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The Apocalypse Codex (A Laundry Files Novel) Hardcover – July 3, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 140 customer reviews
Book 4 of 5 in the Laundry Files Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Stross gives his readers a British super spy with a long-term girlfriend, no fashion sense and an aversion to martinis."
(San Francisco Chronicle )

"Bond and Bourne never faced the adversaries Howard confronts."
(Alternative Worlds )

About the Author

Charles Stross was born in Leeds, England in 1964. He holds degrees in pharmacy and computer science, and has worked in a variety of jobs including pharmacist, technical author, software engineer, and freelance journalist. He is now a full-time writer.
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Product Details

  • Series: A Laundry Files Novel (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; 1st edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781937007461
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937007461
  • ASIN: 1937007464
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was not a big fan of the previous novel in The Laundry Files series (The Fuller Memorandum) because I thought it was too dark and grim, and lacked all the wonderful touches of satire and whimsy that Stross normally brings to these stories. I am pleased to report that this latest novel is much less dark (though of course the subject is darkness and the Lovecraftian entities that lay beyond the darkness), and that Stross seems to be back in fine form.

Bob is back with a new mission, to be undertaken only reluctantly and without a full appreciation for what's *REALLY* going on (as usual). This time, he's accompanied by two new "External Assets" who give him an opportunity to practice his recently learned management skills. (The Laundry has finally come to appreciate his true potential, and is grooming him for promotion. Thus, offical training in the arts of management and leadership.) And Bob discovers, through the usual trials (and errors) that he does indeed possess management and leadership skills--as well as other skills that The Laundry appreciates perhaps more than the more traditional bureaucracy of HMG would.

Stross does a great job with plot, creating a credible threat that demands our hero's best efforts (plus a little more). The "External Assets" are great characters, apparently an homage to a comic strip of which I'm only vaguely aware (sorry about that). But even without an appreciation of the characters' relationship to the comic strip, I was still able to care about them and their fates.

If I have a quibble, it's that Bob's wife, Mo, who is an effective and capable agent herself, is not featured in this episode. It's pretty much all about Bob and his two "Assets" -- and Angleton, of course. And the Auditors. And the Black Chamber.
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First and foremost, let me get it out of the way that the ONLY reason I'm feeling like Mr. Stross and the "The Laundry" series seems to be "slipping" a bit is because he (and it) have been so stratospherically good in the past... You would be hard-pressed to find a better author than Mr. Stross or a series with more originality than "The Laundry"...

and now for the down-side...

The first books in the series relied on a nearly endless string of inside references from the IT community and popular horror lore... not to mention the descriptions of government bureacracy that often left me in tears from laughing and my neck sore from nodding in agreement with his dead-on (no pun intended) characterizations of governmental idiocy.

However... those obscure references were always explained in due time through the course of each book... and even the EXTREMELY idiosyncratic "Brit-speak" was normally cleared up via the characters actions. Mr. Stross would throw a phrase or reference at you and you could then look forward to finding out "what he meant by that" later in the book... and THAT was one of the great things about the series!

But... that endearing trait seems to have taken over his writing style and festered into something that is now starting to alienate all but the most rabid and fanatical readers (which I considered myself to be until this last book). It has gotten to the point that his characters are now often nearly unintelligable to even fairly "hip" readers who know many of the "in" jokes and British cultural references.

I have little doubt that this approach seems like a natural progression for Mr. Stross and his editors... "Hey, if the fans say that they like that about the series, let's give them even MORE of it... right?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another good Laundry novel, better in some ways than its predecessor, in others a bit flatter. The core drawback is, to write good satire or good horror, you have to write from inside the system. Stross was spot-on with bureaucratic IT departments and the Lovecraft and Bond mythos. Here he takes on American evangelism, and it falls a bit flat: Stross' knowledge isn't nearly as immediate, and at core, he clearly lacks the visceral reaction that makes for first rate comedy or horror: the British-atheist condescension pulls its fangs.

That said, there are some deeply creepy moments ("quiverfull," shudder), but the book's strengths are in plot and characterization, which rank this among Stross's best. We're introduced to a new, and new sort of agent, an off-the-books intuitive mage, in contrast to Bob's paperclipped computational demonology, and the contrast is fun. The mythos of the Laundry and the larger paranormal operations community is built out convincingly, as the scope of Bob's actions widens.

And, finally, Stross has figured out how to nail an ending: gone is (most of) the abrupt infodump that severed and packaged complex plotlines. Here we're almost brought in for a smooth landing, explanations are organic and tantalizingly open, and the coda is absolutely hilarious, leaving me wishing I could start the next volume right now.

I just hope that Stross chooses a subject next time out that *he* finds truly horrifying.
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Stross has hit the jackpot with The Laundry. What an excellent concept, one that is utterly engaging for geeks of all ages. The Apocalypse Codex is no exception although I could understand how fundamentalist Christians in the US could be less than warm about the book since it's pretty savage on that front (although in the pursuit of the story, justifiably so!)

It felt a little weird reading this book while on a plane heading to Denver. Errr, would you mind dropping me off here?
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