Charles Stross, The Laundry Files
Bob Howard is a civil servant and takes care of the IT in his department. His department? The Laundry, a parallel branch of the British Intelligence services, that deal in the supernatural threats. Because yes, magic is real. But it's nothing more than digital algorithms and equations. So it's a bit of a problem when everyone has a PC and can casually summon the monstruous horrors of the neighbouring dimension...
The Laundry is a fun series. The Atrocity Archives starts it with high credentials in geek humour, to the point that most jokes could be quite obscure to anyone who doesn't master Python, the TCP/IP arcanes or the Turing equations. But as the series progress, the jokes are less specialist in-jokes and the humour range from political and social satire to parody.
Lovecraft is an obvious influence from the first volume to Equoid, one of the novellas. But if Stross enjoys Lovecraft as a writer, it's pretty obvious in the novels that he's at the opposite side politically speaking.
The series revels in exploring all the tropes of the SFF genre: zombies, vampires, possessions, and of course conspiracies. But even if Stross uses the tropes, there's no clichés: he actually uses the tropes to turn them on their head and have them making double back flips.
The characters are delightful. Most begin their paper life barely drawn but they quickly become fully fleshed and well rounded, whether it is the main characters, the secondary characters, the male characters or the female characters.
And, oh boy, does Stross know how to write! His style ranges from the tongue-in-cheek political satire to epic moments. The pace is always gripping and the first paragraphs of The Apocalypse Codex are among the best pages I've read in 2012.
The Laundry isn't a series you'd recommend to someone who doesn't like scifi and who barely knows how to turn on their computer. The first volume is essentially a fun nerdy romp. But over the volumes, the series turns into something quite special, quite unique, and I'm always eagerly waiting for the next volume. And I'm rarely disappointed when it's published.
The writer's Twitter feed and his website.
You can also find here a short review for The Merchant Princes, another scifi series by Charlie Stross.
All reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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