2. The Atrocity Archives


I’ve been on a bit of a reading binge this break, since it’s been raining (in California! what is going on with the world?). Go figure. Book two of 2016 is Charles Stross’s The Atrocity Archives, which is the first book in his series “The Laundry Files”. This novel is set in an alternate universe wherein advanced mathematics and computation can somehow summon Lovecraftian horrors. This application of math, initially researched by the Nazis in World War II and then kept secret by international non-proliferation agreements, occasionally finds its way into the wild—especially as it can be rediscovered from base principles by sufficiently skilled mathematicians.

The book itself is full of references to math and computer science, which appeals to my inner nerd. While it’s often difficult to maintain my suspension of disbelief, the book is a fun read, drawing inspiration from classical occult mythology and office workers everywhere. I think I might be missing some of the context necessary for the allusions to office politics (what’s “Matrix Management” and what does it have to do with anything?), but Stross does manage to convey the sense of bureaucracy and tedium that has infected even these fantastical occurrences. And of course, Cthulhu is much easier to stomach when it’s nicely categorized and labeled… right?

The Atrocity Archives is well-written and imaginative, but it requires a certain frame of mind to enjoy. Then again, the same can be said for most literature, so go figure.

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