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The Atrocity Archives (A Laundry Files Novel) Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2008
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"A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel and casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Like many writers, Stross has had a variety of careers, occupations, and job-shaped-catastrophes in the past, from pharmacist (he quit after the second police stake-out) to first code monkey on the team of a successful dot-com startup (with brilliant timing he tried to change employer just as the bubble burst).
Top Customer Reviews
The British Secret Service (MI-6, the anti-spell branch) has a unique way of dealing with theoreticians who trip over the right formulae - they hire them into The Laundry and retire them to meaningless desk jobs. Bob Howard, however, is a little to itchy for the passive life. After a lot of trying he manages to get into field work. Now, as a relief from an irritating boss who counts paperclips and takes regular attendance, Bob gets to deal with dark forces and demonic possession.
There are two tales in this book. The first is The Atrocity Archives, which was Charles Stross's initial effort. Told as one long computer geek in-joke, the story introduces us to Bob and follows him through his first set of assignments and nervous breakdowns, while a series of ever more peculiar administrators keep telling him what a good job he's doing.
And he is doing a good job. Spotting mathematicians who have crossed the line, saving workshop attendees from being munched, and getting thrown out of the States for poking too far into the badness on what should have been a routine extraction. But even good agents have bad days and our wisecracking hero finds himself going through a portal to rescue a very attractive scientist from a very dead earth.
The second story Concrete Jungle mixes interdepartmental politics, electronic basilisks, and fears about the end of the world in a story of one too many cows.
Intrigued?Read more ›
The Atrocity Archives is best read with this in mind: despite looking a bit like horror, this is really hard science fiction with a lot of humour and a very weird Lovecraftian twist regarding the nature of the world. It's geeky but cool, a clever take on the spy thriller, and the only connection it has with "A Colder War" is that it's Lovecraft-inspired spy fiction by the same author. (Indeed, other even sillier Lovecraft homages appear in his short story collection "Toast").
The one-star review below should be taken with a grain of salt: don't come to any book with brittle expectations and then complain that it's the book's fault when your expectations are dashed!
The Atrocity Archives is quite unlike anything else out there at the moment, but those familiar with Stross, Cory Doctorow, or various other contemporary sf authors' up-to-the-minute genre-busting fiction will eat it up with gusto.
And the beginning passage, in which a succession of everyday events (such a pager going off in our hero's pocket) are made ominous by horror-inflected prose, is pure gold.
This is Must Read stuff for Lovecraft fans, but if you like the work of Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, or Grant Morrison's THE INVISIBLES, then this is more or less guaranteed to flip your wig.
Since I never particularly got into Lovecraft, or horror, I'm enjoying the book even more than I expected to. I find it a wonderful twist on the whole cyberpunk genre. The protagonist is a geek that talks and acts like a real geek. He even gets the slang right.
As I said in my title, the book is a fun read.
Briefly, the story revolves around agents for a British intelligence organisation tasked with suppressing certain mathematical concepts; the ones that are the keys to other dimensions, most of them containing entities implacably hostile to mankind. The trouble is that they happen to be very interesting mathematical concepts, the ones that are close to the cutting edge of computer research, and there are a lot of people out there that are working on them. In the past it took thousands of man-hours to screw up reality, today a laptop can do it in sceonds. This can result in horrific accidents and is potentially the ultimate terrorist weapon. There is an uneasy peace between the world's intelligence agencies, which pool resources to counter this threat, but things haven't always been that way. The ultimate threat of the book is a remnant of Nazi research from the second world war, and turns out to be much nastier than expected.
I enjoyed everything in this book, from the home-life of the hacker/agent hero to its final apocalyptic scenes on a dying alien world. Thoroughly recommended.
I wrote this before seeing the publisher's description, and it's interesting to see how similar it is. That possibly means it's unnecessary, but that's life...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love the Laundry Files series! Computational mathematics as demonology (because, as we have been told, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic),... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
A few readers will be put off by the fact that there are references to a specific very dark period of still-too-recent human history, but the tale does not minimize or devalue what... Read morePublished 22 days ago by R. Ault
You need to be a real HP Lovecraft fan to understand much of this book. It makes a lot of references to that author's stories, and it is clear that Stross is trying to be a modern... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rick Chatham
Did not finish. I think that this probably is a good book but it just isn't my thing. I generally don't like urban fantasy/paranormal but I heard good things about this series and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by BellaGrace
I have come to fully accept that there will be books that other people ADORE that I just won't like. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Crystal Starr Light
The main problem I have, is that I work for the US government, and the humour about bureaucracy is mostly just painful - like Dilbert - its not really funny when it looks just like... Read morePublished 2 months ago by rco
Awful lot of technogarble to sift through, could have done without this. Interesting but not new concept. Fairly formulaic in terms of characters. OK read, but not great.Published 3 months ago by Edward E Schwaneke
I dont usually like magical realism. But I'll make an exception for Laundry. It is very rarely that I find both the reality and the magic plausible and immersive but Stross nailed... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ville Tuomas Vuorela