The first novel in Hugo Award-winning author Charles Stross's witty Laundry Files series.
Bob Howard is a low-level techie working for a super-secret government agency. While his colleagues are out saving the world, Bob's under a desk restoring lost data. His world was dull and safe - but then he went and got Noticed.
Now, Bob is up to his neck in spycraft, parallel universes, dimension-hopping terrorists, monstrous elder gods and the end of the world. Only one thing is certain: it will take more than a full system reboot to sort this mess out . . .
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book offering two related long novellas, "The Atrocity Archive" and "The Concrete Jungle" (the latter previously unpublished).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. .
After accelerando... It's tough
First off I'm writing this review from an iPad. So it may come across terse and truncated. Please be kind.
This is a fun if not dated series. I like the combo of witchcraft and computers. And the third Reich seems a bit cliched. But I'm not a big hitler-history person.
So what's my point? Accelerando; it's like he wrote his "wind up bird chronicle" for sci-fi. All novels before and after are precursors. I'm not suggesting he quit writing, but it's hard to follow the insanity and pure pleasure of accelerando. So to mr. Stross, I say, keep at it. Because I'll keep reading.
First Book in the Laundry Files Series
The opening volume in the Laundry Files introduces us to Bob Howard, who is a UK civil servant who works for a secret agency, known as The Laundry. He is sort of a computer nerd, and sort of a reluctant spy. His mission is to protect the world from cosmic evil, and to avoid the pitfalls of office politics. The Laundry is an agency that wards off Lovecraftian entities, prevents possessions, and deals with the modern occult in order to keep the citizens safe and blissfully ignorant of the yawning gulfs of madness that lie in parallel dimensions.
This is a bit of a spy novel, a bit of a horror novel, and is also darkly humorous. This is a hard combination to pull off, but Mr. Stross does so with flying colors! This series brings H. P. Lovecraft’s horrors into the modern age of information technology, and does so in a way that carries the reader right along with the adventures of our hapless protagonist. Bob has a quick wit, and a wry comment, as he saves someone from the horrors from beyond, and sometimes himself from the horrors of the bureaucracy he works in.
It started off pretty good but got mired in the high tech psychobabble.