Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Atrocity Archives The Atrocity Archives
by Charles Stross
Angry Robot

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Kelly Buchanan

The Atrocity Archives is an unusual and entertaining mix of Lovecraftian horror, computer geekery, spy thriller, and the black comedy of public service bureaucracy. After unwittingly dabbling in some rather dangerous mathematics, Bob Howard is forcibly recruited by the Laundry, a top secret organisation dedicated to defending the world against unspeakable monstrosities from other dimensions. This would be rather more glamorous if it weren't for all the departmental meetings, lousy coffee, and paperclip audits. But after showing an aptitude for field work, at least he gets opportunities for travel, albeit accompanied by mortal danger.

Though told with a sense of humour, there is a solid story here, and the villains of the piece – human and otherwise – are no laughing matter. The Laundry's universe is convincingly realised, and populated with a memorable array of characters. Bob is a likeable, competent geek, and his narration sells the horror of the extradimensional entities and the people who deal with them very effectively. Recommended.

The book also includes the novella The Concrete Jungle, another assignment for Bob taking place some time after the events of The Atrocity Archives. While by no means a bad story, it feels rather inconsequential after the epic main event, and if you're not expecting it, its inclusion can make the ending of the main novel feel a bit abrupt with a hundred pages still to go.

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