book’s blurb actually sounded interesting – though it certainly helped my enjoyment to believe that the character of Bob Howard looks exac ...more

I hate when a book has the most amazing, incredible, awesome idea . . . then doesn't really live up to its promise.

That is definitely the situation with The Atrocity Archives.

The idea is kind of James Bond meets Cthulhu, but it just didn't work for me. I think the biggest problem was all the hype about how FUNNY this book is -- TECHNICAL (like, so technical I had to literally skim pages just to finish the damn thing), yes. Funny? Not so much. Unless griping about your boss is funny, somehow
Ben Babcock
This might be one of my favourite Charles Stross books. I think it’s the effortless blend of bureaucratic humour and horror, and the slight homages to spy fiction, that makes The Atrocity Archives so appealing. It’s not just any one thing, and it isn’t too much of any of these things. There are plenty of ways to play the "secret government agency that fights the supernatural" angle, and plenty of them are valid. Stross has gone the tongue-in-cheek, cryptopunk route, and his particular brand of r ...more
Grace Yeo
So this is possibly the geekiest book I've ever read. If you know about computers, physics and math (more specifically, if you know what the Church-Turing hypothesis is) and you've got a sense of humor, preferably of the slightly dark variety, then you'll almost certainly be wildly entertained. There's almost-believable skience, and there are tentacular soul-eating monsters, all contained within the premise that circuits, math and computers are really instruments for warping the space-time fabri ...more
Charles Stross' first novel, the alternate-reality-hard-science-fiction-Lovecraftian-thriller The Atrocity Archive, was originally serialized in the British magazine Spectrum SF in 2002. That novel and a shorter story set in the same universe were recently published as The Atrocity Archives.

In Stross's world Alan Turing, the father of cryptography whose theories are still used in modern encryption, has completed the "Phase Conjugate Grammars for Extra-Dimensional Summoning," better known as the
Bob got a little too inventive and clever for his own good, and was forced to join the Laundry Files, a secret government organization pledged to defending the universe against eldritch horrors and alien incursions. I really like the concepts of this series, but the writing of this particular book drove me up the wall. Bob is one of those incredibly annoying pedants who pride themselves on being the sysadmin from hell. The female characters all need Bob to explain stuff to them, or they're shrew ...more
Lovecraft's stories of strange angles and alterations to physics and a notion that occultism and conventional science are one and the same, separated by an ocean of knowledge beyond human scope. Stross ran with that, applying advanced mathematics and theoretical physics over the genre of weird cosmic horror. The resulting hard science fiction verisimilitude gave me the urge to reach for the nearest Wikipedia article every time a character started technical talk. And, frankly, the pinpoint detail ...more
Miquel Codony
"Imagine a world where speaking or writing words can literally and direclty make things happen, where getting one of those words wrong can wreck unbelievable havoc, where with the right spell you can summon immensely powerful agencies to work your will. Imagine further that that in this world there is an administered division of labour, among the magicians them selves and those who coordinate their activities. It's bureaucratic and also (therefore) chaotic, and it's full of people at desks mutte
Okay, the hardback book for The Atrocity Archive by Charles Stross actually contains two novels -- "The Atrocity Archives" proper, as serialized in Spectrum SF, and a novella surrounding the same main character called "The Concrete Jungle".

Let's start with "The Atrocity Archives" proper.

I liked it. It's sort of an alternate history spy thriller with H.P. Lovecraft elements thrown in to turn the stakes up to 11 with some cosmic horror.

In essence, the premise of the book is that Turing discovered
This was a fun book. Think of it as the love child of Dilbert and Stephen Hawking taking on HP Lovecraft, or urban fantasy for the geek set.

There are many many allusions to computer and physics esoterica in this book, not to mention snippets of Monty Python skits and other random references. Therefore, in order to get full value from the book, the reader does need to have some knowledge of both science and humor. Nonetheless, there is an enjoyable read here even if you don't score 100% on the "w
3.5 stars. Good paranormal thriller about a guy who works for a secret British intelligence agency, the Laundry, in a world where mathematics can open portals to other, far less friendly, universes. Inspired by HP Lovecraft and the Cold War-era British spy thrillers (and acknowledges such). This edition also contains The Concrete Jungle (The Laundry Files #1.5).
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Declare
  • The Skinner (Spatterjay, #1)
  • Southern Gods
  • The Prefect
  • The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur, #1)
  • Diaspora
  • The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture, #10)
  • The Execution Channel
  • The Golden Age (Golden Age #1)
  • Agent to the Stars
  • Starfish (Rifters, #1)
  • Brasyl
  • Pashazade
  • Thirteen (Th1rte3n)
  • Manhattan In Reverse
  • Theories of Flight (Samuil Petrovitch, #2)
Charles David George "Charlie" Stross is a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His works range from science fiction and Lovecraftian horror to fantasy.

Stross is sometimes regarded as being part of a new generation of British science fiction writers who specialise in hard science fiction and space opera. His contemporaries include Alastair Reynolds, Ken MacLeod, Liz Williams and Richard Morgan.

More about Charles Stross...

Other Books in the Series

Laundry Files (7 books)
  • The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2)
  • The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files, #3)
  • The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files, #4)
  • The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files, #5)
  • The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files, #6)
  • The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7)
Accelerando Singularity Sky (Eschaton, #1) Halting State Glasshouse The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2)

Share This Book

“Gene police! You! Out of the pool, now!” 60 likes
“Idiots emit bogons, causing machinery to malfunction in their presence. System administrators absorb bogons, letting machinery work again.” 44 likes
More quotes…