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September Book Discussions > The Atrocity Archives - All About the Laundry

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

The Laundry itself is the central construction of the book and Bob's relationship to it's bureaucracy is central to overall tone. How does the snarkiness effect the story? Was it a necessary device to make the overall book work?


message 2: by Charles (new)

Charles (nogdog) In some ways it seemed a bit of a tired stereotype to me, but in other ways it was taken to such an extreme that it became rather effective parody, so I'll give that a mixed grade. In the "Concrete Jungle" novella at the end of the book, it does become an important plot element, however.

It's pretty clear, though, that Charlie Stross is not a big fan of TQM, ISO 9000, and all those related quality assurance things I've spent what seems like years on with meetings, documentation, audits, etc. :-)


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Once Bob and Mo get to the Atrocity Archives the story takes a serious turn to the gruesome. I think in part the earlier levity helps to temper it. I'm thinking without it, the novel could have been too dark.

But then, it could also be just slacker geek snark against the Man.


message 4: by Donna (new)

Donna (donnahr) I found it hard to believe that they would be able to hire every person who discovered too much, and keep around all the dead weight for years on end. It seemed more likely to me they would have discreetly had them bumped off.

Geoffrey, will you start a spoiler thread at some point? I feel like I shouldn't say too much in case other people haven't finished the book yet.


message 5: by Charles (new)

Charles (nogdog) I was trying to remember if Stross said anywhere in the book how/why Bridgette and Harriette came to be working at the Laundry, as neither showed any evidence of special knowledge or skills in the area that I can recall. Were they just supposed to be general issue government employees (as opposed to Bob's other matrix managers who were "in the know") who somehow got assigned to work there?


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Geoffrey wrote: "I'm thinking without it, the novel could have been too dark."


Impossible. No novel can be too dark. :)

What turned me off from was the first person present tense. Poor choice for most storytelling.
Bob's snarky attitude read like an out of the box characterization. It seems as though every urban fantasy has to have a snarky lead. Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison both have has a snarky characters. While I've avoided of novels of this genre, its seems like it might be the de facto attitude. Maybe it's the absurdity and implausbilty of the situations that wouldn't play well with a straight man.

Bob's dealings with the Laundry's bureaucracy, however, where humorous. But not enough to carry the story for more than one book. I'm pretty consistent on not liking on going series, and and prefer stories spread over many books to be logically progressive, i.e., Book 1 leads to Book 2 to get it Book 3, etc. No shuffling the order allowed. Some one correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing I could the third Laundry novel, then the second with no appreciable discontinuity.

I didn't dislike this novel, but it didn't gather any traction either.

And please, tell me Bob Howards's middle name isn't Ervin or doesn't otherwise start with the letter E.


message 7: by Charles (new)

Charles (nogdog) There was a definite progression from Atrocity Archives to The Jennifer Morgue in terms of time frame and character development (what there is of it), though the short stories that end each book are probably more disconnected from that flow. (I didn't like The Jennifer Morgue as much, though it was OK, as it felt too much like it just had one trick -- or shtick? -- going for it, whereas AA had a couple different things going on.)

While I agree somewhat about the snarkiness factor, I guess I'm a bit more comfortable with that than the 300-pound, Dorito-eating, Mountain-Dew-chugging computer nerd stereotype -- if you have to have a stereotype at all. :-) (Many of the best computer programmers I've worked with have actually been pretty normal people, with normal 1.5-kid families, etc.)


message 8: by Eric (new)

Eric (proggyboog) I finally read this one. I was right in the target market for the book - ex role-player (though I never played any of the Cthulhu games), mid-80s computer geek, worked in IT, etc.

So, I got a lot of the inside jokes, and expected the snark to come along. Wasn't a problem for me.

I found the book a fun read. Not terribly addictive, but I'll certainly continue the series at some point.


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