A friend put me onto this book, saying that he was sure I’d like it. So I sneaked a copy of Charles Stross‘s The Atrocity Archives into one of my Amazon.co.uk orders of Christmas presents. My only regret is that I didn’t know about these stories before.

Charles Stross has taken some lovecraftian horror, added geekery and then put it into a British civil service context for the conspiracy cover-up, although it is much more a case of hiding the cock ups as on a low budget…

The basic premise is that magic is just about doing mathematics, which makes using computers a serious occult capability. It sort of puts the sysadmin up there with sorcery, which given the jokes about getting SCSI to work needing black candles and a blood sacrifice makes some sort of sense. I certainly could identify a bit with the main character, a civil servant sysadmin turned occult spy (well the first part of it – back in the mid-90s I was the sysadmin for the Energy Efficiency Office).

The book has a main story sharing the title of the volume which covers Bob Howard’s first field trip, which is supposed to be in a relatively friendly territory but which turns out to be nothing of the sort, involving occult nazis and alternate universes. There are also a couple of other much shorter stories in the book with the same character set.

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