Jun 10, 2011

Charles Stross - The Atrocity Archives

Composed of two different text, the short novel The Atrocity Archive and the Hugo-award winner novella The Concrete Jungle, this story deals with spionage in a Lovecraftian world where higher mathematics are the key that opens gates to other dimensions. The protagonist of both stories is a computer expert named Bob Howard forced to work for a secret British intelligence organization called "The Laundry". Here horror themes are combined with retro-nazi threat and mixed with a satire of bureaucracy. First-rate book, not too easy to read but shamelessly fun.

Make no mistake, The Concrete Jungle has nothing to do with Tom deSimone's film.

In one of my favourite reviews about this book, the one entitled "Never park in a Hilbert space" by Marc Ruby™ "The Noh Hare™" in Amazon, he says:

Intrigued? If you are comfortable with computers, or at least have a handle on geek speak and enjoy twisted, funny writers whose imaginations have run wild, this is something you will want to read. Despite a large serving of sarcasm and irony, Stross also manages to deliver a genuinely interesting plot with as much action as there is esoteric muttering.

It's geeky but also hilarious and different from everything else I've read, genuinely and thuggishly original.

From SF Site

Bob Howard is working on a desk job for the "Laundry", but he's bucking for field service. We meet him on his first trial, breaking into an industrial building to destroy the traces of a dangerous discovery a young mathematician has made. It turns out that certain kinds of math knowledge lead to the ability to summon demons from other universes -- the sort of thing once done with chalked pentagrams, but much more efficiently achieved with lasers instead of chalk, and with computers to keep track of the summoning rituals. It's the job of the Laundry to keep such knowledge under wraps.

But aside from the dangerous job, the Laundry is just another Dilbertian government job environment. So the first few chapters show Bob dealing with bureaucratic hassles: stupid bosses demanding silly paperwork, dumb training classes, computer problems, etc. It's all very funny stuff. He's also dealing with his crazy sometime girlfriend, and his weird roommates. Then he gets sent to California to try to pry a beautiful redheaded Irish scientist from the clutches of the US -- it seems she might be studying some dangerous stuff. But his mission turns bad when she is kidnapped by some Islamists who may have bitten off more than they can chew. Before long, Bob is posted to a more curious part of the Laundry, with a boss straight out of classic spy fiction, and it looks like they might be dealing with a secret Nazi project -- or something even scarier...

And there is a secuel called Jennifer Morgue

Good recommendation from an even better friend :))))

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