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  ·  Rating Details  ·  13,060 Ratings  ·  1,068 Reviews
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.
Kindle Edition, 372 pages
Published December 30th 2008 by Ace (first published January 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

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

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 liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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 liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
J.L.   Sutton
Charles Stross's The Atrocity Archives (The Laundry #1) was a fun read (the scattered Cthulhu references added to the entertainment). I liked the humor inherent in a bureaucracy battling demons and forestalling the coming apocalypse (while making sure timesheets are filled out properly). It felt a little less light-hearted when Nazis and the occult were woven into the plot. Even if this strengthened the plot, I enjoyed it a little less because what I like about The Atrocity Archives wasn't tied ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2008 Belarius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2013 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantastical
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 25, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know how you always knew maths class was secretly evil? You were right.

And now Bob has to fight that evil. If only Beatrice from HR would let him get on with and stop hassling him for his expense reports.

A thoroughly enjoyable book. It's the dynamic duo of snarky IT geek humour and an old-fashioned British spy thriller facing off against unspeakable Lovecraftian horrors. And paperwork.
⊱ 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.
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!!!!
May 19, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

I've basically been reading this for 3 months. I'll make progress and then I'll find ANY excuse to drop the book. The ONLY thing keeping me going back is the fact I agreed to buddy read this with a friend - and in the same time I got over 1/3 of the way, she couldn't manage past the first chapter.

DNF at 39%.

Full Review:

I have come to fully accept that there will be books that other people ADORE that I just won't like. This doesn't mean the book is bad (though sometimes I will say i
Jun 23, 2015 Mona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jul 24, 2012 Bobby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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
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
Arun Divakar
Dec 30, 2015 Arun Divakar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Math and I never got along right from childhood. All of the computations, formulas and details kept flying all around me and I was terribly afraid of the math teacher. But much more importantly : what the hell did it matter if sin θ/ cos θ = tan θ ? No one answered that question for me and as time went by I figured out that most of us mere humans go to the grave having never used trigonometry in real life. Mr. Charles Stross, if I had read your book in high school days and bought your theory tha ...more
Nov 07, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction, sci-fi
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

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
Feb 28, 2014 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-horror
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
Sep 24, 2014 Wealhtheow rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Feb 24, 2012 Ric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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


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
Jul 11, 2013 Grace Yeo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: year-2013
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
Oct 03, 2007 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Orbus (Spatterjay, #3)
  • Degrees of Freedom
  • Finch (Ambergris, #3)
  • Declare
  • Permutation City (Subjective Cosmology #2)
  • Manhattan In Reverse
  • Felaheen
  • The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur, #1)
  • The Execution Channel
  • The New Space Opera
  • Brasyl
  • The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture, #10)
  • Child of Fire (Twenty Palaces, #1)
  • Marooned in Realtime (Across Realtime, #2)
  • California Bones (Daniel Blackland, #1)
  • Necessary Evil (Milkweed Triptych, #3)
  • Century Rain
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)

Share This Book

“Gene police! You! Out of the pool, now!” 65 likes
“Idiots emit bogons, causing machinery to malfunction in their presence. System administrators absorb bogons, letting machinery work again.” 49 likes
More quotes…