The Atrocity Archives
Author Charles Stross
Publication date 2004
Published by Golden Gryphon
ISBN ISBN 1-930846-25-8
Publication Order
Preceded by
Followed by
The Jennifer Morgue

The Atrocity Archives contains two stories consisting of the short novel The Atrocity Archive (originally serialized in Spectrum SF) and The Concrete Jungle, which won the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novella.

The stories are Lovecraftian spy thrillers involving a secret history of the 20th century, although they are not set in Lovecraft's universe. Horror elements such as the Nazis using higher mathematics to open "gates" to other dimensions are combined with humorous elements satirizing bureaucracy. The protagonist of both stories is a computer expert calling himself "Bob Oliver Francis Howard" (a pseudonym, as a person's real name can be used against him -- a common feature of fictional systems of magic) who has been conscripted into a secret British occult intelligence organization, "The Laundry". (Although the pseudonym matches the author of the original Conan the Barbarian stories, it is more likely to be a reference to the "Bastard Operator From Hell" which matches the protagonist's nominal systems administration job and his attitude towards field work.)

Inspiration and similar worksEdit

Stross states that his inspiration for the spy in these novels is closer to the out-of-place bureaucrats of Len Deighton than to the James Bond model. He also mentions that when he began writing the series in 1999, he chose as villains "an obscure but fanatical and unpleasant gang who might, conceivably, be planning an atrocity on American soil"; but that by the time the novel was to be published in late 2001, Al-Qaeda was no longer obscure, so he chose a different group to use in the novella.

"Bob Howard"'s boss in the Laundry is given the pseudonym "James Jesus Angleton", possibly out of a desire to irritate American intelligence agents.


Cubicle 7 published a role-playing game based on the Laundry stories in July 2010.



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