By Charles Stross
Charles Stross takes a departure from his epic technological know-how fiction to craft this go among Len Deighton—style espionage and H.P. Lovecraftian horror.
Bob Howard is a computer-hacker table jockey, who has good enough hassle maintaining with the never-ending bureaucracy he has to do every day. He shouldn't ever be known as directly to do something remotely heroic.
But in some way, he is...
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Additional info for The Atrocity Archives (The Laundry Files, Book 1)
Special delivery. He opened it. Inside, a slip of paper. It said: POT-HEALER, I NEED YOU. AND I WILL PAY. No signature. No address except his, as destination. My god, he thought, this is something real and big. I know it. He carefully moved his chair around so that he faced the red warning light of the mail tube. And prepared to wait. Until it comes, he said to himself. Unless I physically starve to death first. I will not voluntarily die, now, he thought harshly. I want to stay alive. And wait.
Dialing his phone, he obtained a satellite relay to Japan; he raised Tokyo and gave the digits for the Tokyo translating computer. With the skill of long habit he obtained a direct line to the great, clanking, booming construct; he bypassed its host of attendants. “Oral transmission,” he informed it. The hulking GX9 computer clicked over to oral, rather than visual, reception. “The Corn Is Green,” Joe said. He turned on the recording unit of his phone. At once the computer answered, giving the Japanese equivalent.
I’m depressed. I can’t stand this much longer. Do you know what I mean? ” He waited. A faceless moment poured past in which neither of them spoke. “I’m ringing off,” Joe said, and began to hang up. “Wait,” Gauk said rapidly. ” He hung up, sat emptily staring. On his unfolded sheet of paper he had several more, but—It’s gone, he said to himself, bitterly. The energy, the capacity to fiddle away a lifetime without dignified work, and, in its place, the performance of the trivial, even the voluntarily trivial, as we have constructed here in The Game.
The Atrocity Archives (The Laundry Files, Book 1) by Charles Stross