Charles Stross – The Atrocity Archives

I’ve read some Charles Stross books previously, and enjoyed them, so when I read the description of this one, I suspected it might be good. Of course, I had to wait for a UK edition to appear, as for some reason or other most of his books appear in the US long before they do here, even though he’s British. Anyway, it was worth the wait.

The action is set in a world similar to our own, but with some entertaining differences. The main difference is that all that fun H P Lovecraft stuff is real. Yup, there really are Great Old Ones, nasty alien thingies under the sea and all that. This is, of course, kept secret from the general public to avoid unnecessary alarm. The other thing is that magic sort of works. Well, it’s not really magic, it’s more advanced mathematics. Do the right suitably advanced calculations and you’ll open a gateway into another dimension, which would be pretty cool if it wasn’t for the fact that there are quite nasty things waiting to come through when such gateways are opened. And some of them are really nasty.

The hero, such as he is, is Bob Howard, who spends most of his working life as a computer techie working in an obscure government department, but who rashly takes the chance of going on active service, which gets him into all kinds of trouble.

The main part of the trouble is tracking down some old Nazis (and the Nazis in Bob’s world were up to even nastier things than the ones in ours…) and some Very Bad Stuff in a parallel earth. Dealing with all that would be bad enough, but Bob has something even worse to contend with: civil service bureaucracy and the horrors of Human Resources.

It’s funny, thrilling and packed with enough geeky references to keep the pages turning. Great stuff.