Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross

Dudes, I finally did it! I finally read a Charles Stross novel that didn't leave me feeling vaguely disappointed that I didn't enjoy it more! Apparently this is the series for me, of his work. So far.

I should have guessed. I may not be into Cthulhu as a general rule, but Cthulhu plus bureaucracy? British secret service meets red tape? Horrible summoning rituals and literally trying to make an omelette without breaking eggs?

Yeah, of the Charles Stross books I've read so far (this is number 4), this is definitely my favourite. I like the lightness of tone, and although some of the computer speak goes over my head, it isn't enough to throw me off. I always got what he was driving at, although the physical mechanisms may have been a bit fuzzy.

(Sorry, I have to pause for a minute. An orange cat is sitting on the desk next to me, purring like his life depended on it, and looking at me. Pats are necessary. This cat thinks he's my muse. Sometimes he's right. He is not, however, getting a coauthor credit on my dissertation, no matter how cute he looks.)

Okay, I'm back. The purring continues.

Bob Howard is a computer guy, who works in the department of the British civil service you get pulled into if you, say, almost by accident opened a portal between our dimension and one filled with things that cause the word "gibbering" when you were younger. Funny thing is, Bob sort of believes in what he does. He certainly believes the world would be a better place if monsters that can swim behind your eyeballs and eat your soul were not wandering around, causing havoc. And he's just been upgraded to field service.

His boss, however, is not pleased. That time he got knocked out on assignment and another government shipped him back to England by plane? He didn't get that approved, in triplicate, ahead of time.

That's the general feel of the book. Throw in some Nazi plotters, a bunch of holes to places you do not want to go, a beautiful linguist, and a cow turned to stone, and, well, you may not have the idea, but hopefully you're intrigued.

This book contains a fairly short novel, The Atrocity Archives, and a really ripping short story, "The Concrete Jungle." I'm very glad I read it and particularly glad I found a Charles Stross book I like as much as his twitter feed.


  1. I haven't read this book--though my husband loves Charles Stross--but the way you describe it makes me want to recommend The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley. It has a similar British Supernatural Bureaucracy vibe--and the heroine administrates (administers?) circles around everyone.

    I just randomly stumbled across your blog, but I couldn't resist making a recommendation. Hello!

    1. I will put that on my list of books people have recommended to me! It might take me a while to get there, but I will read it.

      And welcome! :)