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The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  15,811 Ratings  ·  1,293 Reviews
Bob Howard is a low-level techie working for The Laundry, a super-secret government agency. While his colleagues are out saving the world, Bob's under a desk restoring lost data. None of them receive any thanks for the jobs they do, but at least a techie doesn't risk getting shot or eaten in the line of duty. Bob's world is dull but safe, and that's the way it should have ...more
Paperback, 345 pages
Published January 2009 by Ace Berkeley Penguin (first published January 2004)
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Robert I have only read the first book but it was the same type of experience. It tries to mix in shallow system administrator, lovecraft and geek references…moreI have only read the first book but it was the same type of experience. It tries to mix in shallow system administrator, lovecraft and geek references targeting people who never had any experience in any of the subjects but have heard the pop references and aim for the instant "I got that reference" gratification as often as possible. (less)

Community Reviews

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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
Jun 23, 2012 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
Sep 24, 2011 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 04, 2015 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
Megan Baxter
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2008 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
Jan 06, 2016 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.
Sep 27, 2012 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
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!!!!
ᴥ Irena ᴥ

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.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,75 / 5

Stross nos mete de lleno en la actividad de la Lavandería, un centro de operaciones secretas del gobierno inglés contra aquello que atenta nuestro mundo. Tanto en nuestro planeta como también en otras dimensiones. Aquí conocemos a Bob, un geek de la informática que trabaja como funcionario en la Lavandería arreglando todos los problemas informáticos de la misma, hasta que pasa a ser un agente activo de campo. Pero no todo es acción como en una película de espías. Como todo funcionario qu
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
May 14, 2013 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
Jul 10, 2012 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
Alexander Páez
Divertidísima y excelente novela de ¿ciencia ficción?, ¿terror?, ¿fantasía? Qué más da. De lo más destacado de este año. Con muchas ganas del segundo.
Edición y traducción 10/10. Worth it total.
En breve reseña profundizando en el blog.
Emma Sea
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auckland-library
on to book 2!
Dec 31, 2014 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 03, 2015 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
Oct 30, 2013 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
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
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


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 Archiv
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
Daniel Gonzalo
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Divertidísima primera novela de la serie, deseando que se traduzcan las demás.
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
Arun Divakar
Dec 09, 2015 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
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
Jul 14, 2010 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
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
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Laundry Files (9 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)
  • The Delirium Brief (Laundry Files, #8)
  • The Labyrinth Index

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“Gene police! You! Out of the pool, now!” 75 likes
“Idiots emit bogons, causing machinery to malfunction in their presence. System administrators absorb bogons, letting machinery work again.” 54 likes
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