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The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files) Paperback – January 3, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Laundry Files (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Trade (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441013651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441013654
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lovecraft's Cthulhu meets Len Deighton's spies in Stross's latest, as the Scottish author explains in his afterword to this offbeat book offering two related long novellas, "The Atrocity Archive" and "The Concrete Jungle" (the latter previously unpublished). With often hilarious results, the author mixes the occult and the mundane, the truly weird and the petty. In "Atrocity," Bob, a low-level computer fix-it guy for the Laundry, a supersecret British agency that defends the world from occult happenings, finds himself promoted to fieldwork after he bravely saves the day during a routine demonstration gone awry. With his Palm, aka his Hand of Glory (a severed hand that, when ignited, renders the holder invisible), and his smarts, he saves the world from a powerful external force seeking to enter our universe to suck it dry. In "Jungle," Bob teams up with a cop, Josephine, to save the Laundry from a powermonger who seeks to stage an internal coup by using zombies as her minions. Amid all the bizarre happenings are the everyday trappings of a British bureaucracy. Bob gets called on the carpet by his bosses because he requested backup during an emergency without first getting his supervisor's okay and filling out the requisite forms. Though the characters all tend to sound the same, and Stross resorts to lengthy summary explanations to dispel confusion, the world he creates is wonderful fun.
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.


This dark, funny blend of SF and horror reads like James Bond written in the style of H.P. Lovecraft WATERSTONE'S BOOKS QUARTERLY --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Charles Stross, 49, is a full-time science fiction writer and resident of Edinburgh, Scotland. The author of six Hugo-nominated novels and winner of the 2005 and 2010 Hugo awards for best novella, Stross's works have been translated into over twelve languages.

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).

Customer Reviews

Good humor and interesting premise.
Geoffrey J. Utley
The problem with exposition is that it is not story - things do not happen in expositions.
William Lee
The world he weaves is truly excellent.
Brian C. Miller

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What if Alan Turing solved one more problem and completed one last theorem? And suddenly higher mathematics was awash in spells, summonings, and alternate dimensions where forces lived that would like nothing better than to munch on your brain. Thanks to the Turing-Lovecraft theorem magic happens, almost inevitably for the worst.

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.

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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hollo on May 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Charlie Stross has been making a name for himself over recent years for his extraordinary "Accelerando" stories, chronicling human and post-human civilisation towards and past the Singularity event at which technology becomes sentient and near-godlike. Another future world is being explored in the novel Singularity Sky and sundry short stories/future novels - also post-Singularity, and imbued with a pervading humour even through some quite horrifying passages.
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.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By JackFaust77 on June 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
These two droll, amazing and entertaining stories hopefully herald the start of a cycle of "Laundry" tales. Stross' obsession with science, computers, internet technology, office management structures (!), occult history and HP Lovecraft meshes into a dizzyingly fun reading experience. Somehow, massive exposure to all this information - cleverly turned on its head to meet the demands of the stories - causes synapses to sizzle and crackle, giving rise to an illusory boost of one's own intelligence. Yes, Virginia, reading Stross makes you feel smarter, as others have observed....
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.
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3 of 0 people found the following review helpful By Kim Paffenroth on May 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Though frequently billed as Lovecraft meets a spy novel, it also has a healthy flavor of alternate history like Hellboy, in which evil Nazis carry on their occult madness and murder long after the war. The least expected twist is the black, oh-so British humor of mundane life in the face of otherworldly weirdness, in which our hero is as terrified of having to fill out requisition forms in triplicate as he is of hellspawn that can rearrange his molecules. It drags a little between scenes, especially with some of the domestic humor of his housemates and girlfriend, or it'd be five stars all the way.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Larry Colen on May 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm about halfway through the book and totally disagree with Mayhew's review. He panned the book because it's not a sequel to another story he read.
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.
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