The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1)

By Charles Stross

Rating: 4 stars

Imagine a world where Lovecraftian nasties are real and the only thing standing between us and having our brains eaten is a top-secret government department ridden with bureaucratic in-fighting and politics. Reassured? Me neither. Welcome to the world of the Laundry, a secret British agency assigned to clean up incursions from other realities, in which Bob Howard is a lowly techy, who got some field duty and more than he bargained for.

Stross mingles up to the minute modern technology with the supernatural effortlessly in this fun novel (well, it’s more two novellas featuring the same protagonist). He manages to showcase the horror all around us, and the thin thread that our sanity hangs by, along with the mundanity of the bureaucracy that Bob has to fight (the Laundry is ISO 9001 certified and he takes a grim pleasure in describing the various forms that have to be filled out in triplicate). Even Milton Keynes takes on a sinister tone in the second story!

Casual discussions of basilisks, medusas and incantations sit side by side with the Internet, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and flatshares (you think you have odd flatmates, Bob comes home one day to find one of his flatmates trying to scramble an egg without breaking the shell). It’s an odd combination, all told in the first person, but it works remarkably well.

Book details

ISBN: 9781841495699
Publisher: Orbit
Year of publication: 2004

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