I recently started re-reading the Laundry Files series by Charles Stross in anticipation of The Nightmare Stacks which just came out. Here is my review for Book One, The Atrocity Archives.
Bob Howard is a low-level techie working for 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 stayed; but then he went and got Noticed. Only one thing is certain: it will take more than control-alt-delete to sort this mess out. . . ”
~ Goodreads Description.
This is, at its core a Sci-fi story with heavy eldritch horror themes – masquerading as an Urban Fantasy. Charles Stross has created a fantastic (and hopefully) imaginary world stuffed full of British civil service bureaucracy and back stabbing politics. The Laundry is the secret secret branch of the civil service, responsible for protecting the rest of us from the things that scare the crap out of the things that go bump in the night.
The Atrocity Archives is book 1 of the Laundry series. Here we meet Bob, a *cough* reformed hacker who for the last four years has been working for the Laundry after being given a job offer you would be foolish to refuse. Until the events of this book, he’s been working behind a desk in IT – but now he gets to take a slightly more active role.
In the Atrocity Archives, Charles Stross writes with an insiders knowledge of what it is like to work within the civil-service. He also fills the book with very nerdy/intellectual humour and geeky references. He combats the obvious horror of the main subject matter and events with a very subversive, but enjoyable comedy.
This book is incredible, and awesome for a first published novel, the series started here continues for many more books, short stories and novellas – so if you enjoy this book as much as I did, there’s a lot more to look forward to.
Bonus Content: This edition of The Atrocity Archives also included the novella “Concrete Jungle” – set in the same world after the events of the main book, as an added bonus. A Laundry Files novella (set after the events of The Atrocity Archives), that drags Bob out of bed in the early hours of the morning on a mission. To investigate a worrying issue with the concrete cows in Milton Keynes.
This novella nicely rounds out, and follows on from the Atrocity Archives. We see Bob in the field again, and meet a new character – who is about to find out that her curiosity may have made her bite off more than she can chew.
If you enjoyed The Atrocity Archives, you’ll love this novella. (This novella won the 2005 Hugo Award for best Novella!)