Friday, December 22, 2017

The Laundry Files: The Atrocity Archives, by Charles Stross

Thank you for joining me, now lets get down to it!

For this installment I want to bring to your attention the Laundry Files, a series by Charles Stross, and introduce you to the first book The Atrocity Archives.

One thing you should understand about this book, is that it is actually a pair of works in one novel.  You get the short novel "The Atrocity Archives" and "Concrete Jungle" in this one.  Both works are remarkable on their own merits.  Packaged together in one book, you get great value, and a fantastic entrance into Stross's world where magic is a function of science and great malign intelligences from beyond space-time await the time when they will eat our brains.  For we are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!

The main protagonist throughout the Laundry Files series is one Bob Howard. If you have ever worked in tech support, IT, or in a cubicle of any sort you can sympathize with Bob.  He finds himself working for a secret government agency after "an incident", where he is stuck working on office technical problems and navigating the horror that is civil service.

Bob makes a life changing mistake though, and out of boredom asks to be considered for field work.  Much to his chagrin and surprise, he finds himself doing just that.  Bob's illusions of spy craft are soon shattered and he ends up entangled in quite the mess.  Bob makes for a great character you can quickly become interested in.  Likable, someone who doesn't have everything going for him, work is a pain, really he's like your IT guy at work in a lot of ways 😇!

The Laundry Files have a bit of everything to offer you, spy thriller, Cthulhu inspired horror, humor (actually funny and in appropriate places... Stross's timing is brilliant), work place angst, and an easy read.  Stross also throws in some bits to explain the reality of magic and he does it well.  I won't give to much away here, but trust me on this, it works!  It all starts here with The Atrocity Archives

My thoughts:

If you haven't read the Laundry Files yet, you are doing yourself a HUGE disservice!  Get this book now and savor it.  Stross demonstrates a finely honed skill as an author in this book.  You get a smoothly crafted story that is remarkably well paced, full of interesting moments that build to a beautiful crescendo.

Bob Howard is a remarkable character that will draw you in and grow on you.  You'll become easily familiar with Bob, like a friend at work, and will find that you become attached to this character.  It will bring you to the edge of your seat in some particularly tense scenes, put a smile on your face during those brief moments of respite, and make you roll your eyes and say "Oh, Bob" in moments where the character is entirely real in your imagination.

This book is usually seen as rated between three and four stars on book reviews of various sites.  That is a great disservice to this fantastically crafted tale.  This book is great and should be considered the top of any scale you want to use.

Recommended for:  Lovecraft fans, anyone who liked the movie "Spies like Us", horror role-playing gamers, IT professionals, people who torment IT professionals with alarmingly frequent support calls (yes, you Sidney!), X-Files fans, conspiracy theorists (no, really, you'll have fun with this), and people who appreciate a well crafted story.

Not Recommended for: Fascists, Nazis, real life cult leaders, people with psychiatric disorders, and actual alien intelligences from beyond space-time.

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