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The Atrocity Archives Mass Market Paperback – Dec 30 2008
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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book offering two related long novellas, "The Atrocity Archive" and "The Concrete Jungle" (the latter previously unpublished).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.
""Stross has gene-spliced H. P. Lovecraft and Len Deighton to produce a SF thriller that is both witty and unsettling."See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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...
Stross opened a new realm of sci-fi, where gibbering horrors become almost mundane. The book starts off with the reader confused, and continues from there. While potentially a turn-off for some, the way Stross kept me guessing and trying - with a minimum of success - to keep up with the technical aspects of the story was refreshing.
In short, Stross writes as if he assumes his reader is smart enough to keep up. Sure, the book could be read and enjoyed without puzzling over the mathematical rules behind his universe, but attempting to wrap my mind around what was going on was part of the fun.
The main character, Bob, is intelligent, cynical and insubordinate in the face of numbing bureaucracy. And, though the story is mostly a vehicle to Stross to wrap Lovecraftian monsters in a fun, satirical romp, Bob shows distinct growth - from unfulfilled office drone to slightly-more-fulfilled magician (or mathematician).
I've already been praising this book to every lover of sci-fi I know, and will continue to do so until they read it (or something new and shiny catches my eye)
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.
The book is clearly underpinned by massive amounts of research and world-building. Reading it is like discovering a Truth that you always hoped and feared was out there.
Especially enjoyable for anyone with a background or interest in mathematics or the digital disciplines. And cosmic horrors, of course.
Most recent customer reviews
I like Charles Stross' Merchant Prince series, but found this one hard to get into and not as interesting to me. It wasn't bad, just not my cup of tea.Published 24 months ago by L. C. L.
It's not often that I gush about how much I love a book, but Atrocity Archives hits all of the right notes - equal parts computer science, Lovecraftian horror, sysadmin, spy... Read morePublished on May 7 2012 by Curtis Lassam
This book was fun and definitely set in the sci-fi classifications of books, if not the fantasy world itself, due to its use of the occult. Read morePublished on June 12 2004 by Andy
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... Read morePublished on May 25 2004 by Peter Hollo