The Atrocity Archives is a small book compared to the door-stoppers of modern fantasy and SF, weighing in at only 299 pages once you discount the introduction, afterword and (a very necessary) glossary of terms and abbreviations. But don't let that put you off. The sheer number of ideas contained in those few pages is just mind-numbingly amazing, and keeps the story racing along at break-neck pace.
The premise: The Laundry, a top-secret government agency with the duty of protecting the world from unseen horrors--a troop of Nazis existing on an alternate universe, breaking through the dimensions of space and time; terrorist capable of summoning demons, et cetera, etc! And how does The Laundry do this? With magic of course! Not the Gandalf type, though, but by harnessing technology... For with pure mathematics, anything is possible...
When Bob Howard, a low level techie at The Laundry, goes and gets himself noticed by his superiors, his trouble begins...Forced onto assignments where he's frequently in danger, Bob doesn't think things can get any worse ( a very dangerous thing to think in an organization which uses advanced mathematics to compel there employees to tell the truth!) ...so of course they do!
At times too concentrated with jargon and surplus info, this book is nonetheless a cracking read. Some parts are very funny (particularly when you meet his house-mates, Pinky and The Brain!) and the office characters crucifying Bob (metaphorically) for overdue paperwork, etc will be very real to those unfortunate enough to work for a top secret government agency...or just a normal office!
Very nearly Nine out of Ten, the best Stross book I've read yet!
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