Item description for The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross...
In the title piece, Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, completes his theorem on "Phase Conjugate Grammars for Extra-dimensional Summoning." Turing's work paves the way for esoteric mathematical computations that, when carried out, have side effects that leak through a channel underlying the structure of the Cosmos. Out there in the multiverse are "listeners" who can sometimes be coerced into opening gates. In 1945, Nazi Germany's Ahnenerbe-SS, in an attempt to escape the Allied onslaught, performs just such a summoning on the souls of more than six million. A gate opens to an alternate universe through which the SS move people and material-to live to fight another day. But their summoning brings forth more than the SS have bargained for-an evil, patiently waiting all this time while learning the ways of humans, now poises to lunch on Earth. Secret intelligence agencies, esoteric theorems, Lovecraftian horrors, Middle East terrorist connections, a damsel in distress, and a final battle on the surface of a dying planet round out this story.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.3" Width: 5.4" Height: 1.3" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2004
Publisher Golden Gryphon Press
ISBN 1930846258 ISBN13 9781930846258
Availability 0 units.
More About Charles Stross
Charles Stross, born in 1964, is a full-time science fiction writer and resident of Edinburgh, Scotland. The author of six Hugo-nominated novels and winner of the 2005 Hugo Award for best novella (?The Concrete Jungle?), Stross has had his work translated into more than twelve languages. He has worked as a pharmacist, software developer, and tech-industry journalist.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Atrocity Archives?
ISO-9000 Compliant Demonology Aug 26, 2008
I usually dislike the horror genre in any of its forms, and have no liking for Lovecraftian fantasy. Though _The Atrocity Archives_ could be said to belong to this genre, I found it by turns hilarious, creepy, and tense. In short, I enjoyed it immensely. There's a lot to like about this book, and if you don't like some of the things you encounter in its pages...well, there is still a lot to like. There's the Cthulhu mythos, evil Nazi necromancy, office politics, computer in-jokes, spy novel tropes, all leavened by a refreshing dry wit that is subtle enough to leave you wondering why you are laughing at this stuff.
I particularly like Stross' penchant for strewing about historical and technical allusions so that his narratives are a minefield for the curious. I would have sworn there was never an "Ahnenerbe" SS, dedicated to strengthening the Third Reich by ferreting out ancient Aryan and Teutonic mysteries. I really didn't know that the Nazi party was descended from an organization created by the mystical Thule Society, but apparently it was so. (At least Wikipedia tells me that both are true.)
Of course, Stross cleverly mixes the truth with the not-quite-true and the outright nutty (otherwise this wouldn't be fiction, but a classified government document, and one would have to be shot after reading it). One example of how Stross shades reality is one character's idiosyncratic use of a "Memex" machine (allegedly because it is more secure than a mere electronic computer). The Memex was a proposal made in the 1950s by Vannevar Bush for we would today call an implementation of "hypertext". It was based on the technology of the day--data was to be stored on microfiche, and its operation was entirely mechanical. As I said, this was merely a theoretical proposal--no such machine was ever built. Or so they tell us...
Get past the geek-fu and you have more original ideas per chapter ... Aug 25, 2008
My first exposure to Charles Stross was his short story "A Colder War" ... which he generously makes available for free, on his website. I emailed the author and asked for more of the same, and he took the time to recommend his "Laundry" series, "The Atrocity Archives" and "Jennifer Morgue." I've recently finished reading both, and eagerly await the third which is promised some time in 2010.
The only down side to his books are the inclusion of a lot of geek-speak, especially computerese that only an IT guy would appreciate. As it happens, I am an IT guy, so I caught most of his references! Still, I can see as how they may put off more 'normal' folk. [One mustn't annoy the muggles!]
After that, the books are a treasure trove of originality! His characters are interesting and complex, his plots are unique, the milieu they operate within is dark, in that government bureaucracy/operations group type of way. The main character, Bob Howard, isn't an 'everyman', he's an 'every-geek' and you root for him because he's so out of his element in the world of spies and assassins and action hero's. Yet, in a world in which "math IS magic" and "computational demonology" is a job title, the guy in the know is exactly the kind of hero you want on your side!
Also, the short story after the novel, "Concrete Jungle" is excellent and demonstrates just how twisted intraoffice politics can be, when everyone involved is 'used to' dealing with mind & reality warping technologies.
Finally, the essay at the end really opened my eyes to the reason WHY a horror / spy story cross over is so easy. Charles makes a convincing argument that Lovecraftian horror really is spy fiction - because it's more concerned with uncovering secrets then fighting monsters. And, why cold war era spy stories really are horror fiction - because they have total nuclear annihilation as their backdrop. I appreciated this essay and considered it an 'extra' in the sense that modern DVD's have extra's and interviews with the director's, etc.
Anyway, more then worth the time to read. I highly recommend this book and it's sequel, "Jennifer Morgue."
Call of Cthulhu meets James Bond meets Dilbert Jul 14, 2008
What makes this book particularly delightful is all the accounting and bureaucracy the poor protagonist must deal with before he's allowed to save reality as we know it. Stross makes clear that there are a handful of people in the Laundry who are really good at solving the supernatural problems threatening to destroy the world, a lot of people who are really good at making the first group fill out time cards, and a much-too-large group that really doesn't seem to understand anything that's going on around them, and that should definitely not be allowed to take continuing education credits in demon summoning....
Trifecta Apr 22, 2008
For those of us who can understand the depth and layers of writing here, it doesn't get much better than this. One need only be steeped in Lovecraft, Howard, Mythos Lore, Newton's Telecom Dictionary, video gaming, techno gadgets and James Bond to begin to scratch the surface of the little gems found in this collection and The Jennifer Morgue. Truly unique, kind of like reading a Brian Lumley / Ian Flemming / Neil Stephenson novel?!
Lovecraftian sly spy thriller Apr 9, 2008
Clever writing highlights this novel. Recommended for those who enjoy well-crafted plots, likable main characters, with references to the grand masters of science fiction, supernatural fiction & spy fiction.