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The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files #1)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  8,765 ratings  ·  772 reviews
Charles Stross takes a departure from his epic science fiction to craft this cross between Len Deighton—style espionage and H.P. Lovecraftian horror.

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 somehow, he is.
Paperback, 345 pages
Published January 3rd 2006 by Ace Trade (first published January 1st 2004)
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Best Science Fiction of the 21st Century
70th out of 308 books — 2,859 voters
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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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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!!!!
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
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...more
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
Wendy Browne
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...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

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

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...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, 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...more
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...more
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...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
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
LOVED this book, but it's incredibly specialized. As a professional computer geek who loves eldrich horrors, spy novels, and all things British (even their bureaucracy); this was a real treat. If you can't fit yourself into those categories, I'm not sure this would be the book for you.

Told as a sort of first person tumble down a particularly frightening rabbit hole, there is a particular kind of humor that permeates the whole thing. If you can laugh at UNIX jokes, life as a cubicle slave in a go...more
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
In The Atrocity Archives, Charles Stross perfectly blends Lovecraftian horror into a spy thriller. But don't think James Bond, though they have their own special gadgets, think bureaucrats mired in office politics and meetings who must battle bean counters as often as monsters.

Stross' protagonist, Bob Howard, is a Gen X hacker who gets drafted into the Laundry, the code name for the UK government agency which protects England from nasty beasties from beyond. It turns out all that complex math th...more
This is a book for a quite narrow reader subset, those who like HP Lovecraft style while keeping a sense of humour.

If Lovecraft or Cthulhu say nothing to you, this is not for you. If you want to take a very British romp through the twin horrors of Bureaucracy and Horrors out from Outer Space, this is it. Stross clearly loves both subjects, and meshes them faultlessly and funnily.

The reason this receives only four stars, despite being an almost perfect take on its subject, it is because it delibe...more
This book was all shades of awesome. I'd been more familiar with Stross' hardcore sci-fi, so when I saw he had written a horror/fantasy/sci-fi mix-up, I was intrigued. He still gets a little technobabbly, but this time it's about fractals and algorithms and calling down the Elder Gods. It's a delightfully fun and quick read and I may have been very happy to find out that there are more in this series. If you like the idea of fighting necromancer Nazis from another universe while dealing with the...more
Allan Dyen-shapiro
This book, a satire of bureaucracy, has the best log line I've ever seen: "Saving the world is Bob Howard's job. There are a surprising number of meetings involved." That alone was enough to get me to pick it up.

The central conceit here is that math and science are magic. As such, computer scientists routinely summon evil written as a paean to H.P. Lovecraft (literally, references to things like Miskatonic University abound).

Where this book is at its best is when it stays truest to the voice of...more
Lady Entropy
It's just a great book.

Call of Cthulhu meets "The Office" meets "the X-files". Two novelletas in one book, "The Atrocity Archives" and "The Concrete Jungle" written with dark humour, very interesting concepts and taught me tons of new stuff on physics and other scientific ideas. LOVED IT.

European urban fantasy at its best -- joining the Masters of European UF Lukyanenko and Kim Newman.

The Concrete Jungle is available here for free:
Megan Baxter
Dudes, I finally did it! I finally read a Charles Stross novel that didn't leave me feeling vaguely disappointed that I didn't enjoy it more! Apparently this is the series for me, of his work. So far.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Yzabel Ginsberg
I must start with a warning: this book is definitely not for everyone. Also, be aware that it contains two stories, the second one being a novelette, The Concrete Jungle (which I might have liked slightly more than the novel itself, perhaps because by then I had a stronger grasp on the world developed here, and could therefore understand it better?).

If you're not at least slightly familiar with H. P. Lovecraft's mythos; if computer science is not your cup of tea, and technobabble tends to irrita...more
Mar 04, 2009 Sueij rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sueij by: Scott
Wow, Ghost Busters meets The Matrix, with a very small amount of James Bond thrown in. This book was fun, readable (see below), and hard to put down.

Scott has gotten on a Charles Stross kick, and I asked him to pass along the best book by this almost-new-to-us author. (We read Iron Sunrise and both liked it.) Scott passed on Accelerando. I read the first 50 pages and had to put it down. It's all context and no story. It felt like Stross was just playing with the reader to see how weird a world h...more
May 12, 2014 Johan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: scifi
What do you get when you mix hard science fiction, a spy thriller, a loathing for bureaucracy, a computer hacker as main protagonist, Lovecraftian horror, a wicked sense of humor and set it all in an alternate history? Answer: The Bob Howard or Laundry series by Charles Stross.

This is a review of the first novel of the series: The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross.

The premise for the series is that certain mathematical computations, the Turing-Lovecraft Theorem, can be used to open gates to ot...more
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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...
Accelerando Singularity Sky (Eschaton, #1) Halting State Glasshouse The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2)

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“Gene police! You! Out of the pool, now!” 56 likes
“Idiots emit bogons, causing machinery to malfunction in their presence. System administrators absorb bogons, letting machinery work again.” 34 likes
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