Albedo One Review

The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross (Golden Gryphon Press, hardback, 295pp, $24.95)

. . . I am eagerly awaiting great things from Charles Stross and The Atrocity Archives are the reason why. Comprising of two novellas, The Atrocity Archive and The Concrete Jungle, Stross posits a world under constant threat from beings and demons and monsters and strange mathematical ideas lurking in other dimensions, always scratching away at the threshold, seeking a way in. And who stands between us and the horror and madness from beyond? What heroic figures bestride the gateways and loudly proclaim to the oozing nasties, 'Thus far and no further?' Why, civil servants, of course. British civil servants, with all the bureaucracy, the memos, the clueless careerists, the interdepartmental feuding, the incompetent alcoholics that can't be fired, the ministerial interference and everything else it entails to suck the glamour and excitement out of being an heroic agent in the fight against evil. Bob Howard, computer programmer and desk-jockey with the ultra secret Laundry, longs to get into active service, but soon finds he has bitten off more than he can chew when a group of Nazis who took shelter in another dimension at the end of the second world war start making a comeback, threatening to bring something very nasty back with them. The intricacies of hyper-paranoid office politics, the insane reality-twisting of esoteric mathematical conjurations and the ongoing fight against magic-wielding terrorist organisations sit easily together in these highly entertaining tales of mind-bending horror and institutional coffee. Highly recommended.

— Frank Ludlow, Albedo One, Issue 29, 2004


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